Croatia National Team in 2021: Player Analysis for Demanding Year Ahead

By 14 January 2021
Croatia National Team in 2021: Player Analysis for Demanding Year Ahead
Slobodan Kadic

January 2021 - A look at what we can expect from the Croatia national team in 2021. reports that 2020 was a challenging year for all European national teams, including Croatia. Namely, our 'Vatreni' played six games in the Nations League in two months alone, and that's not to mention the friendly matches. Overall, Croatia recorded two wins, one draw, and five defeats.

Because of these results, it is only logical to expect that Croatia would experience a drop in the official FIFA rankings. At about this time last year, Croatia was the 6th national team in the world, and little by little, they finished 2020 outside the top 10, in 11th.

However, it should be emphasized again that Croatia played in the most challenging group of the Nations League, which included the world champions France, the European champion Portugal, the 5th team in the world in terms of value, and the quality Sweden.

Croatia introduced many new and promising players last year, which we should expect to make a difference in 2021.

Filip Uremović confirmed himself in a short time as a good solution on the right back and an even better future opportunity - in the stopper position.

Duje Ćaleta-Car is not a new name, but in 2020 he confirmed himself as the central defender of the future and the present.

Many had been waiting for Domagoj Bradarić to be seen in the A national team. When he finally got his chance, he showed massive potential in the attack, and when he plays in the left-back position, there is no doubt he will confirm how well he does defensively. 

In the offense, Ante Budimir certainly stands out and should continue in the national team.

It should be clearly emphasized that the leaders of the young talents, Nikola Vlašić, Josip Brekalo, and Mario Pašalić, have additionally confirmed their quality this year.

Nikola Vlašić, after a fantastic job in the Euro qualifiers, was brilliant this year. A new step forward was made by the great dribbler Josip Brekalo. Mario Pašalić, with goals in friendly matches against Switzerland and Turkey, also strengthened his national team status.

We can only hope that the goals and excellent overall game of Mate Kovačić in the last match against Portugal are a precursor to what we can expect this year. 

In addition to these young stars, the seniors of the national team were also quality. This refers primarily to the inimitable captain Modrić, who plays for both Real and Croatia at 35 years old.

Next to him is Marcelo Brozović, whose physical and playing qualities are almost as crucial for the national team as Modrić's.

Furthermore, Dejan Lovren is in much better form, thanks to his move to Zenit, where he has maximum minutes.

In the end, Ivan Perišić should be singled out, who, despite his minutes at Inter, is again playing well for the national team. The fourth-best scorer in the national team's history may not always be in top form, but when Croatia needs him the most, he always comes through. 

Croatia's biggest problem was... injuries. Kramarić was off the pitch for much of 2020, and we can only hope he stays healthy in 2021. The situation was even worse with the nation's favorite Šime Vrsaljko. 

Dinamo's Bruno Petković is a footballer whose physical readiness, or rather unpreparedness, was negatively commented on by coach Zlatko Dalić this year. In eight games, he collected only 18 minutes and scored one goal.

Let's not forget that in 2020, national team legend Ivan Rakitic said goodbye to Croatia. With his departure, Croatia was left without a real alternative in the delicate position of the last midfielder when there is no Marcelo Brozović. Perhaps Toma Basic is the solution?

In 2021, Croatia is expected to play their World Cup qualifiers, which begin already in March. They will also try to get a good result at the European Championships this summer. 

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