Thursday, 15 September 2022

2022 Croatia National Team Kits Presented ahead of Nations League and World Cup

September 15, 2022 - The 2022 Croatia national team kits have been presented ahead of Croatia's upcoming Nations League matches later this month. 

The Croatian Football Federation and technical partner Nike presented the new Croatia national team kits with the legendary checkers, which the 2018 World Cup finalists will wear for the first time in the upcoming Nations League matches in September, announced HNS

The redesigned red and white home jersey and the away jersey inspired by nature will be worn by captain Luka Modrić and his teammates at the World Cup in Qatar, where the team will try to repeat the magic from 2018.

The first kit is inspired by the 'vatreno srco' theme (burning heart), perfectly fitting the passionate, hardworking, and fiery character of the Croatian people and the national team. It is a redesigned and modernized version of the checkers that has become a globally recognized symbol of Croatian pride. Unevenly arranged, the well-known design is revamped, with the HNS coat of arms proudly shining in the center of the jersey, next to the blue Nike logo.

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The away jersey further refines the iconic checkers through Croatia's natural beauty and national pride; in this case, they are blurred and wavy lines combining dark blue and turquoise colors designed to resemble the tides of the Adriatic Sea, whose waves wash over the Croatian coast. The stylistic patterns of surnames and numbers on the jerseys are also in the spirit of Croatian history and tradition, given that they are inspired by the historical Croatian Glagolitic script.

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"I am extremely proud that I had the privilege of wearing the beautiful Croatian jersey the most times, and I am looking forward to the new kit that follows the recognizable tradition. Those magical red and white checkers make the Croatian jersey the most recognizable in the world, and the new design reminds me a little of 1998 and the legendary team who inspired my generation. I really like the attractive design and colors on the away jersey, and I'm sure it will be very popular among our fans," said Croatia captain Luka Modrić.

Nike's innovative Dri-FIT ADV technology was used to make the new jerseys. They are made of one hundred percent recycled polyester from recycled plastic bottles, and their breathable material prevents excessive sweating and body heating.

Registered Nike customers can now buy the new collection on Nike.com, and it is also available for pre-order through the HNS webshop. In addition, the new Vatreni kit will be available in other authorized Nike stores from September 21.

To follow the latest sports news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 24 June 2022

New FIFA Rule Allows 26 Croatia Players at 2022 World Cup

June 24, 2022 - A new FIFA rule allows each national team to bring 26 players to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. But which 26 Croatia players will coach Dalić choose?

FIFA has officially announced that coaches will be able to register 26 players for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. This is a rule for the first time in the World Cup's history. 

The national team coaches were divided. Some advocated a larger number of footballers; others opposed it because they hold that leading a group of 26 players makes it difficult to maintain a competitive stimulus and atmosphere for everyone. However, most of them are satisfied with the rule, especially those who, like Zlatko Dalić, may have doubts and face difficult decisions about who to write off.

Thus, the Croatia coach will have a surplus of candidates. FIFA will allow anyone who wants to have 23 players as the minimum number allowed. Although Dalić has yet to make an official statement, he will likely lead with 26 players, as he did for Euro 2020. 

“Given the need to retain additional flexibility due to the unique timing of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in the global calendar, as well as the wider context of the devastating effects caused by the Covid-19 pandemic on the team, it was decided:

- the maximum number of players on the preliminary list has been increased from 35 to 55,

- the number of players to be included in the final list has been increased to a minimum of 23 and a maximum of 26,

- the last day of matches at the club level will be the deadline for registration of 23 to 26 players who will make the final list, which is November 13, 2022,

- there will be 26 on the bench, of which 15 reserve players and 11 officials, one of whom must be a doctor."

The last provision is important because 23 players were allowed minutes at the Euros, meaning the coach had to send three players to the stands before each match. Now, all 26 will be on the record, so as many as 15 on the bench.

Zlatko Dalić has two Nations League games until the final selection. Logically, he will bring three goalkeepers - Livaković, Ivušić, and another, and 23 players - eight in defense, six each from the midfield and attacking line, and three as a bonus where he needs it.

In the defense, it is clear that Juranović, Gvardiol, Erlić, J. Šutalo, Sosa, and likely Barišić are safe; in the midfield, Modrić, Kovačić, Brozović, Majer, Pašalić, although he is a candidate for attack and very likely Jakić, and in the attack Perišić, Kramarić, Livaja and very likely Budimir and Brekalo. That is already 20 names to which the third goalkeeper should be added (L. Kalinić, Grbić, Labrović?). For the other five positions, strong candidates are Stanišić, Vrsaljko, Lovren, Ćaleta-Car, Vida, though not all of them from the defense will be able to come, and Vlašić and Oršić. Sučić, Petković, Pongračić, Ivanušec, Musa, and Krovinović are also candidates.

Source: Sportske Novosti

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated sports section

Monday, 13 June 2022

Current Croatia National Team Jerseys Worn for Last Time, New Design Coming for 2022 World Cup

June 13, 2022 - The 4th round of the Nations League tonight in Paris marks the end of the current Croatia national team jerseys, as the away kit will be worn for the last time at Stade de France. The home kit was retired against France at Poljud last week, and new kits are expected for the 2022 World Cup. 

Another 2018 World Cup final rematch between France and Croatia takes place tonight in Paris at Stade de France as part of the Nations League 4th round, reports Gol.hr.

Apart from the fact that Croatia will be looking for its first victory against France in their 10th meeting, this match will also be remembered as the last time the Croatia national team away jersey will be worn ahead of its new design for the 2022 World Cup. 

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Slobodan Kadic

Croatia had already said goodbye to its current home kit - the classic red and white checkers - when they played against France in the 2nd round of the Nations League at Poljud last week. These jerseys saw the light of day after the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

The Croatia national team will wear new jerseys at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The new jersey design will premiere at the two September Nations League matches - the first will be played against Denmark in Croatia and the second away against Austria.

The exact design of the new jerseys is still unknown and has not been announced in any manner by HNS, but the famous portal footyheadlines.com, dedicated to club and national team jerseys, has already toyed with how they may look.

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Footy Headlines used leaked information or projections of Nike's template for the 2022 World Cup.

They are inspired by the famous sets of other clubs and national teams for next season. Since they know what will be in style next season or what colors and designs will dominate in the football world, they were able to speculate about Croatia's possible new kit.

The Croatia home jersey is usually composed of red, white, and blue, always with the Croatian coat of arms, the now world-famous red and white checkers.

Footy Headlines claim that the blue color will be different than usual. It will be a little brighter, royal blue, the so-called “Battle Blue” Swoosh.

They underline that Nike presented only a sample of blue and white in its internal catalog, while red remains unknown. This is explained by Nike’s designs for next season. First, they pointed to the new Barcelona jersey, which is dominated by shades of blue, while red is on the defensive.

The portal claims that the Croatia national team away jersey will combine navy blue with red patterns.

For more, check out our sport section.

Friday, 27 May 2022

Croatia and Saudi Arabia Friendly Scheduled Ahead of 2022 World Cup

May 27, 2022 - Croatia and Saudi Arabia will play a friendly match on November 16 in Riyadh ahead of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

The Croatia national football team will play a friendly match against Saudi Arabia in Riyadh on November 16, 2022, reports HNS.

This will be the last test for Croatia before the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Saudi Arabia is the 49th national team in the world based on the FIFA rankings, and will also play at the World Cup, in Group C with Argentina, Mexico, and Poland.

"We are pleased about this agreement with Saudi Arabia, which will be a good last test for the Vatreni before the World Cup. Thus, we fulfilled the wish of the coach and our staff to play a match near Qatar for acclimatization. From the organizational point of view, HNS will, as always, provide maximum support to the national team before and during the World Cup, which the 2018 World Cup finalists deserve. I believe that with the quality and togetherness, which the Croatia national team certainly has, we will once again have reason to rejoice with the Vatreni," said the President of the Croatian Football Federation, Marijan Kustić.

"Given the unusually short preparations for the World Cup, we wanted to be in the Middle East from the first day of the gathering to acclimatize as soon as possible to the conditions that await us in Qatar and therefore see this meeting in Riyadh as an ideal stop for the final test before the World Cup. Saudi Arabia is a regular participant in the World Cup, one of the best teams in Asia, and we will be tested against a non-European team, which we rarely play against, and which will certainly be motivated against the World Cup finalists," said Croatia coach Zlatko Dalić.

"We are thrilled that we will play the last preparatory match before the World Cup against the current World Cup finalists. We want to get the most out of this game in technical and tactical terms. It will be a big test for our players before the first game at the World Cup in Qatar," said the coach of Saudi Arabia, Herve Renard.

The national team will gather on November 14, and after the match against Saudi Arabia on November 18, they will stay at their camp in Doha.

As a reminder, Croatia will open the World Cup in Qatar on November 23 at 11 am at the Al Bayt Stadium against Morocco. The second match will be played on November 27 at 5 pm at the Khalifa International Stadium against Canada. The third is on December 1 at 4 pm at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium against Belgium.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated sports section

Wednesday, 27 April 2022

2022 World Cup Tickets: Last Day for Croatia Fans to Apply April 28

April 27, 2022 - Croatia fans can apply for 2022 World Cup tickets until Thursday, April 28 at 11:00 am!

After more than 800,000 World Cup tickets were sold in the first phase, the ticket sales period opened on the website https://www.fifa.com/tickets (with a random draw if there is a higher number of entries than the number of available tickets), which runs until Thursday, April 28 at 11:00 Central European Time, reports HNS.

Until that deadline, it is possible to apply for tickets for the Croatia national team matches. Croatia will play in Group F against Morocco (November 23), Canada (November 27), and Belgium (December 1). All national teams are entitled to eight percent of the stadium capacity in the group stage and approximately eight percent of the stadium capacity in the continuation of the competition (depending on the stadium configuration). For fan tickets, you can apply via the following link: www.fifa.com/fanticketingportals

In this sales period, there will be no difference whether applications are submitted on the first, last, or any other day in between as all tickets will be awarded after the end of the application period. In cases where the number of registered tickets exceeds the available contingent, tickets will be allocated through a random selection procedure.

All fans will be notified of the outcome of their applications no later than Tuesday, May 31, with the steps to follow if they can purchase tickets and the deadline by which they must pay for the tickets awarded.

The prices of individual tickets for the first phase of the competition are 250 (3rd category), 600 (2nd category), and 800 (1st category) Qatari riyals. Prices for the round of 16 are 385, 825 and 1,100 riyals, for the quarterfinals 825, 1,155 and 1,705, for the semifinals 1,430, 2,640 and 3,828, for the third-place match 825, 1,210 and 1,705, and for the final 2,420, 4,015 and 6,435 riyals.

All ticket information can be found at https://www.fifa.com/tickets, and ticket prices at the following link.

To follow the latest sports news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 13 April 2022

2022 World Cup Tickets for Croatia Fans On Sale!

April 13, 2022 - 2022 World Cup tickets for Croatia fans in Qatar opened on April 13, and applications will be accepted until April 28.

After more than 800,000 World Cup tickets were sold in the first phase, a ticket sale period has opened on https://www.fifa.com/tickets (with random draws in the event of more entries than available) ticket), which runs until Thursday, April 28 at 11:00 Central European Time.

From April 13, fans can apply for tickets for the Croatia national team matches. Recall, Croatia will play in Group F against Morocco (November 23), Canada (November 27), and Belgium (December 1). All national teams are entitled to eight percent of the stadium capacity in the group stage and approximately eight percent of the stadium capacity in the continuation of the competition (depending on the stadium configuration). Fan tickets can be applied for via the following link: www.fifa.com/fanticketingportals.

In this sales period, there will be no difference whether applications are submitted on the first, last, or any other day as all tickets will be awarded after the end of the application period. In cases where the number of registered tickets exceeds the available contingent, tickets will be allocated through a random selection procedure.

All fans will be notified of the outcome of their applications no later than Tuesday, May 31, with the steps to follow if they can purchase tickets and the deadline by which they must pay for the tickets awarded.

The prices of individual tickets for the first phase of the competition are 250 (3rd category), 600 (2nd category), and 800 (1st category) Qatari riyals. Prices for the round of 16 are 385, 825 and 1,100 riyals, for the quarterfinals 825, 1,155 and 1,705, for the semifinals 1,430, 2,640 and 3,828, for the third-place match 825, 1,210 and 1,705, and for the final 2,420, 4,015 and 6,435 riyals.

All ticket information can be found at https://www.fifa.com/tickets, and ticket prices here.

Source: HNS

To follow the latest sports news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

 

Tuesday, 5 April 2022

HNS Chooses New Croatia World Cup Camp in Doha

April 5, 2022 - The Croatia World Cup camp in Doha has been changed from the Dusit Hotel to the Hilton Doha Hotel. The final contract should be signed by April 30.

The Croatian Football Federation used the opportunity to change its priority option for the Croatia national team base camp during this year's World Cup in Qatar. Thus, the Vatreni will stay at the Hilton Doha during the tournament, announced HNS.

After the right to book the Hilton Doha hotel was lost by one of the national teams that failed to qualify for the final tournament, HNS reacted quickly and changed its priority from the Dusit Hotel to the Hilton Doha Hotel.

Attached to the Hilton Hotel is the Al Ersal 3 training center, identical to the Al Ersal 2 training center where the national team trained during its stay at the friendly tournament in Doha. Superior conditions in the training center compared to the Dusit Hotel's Al Gharafa center are crucial factors for changing the camp. In addition, Hilton Doha is one of only five hotels among the 40 offered in the Fifa catalog, which has its own beach and a pleasant outdoor environment. 

"Dusit is an excellent hotel that met all our conditions, but when the opportunity arose to book this camp, we reacted quickly, made an inspection visit, and quickly agreed on everything with the coach and captain who supported the change. The main advantage is a training center that is much closer to the hotel and has better conditions for players. That was our priority in the selection," said the president of HNS, Marijan Kustić.

"The Federation reacted brilliantly in less than 24 hours, as soon as the chance arose to enter the Hilton. Dusit is a great hotel, but here we have an objectively much better training center, which we met during this tournament and will provide us with perfect working conditions. In addition, players will be much more comfortable when they can drink coffee and socialize in the fresh air during the day, which is much more difficult in classic city hotels like Dusit. As FIFA has provided only five hotels for this profile, we are very pleased to have booked one. This is a great victory for the Croatian delegation, and I congratulate the management and the team from the HNS administration on the work done," said coach Zlatko Dalic.

HNS thus now has a secured priority option at the Hilton Doha / Al Ersal 3 camp, and the final contract should be signed by April 30, the deadline for all national teams to change their base camp.

To read more about sports in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page

Sunday, 3 April 2022

World Cup and Croatia: 5 Reasons to Dream of Glory (Again)

April 3, 2022 - The Vatreni already know their rivals for the biggest football event to be held in Qatar this year, and there are reasons to believe that Modrić and company can add yet another page to the wonderful history between the World Cup and Croatia.

There is no easy rival in the World Cup, and this should be well known by now. It doesn't matter what path took you to the biggest stage in football, once you're there all you think about is winning and advancing as far as you can. If not, ask Croatia in 1998 and twenty years later, in 2018. To qualify for the World Cup in France, Croatia had to play a two-game playoff against Ukraine, after finishing second in their qualifying group behind Denmark. They beat the Ukrainians 3-1 on aggregate, and destiny led them to finish third in their first-ever World Cup finals.

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The Croatian national team, led by ''Ćiro'' Blažević, reached third place in France '98. (Image: Croatian Football Federation)

Unlike other national teams, Croatia's qualifying history has not been constant. After the success in France, Croatia qualified directly for the World Cups in Korea-Japan in 2002, and Germany in 2006. However, they would miss the World Cup in South Africa in 2010 and again would need the playoffs to qualify for the World Cups in Brazil in 2014 and the most recent in Russia in 2018. Little or nothing Messi's Argentina, host Russia or Harry Kane's England would have imagined, that the Croats did not travel to Russia on vacation. They had a mission, and this led them to overcome what was done by Šuker, Boban, or Prosinečki twenty years before that. Croatia, defying the odds, reached the final of a World Cup.

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Croatia could not beat France in the World Cup final in Russia, but the second place achieved will always be remembered. (Photo: PIXSELL)

Can Croatia repeat a memorable feat? We think so, and here are 5 reasons why you should too.

Group draw

Two days ago, the draw for the group stage of the World Cup in Qatar was held. Croatia, despite coming second in the previous World Cup and finishing first in their qualifying group, was placed in Pot 2 of the draw. Those led by Dalić could not avoid playing against teams such as Brazil, France, Argentina, or Spain, but they could avoid others such as the Netherlands or Germany, also in Pot 2. Thus, the chances for Croatia to be put in a theoretical ‘‘group of death’’ were low.

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Image: @FIFAWorldCup/Twitter

Croatia will be in Group F, with the Belgian team as the leader, and where they will be joined by Canada and Morocco. I would like, at this moment, to remember the first thing I said at the very beginning: there is no easy rival in the World Cup. Oh yes, I've read loads of people on social media saying "not bad" or that it is an "affordable group for Croatia". The reality is that we are up against Morocco, a team that has matured since the last World Cup in Russia and one of the toughest in Africa. While the absence of Hakim Ziyech (Chelsea) may sound motivating for many, the Moroccans still have a group of talented players such as Yassine Bounou (Sevilla), Achraf Hakimi (PSG), Sofyan Amrabat (Fiorentina), Adel Taarabt (Benfica), Youssef En-Nesyri (Sevilla), or the very young Ez Abde, from Barcelona B.

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Croatia's first World Cup match will be against Morocco on November 23 at Al Bayt Stadium. (Image: @EnMaroc/Twitter)

Canada might sound to many like the rival to beat, but don't underestimate that the Canadians finished the CONCACAF standings in the first place and very comfortably ahead of more experienced teams like the United States, Mexico, or Costa Rica. The North American country will be looking to bring out the best in a golden generation that includes the likes of Alphonso Davies (Bayern Munich), Jonathan David (Lille), and Cyle Larin (Besiktas).

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Croatia's second game will be against Canada on November 27 at the Khalifa International Stadium. (Image: @CanadaSoccerEN/Twitter)

Finally, Belgium will surely be Croatia's big test, and many believe that it will be between them who will go through to the round of 16 as group leader. But despite the fact that some point out the bad moment and the injuries of Eden Hazard at Real Madrid, the lack of continuity of Romelu Lukaku at Chelsea, or the departure of emblematic defenders such as Vincent Kompany or Thomas Vermaelen, the truth is that the Belgian team also has reasons to go far. A team that has Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid), Yannick Carrasco (Atlético Madrid), Axel Witsel and Thomas Meunier (Borussia Dortmund) at the peak of their football maturity, as well as many youngsters who will refresh the team with their mischief, like Youri Tielemans (Leicester City), Alexis Saelemaekers (Milan), Albert Sambi Lokonga (Arsenal) or Jérémy Doku (Rennes), is a team to bet on as World Cup champions. In 2018, they were the third-place team behind Croatia.

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Croatia will close the group stage against Belgium on December 1 at the Ahmed bin Ali Stadium. (Image: @BelRedDevils/Twitter)

So if the group is not as easy as we thought, why would it be a reason to dream? Although I insist that confidence comes from not underestimating the rivals but instead being cautious, other groups have more even teams. Group E has Spain, Germany, and Japan (waiting for Costa Rica and New Zealand). Group H has Portugal, Uruguay, South Korea, and Ghana. Croatia will first play Morocco, then Canada, and will play the last game of the group stage against Belgium. If Croatia believes in its chances, it could arrive with six points to face the Belgians and fight for first place in the group. But, of course, those six points must be won first, and for that, they will have to be at the same level as the Moroccans and the Canadians.

A new generation of Croatian football players

Something that surprised (and saddened) everyone after the World Cup in Russia was the retirement from the national team of many players who were part of that wonderful team that got second place: Danijel Subašić, Vedran Ćorluka, Ivan Rakitić or Mario Mandžukić. Likewise, some starting players have been left out due to physical problems, such as Ivan Strinić, or behavior, such as Ante Rebić.

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Mario Mandžukić and Ivan Rakitić, two key players who are no longer part of the Croatian national team. (Photo: Igor Kralj/PIXSELL)

It is difficult to deny the negative impact of their absences on the Croatian team, and this could be seen in the subsequent Nations League (2018-19 and 2020-21) and Euro 2020, where it seemed that Dalić's team could not find a way to cover their exits.

But the Croatian team, especially in the second part of the World Cup qualifying phase, seems to have found several young players who will make their debut in the top competition, and nourish the team with their energy and desire. Dominik Livaković (Dinamo Zagreb) in goal, defenders Borna Sosa (Stuttgart), Joško Gvardiol (RB Leipzig), and Josip Juranović (Celtic), midfielders Nikola Vlašić (West Ham), Nikola Moro (Dynamo Moscow), and Lovro Majer (Rennes), and striker Josip Brekalo (Torino) are some of the players who will complement the more experienced players.

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Lovro Majer (left) and Joško Gvardiol (right), two young Croatian players who are called to renew the national team with their youth and projection. (Photo: Josip Regovic/PIXSELL)

Likewise, and despite not being as young as those already mentioned, some players who did not go to the last World Cup will also have the opportunity to bring the best of their talent and experience to the Croatian team. Marko Livaja (Hajduk Split) and Mislav Oršić (Dinamo Zagreb) shine in the Croatian First League and will help Vatreni regain offensive power with their fighting spirit.

In the last games that gave Croatia the qualifying ticket, these players showed not only to be decisive but also made it clear that they are ready for any football challenge. Many of them are starters for their clubs and in competitive leagues, and some of them are even starters for the national team. Let's hope Dalić gives them the opportunities they need to shine and gain experience.

Experience all around the field

And while many of the players who achieved the epic in Russia are no longer in the squad, Croatia will need more than ever of those who stayed. Croatia will need their leadership, their experience, and their hunger for revenge. An extremely young team is not always good, and neither is a team with a lack of renovation. But Croatia seems to have found that balance, and in all lines.

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Marcelo Brozović, the undisputed midfield leader at Inter Milan who became champions of Serie A in the 2020-21 season. (Photo: Milan Sabic/PIXSELL)

The good news for Dalić is that several of the players who were in Russia, despite now being four years older, are in even better sporting form than they were back then. Marcelo Brozović has established himself as the decisive player in Inter Milan's midfield, ending Juventus' reign in Serie A last year and fighting for a second consecutive Scudetto this season. Also at Inter, Ivan Perišić has managed to maintain his status as a starter, and despite the passing of the years, Ivan continues to be a benchmark in the Neroazzurro attack, as he proved himself by winning the 2019-20 UEFA Champions League during his loan spell at Bayern Munich.

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The last seasons of Mateo Kovačić at Chelsea have been spectacular and he is called to be the companion of Modrić and Brozović in the Croatian midfield after the retirement of Ivan Rakitić. (Photo: Igor Kralj/PIXSELL)

Mateo Kovačić, who played a more secondary role in 2018, is now indisputable in Thomas Tuchel's plans at Chelsea, with whom he won the 2020-21 UEFA Champions League, in a midfield that also includes players like Kante, Jorginho, or Saul. Many fans of the London team consider him not only his favorite but also the best. In defense, Dalić still has Domagoj Vida and Dejan Lovren, who in 2018 showed the world their valuable fighting spirit on the field, something that they can still pass on to the younger players.

World Cup calendar

Due to the high temperatures in Qatar between June and July, the usual format of the World Cup will change for the first time in its history. Now, the opening match will be on November 21, while the final will be on December 18. Previously, the group draw was held in December, six months before the start of the tournament. This year, the qualified teams already know their rivals with more than eight months to go until the start of the World Cup. Also, after the draw in December, the players used to face only the second part of the season and some friendlies before integrating with their national team in June.

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Contrary to previous editions, the World Cup will take place between November and December, and the draw for the group stage will take place in April. (Image: @HNS_CFF/Twitter)

In this way, Zlatko Dalić not only has two additional months to evaluate his players well before making a final decision on his squad in October or November, but he will do so by playing high-competition matches such as the Nations League, in a group that they make up France and Denmark (qualified for the World Cup in Qatar) and Austria, which reached the playoffs. Thus, some players who were not part of the qualifying process from the beginning will have more opportunities to show that they can be decisive in Dalić's tactics. Sometimes four friendlies before the World Cup are not enough to draw any conclusions about line-ups and strategies.

On the other hand, the Croatian players will play two different seasons before the start of the World Cup: the second part of the 2021-22 season, and the first part of the 2022-23 season. This can be beneficial for three main reasons. First of all, some players who are currently not playing many games as starters (Nikola Vlašić at West Ham or Šime Vrsaljko at Atletico Madrid), can solve their situation with a transfer or loan to another team during the summer, and from this way to pick up more form by playing more games.

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Croatia already knows its rivals eight months before the start of the World Cup, enough time to study them and prepare. (Photo: Igor Kralj/PIXSELL)

Secondly, some players like Ivan Perišić at Inter, Mateo Kovačić with the current problems at Chelsea, or Dejan Lovren at Zenit, can resolve the contracts with their current clubs, and thus become more focused on the field and the Croatian national team.

Finally, and taking into account the competitiveness of the second part of the season, many football players used to miss the World Cup in June as there was not much time to recover from their injuries, some even minor. If it were the case (hopefully not) that a Croatian player suffered an injury in these months, it is possible that they could recover before the World Cup in November, especially considering the rest months between June and July.

The Croatian national team has everything to arrive in good physical condition and great concentration in November, and Dalić to decide on a harmonious line-up and strategy, which could help them face their rivals in Group F with a lot of preparation.

One of the Best Players in the World

Croatia did not get third place in France '98 with a single player, nor the second place of Russia in 2018. Football is a team sport, and to win a World Cup eleven players is not enough, but a complete squad with players committed to a common goal. That is the reason why Croatia reached the final against France before other teams like Argentina, Portugal, or Brazil.

However, if in your squad you have a uniquely talented player, an undisputed figure in one of the best football clubs in history, a leader with 16 years of experience in the national team, and an endless fighting spirit when it comes to attacking and defending even in the 120th minute, it is enough to motivate an entire country and make them believe that they can go very far. Some still believe to this day that Luka Modrić received the 2018 World Cup best player trophy, the Ballon d'Or, and FIFA The Best as consolation after losing the final against France. If his season with Real Madrid (where he was decisive in winning the 2017-18 UEFA Champions League) and his goals and performance in the 2018 World Cup were not enough, Luka has shown them today that he is more relevant than ever and one could even say that he's in the best moment of his career.

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Luka Modrić will play his fourth and last World Cup at the age of 37 and in great shape. (Photo: Luka Stanzl/PIXSELL)

Since he secured a place in Real Madrid's starting eleven in the 2013-14 season with Ancelotti (winning the UEFA Champions League along the way), no player has been able to take his place. Along the years, Luka has seen how several midfielders have come, gone, and stayed: Sami Khedira, Xabi Alonso, Mesut Özil, Asier Illarramendi, Isco, James Rodriguez, Toni Kroos, Martin Odegaard, Casemiro, Dani Ceballos, Federico Valverde, Eduardo Camavinga... but the Croatian has always been a constant, and has recently reached an agreement with Real Madrid to extend his contract even further.

Luka will arrive at the World Cup at the age of 37, probably being one of the oldest among all players. However, and as has been shown in this season of the Spanish La Liga (where Real Madrid is close to winning the title with a great difference in points over their rivals) and in the UEFA Champions League, the Croatian captain is in a great moment of form and with intact talent and technique. Also, Modrić's style of play and his position on the pitch are essential for the team's performance. Some rely on goalkeepers, central defenders, or even forwards as the star of the team, but Croatia sees having a player who is among the best in the world in attacking and defensive work as the key to success.

Luka assists, scores goals, recovers balls, and, above all, leads his team by example and attitude. This will be his last World Cup for him, and we are sure that he will want to say goodbye to the national team in the best possible way and with him a team with talented players who will help him lead Croatia back to glory.

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.

Saturday, 2 April 2022

Croatia 2022 World Cup Schedule: 11 am Opener against Morocco

April 2, 2022 - The Croatia 2022 World Cup schedule is here, with the dates, times, and stadiums listed for the highly anticipated tournament later this year.

The Croatia national team will play this November at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar in Group F together with Morocco, Canada, and Belgium. The draw was held on Friday night in Doha. 

If Croatia is one of the first two national teams in their group, they will cross paths with Group E, where Spain and Germany are the favorites to pass, while the group also includes Japan and either Costa Rica or New Zealand. 

Croatia's 2022 World Cup matches
FIFA has announced the exact schedule of matches, and Croatia will open the tournament against Morocco on November 23 at 11 am local time at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor.

The second round is scheduled four days later, on November 27, when Croatia plays Canada at 5 pm at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha.

The Group F derby is played on December 1, when Croatia and Belgium will play at 4 pm at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan.

Qatar is not opening the World Cup.
Interestingly, host Qatar will not be the first to open the competition at the World Cup. Their match against Ecuador was scheduled by the organizer at 5 pm on the first day of the tournament, but before them, the Netherlands and Senegal will take the pitch at 11 am in the same group. Then, from 2 pm, England and Iran will play.

Remembering Croatia against Mexico 20 years ago.
This early match time between Croatia and Morocco is not the earliest Croatia has played at a World Cup. Twenty years ago in Japan, Croatia played and lost to Mexico at 8:30 Croatian time.

Croatia 2022 World Cup Schedule: 
Wednesday, November 23

11:00 Croatia - Morocco

Sunday, November 27

17:00 Croatia - Canada

Thursday, December 1

16:00 Croatia - Belgium

Source: Gol.hr

To read more about sports in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page

Saturday, 2 April 2022

Zlatko Dalić on Croatia World Cup Draw: "Goal is to Get Out of Group"

April 2, 2022 - Coach Zlatko Dalić comments on the Croatia World Cup draw, expressing that the goal is to get out of the group stage. 

Croatia national team coach Zlatko Dalić commented on the 2022 World Cup draw, which placed Croatia in Group F with Belgium, Morocco, and Canada, reports HNS.

Impressions are positive.

"At first glance, the group is not too tough. However, there is no easy group at the World Cup because there are the best national teams in the world. It won't be easy, but we have our goal, and that is to get out of the group. I believe we will prepare to win every game and make a step to the next round. The schedule of playing matches is good; we are playing against Morocco, Canada, and only then against Belgium." 

What does the opening against Morocco bring?

"We know that the coach of Morocco is Mr. Halilhodžić, who took four national teams to the World Cup. He will certainly prepare well for us, and it will be a tough match. Morocco beat Congo in the additional qualifiers, and several outstanding players in their ranks play in Europe. But, equally, Morocco will be very motivated because this is their first game in the World Cup."

Next up is the match against Canada, the team's first appearance at the World Cup since 1986.

“They achieved great success, but they fully deserved it. They were the first in their group; they beat the USA and Mexico, which signifies that they are very good. So they will be very motivated, they will come to the World Cup with a lot of good energy, and we will be a kind of "target" for them. So we have to be very careful because we have a tough opponent ahead of us."

In the last match in the group, Croatia awaits Belgium, the strongest national team on paper. 

"Belgium has been first in the Fifa ranking for several years; I know Mr. Martinez very well, a great coach. He has a great team at his disposal, powerful and capable of great things, with many quality individuals. That game will be our biggest challenge in the group, and it is good that it will be our third game. In any case, Belgium is the favorite in our group in terms of rating." 

To read more about sports in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page

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