Friday, 15 October 2021

Decisive Croatia-Russia World Cup Qualifier at Poljud: UEFA Sets Time, Tickets Soon

October 14, 2021 - The decisive Croatia-Russia World Cup qualifier at Poljud on Sunday, November 14, will be played at 3 pm. Tickets should be announced by HNS soon. 

In exactly one month, the Croatia national football team will play in Split, at Poljud Stadium, against Russia. Not only is it their final qualifier for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, but the winner of the match will secure a direct spot at the next World Cup and avoid rather difficult additional qualifications. 

Russia and Croatia are in a dead race for first place in Group H, the only spot that leads directly to Qatar. After drawing against Slovakia in Osijek, Croatia will need a victory against Russia to take them directly to the World Cup. Any other result leads Zlatko Dalić's team to a tricky playoff round, and Russia directly to Qatar. This is, of course, assuming Croatia defeats Malta three days before the big battle in Split, on November 11.

Fans can be happy that Croatia plays against Russia on Sunday, November 14, meaning many do not have to take the day off from work. A full Poljud stadium is to be expected. 

UEFA has confirmed the date on its official website, as well as the time. Thus, Croatia and Russia will meet at 3 pm, which isn't as common as the 9 pm clashes we are used to watching. However, it should be taken into account that four groups will be playing final qualifying matches on that day.

Namely, Croatia, as well as its opponents in Group H, will start at 3 pm, Group J will be played from 6 pm, and Groups B and A from 8:45 pm. 

Tickets for the Croatia-Russia match are not yet on sale, though the Croatian Football Federation should soon announce the prices and when ticket sales will begin. It will be one match football fans won't want to miss. 

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

To learn more about sport in Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Monday, 11 October 2021

2022 World Cup Qualifiers: Croatia and Slovakia Draw 2:2 in Osijek

October 11, 2021 - Croatia and Slovakia draw 2:2 in Osijek on Monday as part of their 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign. 

After the Croatia national team convincingly won 3:0 against Cyprus on Friday, Croatia continued its 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign in rainy Osijek against Slovakia on Monday.

Before this match, Croatia and Russia led Group H with 16 points each. 

Lineups

Croatia: Livaković - Stanišić, Vida, Gvardiol, Barišić - Brozović, Modrić - Ivanušec, Pašalić, Perišić - Kramarić

Slovakia: Rodak - Koscelnik, Šatka, Škriniar, Hancko - Hrošovsky, Kucka - Schranz, Hamšik, Haraslin - Almasi

Andrej Kramarić thus started at the top of the attack instead of Marko Livaja, Luka Ivanušec took over the right wing, while Borna Barišić filled in for Sosa on left back. Domagoj Vida returned to the stopper position and Ćaleta-Car moved to the bench, while Mario Pašalić was in the starting 11 instead of Nikola Vlašić.

Recall, Zlatko Dalić didn't have Mateo Kovačić available due to yellow cards.

Croatia possessed the game in the first 5 minutes, showing their dominance at home but without any real chances to score. Slovakia certainly pressed up the pitch in the minutes that followed and was awarded their first corner kick in the 9th minute. 

Brozovic and Modric had the best attacking play so far in the 11th minute though the Slovakia keeper denied a shot on goal.  

A Hamšik free kick in the 20th minute found the head on an unmarked Schranz who scored for the 0:1 Slovakia lead. 

Modrić angrily shot far post in the 24th minute which was deflected for a corner. Kramarić scored the equalizer with his head off Modrić's cross for 1:1 and his first national team goal in 13 games! 

Croatia almost took the lead nearing the 30th minute but the Slovakia keeper was brilliant to block Pašalić and keep the score even. Barašić shot two minutes later forcing the keeper to make another save. Kramarić's confidence from scoring could be seen on the pitch as the striker had another great chance. Brozović also tested the Slovakia keeper with a shot in the 37th minute. 

Haraslin, however, was the one to take the lead in the 45th minute for 1:2. Kramarić hit the post in the post in the final seconds of added time. The match ended 1:2 for Slovakia at halftime. 

Dalić subbed on Nikola Vlašić for Luka Ivanušec to start the second half. 

Slovakia came out with a few chances to start the second half, with close calls for Livaković. Kramarić had a brilliant chance in the 57th minute which he shanked off target. 

Pašalić came off for Brekalo in the 59th minute. Modrić had a shot on target in the 60th. 

Perišić and Vlašić had a nice play in the 65th minute which was hit wide of the goal. 

Livaja was subbed on for Stanišić in the 67th minute, showing Dalić's offensive strategy to not only get the equalizer but the win. 

Croatia was awarded a free kick on the edge of the penalty area in the 69th minute, and Croatia got their chance. Luka Modrić brilliantly hit the ball through the Slovakia wall for 2:2! 

Croatia was awarded another free kick a bit further outside of the penalty area in the 77th minute. Vida almost had a header in the goal in the next play. 

Just when we thought Croatia did it again after a stunning Kramarić ball into the box and Vlašić goal, the referee ruled it offside. 

Brozović almost put Croatia in the lead with 3 minutes to go but weakly shot at the keeper, and Vlašić missed in the 89th. 

The referee added 4 minutes of injury time to the end of the match, in which neither team could score. 

Croatia has two final qualifiers against Malta and Russia next month. 

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

To learn more about sport in Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Sunday, 10 October 2021

Croatia Match-Worn Jerseys Up for Auction after Slovakia Qualifier

October 10, 2021 - Fans can bid on Croatia match-worn jerseys against Slovakia in an auction for the Vatreno Srce Foundation.

A real treat for jersey collectors and all fans of the popular Croatia national team shirts.

A humanitarian auction will start at www.matchwornshirt.com, where the Croatia national team jerseys from the 2022 World Cup qualifier against Slovakia in Osijek will be on offer, announced HNS.

The tradition continues after the Croatia national football team became the first in the world to donate the jerseys from one competitive match (Croatia - Hungary, Euro 2020 qualifiers) to an online auction for humanitarian purposes, raising more than 30,000 euros for the Vatreno Srce Foundation, and did the same in one big competition (Croatia - Spain, Round of 16 of Euro 2020).

All Croatia national team players who will play against Slovakia will give away their jerseys for this auction, and their starting price will be 89 euros. The Vatreno Srce Foundation was founded and run by Croatia national team members and coaches. For years, they have been helping children and young people, such as donations to the Clinic for Children's Diseases and the Step into Life campaign.

The auction, which will offer Croatia match-worn shirts from the match against Slovakia, will begin with the first referee's whistle and will end on October 24 at 4 pm CET. All jerseys were professionally disinfected by exposure to ultraviolet radiation, which means that all possible traces of viruses, bacteria, and DNA material were removed. Still, all other elements of the worn jersey were preserved, including embroidered Croatian and opponent's flags and the date of the match on the front of the jersey.

Join the auction at www.matchwornshirt.com/club/croatia, support the work of the Vatreno Srce Foundation and treat yourself or your loved ones to something they'll remember for a lifetime! 

Recall, Croatia and Slovakia meet on Monday at 20:45 at City Garden Stadium in Osijek. This is Croatia's second qualifier in October after beating Cyprus 3:0 away on Friday last week. 

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

To learn more about sport in Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Saturday, 9 October 2021

Ivica Olić Talks Luka Sučić Call Up and More Ahead of Croatia's Slovakia Qualifier

October 9, 2021 - Assistant coach Ivica Olić addressed the press on Saturday after Croatia's victory against Cyprus on Friday. The big news is that coach Zlatko Dalić called up the young Red Bull Salzburg star Luka Sučić to replace Mateo Kovačić in the 2022 World Cup qualifier against Slovakia on Monday. 

After a great 3:0 victory in Cyprus, the Croatia national football team will face Slovakia to continue the 2022 World Cup qualifiers on Monday.

Croatia will play against Slovakia at home, at City Garden Stadium in Osijek. Today, the national team assistant coach, Ivica Olić, addressed journalists.

The former Croatia national team player initially spoke about the game against Cyprus.

"These are the games in which you can lose a lot and gain very little. We knew that Cyprus would hold a positive result, and until there was a two-goal difference for us, they held on. They relied mainly on defense and tried to shake us with counterattacks, but after the game, when we looked at everything again, Cyprus must be happy that it ended only 3:0."

Josip Stanišić, a member of Bayern Munich, made his national team debut.

"We have to be grateful to both Bayern and coach Nagelsmann for trusting him. Until this season, Stanišić spent practically all his time in the second team of Bayern, and with the injury of Pavard, he came to the fore and imposed himself. The reviews for such a young and ‘inexperienced’ player were great. When he decided to play for the Croatia national team, it was a matter of time before getting a chance. Juranović's injury dropped him out of the first 11, and in addition to a couple of initial mistakes, he played an excellent game against Cyprus."

Coach Zlatko Dalić invited RB Salzburg's Luka Sučić to join the national team. 

The RB Salzburg footballer is a standard first-team player of the best Austrian team and he regularly plays in the Champions League. He showed magnificent talent in only a few appearances for the young Croatian national team. On Friday in Varaždin, the Croatia U21s defeated Norway 3:2, and Sučić participated in all three goals, either as a scorer or as an assistant. 

"Luka had several great performances in the Champions League, he starts in the Austrian championship, he has been under our radar for a long time, and we thought about him at the last gathering. In that position, the competition is the biggest in Croatia, and it is not easy to be inside. However, he played great yesterday, he was one of the best, and I think he is a quality and potent player who has a great future ahead of him if injuries bypass him."

Ivica Olić hopes for great support from the fans and a good result in Osijek.

"We hear that ticket sales are going great, the stadium is always well filled here, and I do not doubt that it will be the same on Monday. Slovakia is a well-known opponent, which lost its ambition for first or second place after losing in Russia. They may not be motivated; I believe the coach will give a chance to other players. Sometimes they can be dangerous, but we have to concentrate on the last four games and take three points. We see that Russia is also taking points, and the last game may decide who directly qualifies for Qatar. There is no relaxation, we are going for three points, and I am sure that the audience will carry us to victory with a full stadium."

Mateo Kovačić will miss the match against Slovakia due to yellow cards.

"Kova is in great shape and is an integral part of this team. Every team lacks when there is no such player. But we have a wide choice here, and whoever comes in instead will be sure to do well.

Croatia and Russia are in a dead-even race, leading the table with 16 points each, six more than Slovenia, which also can qualify. Russia has two challenging away games in the remaining three games. The first is on Monday in Maribor, and the last round of qualifications is on November 14 at Poljud.

Russia celebrated minimally yesterday against Slovakia with an own goal by Skriniara, while Slovenia outclassed Malta away 4:0.

"I was surprised by Slovenia's big result, but I am glad that it ended that way, mathematically they are also candidates for second place. I hope that in the match against Russia, they can take at least one point, and I would like three. But we should not burden ourselves with that; the most important thing is that we continue to play like this. Of course, I want Slovenia to help, but we have a match point in the last game."

Ivica Olić commented on Andrej Kramarić's goal-scoring crisis in the national team.

"I was sorry that VAR annulled his goal. Every striker will undoubtedly be in a goal-scoring crisis for a while, and that happens to the best. Andrej played a good game against Cyprus and won a penalty kick. It is the team that won the game and the team that will get the attackers out of the mini-crisis. I do not doubt Andrej's quality, and I know that he will score again soon. Crises happen to everyone, but then a series of goals can follow."

Source: HRT

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

To learn more about sport in Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Friday, 8 October 2021

2022 World Cup Qualifiers: Croatia Beats Cyprus 3:0 in Larnaca

October 8, 2021 - Croatia beats Cyprus 3:0 in the first match of the October World Cup qualifying campaign in Larnaca on Friday. 

After a great September qualifying campaign in which they collected seven points against the three toughest opponents in Group H, Croatia met Cyprus tonight at Aek Arena in Larnaca. Several hundred Croatia fans were in the stands. 

PHOTO-2021-10-08-11-42-43.jpeg

Slobodan Kadic

Before this match, Croatia topped the group with 13 points, while Russia has the same number of points, with a slightly weaker goal difference. Only the first in the group qualifies directly for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, while the second-placed enters additional qualifications.

Lineups:

Cyprus: Michail – Andreou,Soteriou, Ioannou – Psaltis, Artymatas, Kyriakou, Avraam – Papoulis, P. Sotiriou, Pittas

Croatia: Livaković - Stanišić, Ćaleta-Car, Gvardiol, Sosa - Brozović, Kovačić - Vlašić, Modrić, Perišić – Kramarić

In the first minute of the match, debutant Stanišić made an almost catastrophic mistake, and Sotiriou rushed towards the goal. Fortunately, Gvardiol caught up and managed to block his shot from the edge of the penalty area. 

Croatia's attacking midfield was trying to speed up and control the game, while the entire Cyprus defense stayed back to prevent any chances. 

A great attacking play by Croatia in the 12th minute saw Vlašić find Kramarić at the top of the box, though he shot over the post.

Perišić shot a minute later which was deflected for Croatia's first corner kick. There was another great chance for Sosa who shot from outside the box, before Ćaleta-Car's header just missed. 

Croatia's second corner came in the 16th minute. Modrić dribbled through the Cyprus defense to the goal line which went out for another Croatia corner a minute later. 

Vlašić had a great chance in the 19th but shot over the goal post after forcing his way around the Cyprus defense. 

A tremendous effort from Perišić in the 20th, shooting near post with a brilliant save by the Cyprus goalkeeper. 

DSC_7489.JPG

Slobodan Kadic

Croatia had their chance in the 22nd minute - a Perišić assist from the goal line found Kramarić in the penalty area for what we thought was a 1:0 lead, but it was ultimately called offside after VAR. 

Perišić had another great chance in the 30th minute after a superb through ball from Gvardiol which was played out for a goal kick. 

Kovačić was booked with a yellow card in the 33rd minute, meaning he'll miss Croatia's next match against Slovakia at home. 

Kramarić shot at the keeper a minute later. 

Cyprus had a dangerous attack in the 37th minute which the Croatia defense sent out for the first Cyprus corner. Cyprus was certainly playing with more intent as the match neared halftime. A fortunate offside play nearly saw a Cyprus goal, but Livaković saved the day. 

After a worrying 10 or so minutes, Croatia picked up their intensity again in the final 5 minutes of the first half. A free kick for Croatia with two minutes to go was cleared by the Cyprus defense. 

Croatia's best chance of the game came in the 1st minute of injury time. A brilliant Modrić ball found Sosa who shot, forcing a cluster in the front of the goal. Kramarić almost scored for 1:0 but was denied by the keeper. 

But Croatia got their goal moments before the halftime whistle. Perišić dribbled into the box and scored far post for 1:0! 

DSC_7848.JPG

Slobodan Kadic

DSC_7878.JPG

Slobodan Kadic

There were no changes for Croatia going into the second half. 

Croatia's first corner of the second half came in the 49th minute.

Croatia was awarded a penalty in the 52nd minute. Kramarić pushed into the box and was taken down by two Cyprus players. Luka Modrić stepped up to the penalty spot and was denied by the Cyprus goalkeeper to keep the game 1:0. 

Croatia had a series of beautiful one-twos in the 57th minute but a cluster of Cyrpus players stayed back to deny any chances. Vlašić shot near post a minute later. 

Zlatko Dalić subbed off Kovačić for Pašalić in the 62nd minute. Andrej Kramarić was subbed off for Marko Livaja. while Nikola Vlašić came off for Josip Brekalo in the 67th minute. 

DSC_7506.JPG

Slobodan Kadic

Sosa had a brilliant chance in the 70th minute but chose to play Livaja instead of taking the shot, which the keeper easily defended.

Croatia continued with stellar chances in the minutes that followed, all denied by the brilliant Cyprus goalkeeper. 

However, a Croatia corner in the 79th minute brought just the luck they needed. Gvardiol found the back of the net from the cross for 2:0! 

Dalić subbed off Modrić for Ivanušec in the 82nd minute, while Brozović came off for Kristijan Jakić. 

To confirm Croatia's dominance during the match, Livaković's first save came only in the 84th minute!

The referee added 3 minutes of injury time, and Croatia wasn't finished yet. A brilliant ball from Brekalo in the box found Livaja who tapped it in for 3:0!

Croatia maintained possession to end the match in their favor. Goals by Perišić, Gvardiol, and Livaja confirmed the 3:0 victory.

Croatia will face Slovakia next in Osijek on Monday.

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

To learn more about sport in Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Monday, 4 October 2021

Zlatko Dalić Ahead of Croatia's October World Cup Qualifiers: "We Must Remain Disciplined"

October 4, 2021 - Croatia's October World Cup qualifiers begin on Friday against Cyprus and continue in Osijek against Slovakia next Monday. Coach Zlatko Dalić addressed the press in Zagreb today before the national team gathered to discuss the upcoming cycle.

The Croatia national team is gathering in Zagreb ahead of the October World Cup qualifiers. Zlatko Dalić's team will play against Cyprus on Friday and host Slovakia on Monday in Osijek. Dalić has a lot of problems in the Croatia defense due to injuries, reports HRT.

"We must continue to be disciplined. We must continue even more seriously, even more responsibly, if we want to ease the cycle in November," said Dalić to begin.

On Sunday, he activated a callup to Borussia Dortmund defender Marin Pongračić. A few days ago, he also called up Duje Ćaleta-Car, due to the uncertain injuries of Domagoj Vida and Josip Juranović.

Dalić commented on Josip Brekalo's return to the national team:

"Josip Brekalo was not a problem for me; he was looking for a club, he was not in rhythm, and that is why he was not invited. He went to Turin, he played, and as soon as he got back in shape, we called him. We need him like other players who were not on the national team. No one will be deprived of the national team; whoever deserves their games, with their behavior, statements, and attitude towards the national team, will not be deprived because I see my interest first. Mine is that Croatia plays well to qualify for Qatar and the interest of the Croatia national team. I did not communicate with Rebić; there was no contact."

Croatia leads Group H with 13 points, the same as Russia. Slovakia is third with nine points, and Slovenia has seven. Malta and Cyprus follow with four points each.

"I think that 21 points will be enough, but we must decide for ourselves."

What does he think of the World Cup every two years?

"I don't think it's good, especially for the players, and the charm of playing the World Cup would be lost. We have to take care of the health of the footballers, and they play too many games this way."

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

To learn more about sport in Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, 29 September 2021

Tickets on Sale for Croatia World Cup Qualifier Against Slovakia in Osijek

September 29, 2021 - Tickets are on sale for the Croatia World Cup qualifier against Slovakia at City Garden Stadium in Osijek on October 11.

The Croatia national football team will continue qualifying for the 2022 World Cup in October. Zlatko Dalić's team will play against Cyprus in Larnaca on October 8 and Slovakia three days later in Osijek, reports HNS.

Online ticket sales for both Cyprus and Slovakia started on September 28 at 3 pm, the Croatian Football Federation announced.

The ticket price for the match against Cyprus is 80 kuna, and tickets can only be purchased online. One person can buy a maximum of four tickets.

Online ticket sales include a personal collection at the stadium box office with the presentation of a passport and a purchase confirmation (voucher), which is downloaded from the user's website after a successful purchase. Replacing vouchers at the stadium will be determined later, and all customers will be notified by e-mail.

Only citizens of the Republic of Croatia have the right to purchase online, regardless of residence address, by filling in personal data (name and surname, OIB, passport or identity card number, date of birth, and customer address). In addition to their data, the buyer also enters data on other spectators for whom they buy tickets, while other spectators do not have to be Croatian citizens.

The deadline for purchasing tickets is October 1 until 12 noon, i.e., until the availability of tickets is used.

Buying tickets for Croatia fans for the match against Cyprus is possible only through the Croatian Football Federation website. Croatia fans will not purchase tickets at the stadium box office or access the stadium without a voucher.

Entry to the stadium will be allowed only to those fans who have a valid EU digital COVID certificate issued based on complete vaccination or recovery of the coronavirus. EU digital COVID certificates issued based on PCR or antigen tests will not be recognized. HNS notes that no different vaccination certificates or sickness certificates will be recognized, but only the EU digital COVID certificate with a valid QR code checked at the entrance.

Ticket sales are organized exclusively online for the qualifying match between Croatia and Slovakia at City Garden Stadium in Osijek (October 11 at 8.45 pm). Ticket prices in presale (as of October 10) are 150 kn (west), 100 kn (east), and 75 kn (south). On the day of the match on October 11, the prices will be 200, 120 and 90 kn.

Everyone coming to the stadium must have an EU digital COVID certificate. However, children under the age of 12 who have a ticket can enter the stadium without an EU digital COVID certificate if accompanied by a parent or guardian who has a certificate and a ticket.

Ticket sales include e-tickets that the customer must download and print. Only citizens of the Republic of Croatia have the right to purchase, regardless of residence address, by filling in the required personal information.

One person can buy up to four tickets. In addition to their data, the buyer can also enter data on other ticket holders, where they do not necessarily have to be a citizen of the Republic of Croatia.

TICKETS CAN BE PURCHASED HERE

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

To learn more about sport in Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Monday, 20 September 2021

Luka Modrić Returns for Croatia's October World Cup Qualifiers

September 20, 2021 - Captain Luka Modrić returns for Croatia's October World Cup qualifiers against Cyprus and Slovakia.

The Croatia national team coach Zlatko Dalić invited 24 players, with six call-ups, to the qualifying matches against Cyprus and Slovakia in October, reports HNS.

After a very successful September, sitting at the top of the group with seven points in three games, the Croatia national team awaits the continuation of the European qualifications for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Croatia will play in Larnaca near Cyprus on October 8, and then they will host Slovakia on October 11 in Osijek.

The national team will gather on October 4 in Zagreb, where they will train until October 7 and then travel to Larnaca. They will travel to Osijek immediately after the match against Cyprus.

After missing the September qualifying campaign due to injury, Dalić's player list is again led by captain Luka Modrić.

"After a successful September, of course, we now welcome the new gathering with a lot of optimism, positive energy, and confidence. However, we must be aware that all the good we have done must now be confirmed with six more points and that we can only do so with the full concentration, approach, and togetherness we had at the last gathering. We have already beaten Cyprus and Slovakia in this cycle, and we accept the role of favorites in both games, but I repeat - we must be at our maximum. I am convinced that the invited players will successfully respond to this challenge, and of course, we are especially pleased with the return of Luka Modrić, who as a player and leader is of inestimable importance to us," said coach Zlatko Dalic.

List of players for Cyprus and Slovakia:

Goalkeepers: Dominik Livaković (Dinamo Zagreb), Ivica Ivušić (Osijek), Ivo Grbić (Lille).

Defenders: Domagoj Vida (Bešiktaš), Dejan Lovren (Zenit), Borna Barišić (Glasgow Rangers), Josip Juranović (Celtic), Mile Škorić (Osijek), Filip Uremović (Rubin Kazan), Joško Gvardiol (RB Leipzig), Borna Sosa (Stuttgart), Josip Stanišić (Bayern).

Midfielders : Luka Modrić (Real Madrid), Mateo Kovačić (Chelsea), Marcelo Brozović (Inter), Mario Pašalić (Atalanta), Nikola Vlašić (West Ham), Luka Ivanušec (Dinamo Zagreb), Kristijan Jakić (Eintracht Frankfurt).

Strikers: Ivan Perišić (Inter), Andrej Kramarić (Hoffenheim), Josip Brekalo (Torino), Mislav Oršić (Dinamo Zagreb), Marko Livaja (Hajduk).

Callups: Duje Ćaleta-Car (Olimpique de Marseille), Ante Budimir (Osasuna), Antonio Mirko Čolak (Malmö), Simon Sluga (Luton Town), Kristijan Lovrić (Gorica), Nikola Moro (Dinamo Moskva).

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

To learn more about sport in Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, 8 September 2021

Croatia against Russia at Poljud to Decide 2022 World Cup Spot

September 8, 2021 - Croatia against Russia at Poljud Stadium - the match that will decide the winner of Group H and a direct spot at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Croatia completed their September World Cup qualifiers with the victory against Slovenia (3:0) at Poljud on Tuesday, winning seven out of nine points. In the last six days, all three games were played against the main competitors for direct placement in the 2022 World Cup, reports Index.hr.

Croatia must finish the qualifications at the top of the group to directly qualify for the World Cup. Recall, finishing second leads to the most difficult additional qualifications for the World Cup in history. It is important to emphasize that these qualifications for the World Cup are completely different from all others so far. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the schedule is condensed, so the European part of the World Cup qualifiers is played across eight months, instead of the previous one and a half years. Namely, Qualifications run from March to November this year.

Furthermore, only ten group winners will secure a spot at the World Cup, while ten runners-up will play additional qualifiers. Thus, two winners of the 2020/21 Nations League groups will join those national teams, but only those who did not directly qualify for the World Cup and did not secure additional qualifications as runners-up in the World Cup qualifying groups.

Unlike in the past, during these additional World Cup qualifiers, the national teams will be divided into three groups. Only one knockout match will be played to define which three European national teams ensure their spot at the 2022 World Cup.

Four games before the end, it is clear that Croatia and Russia will decide the winner of the group. Both national teams have 13 points, and one goal only divides them. 

Before the qualifications, coach Zlatko Dalić said that he thinks 20 or 21 points will be enough for first place in the group. However, Croatia could again finish in the additional qualifications with 20 points, just like for the 2018 World Cup, when Croatia overcame Greece.

Apart from Croatia, Denmark also went to the playoffs with 20 points, but it is worth noting that in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers, Portugal and Ukraine went to the playoffs, even though they had 21 points each. So Dalić's calculation should not be taken as relevant.

Croatia has 13 points after six games, and by the end of this part of the qualification, four more games will be played from October 8 to November 14.

If Croatia, as expected, beats the two weakest national teams, Cyprus and Malta, it would have 19 points. Still, the decision will fall in Osijek and Split against the significantly stronger Slovakia and Russia. A mitigating circumstance for Croatia is that they play against both national teams at home.

Until the end, Russia's schedule and results will be equally important to Croatia, and the derby will decide the winner of the group in the last round, Croatia - Russia at Poljud

Croatia's schedule until the end of the World Cup qualifiers:

October 8: Cyprus - Croatia

October 11: CROATIA - Slovakia

November 11: Malta - Croatia

November 14: CROATIA - Russia

Russia's schedule until the end of the World Cup qualifiers:

October 8: Russia - Slovakia

October 11: Slovenia - Russia

November 11: Russia - Cyprus

November 14: Croatia - Russia

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

To learn more about sport in Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Tuesday, 7 September 2021

Ivan Perišić to Captain Croatia against Slovenia: Every Game at Poljud is Special

September 7, 2021 - Croatia national team coach Zlatko Dalić and Inter Milan midfielder Ivan Perišić spoke to the press ahead of Croatia's final September 2022 World Cup qualifier at Poljud on Tuesday. Ivan Perišić will captain Croatia against Slovenia. 

Croatia needs a victory at Poljud to increase points after consecutive visits to Russia and Slovakia.

"Certainly, there will be no Livaković in goal; we will not take any risks; Gvardiol is also questionable. I am not inclined to force what I am not sure of, as in the case of Modrić and Budimir. We will go with healthy and ready players. This, after all, was shown by this census at the beginning of the September cycle. Some players played a lot, Sosa, Juranović, Lovren… I'm a little scared to start a game with players who played a lot. We won’t change and invent much because we have nothing. I will say that Livaja will start the game, he has known this for several days, and I expect great things from him; he deserved it with his performances for Hajduk. In what position will he play? Everyone is there to play what is meant for them. Nobody plays a dominant position, even though the media constantly emphasize it," says Zlatko Dalić, who went on to discuss the importance of a victory and the demands of the third game in a week.

"We have to be favorites at our stadium, in front of our fans. Perhaps this will be the most difficult match for us because it is the third in just seven days against an aggressive and combative opponent who beat us in Slovenia. If we do not show the energy from Bratislava and Moscow, it will be difficult for us. However, I doubt that the audience will carry us in our motive, and I believe we will win the match. In which way, it doesn't matter; only the points are important."

Slovenia is no easy opponent. 

"Slovenia is not just Jan Oblak. Iličić rested; he is fresh and the biggest danger; he forms an attacking axis with Lovrić, and I expect Mlakar as well. Slovenia will play as much as we allow them and as we position ourselves on the field. We did not let Russia or Slovakia play with pressure; I am delighted with that game segment. We must react well to other opponents' balls again. Problems in the attack? We were a little futile going forward, but these aren’t games to die for in beauty. Points matter, not impressions. I said that I had no objections to what Croatia played, except for that final."

The team will once again be weakened with the absence of Luka Modrić.

"Luka will not be forever; we cannot keep repeating Luka, Luka, Luka. No one can replace him individually; we can only replace him as a team; we must understand that. He started training; he will be with us in October. We have to get rid of that rumor so that we can play without the captain, who we miss a lot."

There will be no lack of support at Poljud, and well-filled stands are expected.

"The support of the audience will be important to us. We remember Hungary and the fantastic atmosphere that reigned at Poljud during that match. It was an atmosphere that gave you chills. However, since I was the coach, where the point was that we played, it was beautiful for us, in Osijek, Rijeka, Zagreb… Regardless of what someone wants to do that is worthless, the Croatian people recognize the good. Therefore, I expect great support from the stands, and we will try to thank you with three points," concluded Dalić.

Ivan Perišić will lead Croatia as captain against Slovenia. Ivan is aware that the victory against Slovakia in Bratislava additionally raised the self-confidence of the national team.

"The atmosphere is great after the victory in Slovakia; it gave us extra energy. We did well in the matches against Russia and Slovakia, we did not concede a goal, and we can be satisfied with two of perhaps the most difficult away games. However, if we don't beat Slovenia, it won't mean much," said Perišić, who spoke about the hard September rhythm of these matches.

"The rhythm is tough; everything happened in a short time, it will be a little easier in October and November, but then we will already have two games a week with our clubs. Whoever survives will talk, ha, ha, ha… However, we have 25 players so that the coach can choose and distribute the forces. The skeleton of the team is there; the younger players already have a lot of serious games, they give us extra strength." 

Ivan spoke about the course of the match against Slovenia.

"We will start from the first minute to score; it will be easier if we open them at the start, as was the case against Hungary at Poljud. We definitely need to improve our attack, and we need more time for that. Poljud? Every game at Poljud is something special; it means a lot to me, family, friends, we can't wait for it to start."

Source: HNS

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

To learn more about sport in Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Page 1 of 3

Search