Mario Mandzukic: Designed for the Biggest Stage

 

In July, Mario Mandzukic wrote his name in Croatian folklore by propelling his nation to their first World Cup final via an extra-time winner against England. His career has consisted around performing on the biggest stage and it was fitting that Mandzukic delivered one of the biggest sporting moments for Croatia during that famous summer in Russia.

Mandzukic was somewhat of a late bloomer and only dared to tread outside his native Croatia at 25 years of age. He established himself as a cult hero at Dinamo Zagreb, scoring 63 goals in 128 appearances.
He’s gone onto become an endowed striker across Europe with VfL Wolfsburg, Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid and Juventus. His tally of 206 goals underlines his quality and he’s cemented an immortal legacy in Croatia by becoming the second-highest all-time national goal scorer.
His physical supremacy combined with his intelligent ability to discover prime goal scoring opportunities has designed an exceptional career. He may not be the first name on many people’s tongues when discussing the greatest strikers in recent years, but he’s a respected figure and is remembered for his accomplishments during his career.
The 2018 World Cup gifted him with the platform to wish his national inhabitants farewell and he capped his final international tournament in majestic style. Not only did he score the decisive goal to guide them to the final in Moscow, but he also scored a valuable equalizer in the earlier knockout clash against Denmark and a late consolation against France in the final itself.

The Surge of a Late Bloomer

Mario Mandzukic: Designed for the Biggest Stage

Mandzukic was a late bloomer and plied his trade in his native Croatia until he was 25 years of age. He started out at NK Marsonia until moving onto NK Zagreb to play in the third tier of Croatian football.
Eduardo had been the first-choice striker at Dinamo Zagreb, but joined English outfit Arsenal in the summer of 2007. The Croatian powerhouse selected Mandzukic as his replacement and spent €1.3 million to lure him to the Stadion Maksimir.
Dinamo Zagreb supporters adored their new target man and Mandzukic became a cult hero for The Blues. He scored 63 goals during his three-year spell in Zagreb and won three successive domestic league titles.
Edin Dzeko spearheaded VfL Wolfsburg’s attack upon his arrival and Steve McClaren rightfully preferred the Bosnian international at the time. Mandzukic’s goal scoring capabilities were squandered during his debut season and he was predominantly used as a substitute or deployed as a left midfielder.
However, Dzeko joined Manchester City just six months later and Felix Magath succeeded McClaren in February 2011. He’d failed to score a single goal under McClaren, but finished the campaign with eight goals in the Bundesliga and established himself as the first-choice forward.
Wolfsburg witnessed his goal scoring prowess once again during the following season, as Mandzukic proved he wasn’t just a flash in the pan. He finished the 2011/12 season with a respectable tally of 12 goals and further enhanced his reputation by scoring three goals for Croatia at Euro 2012.
He established himself as the first-choice forward at VfL Wolfsburg, despite a turbulent beginning to life in the Bundesliga, and earned a big move to Bayern Munich, after scoring three goals for Croatia at Euro 2012.

Rise to Prosperity

Mario Mandzukic: Designed for the Biggest Stage

Bayern Munich won an unprecedented continental treble during his debut campaign and Mandzukic played a decisive role in proceedings. He bagged 15 goals in the Bundesliga and scored the opening goal in the 2013 UEFA Champions League final against Borussia Dortmund in May 2013.
The following season was equally as impressive with Mandzukic adding another 26 goals to his career total. However, Robert Lewandowski was due to arrive at the Allianz Arena ahead of the 2013/14 season and Mandzukic was unwilling to compete with the Polish international and opted for a transfer to Atletico Madrid.
Yet again, Mandzukic lived up to expectations in Spain and finished his solitary campaign in Madrid with a staggering 20 goals in all competitions. Juventus tempted him away from Atletico Madrid for a fee in the region of €19 million, but he found it difficult to attain regular playing time, ahead of Alvaro Morata and Paulo Dybala.
Gonzalo Higuaín’s arrival at the beginning of the 2016/17 campaign was seemingly set to complicate matters, but Massimiliano Allegri masterfully deployed Mandzukic on the left channel to accommodate his attacking capabilities into his system.
Juventus reached the 2017 UEFA Champions League final and Mandzukic struck a picturesque overhead kick into the far top corner to break the deadlock. Real Madrid subsequently overwhelmed Juventus to clinch the trophy, but Mandzukic’s goal earned him the UEFA Goal of the Year award.
Mandzukic had accepted his reserved role in Turin, but continues to deliver quality when called upon. He underlined his talent for Croatia during the 2018 World Cup, scoring in knockout clashes against Denmark and England respectively and a consolation against France in the World Cup final.

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