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Mandzukic Invisible as Croatia Fall Out of World Cup With a Thump

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28-year-old could not take anything from Croatia's winner-take-all match against Mexico

Jamie McDonald

Croatia needed a victory against Mexico for a ticket to the knockout stages, and Mario Mandzukic missed the flight. The 28-year-old was nowhere to be found as Croatia received a 1-3 beat down from Mexico.

Coming off of a stellar performance against Cameroon, Mandzukic touched the ball 18 times throughout in a full shift, his only shot attempt blocked outside the area. His pressing was lackluster, his movement static, and the service he received was, to put it politely, subpar.

Although Croatia controlled the pace of much of the game, the midfield left Mandzukic isolated in a sea of Mexican defenders. Their best chances came when VfL Wolfsburg's Ivica Olic and Ivan Perisic got in behind, opportunities that were sporadic throughout the 90 minutes. Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic were required deeper in midfield, leaving Mandzukic without a link-up partner.

His Doppelpack may have increased his transfer stock, but the followup will raise questions as to what system he will fit in. His work rate was ecouraging at the match's start, but continued frustration caused his drive to dwindle. Wanting to leave Bayern München in the summer, his success with the stellar servicemen on both sides might not extrapolate at another club.

With Croatia's loss, the Arjen Robben and Netherlands will face Mexico to start the knockout stages. Brazil's 4-1 victory over Cameroon will award them the Group A victory, giving the hosts Chile as their next opponent.