Tuesday, 20 July 2021

2022 World Cup Qualifiers: Croatia and Russia to Meet at Poljud in November

July 20, 2021 - Croatia and Russia will meet at Poljud Stadium in Split to close out the 2022 World Cup qualifiers in Group H. 

The Croatian Football Federation Executive Board has registered Poljud Stadium as the host of the Croatia and Russia match as part of the European qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup, which will be held in Qatar in 2022, reports HNS.

Croatia and Russia have played four times so far, with Croatia recording two wins and two draws. Recall, Croatia and Russia most recently met in the quarterfinals of the 2018 World Cup at Fisht Stadium in Sochi. The match finished 1:1 thanks to a goal by Kramarić before going into extra time when Vida scored for the 2:1 lead. Fernandes equalized in the final minutes, forcing to game to penalties. Rakitić scored the winning penalty, advancing Croatia to the semifinal match against England. 

Split will host two Croatia national team matches this fall - on September 7, Croatia will host Slovenia on Poljud (20:45), and the competition in Group H will end on November 14 at 15:00 against Russia. In other news, the 2018 World Cup finalists will host Slovakia on October 11 at City Garden Stadium in Osijek.

After the introductory three rounds in March, the Croatia national team leads in Group H with six points, the same number of points as Russia, while Slovakia is one point behind. Croatia is expected to play against Russia (September 1) and Slovakia (September 4) in September, and the three-match program will end in Split against Slovenia.

The 10 first-placed national teams in their groups will qualify directly for the World Cup, while the second-placed national teams will compete in the playoffs in March 2022. The 2022 World Cup will be held in an untraditional term, from 21 November – 18 December 2022. 

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

To learn more about sport in Croatia, CLICK HERE

Tuesday, 30 March 2021

2022 World Cup Qualifiers: Croatia Tops Malta 3:0 in Rijeka

March 30, 2021 - In their 3rd qualifier for the 2022 World Cup, Croatia tops Malta 3:0 in Rijeka.

Croatia met Malta at Rujevica Stadium in Rijeka in the 3rd round of Group H of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers.

Zlatko Dalic's side had a shocking display in Ljubljana on Wednesday, losing to Slovenia to open the qualifications and immediately complicated their road to the World Cup. Recall, only the group winner qualifies directly for Qatar.

Two days later, however, Croatia changed tactics and managed to defeat Cyprus in a comfortable win. Mario Pašalić scored the only goal for the Vatreni during the first half. It surely wasn't Croatia's best performance, but it was enough to secure the team's first three points.

Dalić repeats the 4-3-3 formation used against Cyprus but decided to give many of his players some rest. From the last game, only Livaković, Ćaleta-Car, Pašalić, and Budimir returned the squad. Vida, Kovačić, and Vlašić made a comeback to the starting lineup after being benched the last match. Juranović, Melnjak, Badelj, and Oršić started for the first time. Vida replaced Modrić as the captain.

Lineups

Croatia (4-3-3): Livaković, Juranović, Ćaleta-Car, Vida, Melnjak; Kovačić, Badelj, Vlašić, Pašalić, Oršić; Budimir

Malta (3-4-3): Bonello; Shaw, Pepe, Borg; Mbong, Guillaumier, Kristensen, Camenzuli; Teuma, Satariano, Pisani

Recap

Croatia put a lot of pressure on the opposite team from the start, and it was Vlašić who got the first shot of the game in the second minute that went out, but very close to the post. Both teams started quite aggressively.

In the 14th minute, Vlašić again showed up to dribble past two defenders and put a very dangerous cross into the box. Pašalić hit the ball with a great header, but the shot went against the crossbar. This was Croatia's clearest attempt during the first half. 

Despite the early pressure from Croatia in the first 18 minutes, it didn't seem like enough to take the lead or dominate the ball possession. Shortly after, the Croatia midfield seemed to find the patience necessary to initiate the attacks in a more orderly manner, getting 64% of the possession in the 25th minute.

Although the Croatia side became the superior team in terms of possession and attempts afterward, the Malta defense did not give ground. Once again, a nice combination between Budimir and Vlašić in the 31st minute of the game gave the latter a great chance to put an interesting cross in the box, but no one was there to tap it in.

They continued to look for scoring opportunities through the end of the first half, but despite Vlašić's great first half and Oršić, Pašalić, and Kovačić's individual display; the visitors did not lower their arms and defended their goal fiercely.

Just one minute was added to the end of the first half, but the result did not budge. Both teams reached the halftime break drawing 0-0.

The Vatreni began the second half just like the first one, searching for the lead by pressuring their rivals from the start. And who else but Vlašić, who in the 46th minute shot to goal to complete his third attempt of the night, however, saved by the keeper.

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Slobodan Kadic

A couple of minutes later, another great opportunity came for the home team when Juranović's long ball reached Oršić, and the Dinamo midfielder found himself in a 1v1 situation with the goalkeeper. Oršić tried to lob the keeper, but he managed to stop the shot.

In the 53rd minute, Dalić decided to make a triple substitution. Modrić came on for Badelj, Brekalo for Pasalić, and Perišič for Budimir.

In the 58th minute, Barišič replaced Melnjak in the left-back position.

Reaching the first 15-minute of the second half, Croatia struggled to find more attempts. However, in the 61st minute, Barišić's entrance delivered more offensive situations, and he managed to put a beautiful cross that found Perišić completely alone in front of the goal. The veteran player scored the first goal of the game and became Croatia's fourth all-time scorer.

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Slobodan Kadic

It looked like Croatia lowered the pressure after the goal, but the referee gave the Vatreni a penalty in the 75th minute due to a handball in the box. Luka Modrić, who became the Croatia player with the most appearances for the national team last match against Cyprus, scored the second goal of the match and his first in the qualifiers.

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Slobodan Kadic

In the 78th minute, Lovrić replaced Oršić.

In the 90th minute, Brekalo scored for 3:0, which was the final score of the match. 

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Slobodan Kadic

Croatia will visit Russia on September 1 for their fourth game of Group H.

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Slobodan Kadic

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

Saturday, 27 March 2021

2022 World Cup Qualifiers: Croatia Defeats Cyprus 1:0 in Rijeka

March 27, 2021 - In their 2nd qualifier for the 2022 World Cup, Croatia defeats Cyprus 1:0 in Rijeka. 

Croatia met Cyprus at Rujevica Stadium in Rijeka in the 2nd round of Group H of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers.

Zlatko Dalic's side had a shocking display in Ljubljana on Wednesday, losing to Slovenia to open the qualifications and immediately complicated their road to the World Cup. Recall, only the group winner qualifies directly for Qatar.

Dalić mixed things up on Saturday, opting for a 4-3-3 formation instead. Duje Ćaleta-Car, Mario Pašalić, Josip Brekalo, and Ante Budimir were new to the starting eleven, while Domagoj Vida, Mateo Kovačić, Nikola Vlašić, and Andrej Kramarić dropped out of the first 11 compared to Wednesday. 

Lineups

Croatia (4-3-3): Livaković, Vrsaljko, Lovren, Ćaleta-Car, Barišić; Brozović, Brekalo, Modrić, Pašalić, Perišić; Budimir

Cyprus (3-4-3): Demetriou; Kousoulos, Soteriou, Laifis; Psaltris, Artymatas, Cham. Kyriakou, Ionanou; Tzioni, Ilia, Pittas

Recap

Croatia was powerful to start the match, pushing the Cyprus defense in the first 10 minutes. Pašalić just missed a header for the Croatia lead in the 4th minute, and Barišić's left side was active in getting Croatia to attack. Croatia totally dominated a weak Cyprus side who seldom touched the ball. 

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Slobodan Kadic

Nearing the 20th minute, Luka Modrić volleyed from 18-meters to hit just over the goal, and Croatia's chances did not stop there. A Perišić lay-off to Brozović saw him miss in what was perhaps Croatia's best chance so far. 

Vrsaljko played a beautiful ball into the box that was a hair too fast for Pašalić's head, and Luka missed again from outside the box. 

But then it happened.

Croatia finally found the back of the net in the 39th minute. Mario Pašalić scored from a header for 1:0!  

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Slobodan Kadic

Croatia almost made it 2:0 five minutes later, but the ref called it offside. Croatia ended the first half with 71% of possession.

Croatia started the second half with one change - Dalić subbed off Šime Vrsaljko for Josip Juranović.

Croatia's attacking game did not slow down at the start of the second half.

Perišić and Barišić shot in the 51st minute, while Juranović played a stellar ball to Brozović to shoot a few minutes later. Nothing, however, resulted in a goal. 

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Slobodan Kadic

Andrej Kramarić came on for Ante Budimir in the 57th minute. 

Croatia continued to get chances but struggled to find the back of the net. On a good day, it would have been 10:0 for Croatia by now. 

Dalić opted for fresh legs again and brought on Mislav Oršić and Nikola Vlašić for Mario Pašalić and Josip Brekalo in the 66th minute. Ivan Perišić and Mateo Kovačić swapped places 10 minutes later. 

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Slobodan Kadic

Cyprus opened up more and was looking forward, especially for that equalizing goal. Croatia's game was becoming sloppy, and it was hard for them to connect passes. They struggled to maintain a smart attacking game. 

Vlašić shot at the Cyprus keeper in the 80th minute. At least he attempted. 

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Slobodan Kadic

The ref added four minutes of injury time and the match ended 1:0 for Croatia. 

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Slobodan Kadic

Croatia will play Malta on Tuesday in Rijeka at 20:45. 

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

Wednesday, 24 March 2021

2022 World Cup Qualifiers: Slovenia Tops Croatia 1:0 in Ljubljana

March 24, 2021 - Slovenia tops Croatia 1:0 in the first round of qualifications for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar on Wednesday.

The 2018 World Cup finalists opened their qualification campaign at Stožice Stadium in Ljubljana against Slovenia on Wednesday, after which they will play Cyprus (Saturday, 6 pm) and Malta (Tuesday, 8:45 pm) at Rujevica Stadium in Rijeka. Slovakia and Russia are also in Croatia's group.

Croatia had recorded six wins and three draws in nine games against Slovenia so far. 

Zlatko Dalić decided on an offensive lineup against Slovenia, playing a 4-3-3 formation. Modrić was in a more offensive role in front of the midfield, and Andrej Kramarić, Ivan Perišić, and Nikola Vlašić started from the first minute.

Matjaž Kek also played in a 4-3-3 formation, showcasing two players from the Croatian First League in the starting 11, namely Osijek's Damjan Bohar and Dinamo's Petar Stojanović

Lineups

Slovenia: Oblak; Stojanović, Blažič, M. Mevlja, Balkovec; Bijol, Lovrić, Kurtić; Iličić, Šporar, Bohar

Croatia: Livaković; Vrsaljko, Lovren, Vida, Barišić; Kovačić, Brozović; Vlašić, Modrić, Perišić; Kramarić

Recap

Slovenia and Croatia kicked off at 8:45 pm in front of empty stands. Croatia maintained possession for the better part of the first 15 minutes and even had a few chances. Kramarić shot from the top of the penalty area in the 7th minute, only to be saved by Oblak, while Vlašić hit the inner post 3 minutes later.

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Slobodan Kadic

Slovenia, however, capitalized on one of their first attacks, and Sandi Lovrić scored for the 1:0 Slovenia lead in the 16th minute.

It all started from a weak ball played back by Perišić. Vida's clearance eventually found Lovrić, who was left alone to score from 15 meters. 

Croatia had a few more chances in the first half, particularly from free-kicks, but nothing resulted in the equalizer. The match ended 1:0 for Slovenia at the half. 

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Slobodan Kadic

Dalić subbed on Dinamo superstar Mislav Oršić for Borna Barišić (who was booked with a yellow card) to start the second half. 

Croatia attacked aggressively at the start of the second half, with Mislav shooting on target for an easy Oblak save.

In the 64th minute, Josip Brekalo was subbed on for Andrej Kramarić, hoping to add fresh legs to the offense. 

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Slobodan Kadic

In the 69th minute, Ante Budimir came in for Vlašić, and Pašalić for Kovačić 10 minutes later.

Croatia had no problem pushing the attack but struggled immensely with finding the back of the net. It didn't help that Slovenia boasts one of the best keepers in the world. 

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Slobodan Kadic

Spanish ref Antonio Mateu Lahoz added 3 minutes of injury time. Oršić hit wide of the goal in the final seconds for the Slovenia win. 

The match against Slovenia was Luka Modrić's 134th, equalizing Darijo Srna for the most national team caps ever. 

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

Tuesday, 8 December 2020

2022 World Cup Qualifiers: Croatia Opens against Slovenia Away in March

December 8, 2020 - The schedule for the 2022 World Cup qualifiers is here. Croatia opens against Slovenia in March 2021.

HNS announced that the Croatia national football team will open the qualification cycle for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar with a visit to Slovenia on March 24, 2021 (20:45).

In March, Croatia will play two more home games, against Cyprus (March 27, 18:00) and Malta (March 30, 20:45).

Croatia's qualifying cycle for the World Cup in Qatar will continue with three September matches, against Russia (September 1, 20:45) and Slovakia (September 4, 20:45) away, and against Slovenia (September 7, 20:45) at home. Zlatko Dalić's team will play two matches in October next year, against Cyprus (October 8, 20:45) away, and Slovakia (October 11, 20:45) at home.

In the final part of the qualifications in November 2021, Croatia will play in Malta (November 11, 20:45), and in the last qualification round at home, they will meet Russia (November 14, 15:00).

As a reminder, the ten group winners will qualify directly for the World Cup, and the ten second-placed teams will try to win the same in the playoffs, which will be played from March 24 to 29, 2022.

In addition to the ten runners-up from the group stage, the playoffs will also include the two best national teams in the overall standings of the UEFA Nations League for the 2020/2021 season, which will not directly qualify for the World Cup, nor will they win the playoffs as the second-placed teams in the group. Twelve teams in the playoffs will be divided into three "pots" and will fight for the three remaining European places at the World Cup in March 2022. 

The 2022 World Cup will be held from November 21 to December 18, 2022, in five Qatari cities (Doha, Lusail, Al Khor, Al Wakrah, Al Rayyan).

Schedule:

24.3. 20:45: Slovenia - Croatia

27.3. 18:00: Croatia - Cyprus

30.3. 20:45: Croatia - Malta

1.9. 20:45: Russia - Croatia

4.9. 20:45: Slovakia - Croatia

7.9. 20:45: Croatia - Slovenia

8.10. 20:45: Cyprus - Croatia

11.10. 20:45: Croatia - Slovakia

11.11. 20:45: Malta - Croatia

14.11. 15:00: Croatia - Russia

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

Tuesday, 8 December 2020

Zlatko Dalic Comments on the 2022 World Cup Qualifiers, Croatia in 'Respectable' Group H

December 8, 2020 - Croatia national team coach Zlatko Dalic comments on the 2022 World Cup qualifiers and Croatia in the 'respectable' Group H. The next World Cup will be held in Qatar in 2022.

The European qualifying draw for the 2022 World Cup was held on Monday in Zurich. Croatia was one of the top-seeded national teams in the draw and was thus placed in Group H with Slovakia, Russia, Slovenia, Cyprus, and Malta.

"As is mostly the case, the draw could have been better and worse, but Croatia was among the top seeds for a reason, and we should not run away from the role of favorites. Our goal is to qualify for the World Cup, and this is the group in which we can accomplish this. Strong matches from the past two years have come in handy as preparation for these matches," said coach Zlatko Dalic after the draw.

"We got Slovakia and Russia from the second and third strongest groups, opponents with whom we have a relatively fresh experience, and they will be our biggest competitors for first place. However, other games are not easy because we got the best national teams from each group. I repeat, Croatia is the favorite, and that is how we will position ourselves from the beginning," added the 2018 World Cup finalist coach.

Croatia has recent experiences with Slovakia and Russia:

"Slovakia proved to be a quality team; they deservedly qualified for the EURO. We played a great game in Trnava, but let's remember that they led and showed quality in Rijeka. They have experience playing with Croatia, and it will come in handy. The Russians are good; they showed it against us at the World Cup, after they knocked out Spain. Slovenia has risen and is advancing under the leadership of Matjaž Kek, who knows us very well, and as our neighbors will surely have a special motive to show their quality. We must not underestimate Cyprus and Malta either, because they are national teams that show from cycle to cycle that they are a tough nut to crack even for the best national teams, and certainly not easy opponents to score against."

Croatia, as well as other national teams, will have a very tough time with three qualifying matches in March and September:

"We are used to such a schedule in the past two months; we saw that it is not easy because there is no time for training. We do not have much time to make mistakes, but the stakes are the World Cup, and that's how we must approach it from the first minute of the first game. I want us all to be healthy because when we have all the players available, then we are real and quality, and I deeply believe, the best in this group."

"The group is demanding, with strong opponents that we respect. But Croatia wants to defend its World Cup silver medal in Qatar, and we will do everything to achieve that," Dalic concluded.

Source: HNS

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

Monday, 7 December 2020

2022 World Cup Qualifiers: Croatia Draws Slovenia and More in Group H

December 7, 2020 - Croatia draws Slovenia, Slovakia, Russia, Cyprus, and Malta in Group H of the European qualifications for the 2022 World Cup.

Croatia took part in the European qualification draw for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar at 6 pm tonight in Zurich. Fifty-five national teams will participate in the European qualifiers, divided into 10 groups - five groups with five national teams and five groups with six teams each. 

The winners of each group will go directly to the World Cup, and the ten runners-up and the two teams from the Nations League will play additional qualifications.

The 2018 World Cup finalists were placed into the pot of the strongest national teams. Thus, Croatia had no chance of being drawn into a group with Belgium, France, England, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Denmark, Germany, and the Netherlands.

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The qualifying cycle for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar will run from March to November 2021, and the teams will play each team in their group at home and away. The ten group winners will qualify directly for the World Cup, and the ten runners-up will try to do the same in the playoffs, which will be played from March 24 to 29, 2022.

In addition to the ten runners-up from the group stage, the playoffs will also include the two best national teams in the overall standings of the UEFA Nations League for the 2020/2021 season, which will not directly qualify for the World Cup, nor will they win the playoffs as the second-placed teams in the group. Twelve teams in the playoffs will be divided into three "pots" and will fight for the three remaining European places at the World Cup in March 2022. 

The 2022 World Cup will be held from November 21 to December 18, 2022, in five Qatari cities (Doha, Lusail, Al Khor, Al Wakrah, Al Rayyan).

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

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