Saturday, 17 December 2022

A New Bronze Generation: Croatia Finishes 3rd at 2022 FIFA World Cup!

December 17, 2022 - A new 'Bronze Generation' was born tonight in Qatar. Croatia beat Morocco to finish 3rd at the 2022 FIFA World Cup! 

After Croatia lost to Argentina on Tuesday and Morocco lost to France on Wednesday, the two teams dropped out of the fight for the 2022 World Cup title. But that doesn't mean they had nothing left to play for.

Croatia and Morocco met in the 3rd place play-off on Saturday at Khalifa International Stadium, the winner of which would take home the bronze medal. 

Croatia will thus close the tournament against the same national team they opened against almost one month ago. Croatia and Morocco opened Group F at Al Bayt Stadium on November 23, ending 0-0. 

Croatia then beat Canada 4-1 at the same stadium they're playing at tonight, followed by a 0-0 draw against Belgium, which secured them second place in the group. Morocco finished first.

Croatia beat Japan on penalties in the round of 16 and did the same against five-time world champions Brazil in the quarter-final. Croatia lost to Argentina 0-3 in the semi-final earlier this week, who will go on to play France in the final on Sunday. 

Morocco finished at the top of Group F, defeated Belgium and Canada, then eliminated Spain in the round of 16 on penalties and beat Portugal in the quarter-final. They then lost to France in the semi-final on Wednesday. Morocco is thus in a similar situation to Croatia's 'Bronze Generation' at the 1998 World Cup. They wanted the bronze medal to put their country and Africa on the football map. 

Croatia was playing for a lot, too. Not only would the bronze medal be a brilliant feat after finishing second at the World Cup four years ago, but they had the chance to achieve the same success as the 'Bronze Generation,' which many national team players remember well. 

Some 40,000 Morocco fans were expected compared to a few thousand Croatia fans tonight, but if we know anything about Croatia, small numbers make no difference. 

Lineups

CROATIA (4-2-3-1): LIVAKOVIĆ - STANIŠIĆ, SUTALO, GVARDIOL, PERIŠIĆ - MODRIC, KOVAČIĆ - MAJER, KRAMARIC, ORŠIĆ - LIVAJA

MOROCCO (4-2-3-1): BONO - HAKIMI, DARI, EL YAMIQ, ATTIAT-ALLAH - AMRABAT, SABIRI - ZIYECH, EL KHANNOUS, BOUFAL - EN-NESYRI

Match report

Croatia kicked off first and thus attacked first. Livaja nutmegged the Morocco defense to Majer, who couldn't get to the ball quick enough. Orsic played it into the box a minute later and an almost fatal mistal by Bono, fortunately, went out for a Croatia corner. 

Keep in mind Croatia was playing with a very offensive lineup, which we witnessed already in the first few minutes. 

Croatia was awarded a free-kick outside the box in the 6th minute. Modric faked the kick, and Majer played to Perisic's head, who flicked it to Gvardiol for 1-0 Croatia in the 7th minute! 

But a free kick for Morocco in the next play evened the result. Majer tried clearing the kick with his head which went to Dari for 1-1 in the 9th minute!

Stanisic had a shot in the 14th minute, which went over the goal. 

Croatia had another corner in the 16th minute and another chance at goal in the 18th minute from Kramaric's head. 

A great chance for Croatia in the 24th minute. Luka shot with his left foot, which the keeper struggled to save. 

Majer launched the ball from a free-kick in the 26th minute, which Perisic header over the goal. 

Morocco had an excellent chance in the 29th minute. Hakimi beat the Croatia defense up the right and sent the ball across the box. Luckily no Morocco player could get there in time. 

A dangerous free-kick for Morocco in the 35th minute. And then two Morocco corners in the next play. But it ultimately ended with a goal kick. 

Ziyech's shot in the 40th minute was hit near post but went out for a Croatia goal kick. 

And finally, Croatia's next goal came. Stanisic played Majer, and Majer played Livaja, who laid the ball off to Orsic to score for 2-1 in the 42nd minute. 

Two minutes of stoppage time were added to the first half. The first half ended with 59% possession for Croatia and 41% for Morocco. 

The second half started without any changes for Croatia. Abdelhamid Sabiri went out for Ilias Chair. 

Orsic nailed the near post net in the 47th minute. A Croatia corner followed. And another. 

Stanisic brilliantly dribbled up the right wing and switched sides to Majer, who crossed back into the box. Livaja was in the penalty area, but the ball went off the Morocco defender. The ref mistakenly called for a Morocco goal kick. 

Croatia had another corner in the 53rd minute. 

Morocco subbed off Khannouss for Ounahi in the 56th minute. 

Kramaric was subbed in tears from an injury in the 60th minute. Vlasic was brought on as Croatia's first sub.

Morocco brought on Sofiane Boufal for Anass Zaroury and Badr Benoun for Dari in the 64th minute. 

Petkovic was brought on for Livaja and Pasalic for Majer in the 66th minute. 

And the Morocco players began dropping from injury. El Yamiq came off for Amallah a minute later. 

Ounahi was shown a yellow card in the 69th minute. 

Vlasic's shot in the 71st minute went over the goal. 

Gvardiol's heel was clipped in the 76th minute, causing Croatia to call for a penalty. The ref said to play on. After watching the replay, that was a harsh missed call for Croatia. 

Croatia was given a corner in the 82nd minute. Perisic called for the fans to make noise.

Amallah was shown a yellow card in the 85th minute and a mini brawl erupted on the pitch. It was Croatia's free kick. 

Orsic and Kovacic had a chance in the 87th minute. Kova's shot went far post and out for a goal kick. 

The ref added 6 minutes of stoppage time to the game. 

Livakovic was forced to make a few saves as Morocco pressured in the final minutes of the match. 

Dalic subbed off Orsic for Jakic. Morocco headed over the post for what could have been their equalizing goal. 

And there you have it - Croatia beat Morocco 2-1 to finish 3rd at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, just four years after they finished 2nd in Russia!!!

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

Friday, 16 December 2022

Dalić and Kovačić ahead of Morocco: "We Want to Win World Cup Bronze and Repeat 1998"

December 16, 2022 - Zlatko Dalić and Mateo Kovačić held Croatia's final pre-match day press conference at the Main Media Center in Qatar on Friday. Croatia and Morocco will fight for the World Cup bronze medal on Saturday at 6 pm local time. 

After Croatia lost to Argentina on Tuesday and Morocco lost to France on Wednesday, the two teams dropped out of the fight for the 2022 World Cup title. They will play the 3rd place play-off on Saturday at Khalifa International Stadium. 

Zlatko Dalić and Mateo Kovačić addressed the press at the Main Media Center for the last time. 

Will Modrić play in Euro 2024?

"I hope that he will. How he lives for football and how he feels at 37, I think he will play for Croatia then, too," said Dalić. 

About the World Cup bronze medal match against Morocco 

"This is a big final for us. The fight for the medal. We have the most respect for Morocco, who had an incredible World Cup. I think they think the same as us and will play with the best they have like us. This is the game for third place in the world. This is a big final for two small nations," Dalić. 

"Of course, we were sad after the semi-final. We wanted to be in the final, but it didn't work out that way. But our focus is on the game tomorrow. It's a big game, and we want to bring home the bronze medal," said Kovačić.

How does this compare to the 'Bronze Generation' in 1998?

"1998 was the first medal for our country from our football team. This was the beginning of our success. This is slightly different as we have now won the silver medal, but we want to be 3rd after being 2nd in the world. Every medal for us is a big thing. We are a small country," said Dalić. 

"We all remember 1998. We all hoped that one day we would achieve the same thing. To have a chance to win a medal for the second time in 4 years is a huge thing. We will give everything we can to achieve that," said Kovačić. 

Are all players ready?

"This is our 7th game in a month; we played extra time twice. We have some injuries - Juranović, Brozović, and Gvardiol. We will see how the rest of the day goes. We only want to play the players that are 100% ready. We don't want to play players that have problems. It will be challenging for the players who can't play, but we need to do what is best for the team," said Dalić. 

"We want to return home with the bronze medal. We have a big welcome reception waiting for us. We can't wait to come home," said Kovačić. 

"Morocco reminds me of us four years ago. Tomorrow will be much tougher than the first game. We have so much respect for them and are blown away by what they have achieved here," said Dalić. "When you look at the teams they have eliminated and beaten, it is amazing."

"We have no idea what our team will be or do in four years. So we are only focusing on that bronze medal tomorrow," said Kovačić.  

And Croatia's future?

"Croatia has a very bright future. We needed some players from this current generation to stay with us to help the younger players transition into the national team," said Dalić. 

"The older players have shown just how much Croatia means to us and how much longer we want to keep playing for Croatia," said Kovačić. 

Wednesday, 14 December 2022

Croatia and Morocco to Fight for 2022 World Cup Bronze Medal

December 14, 2022 - After Croatia lost to Argentina in the 2022 World Cup semi-final on Tuesday night, they will play the match for 3rd place on Saturday. After losing to France tonight, Croatia will fight Morocco for the 2022 World Cup bronze medal. 

It wasn't Croatia's night on Tuesday. A penalty that likely should have never been called disrupted Croatia's otherwise stunning football in the first 34 minutes of their semi-final match against Argentina. And that was all the Messi-led Argentina needed to come out and score another two goals to win 3-0, ending Croatia's World Cup final dreams. 

But not all hope is lost, and not only is Croatia still among the four best national teams in the world, but they have the chance to win their third World Cup medal since 1998. They fight for the bronze on Saturday at Khalifa Stadium in Qatar against Morocco. Recall, Croatia opened their 2022 World Cup campaign against Morocco, drawing 0-0 in their first match of Group F at Al Bayt Stadium on November 23. 

France and Morocco met at Al Bayt Stadium on Wednesday night. France's first goal came early - in the 5th minute. A lapse in the Morocco defense was followed by a failed save from Bono. Hernandez was alone on the left to score for 1-0 France. 

But Morocco wasn't far from a goal, either, and managed to attack most of the first half. Their best chance was a bicycle kick by Jawad El Yamiq, which got caught between the post and Lloris' hands. The entire stadium was painted red for Morocco, and their fans did not stop with synchronized chants and songs the entire first half. 

Morocco was playing far more physically than they did against Croatia, and France was not having an easy time, especially with their chances on goal. 

Morocco tried dominating much of the second half, too but failed to capitalize on their chances at goal. France had a few good chances but nothing good enough to increase their lead. But their golden opportunity finally came in the 79th minute. An Mbappe masterclass in the penalty area found Kolo Muani alone on the far post to make it 2-0 with 10 minutes to go.  

Croatia will have no easy task going up against Morocco for the World Cup bronze medal. Khalifa Stadium will be dominated by Morocco fans, and after the display the team put on tonight, it will be a much different game than their World Cup opener almost one month ago. 

Croatia and Morocco will meet at 6 pm local time on Saturday, December 17. 

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

Tuesday, 13 December 2022

Argentina Ends Croatia’s Hopes of 2022 World Cup Final (3-0)

December 13, 2022 - Argentina gained revenge on Croatia from the 2018 World Cup and won 3-0 for a spot in the 2022 World Cup final. Croatia will play the match for 3rd place on Saturday against the loser between France and Morocco in their semi-final tomorrow. 

The Croatia national team met Argentina in one of the biggest matches in Croatian football history - their second consecutive World Cup semi-final. The two teams met at Lusail Stadium in Doha, Qatar, on Tuesday night. 

The last time the two teams met was four years ago. Croatia beat Argentina 3-0 in the group phase of the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Croatia thus finished first in their group and Argentina in second. 

Croatia finished 2nd in their 2022 World Cup group after drawing 0-0 against Morocco in the first round, beating Canada 4-1 in the second round, and drawing 0-0 against Belgium, which was enough for the round of 16. Croatia beat Japan on penalties in their last-16 tie and knocked out favorites Brazil on penalties in the quarter-final. 

The winner tonight would play in the 2022 World Cup final on Sunday. Both teams had everything to play for - Croatia for Modrić and Argentina for Messi.

Tonight's match was refereed by Italian Daniele Orsato. 

Lineups 

Argentina - Martinez - Molina - Romero - Otamendi - Tagliafico - De Paul - Fernandez - Paredes - Mac Allister - Messi - Alvarez

Croatia - Livaković - Sosa - Gvardiol - Lovren - Juranović - Brozović - Kovačić - Modrić - Perišić - Pašalić - Kramarić

Match report

Croatia had the kickoff and the first possession of the match. Croatia calmly maintained that possession in the first 10 minutes, with one ball into the box from Perisic in the 5th minute. 

Croatia played quick one-twos up the pitch, creating space around the Argentina players. Modric fouled Mac Allister in the 13th minute on an Argentina attack. 

Lovren played a long ball to Pasalic in the 14th minute, which forced Argentina's defense to kick it out for a throw-in. A brilliant play up the right wing with Juranovic and Modric forced the ball out for Croatia's first corner in the 16th minute. 

Croatia was winning the most balls in contest compared to Argentina by the 18th minute. 

Croatia was awarded a free kick after Kovacic was fouled in the 19th minute. 

A dangerous attack by Argentina in the 22nd minute, fortunately, went out for a Croatia goal kick. 

Another Argentina attack in the 25th minute was cleared by Sosa, and Livakovic was forced to make his first save seconds later. 

A quick Croatia counter and a stunning move by Kovacic gave Croatia a foul outside of the box in the 27th minute. 

A quick Argentina counterattack followed, which Luka headed out for an Argentina throw-in. 

A Modric nutmeg on the right wing gave Croatia another brilliant attack. Perisic shot on goal but hit just over the crossbar. 

Another Argentina counterattack resulted in a penalty. Kovacic and Livakovic were both shown yellow cards. Messi scored for 1-0 Argentina in the 34th minute. 

Croatia won another corner in the 37th minute. Luka played it short, and Brozovic's cross was deflected off an Argentina player for another quick counter. Sosa failed to clear the ball properly in the penalty area, and Livakovic committed early. Alvarez turned it into a goal. Argentina was up 2-0 in the 39th minute. 

Argentina won a corner in the 42nd minute, which nearly went in for another goal. Livakovic punched out the ball after another close call for an Argentina throw-in. 

Croatia's best chance at goal was in the 45th minute. Luka's shot deflected off Argentina, and he played it to Juranovic, who sent the ball near post. 

The ref added four minutes of stoppage time. 

The first half ended 2-0 for Argentina. Croatia had 62% of possession in the first half but got caught on Argentina's quick counterattacks, resulting in two goals. 

Dalic made two subs at halftime. Sosa was subbed off for Orsic and Pasalic for Vlasic. 

A foul on Vlasic in the 47th minute was awarded to Croatia just outside the box. Modric sent the ball in but Martinez saved it. 

Dalic subbed off Brozovic for Petkovic in the 50th minute. Croatia was getting knocked off the ball but winning it back. Croatia had a good attack in the 53rd minute, but Petkovic failed to shoot when he should. Vlasic sent the ball into the box, but it went into Argentina's possession. 

Livakovic made an incredible save off a Messi shot in the 58th minute. 

Another free kick for Croatia was awarded on the left sideline in Argentina's half. Argentina subbed off Paredes for Martinez. 

Another great chance for Croatia came in the next minute, forcing Martinez to make a quick save in goal. 

Alvarez fouled Modric on a Croatia counterattack. Romero received a yellow card in the 68th minute. 

Messi was at his best in the 69th minute, outdribbling Gvardiol down the right, setting it up for Alvarez in the penalty area, who scored for 3-0 Argentina. 

Kramaric was subbed off for Livaja in the 72nd minute. 

A free kick for Croatia in the 73rd minute was taken by Perisic. It wasn't an easy save for Martinez. 

Argentina started making subs in the 74th minute. Alvarez for Dybala, and Palacios for De Paul. 

Orsic tried shooting far post in the 77th minute, but it went wide of the goal. This Croatia team just didn't have it today. 

Luka Modric was subbed off for Lovro Majer in the 81st minute. Dalic was trying to give the bench as much playing time as possible - it was the World Cup semi-final, after all. 

Messi missed an open chance in the 83rd minute.

Another chance for Croatia in the 85th minute was played out by the Argentina defense for a Croatia corner. Perisic flicked it back to Lovren, who missed an open goal. 

Majer had a good shot on goal in the 89th minute, which deflected into the hands of Martinez. 

The ref added 5 minutes of stoppage time. Croatia was given a corner in the first minute of stoppage time, which Majer hit into the Argentina defense. 

Kovacic shot with his let foot to end the match. Argentina will be going to the 2022 World Cup final on Sunday and Croatia will play the match for 3rd place on Satuday. 

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

Friday, 9 December 2022

Croatia Beats Brazil on Penalties for 2022 World Cup Semi-final!!!

December 9, 2022 - WHAT A MATCH! Croatia beats Brazil on penalties for the 2022 World Cup semi-final!

Croatia and Brazil met at Education City Stadium in the first 2022 World Cup quarter-final on Friday, December 9, at 6 pm local time. 

Croatia beat Japan on penalties in the round of 16 match on Monday. Croatia's hero was Dominik Livaković, who saved three penalties to send Croatia into the quarter-final. 

Croatia has played Brazil four times, recording three defeats and one draw. The last time Brazil and Croatia met was in June 2018 as part of their World Cup preparations.

While Croatia has not lost in a World Cup quarter-final, Brazil was knocked out by European teams in the quarter-final in 2006, 2010, and 2018. 

Lineups

Croatia: Livaković – Juranović. Lovren, Gvardiol, Sosa – Modrić, Brozović, Kovačić – Pašalić, Kramarić, Perišić

Brazil: 
Alisson - Militao, Marquinos, T. Silva, Danilo - Casemiro - Raphinha, Paqueta, Neymar, Vinicius - Richarlison

Match report 

Croatia won the coin toss to kick off first. Croatia had their first free kick in the 3rd minute when Kovacic was fouled. Vinicius tried shooting in the 5th minute, which was an easy save for Livakovic. 

Croatia did well in keeping possession in the first 10 minutes, with the defense clearing any dangerous attacks. 

Croatia's first chance at goal came in the 12th minute. Juranovic made an incredible run into the middle and played Pasalic on the wing, who crossed into the box. Kovacic and Perisic both missed the cross. 

Croatia's first corner came in the 14th minute. It was cleared by the Brazil defense, but Croatia won back the ball. Modric crossed into the box, but Brazil cleared it out again. 

Croatia denied Brazil too much space. Brazil tried attacking again in the 20th minute, which was blocked by the Croatia defense. Neymar hit a light shot on goal to Livakovic. 

Casemiro shot on goal in the 22nd minute, which was deflected off the Croatia defense for Brazil's first corner. 

A seriously ugly play by Danilo on Juranovic in the 25th minute. Danilo's high kick with cleats up at Juranovic's head gave Croatia a free-kick right outside the box. Brazil's defense cleared the play. 

A questionable call for Brazil in the 28th minute awarded them a free kick, cleared by the Croatia defense. 

Brozovic was shown a yellow card in the 30th minute. 

Croatia played stunning football for the next 5 minutes, maintaining possession and calming down the play. 

Brazil regained possession in the next 5 minutes but was unable to create any dangerous attacks for a goal. But the ref awarded Brazil a free kick outside the box after a soft foul on Vinicius. Neymar's shot on goal luckily deflected and went into Livakovic's hands. 

The ref added one minute of stoppage time. The first half ended 0-0 with 48% possession for Croatia. 

The second start started without any changes on either side. 

Gvardiol saved the day yet again on a nearly open chance for Brazil in the 47th minute. A penalty check for Brazil held the game up slightly in the next minute, which was ultimately called offside for Croatia's ball. 

Croatia's first corner of the second half came in the 49th minute. Kramaric was called offside. 

Juranovic intercepted the ball in the 53rd minute and carried the ball into Brazil's half. He played the ball to Perisic on the other side of the pitch who was just off finding Pasalic's head for the goal. 

Livakovic brilliantly saved Neymar's shot on goal in the 55th minute. 

Brail subbed off Raphina for Antony in the 55th minute.

Croatia was dangerous in the 58th minute and stopped a quick Brazil counterattack. 

Brazil subbed off Vinicius for Rodrygo in the 64th minute. 

Brozovic fouled Neymar in the 65th minute and needed to be careful about getting a second yellow. 

Livakovic - Croatia's lifesaver - saved another dangerous Brazil shot on goal. 

Casemiro was shown a yellow card for fouling Kramaric in the 68th minute. 

Kramaric was subbed off for Petkovic and Vlasic or Pasalic in the 72nd minute. 

Livakovic again saved a quick Brazil counterattack, which went out for a Brazil corner. 

By the 80th minute, Brazil had a few more scary chances, cleared by Livakovic and Croatia's defense. 

Richarlison was subbed off for Pedro in the 84th minute. 

Croatia's defense was brilliant in the block on Brazil's counterattacks. 

The ref added 4 minutes of extra time. 

Brazil had a corner in the 91st minute, cleared by the Croatia defense. 

The match ended 0-0 and went into extra time.  

Croatia, the kings of extra time at the World Cup - could they do it?

Brazil had a corner in their first attack, which went out for Croatia's ball. 

Croatia was closing them off in any attack, and Croatia was trying to keep possession. 

Croatia had a brilliant attack in the 102nd minute when Petkvovic held the ball up top before playing it to Brozovic. Brozovic was alone at the top of the box and shot over the goal. 

One minute of stoppage time was added to the first half. 

But Neymar found the back of the net. Livakovic committed too early to Neymar, who scored for 1-0 Brazil in the final seconds of the first half. 

Majer was subbed on for Kovacic to start the second half of extra time. 

Perisic played two brilliant balls into the box, which were too strong for Croatia's attack. 

Croatia had a corner in the 109th minute. Croatia subbed on Budimir for Sosa in the same minute. 

Orsic came on for Brozovic in the 114th minute. 

Brazil had a corner in the 114th minute and then a free kick outside the box seconds later. 

But this Croatia came out to play. And a stunning Orisic-Perisic play saw Croatia equalize in the 117th minute!!!!! Petkovic found the back of the net. It was 1-1 with a few minutes before penalties!!!

Majer had a brilliant shot on goal in the 119th minute. Two minutes of stoppage time were added. 

Croatia cleared Brazil's last dangerous free kick. Livakovic was absolutely brilliant again. What a keeper. 

And the match went into penalties. 

Vlasic was up first for Croatia and scored for 1-0 Croatia!

Livakovic saved Brazil's first penalty!!!!!! The king! 

Majer scored Croatia's next penalty for 2-0 Croatia!!!

Casemiro scored Brazil's next penalty - 2-1. 

Luka Modric scored Croatia's next pen for 3-1!!!! 

Pedro scored for 3-2. 

Orsic scored for 4-2 Croatia!!!!!

And Brazil missed their final penalty!!!!! Croatia is in the SEMIFINAL!!!!!

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

Thursday, 8 December 2022

Dalić and Modrić ahead of World Cup Quarter-final against Brazil: "We Want More"

December 8, 2022 - Croatia and Brazil will meet in the 2022 World Cup quarter-final on Friday at Education City Stadium. Kick-off is at 6 pm local tie or 4 pm Croatia time.

The Croatia national football team will face the biggest test at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar on Friday - the quarter-final match against Brazil.

Brazil is the favorite to win the World Cup, which would be their sixth title in history and first in the last 20 years. They played brilliantly in their last-16 tie against South Korea, winning 4-1, while Croatia struggled against Japan, advancing only after penalties. 

At the last press conference before the match, coach Zlatko Dalić and captain Luka Modrić expressed their thoughts.

"I think we did a very big thing by reaching the quarter-final, but regardless, I want more. We know that perhaps the biggest game of the tournament awaits us against one of the biggest favorites. They are always the favorites, but at this World Cup they are rightfully so. We have to be real, give our best, and play our best game and then we have a chance. If we just settle for being there, then it will be difficult, but we believe in our strength, and that is how we will position ourselves on the pitch tomorrow," said Modrić.

Are all the players ready, and will there be any changes?

"There was not much time for preparation, and today we will train and prepare. Sosa trained, we won't make many changes. Placing among the eight with an almost new national team is a great success. But we will play fair, try to fight for something better," said Dalić.

Can Luka's knowledge of Casemiro and Vinicius help Croatia?

"Vini is a great guy, we have a great relationship, he is in incredible shape, and since he came to Real, he has improved greatly. Tomorrow we have a difficult task to stop him. I will surely help my teammates with details on how to neutralize him more easily. Everyone is fighting for himself and their country." 

Which of Croatia's past matches will the game against Brazil be most similar to?

"This will be the most demanding match for us. Maybe we would compare it to the final in Moscow against France if we were to compare. Out of 11 games at two World Cups, we did well in ten and only lost to France. Croatia is the only smaller country that, after success at one World Cup, repeated it at another, maybe the only one in history that immediately after the final made it to the top eight at the next World Cup," says Dalić.

"I agree with the coach, the final against France is similar to tomorrow's match, that's the ranking," Modrić continued.

What does Dalić think about Brazil's dancing after scoring?

"That makes them happy; they have their nature and character, and they have the right to that. It is their nation, and it looks beautiful."

Does Dalić think that this is a stronger Croatia team than from 2018?

"This is a new national team with 18 new players who did not play then, and it cannot be compared. That generation played together for ten years; those players played in the world's biggest clubs. This team is different, we need time, but they are lucky to have the remaining six from Russia with whom they can grow. These guys still have many games to prove themselves, but they have potential and quality."

What is the key to tomorrow?

"We played against Brazil several times and haven't beaten them yet, but I hope this tradition will change. Brazil has phenomenal players in all positions, so we will have to be very aggressive, run at the right level, not let them play; that will be very important," says Modrić.

Did Modrić watch Brazil's loss to Cameroon?

"I didn't have the chance to watch the match between Brazil and Cameroon, but Brazil did not play with the strongest team in that match. Of course, this is not a benchmark, but it certainly indicates that they can be defeated."

Does Croatia expect another extra time finish on Friday?

"If it comes to that, that last match with Japan gave us great confidence. Each match is for itself, we will see what will happen, but we are ready for anything."

How would Dalić compare Croatia's game against Argentina in 2018 and against Brazil tomorrow?

"Maybe they are similar games, but then we had Argentina in the group stage, and this is the knockout round. Of course, we will apply a similar recipe to narrow down the space for Neymar, but I think he has better support from his teammates than Messi did four years ago."

Do they consider Brazil a big favorite in tomorrow's game?

"They always favor big teams, but we have shown many times that the favorites don't always win. We appreciate every national team and their qualities, but we also appreciate ourselves," Modrić replied.

Did Croatia learn from Serbia's defeat to Brazil?

"We watched that match. Serbia played great for an hour, but they got nervous when some situations started. Until Brazil scored, the game was almost even. Brazil played after the goal, and Serbia could not follow that rhythm and fell. We must not do that; we must be disciplined and return to our formation. Serbia played well until they conceded a goal, said Dalić.

Will Modrić continue playing for Croatia?

"I can repeat that I don't think about the future. We'll see how long I'll be around. I am concentrating on this World Cup; there will be time to consider the future. I don't have a tactic for rejuvenation like there was for growth. If you have it, let me know," Luka jokingly replied to the journalist.

What can we expect from Croatia tomorrow?

"We play the way we play; sometimes it's good, sometimes it's not so good. But we always do our best. We will see what Croatia will be like tomorrow. We are ready, we will give our best, and I believe we can do a great thing," says Modrić.

Journalists also asked Luka to comment on the strength of Brazil and Argentina.

"These are giants of world football, two world teams with many great players. I enjoy watching them; playing against such teams is a pleasure. Playing against them is a holiday for football and something everyone wants, especially in big competitions like the World Cup."

Brazil is dangerous from all sides.

"Brazil is the best team at this World Cup, faster, more energetic, and more diverse than others, and they can come from all sides. They use all the templates; you don't know where the danger comes from. We have no chance if we give them too much space and time. We want to try to get the ball. We must position ourselves well, not fall out of the system and block, and constantly play as a team. It is important not to give them space because it is difficult when they receive the ball."

Why did Dalić replace Modrić so early in the match against Japan?

"It wasn't early; it was the 100th minute. We talked, me and Luka always agreed; I didn't decide on my own. We ran a lot, I had to refresh the team, and I had to make substitutions. We passed, and it turned out well. Luka will always play as long as he can. That's why Luka will be more rested tomorrow than if he had played 120 minutes," Dalić believes.

Tomorrow Modrić is playing against many Real Madrid teammates.

"I am looking forward to playing against former and current teammates. Of course, we will be friends before and after the game, but everyone is fighting for their country and for themselves on the field."

How will coach Dalić motivate the players?

"You don't need a bigger motive than the World Cup quarter-final against Brazil. I'm sure these guys dreamed of such matches. We don't have much to lose; we must fight back as best we can. We have already achieved great success but want more, although we would prefer to play them in the final."

Does Modrić miss Rakitić in the midfield?

"Unfortunately, Ivan is not with us, but Mateo is here, who replaced him very well. So we are good again, maybe not as in Russia, but we have an excellent team."

How is Croatia so successful in sports with less than four million inhabitants?

"Croatia is very talented; we have talents in all sports, not only in football. I don't have a particular explanation. We love sports; talents are born, and good work is done in football schools, where a lot of work is done with children. We are a talented nation; it's hard for me to say why that is," concluded captain Modrić. 

Source: HRT

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

Wednesday, 7 December 2022

FIFA Disciplinary Committee Confirms Croatia's Fine for Fan Taunts at Milan Borjan

December 7, 2022 - The FIFA Disciplinary Committee has confirmed Croatia's fine for fan taunts at Canada goalkeeper Milan Borjan in their second-round Group F match at the World Cup on November 27, 2022. 

The disciplinary committee of the International Football Federation (FIFA) fined the Croatian Football Federation (HNS) 50,000 Swiss francs for the behavior of some fans at the 2022 World Cup match against Canada in Qatar.

During the match, some Croatia fans insulted the Canada goalkeeper Milan Borjan, who has Serbian roots and had previously made inappropriate statements about the Homeland War and being born in Krajina, not Croatia, back in 1987. A poster with offensive content referencing his leaving Croatia also appeared in the stands.

"The Croatian Football Federation was fined 50,000 Swiss francs for violating Article 16 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code (use of words and objects to convey a message that is not appropriate for a sporting event) in connection with the behavior of Croatia fans during the match against Canada," FIFA announced.

The Football Federations of Serbia and Saudi Arabia were also fined.

Serbia was fined 20,000 Swiss francs for "violations of Article 11 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code and Article 4 of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Regulations about the flag displayed in the dressing room after the match against Brazil," they said.

Namely, after the match against Brazil, a flag was hung in Serbia's dressing room with a map of Kosovo painted in the colors of the Serbian flag, with the slogan: "No surrender."

The Saudi Arabian Football Federation has been fined 15,000 Swiss francs twice for misconduct by players who earned six yellow cards during matches against Argentina and Mexico.

Source: HRT

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

Monday, 5 December 2022

Croatia Books 2022 World Cup Quarter-final Spot after Beating Japan on Penalties!

December 5, 2022 - Livakovic saves three Japan penalties for Croatia's 2022 World Cup quarter-final spot in Qatar!

The Croatia national team met Japan in the World Cup round of 16 match at Al Janoub Stadium in Qatar on Monday, December 5. Japan and Croatia have met twice before at the World Cup, but this is their first knockout encounter.

Japan has surprised many at this World Cup, topping Group E. They defeated Germany (2-1) and Spain (2-1) and lost to Costa Rica (0-1), which was enough for first place. 

Croatia opened the World Cup with a scoreless draw against Morocco, then convincingly beat Canada 4-1, and ended the group stage with a draw against Belgium (0-0). Croatia reached the round of 16 as the second-placed team in Group F with five points. Morocco won the group and will face Spain.

Lineups

Croatia: Livaković - Juranović, Lovren, Gvardiol, Barišić - Modrić, Brozović, Kovačić - Kramarić, Petković, Perišić

Japan: Gonda - Tomiyasu, Yoshida, Taniguchi - J.Ito, Endo, Morita, Nagatomo - Doan, Maeda, Kamada

Match report

It was a shaky start for Croatia, with a close encounter already in the 3rd minute. A precise cross into the penalty area found Shogo Taniguchi, and luckily finished with a Croatia goal kick. 

Croatia kept the ball in their possession, working their way up the pitch with short passes. 

Croatia's best chance was in the 8th minute - Perisic was one-on-one with the Japan keeper and tried bending his shot to hit the far post. Gonda got his hands on the ball, which went back into play. Kramaric was unable to get a shot off in the penalty area. 

Croatia was otherwise quite shaky, with two dangerous free kicks given to Japan by the 18th minute. They were also allowing Japan to get crosses into the box. 

Petkovic had an open chance in the 25th minute. Instead of finding Kramaric alone in the penalty area, he shot at the keeper. Perisic got a great ball into the box for Kramaric, who was double-teamed by the Japan defense. 

Croatia was finally pressing Japan's defense but was unable to finish. However, in the next 10 minutes, they struggled to get out of their third. 

We were lucky at this point that Japan couldn't finish, either. That is, until the 44th minute. Another dangerous Japan free-kick found made its way into the box. Petkovic left his player unmarked. He played Lovren's mark Maeda who scored for 1-0 Japan. 

Croatia had a final chance from a corner to end the half, which was 1-0. The first half ended with 59% possession for Croatia. 

The second half started without substitutions for either side. 

Daichi Kamada shot from the edge of the penalty area and over the crossbar in the 46th minute. 

Kovacic shot on goal off a Juranvic throw-in in the 48th minute. At this point, Croatia struggled to win tackles and headers. 

Croatia called for a penalty on Petkovic in the 51st, but the ref refused to consult VAR. 

Japan was awarded another corner kick in the 53rd minute. 

But then it finally happened for Croatia. A brilliant ball from Lovren found Perisic in the penalty area who perfectly headed far post into the goal for 1-1! 

Japan threatened in the next attack, forcing Livakovic to save the shot with his fingertips and out for a Japan corner. Croatia's defense struggled again in the 60th, allowing Japan to get a shot off. 

Dalic made his first sub in the 61st minute. Budimir went in for Petkovic. 

And then Modric had a stellar shot in the 62nd minute, forcing the Japan keeper to make one of the best diving saves of the tournament. 

Japan made their first subs in the 65th minute for fresh legs. Kaoru Mitoma went in for Yuto Nagatomo.

Croatia had another great chance in the 66th minute. Kramaric crossed to Budimir whose header just missed the goal.

Dalic subbed off Kramamric for Pasalic in the 67th minute. 

Japan made another sub. Hiroki Sakai (Japan) came on for Daichi Kamada.

Perisic had an incredible chance in the 77th minute. Budimir brilliantly played Perisic on the left wing, whose rocket just missed the goal. The ball went out for a corner. 

Japan had yet another free kick in the 80th minute, which Juranovic cleared. 

Croatia seemed to be waiting for a hole to open in Japan's defense. Perisic played into the box to Pasalic whose header missed the goal in the 86th minute. 

Kovacic was shown a yellow card in the 90th minute. 

The match ended 1-1 in regulation time and went to extra time, where two 15-minute halves are played. Neither team made substitutions. 

Japan had a corner in the 91st minute. And another in the 95th minute. 

Dalic made two subs in the 98th minute - Modric came out for Majer and Vlasic for Kovacic. Pasalic stayed on the right wing and Vlasic in the middle. 

Japan had their best chance of the first half in the 105th minute. A brilliant save by Livakovic saved Croatia, then the defense struggled to clear the ball. Japan was given a corner kick. The first half ended without goals. 

Dalic subbed on Livaja and Orsic for Budimir and Perisic to start the second half. The future of the Croatia national team was on the pitch for the second half. 

Japan was in Croatia's half for the first five minutes. Livaja's shot deflected off for a corner in the 111th minute. Croatia continued to attack. 

Livakovic saved another dangerous Japan attack in the 115th minute. 

Croatia had a deep throw-in in the 119th minute. The red added one minute of stoppage time. Majer almost shot on target in the final minute. The match went to penalties.

Japan was up first. 

Livakovic saved Minamino's penalty!!!

Vlasic scored Croatia's first penalty!!!

Livakovic saved Japan's second penalty too, taken by Mitoma!!!

Brozovic scored next for Croatia!!! Croatia was up by two. 

Japan scored their next penalty by Asano. 

Livaja went up next for Croatia and hit the post... 

But Livakovic saved the day again and saved Japan's next penalty!!!

Pasalic needed to score the next one for Croatia to book their spot in the quarterfinal...

And he did! 

Croatia will play the winner of Brazil and South Korea in the 2022 World Cup quarter-final on Friday! 

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

Sunday, 4 December 2022

Dalić and Gvardiol ahead of World Cup Round of 16: "We Can't Underestimate Japan"

December 4, 2022 - Croatia national team coach Zlatko Dalić and superstar center-back Joško Gvardiol addressed the press ahead of the World Cup round of 16 match against Japan. 

Croatia will play Japan at Al Janoub Stadium on Monday at 6 pm local time. There is a fantastic atmosphere within the Croatia national team. Apart from Borna Sosa, everyone else is fully prepared and focused on Japan.

Japan announced that they would enter the match like Samurai.

"We respect our opponent, the winner who defeated two world champions, Spain and Germany. In their defeats, they showed character and quality. We must not underestimate anyone. We know they will go into the match like Samurai; we won't do any worse, either. We know what kind of opponent we are playing against and our mentality. We have to position ourselves in the same way. We will play with maximum respect for the opponent, so the pitch will show who is better," Dalić emphasized at the beginning of the press conference.

He also spoke about Borno Sosa, who was not at yesterday's press conference due to exhaustion.

"We have the last training, so we will see the situation. If Borna is not ready, we will not risk anything. We will look for a replacement. We are still waiting. We need players at full strength for tomorrow because that game will demand it. Regardless of choice, we are ready and will give our best. Whoever we have given our trust to has justified it so far," he adds.

Joško Gvardiol said he was honored to join the coach at this press conference.

"I am honored that the coach took me to today's conference. I hope it won't be the last time I announce the match," he said.

"I know the Japanese players very well. They present many problems, and when they are with the national team, they are a team that fights for the whole 90 minutes and will not give up until the end."

They looked back at the 2020 Euros and being knocked out by Spain.

"That was the situation then. Joško came from the young national team, and we trusted him. You can't become a player if you don't have support. And then we endured some things and matured. Of course, there will be more mistakes and bad moments, but to become a real player, you must go through it all and play matches. I think that Joško justified our trust," said Dalić. 

Gvardiol agreed.

"Everyone makes mistakes, and I made a mistake then. There were a lot of circumstances. Debut matches and jitters, but that's behind us now. I am open to new challenges."

They say the third time is a charm. Can Croatia win the World Cup?

"No one is happier for it to be than us. We will try; we have a chance. We believe in our dream. I'm always an optimist, but this competition is of high quality. We provide excellent results at World Cups. We are among the last 16 with the smallest population and the smallest country. We are a small country, but with big dreams. The goal is to go as far as possible. When Croatia plays and produces good results, our entire nation is happy, and I want it to last even longer," Dalić said.

"The first step is in front of us, and when we pass it, we will look further. Croatia is successful, and the results are in the rank of a world miracle. This is our quality and our success. We continuously play well in big competitions. We have become a football superpower that everyone respects and must respect. A difficult match awaits us against an opponent who wants to prove itself. It will be difficult for us. However, we are happy to be here at the World Cup, that was our goal, and now the goal is to make the nation happy." 

And finally - is this the last national team competition for Luka Modrić?

"Whatever I say about Luka, it's too little. May God give him health, and may he last longer. I am sure that this is not his last competition for Croatia. His physique, training, work, and professionalism prove us right. He is a very important player. I don't want to talk about individuals. After Belgium, there was talk about Gvardiol. We are a team. That's the only way we can get a result. Not Luka or Gvardiol. The individual will jump out if the team is good. Luka is our captain and leader, let him continue," said Dalić. 

Source: HRT

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

 

Friday, 2 December 2022

Croatia into World Cup Last 16: Zlatko Dalić Comments on Japan, Joško Gvardiol, and VAR

December 2, 2022 - Croatia coach Zlatko Dalić addressed the press the morning after Croatia secured their World Cup round of 16 spot. Croatia will play Japan on Monday, and Dalić gave his first impressions. 

The Croatia national team will play in the 2022 World Cup round of 16 against Japan, the winner of Group E. Second-placed Croatia will thus face a rather unexpected opponent for a spot in the quarter-final. Coach Zlatko Dalić spoke to the press in Qatar the morning after Groups E and F were completed. 

Recall Croatia and Morocco drew 0-0 in the opening match, after which Croatia beat Canada 4-1 and finished 0-0 against Belgium, enough to win second place in Group F. Croatia thus crosses over with the winner of Group E, Japan, which lost to Costa Rica 0-1, and beat Germany and Spain 2-1.

Have you had time to analyze the match against Belgium one more time?

"I looked at it last night in peace, I got the statistics, and the impression is better than yesterday. Great match by Croatia, great 98 minutes. Control, defense, pressing - everything was at the highest level. Full control. We had two or three situations that could have been fatal, but they came from our mistakes, not Belgium's game.

The complete story was great. There were so many good things. According to statistics, we ran 122 kilometers and did not fail in that segment. Everything we did was very, very good. The impression after the recording is better than after the game."

What awaits Croatia against Japan?

"Tough game for both teams. Spain took the lead and thought it was over, but Japan never wavers and never gives up. Japan deserved to win because they were compact and fast. Germany was eliminated, and Belgium and Denmark, which speaks of the quality of the other national teams. Maybe earlier, we would have chosen Japan as the best option, but they beat Germany and Spain, and Japan is anything but an easy opponent."

How is Croatia doing physically?
"We work very well all the time; training is at a high level. We didn't fail the physical fitness part, and I'm not afraid of that. We have to rest for two days and prepare for Japan, but we are full of energy and motivation. We want to avoid injury. We can't rest the whole team, but it's not necessary either."

How would you rate Japan as a team, and what will be critical for that game?
"If someone finishes first in the group ahead of Spain and Germany, they are good and quality. Japan showed that they do not give up. They came back after losing and have great quality. We must be disciplined and patient and not make mistakes at the beginning of the game. Japan punishes it with counterattacks. We have to have a good comeback."

How does it feel to be statistically one of the best coaches at the World Cup?
"I will look at it from the aspect of Croatian football and the national team. We have continuity; we are always at the top. Along with Germany and France, we are the only ones with medals in the last 20 years. We are a small country; we must be happy and proud. It's not my success, but it's the success of all of us. I hope this is not the end and that Croatia will do better and bigger things.

We have become a team that deserves the respect I'm talking about, not that we play at 1 pm as World Cup finalists. We deserved it with the results. However this ends, it is a fact."

What is the next goal?
"Appetites have not increased. We must be calm and modest and look for what is most important. It's the next game. We must not think that we have done great things. We did what we were preparing for, and we are moving on. When we were first in the group with nine points in Russia in 2018, we went to Denmark. I said then that we would have been losers if we had lost that game. No one would remember the group.

It is the same now. We will not go with big announcements. We will try to win the next game and take the next step. We must be firmly on the ground. We know that Japan has a lot of players in Europe, or eight of them in the Bundesliga. They also have players at Celtic, good players in the championship. The Japan coach knows European football. Japan will be a worthy rival to Croatia.

I'm not surprised that Japan is in the round of 16. They deserved it with their games and quality, and I congratulate them on that."

Dalić commented on the photo of Joško Gvardiol in his mother's arms.

"It warmed my heart when I saw it. That's why he's the best stopper in the world; you can't be complete if you don't have those feelings. That picture is the picture of the Croatia national team. I congratulate his mother for raising such a son."

And what about that VAR call in last night's match?
"I don't usually comment on the reffing, but I was angry. It's a centimeter; it takes away the emotion. Because of this, Croatia lost the World Cup title. It hurts. If this were the interpretation, that hand in Russia would not be a penalty."

Source: Index.hr

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

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