Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Vatreni Spectacle: Six Croatia National Team Games in 8 Days!

March 24, 2021 - A Vatreni spectacle begins tonight, as the 2018 World Cup finalists kick off their 2022 World Cup qualifiers against Slovenia for the first of six Croatia national team games in 8 days. Recall, the Croatia U-21 side begins the group stage of the European Championship tomorrow, too!

The coronavirus pandemic, which erupted around this time last year, ultimately postponed the 2020 European Championships, which were to be played across Europe last summer. 

According to the latest information, it should be played from June 11 to July 11, 2021, in 12 cities, in 12 different European countries. No official announcement has been made about the tournament yet.

The postponement of the Euros also moved the start of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers, which begin a bit earlier, or today for Croatia and Slovenia. 

But that's not all.

The U-21 European Championship begins in Slovenia and Hungary, which kick off tomorrow for Croatia. 

The Croatia A selection will open the qualifications for the 2022 World Cup on Wednesday against Slovenia in Ljubljana at 20:45. The famous Spaniard referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz will lead the match at Stožice stadium. Fans in Croatia can watch the broadcast on Nova TV from 8 pm, with a studio show.

The Slovenia national team is led by the well-known Matjaž Kek, once the successful coach of Rijeka. Of HNL players, Dinamo's Petar Stojanović and Osijek's Mario Jurčević, and Damjan Bohar are in their lineup. 

Croatia will also play against Cyprus on March 27 and on March 30 against Malta in this microcycle. Both matches are played at Rujevica in Rijeka. All matches will be played without an audience. In addition to Croatia, Slovenia, Cyprus, and Malta, the group also includes Russia and Slovakia.

Croatia is the absolute favorite of the group. Ante Rebić and Bruno Petković will not be in the squad due to injuries, but Šime Vrsaljko is looking forward to returning. Recall, Vrsaljko is back in the national team after two and a half years and major injuries.

"We will definitely miss Petković; he was in good shape. With him, our game system is different, and we will have to change that a bit now," said coach Dalić.

However, despite the absence of Rebić and Petković, Dalić has Mislav Oršić, who is playing the best football of his life, and Kristijan Lovrić, who is not far behind.

"I have already said, Mislav deserved this round, and he will have minutes. But I have to wait to talk to the players because we haven’t been together for a long time and I don’t know the condition of each of them. Things are changing now, and he played 120 minutes against Tottenham and also played against Gorica. He can help us, and I have to be smart, wise, deploy strength and energy, so we don’t run out because it’s a hellish cycle," said Dalić.

In the European qualifiers, 55 national teams were divided into five groups with six teams each and five groups with five teams each. They will play two matches against each other in each group. Ten group winners will qualify directly for the World Cup, and ten runners-up and two Nations League teams will play additional qualifiers.

These 12 national teams will be divided into three groups, with four national teams vying for three more World Cup spots.

Schedule for Croatia A team
Slovenia - Croatia (Ljubljana, March 24, 8.45 pm Nova TV)
Croatia - Cyprus (Rijeka, March 27, 18.00 Nova TV)
Croatia - Malta (Rijeka, March 30, 8.45 pm Nova TV)

The Croatia U21 national football team traveled to Slovenia on Monday to play all three matches of the European Championship group stage.

Coach Igor Bišćan is convinced that the young Vatreni can play good games and fight for a place in the quarterfinals, regardless of its rivals - Portugal, Switzerland, and England.

"We have two days until the first game; we have to do the best we can. We have three games in a week; we will need to find a way to be ready for demanding matches. We believe in ourselves; we went through tough qualifications, which was positive for our character and mentality. In that positive atmosphere, I hope we can ensure getting out of the group," he says.

The Croatia U-21 national team will play all three matches in the group in Koper at the Bonifika Stadium, also without spectators. They play their first game on Thursday, March 25, against Portugal at 21:00, led by referee  Bartosz Frankowski from Poland. Croatia's matches at the U-21 Euros will be broadcast by HTV 2.

Bišćan's side will face Switzerland on March 28 and England on March 31. England is certainly the favorite of the group.

"We are ready for something bigger. There are no weaker teams at the European Championship, but Croatia also has its qualities, and we want to reach the quarterfinals. We are a little tired, but the greatest pride is to play in the European Championship. We are not afraid of anyone; we are going to show who we are and what we are," said striker Sandro Kulenović.

The group stage of the U-21 European Championship will be held from March 24 to 31, 2021, and the winners and runners-up from each group will advance to the next stage, which will be played from May 31 to June 6, 2021.

Nine group winners and the five best second-placed teams, including Croatia and the hosts of the tournament, Hungary, and Slovenia, qualified for the final tournament. Sixteen national teams in the draw were divided into four groups of four national teams.

Schedule for Croatia U-21 side at the Euros in Slovenia and Hungary:
Portugal U-21 - Croatia U-21 (Koper, March 25, 9 pm HTV 2)
Croatia U-21 - Switzerland U-21 (Koper, March 28, 18.00 HTV 2)
Croatia U-21 - England U-21 (Koper, 31 March, 18.00 HTV 2)

Source: 24 Sata

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

Tuesday, 23 March 2021

Ivica Olić is New CSKA Moscow Coach!

March 23, 2021 - The latest Croatian football news - Ivica Olić is the new CSKA Moscow coach!

The former Croatia national team assistant of Zlatko Dalić accepted the offer of his former club, said goodbye to the coach and national team in Zagreb on Monday, and traveled to Moscow, where he signed a new contract today.

"The 41-year-old Croat is coming back to the Army Men club after 15 years.

PFC CSKA and Ivica Olić have reached an agreement on the appointment of a Croatian specialist as a head coach. Ivica will start working on March 23 — he will be introduced to the team, and he will hold his first training session.

Olić is well known in Russia for playing for Red-Blues. Croat played 116 matches for PFC CSKA from 2003 to 2006, in which he scored 44 goals.

Ivica, as a player, won 3 championship titles, 2 Russian Cups, 2 Super Cups, and the UEFA Cup with Army Men. We wish him great success also as a coach!

Welcome home!" said CSKA on its website, officially presented Olić to the public. 

On Monday, Zlatko Dalić came to the Hitrec-Kaciana field training with only one assistant, Dražen Ladić, fitness coach Luka Milanović, and goalkeeper expert Marjan Mrmić. 

Zlatko Dalić said that Olić's departure to CSKA is an honor for Croatian football.

"We are glad when big clubs hire Croatian coaches," the coach pointed out.

Nikola Vlašić, who is currently with the Croatia national team, will play under Olić. According to the media, CSKA would like to bring back former players Elvir Rahimir and Miloš Krasić.

Zlatko Dalić is not looking for Olić's replacement in the national team now because this is a quick gathering with not much time for training. Dalić will certainly find a new solution and strengthen his professional staff for the Euros this summer. 

Source: Jutarnji List

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

Monday, 22 March 2021

2022 World Cup Qualifications: Zlatko Dalić and Croatia Gather in Zagreb

March 22, 2021 - Coach Zlatko Dalić and Croatia gather in Zagreb ahead of the March 2022 World Cup Qualifications.

The Croatia national football team gathers in Zagreb today before starting the qualification cycle for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. They will kick off their qualification campaign against Slovenia (Ljubljana, March 24), Cyprus (Rijeka, March 27), and Malta (Rijeka, March 30).

Coach Zlatko Dalić is looking forward to the gathering after a four-month break.

"After four months, we are together again. It makes us all happy; we can't wait for the national team's actions," said Zlatko Dalić, who lost Dinamo striker Bruno Petković on the eve of an important match against Slovenia. He will miss all three upcoming matches.

"After Ante Rebić dropped out of the original list due to injury, Bruno Petković, who injured his shoulder during yesterday's game against Gorica, has now dropped out. Unfortunately, we were left without two important players in the attack. Bruno has been in very good shape lately, and his injury has significantly disrupted the preparation for the match against Slovenia. We will miss him, but I hope for a quick recovery to at least help Dinamo in the Europa League. With Bruno, our game is different, but what we have, we will make work. Let's continue to put together a team without him and Rebić. Fortunately, everything is fine with the arrival of Perišić and Brozović from Inter; we expect them at today's training. All in all, we have three important matches ahead of us, of which the most demanding is against Slovenia, especially since we will gather only in the evening, and we will play on Wednesday. However, it's the same for our opponent."

The goals are well known.

"Our goal is known, and we do not deviate from it; it is qualifying for Qatar. So, we have to win points, and with what dynamics, it is less important; the most important thing is to qualify. It is important to start well; I expect us to be very motivated, responsible, and serious because that is the only way we can get a result. ”

Dinamo winger Mislav Oršić drew attention to himself with a masterful hattrick against Tottenham in the Europa League round of 16.

"I have already spoken several times about Dinamo and Mislav, about their great form and game. Oršić deserved to be in the national team, and of course, he will have minutes. Everything I thought about, everything I planned, falls into the water when someone gets hurt. So, I’ll wait a bit, talk to the players. We haven't been together for a long time; I don't know all the players' conditions. We were thinking about doing things one way, but now things are changing. We will have to make some modifications, and Mislav is certainly in the narrowest circle for the match against Slovenia. He had a difficult game against Tottenham, he played 120 minutes, he played against Gorica again, so I have to think about that. In any case, Mislav is a crucial player, who with his form and quality, can help, and I expect that from him. We have three games; we have to be smart and wise to distribute the players' strength and energy. We must not wear out because we have a hellish cycle, and the players come from an equally hellish rhythm anyway, so they are not in optimal condition. We have to be careful about that.”

Dalić's assistant, Ivica Olić, is one of the most serious candidates for the new coach of CSKA Moscow.

"Olić and I spoke about this on Saturday. I will be sorry if Ivica Olić leaves the national team and my staff. He means a lot to me and helps me. However, if Ivica decides to take this step, he will have my full support and my help in every way. It is a big challenge for him, it is a big club, but it is also a big thing for the Croatia national team and football. If he stays, I'll appreciate him even more. No, I wasn’t thinking about whether someone would replace him; we’ll see what happens. I am not thinking about new solutions, I am waiting for the situation to develop, and then I will decide. "

The match against Slovenia is the most difficult exam in March.

"First of all, none of these three games will be easy. Today there are no easy opponents. We have to enter every game as seriously, motivated, and disciplined as possible. Of course, Slovenia is the toughest opponent in this first cycle of matches. I appreciate and respect their coach, Matjaž Kek, who did great things with Rijeka and the Slovenia national team. It is a complex team, but we are the favorites, and we have to impose ourselves in Ljubljana. Slovenia has one of the best goalkeepers in the world, Oblak, then the very tough Iličić. They are quite a tall team; they have a good jump, they are aggressive and compact in the block. I expect a really tough match, but we have to show the right face. There won’t be much time for training and preparation, but we’ve been together for a long time, we know each other well, and we have to go for the win. Our goal is known; we cannot escape the role of favorites. We have to start winning points. As World Cup finalists, we are a challenge to everyone, and we must be reminded of the match against Hungary in which we suffered a defeat. Slovenia will be a good, aggressive opponent who wants to win. It's the beginning of qualifications; no one knows who is in what condition, it will be inconvenient. However, there are no key matches, each carries three points, and points are important to us for the final ranking."

Since there is not enough time for more serious training until the match against Slovenia, Dalić indicates that he will pay a lot of attention to the players.

"We will have to talk a lot, solve some things in meetings. There is no time for innovation, but all the players who have played in the Nations League know each other well. We know what we want. We will play against Slovenia with the strongest possible line-up, and we will go against Cyprus and Malta differently. Vrsaljko in the starting lineup? I’m waiting to see his condition. I’m aware he can’t help us in all three games because he’s not in rhythm. However, Šime's arrival is of great importance; he will certainly play at least one game. I am thinking of starting him in the match against Slovenia, but first, I have to see what condition he is in. I will not force it if he is not one hundred percent ready," concluded Dalić.

Source: HNS

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

Tuesday, 9 March 2021

U-21 Croatia Player List Released for 2021 Euros in Hungary and Slovenia!

March 9, 2021 - The U-21 Croatia player list has been released by coach Igor Bišćan ahead of the European Championship in Hungary and Slovenia later this month. 

The young Croatia national football team will play at the European Championship after a turbulent qualifying campaign and will soon compete in the group stage against Portugal (March 25), Switzerland (March 28), and England (March 31). A spot in the quarterfinals will be won by the two best national teams from each group.

The list of players for the European Championship includes 23 names, including three goalkeepers.

Goalkeepers: Adrian Šemper (Chievo), Dominik Kotarski (Ajax), Ivan Nevistić (Rijeka)

Defenders: Borna Sosa (Stuttgart), Domagoj Bradarić (Lille), Marin Šverko (Saarbrücken), Joško Gvardiol (Dinamo), Martin Erlić (Spezia), Krešimir Krizmanić (Gorica), Mario Vušković (Hajduk)

Midfielders: Nikola Moro (Dinamo Moskva), Lovro Majer (Dinamo), Kristijan Bistrović (Kasimpasa), Darko Nejašmić (Hajduk), Mihael Žaper (Osijek), Bartol Franjić (Dinamo), Luka Sučić (RB Salzburg)

Attackers: Luka Ivanušec (Dinamo), Sandro Kulenović (Rijeka), Petar Musa (Union Berlin), Dario Špikić (Gorica), Dario Vizinger (Wolfsberger), Marko Divković (Dunajska Streda)

Croatia will face three demanding exams at this year's European Championship. Coach Igor Bišćan believes that his players have something to say in the competition against Portugal, Switzerland, and England.

"England is a category unto themselves, extremely strong and one of the favorites of the whole competition. They all play at a high level, not only relying on physical strength but also adding tactical awareness and technique, and imagination. Their value is close to the world's largest A-selections. Portugal is a copy of their senior team, they cultivate the same combinatorial style, and they are challenging and experienced enough in competitive football. They will take advantage of any carelessness and punish it. They have several individuals from the world’s biggest clubs; they are where our players would one day want to be. They may not have adequate minutes, but their quality is indisputable. England and Portugal should go further. Switzerland is tough, solid, organized, and a couple of players from our region give them a dose of unpredictability. However, we are also good; it will be a demanding group, a real test to see where we are concerning the best and those close to us," he said.

In the first two group games, Croatia will not count on the suspended Borna Sosa, but in cooperation with Zlatko Dalić, they have yielded a solution.

"Sosa is too important, good and high quality not to count on him, and it is to be assumed that the last game in the group will be important. If the last game does not decide on something, he will join the A-selection, which speaks volumes about his form. I am glad that Dalić gave us Bradarić, we are cooperating very well, and he showed a correct attitude. We have a great situation with high-level players," Bišćan explained.

Some players also bring experience from the last European Championship, but this will be somewhat different due to the format change.

"That experience can help, but unfortunately, we don't have Boško Šutal due to a foot injury, and it really hit us, as we are the thinnest on the right defender. A tournament like this is a nice experience for every young footballer's career and an opportunity to present his talent on a phenomenal stage. This competition is specific; there is no time to play. We gather on Monday and Tuesday, and the match is already on Thursday - it should be more suitable for individually stronger teams. At the same time, it does not allow others to cancel that advantage. He who is ready from the first second to switch from the club rhythm without stumbling will do well. I'm sorry that there are no fans, Koper is close, but it's best to get out of the group, so maybe something will change for the quarterfinals," concluded Bišćan.

Source: HNS

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

Monday, 8 March 2021

Zlatko Dalic Announces Croatia Squad for the Upcoming 2022 World Cup Qualifiers

March 8, 2021 - Coach Zlatko Dalic has announced the Croatia squad for the upcoming 2022 World Cup qualifiers later this month. 

HNS reports that Croatia national team coach Zlatko Dalić has announced the list of players for the start of the FIFA World Cup European qualifiers. Recall, the final tournament will be held in Qatar at the end of 2022.

The 2018 World Cup finalists will try to win a spot in Qatar through Group H of the European Qualifiers against Slovakia, Russia, Slovenia, Cyprus, and Malta. Only the winners of the ten qualifying groups will qualify directly for Qatar, while the second-placed national teams - with two more national teams from the Nations League - will play in the playoffs.

The Croatia national team opens the qualification away in Ljubljana against Slovenia on March 24, followed by a double program in Rijeka - on March 27 against Cyprus and three days later against Malta.

Dalić invited 24 players and sent preliminary invitations to Ivo Grbić, Milo Škorić, Marin Pongračić, Tomo Bašić, and Kristijan Lovrić.

"There are no surprises on the list; this is a team we built through the qualifications for EURO and last year's Nations League. Although a demanding group awaits us, I have a lot of faith in this team, and we are very optimistic about the new cycle because I am deeply convinced we have the quality to win - and that is, of course, our main goal in these qualifications," said Dalić. 

Dalić wished good luck to the U-21 national team at the European Championship:

"In agreement with the U-21 coach, Igor Bišćan, Domagoj Bradarić will be a member of the young national team in this term, as he cannot count on the suspended Sosa in that position. Domagoj can certainly make a significant contribution during the European Championship, which, as a competition, is a precious experience for a young player. I wish Igor and his team a lot of sports luck in Slovenia!"

"I am glad that at the moment we do not have serious problems with injuries, and I hope that it will remain so until the reunion. We want a good start because of the qualifications, but also as an introduction to the EURO, and for that, we will have to approach this with maximum concentration and togetherness. The schedule is tight; we will not have time for serious training, so the focus will be on good mental and tactical preparation to be at the best possible level given these circumstances. I am an optimist and look forward to the gathering, as well as our team," concluded the coach.

Croatia will gather on March 22 in Zagreb, from where they will leave for Ljubljana a day later. Immediately after the match against Slovenia, they will travel to Opatija, where they will stay until the end of the gathering.

Goalkeepers Lovre Kalinić, Dominik Livaković, Simon Sluga

Defenders: Domagoj Vida, Dejan Lovren, Šime Vrsaljko, Borna Barišić, Duje Ćaleta-Car, Dario Melnjak, Filip Uremović, Josip Juranović

Midfielders: Luka Modrić, Mateo Kovačić, Marcelo Brozović, Milan Badelj, Mario Pašalić, Nikola Vlašić

Attackers: Ivan Perišić, Andrej Kramarić, Ante Rebić, Josip Brekalo, Bruno Petković, Mislav Oršić, Ante Budimir

Callups: Mile Škorić, Toma Bašić, Marin Pongračić, Ivo Grbić, Kristijan Lovrić

What do you think of the Croatia squad for the upcoming 2022 World Cup qualifiers?

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

Thursday, 14 January 2021

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

January 2021 - A look at what we can expect from the Croatia national team in 2021.

Gol.hr reports that 2020 was a challenging year for all European national teams, including Croatia. Namely, our 'Vatreni' played six games in the Nations League in two months alone, and that's not to mention the friendly matches. Overall, Croatia recorded two wins, one draw, and five defeats.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 23 December 2020

Zlatko Dalic Interviews with FIFA: "Croatia Has a Bright Future"

December 23, 2020 - As 2020 comes to a close, Croatia national team coach Zlatko Dalic interviews with FIFA about a hopefully bright year ahead. 

Croatia national team coach Zlatko Dalic interviewed for the official website of the International Football Federation, FIFA, in which he commented on the turbulent world of football in 2020 and announced the challenging 2021 for the 'Vatreni,' which is just around the corner.

FIFA introduced Dalic by remembering Croatia's fairy tale at the 2018 World Cup, where they lost in the final to France.

A lot has changed since then. 

With Mario Mandzukic, Danijel Subasic, and Vedran Corluka retiring shortly after the World Cup silver, Dalic was forced to bring in promising young stars to the squad, hoping they could fill their shoes. 

With talented youngsters, Dalic's Croatia qualified for the Euros, but that is nothing compared to the grueling 2021 ahead, with World Cup qualifiers beginning in March and the European Championship next summer. 

Dalic was first asked about Croatia's World Cup qualifying group, including Slovakia, Russia, Slovenia, Cyprus, and Malta.

"There are no easy groups because qualifying for the World Cup is a dream for every nation. We have a tough group, but we accept our position as a favourite in the group - we're the best-seeded team, and we are current World Cup silver medallists. We truly respect all opponents in the group," Dalic began. 

"Obviously, the schedule will be very tight in March and September with three games in one week. It leaves almost no time for training, and with the long travels, it's very challenging for the players to play three so important games, especially with their club schedule also being quite exhausting. It will be important to plan very well and try to manage our resources the best that we can, to protect the players while going for the best results. However, it's the same for everybody, so we won't use that as an excuse.

The other issue is the fact that we have the EURO in the middle of the qualifiers, which is unusual, and it will also present a problem for all EURO participants. For instance, you are starting the qualifiers with one team, but it's possible that after EURO, some players retire from the national team, so you have to make important changes in the middle of the cycle," he continued for FIFA.

Asked about if he feels even more pressure because Croatia reached the World Cup final in 2018, Dalic replied:

"I think people understand that 2018 was special and that you can't repeat that every two or four years. I think we had more pressure in 2018 when we knew it was probably a last chance for some of our senior players. Now, our pressure is to qualify - we want to be there, among the best.

Once we're there, we know that we have the quality, talent, and self-belief to beat anyone on a given night, but we also understand that Croatia is not in the first row of favourites - that's reserved for the biggest teams, such as France, Spain, Germany, Brazil, Argentina, England, Italy, Belgium or Portugal. Of course, as we showed in 1998 and 2018, that doesn't mean Croatia can't make a historic run, but I don't think we have pressure to do that."

Dalic spoke about how much the Croatia squad has changed since that final:

"Players such as Rakitic, Mandzukic, Subasic, and Corluka are no longer with us, and we have talented youngsters coming in and taking on bigger roles. We used the UEFA Nations League in 2018 and 2020 to give a chance to several new players, and we got through the EURO 2020 qualifying cycle quite well.

Luka Modric is still our leader, and with Brozovic and Kovacic alongside him, we still have one of the best midfields in the world. Senior players such as Perisic, Vida, and Lovren give us much-needed experience, and we also have young guns, such as Brekalo and Vlasic, who proved their potential, so we feel pretty good ahead when it comes to our future."

And what can Croatia achieve at the Euros next summer?

"We fulfilled our dreams in Russia - that was unforgettable for everybody involved, and for our fans as well. But it also gives us an extra motivation because we know how special it is to make the whole nation so joyful and proud. With the current pandemic going on, and so many lives lost, we understand that the whole nation will look at us to make them happy once again, and it's our obligation to do our very best to try to replicate that magic from Russia.

As I mentioned before - there are a few teams that are, objectively, ahead of us at the moment. But, we're pretty confident in our quality, and we surely won't admit to anyone they're better than us until they prove that on the pitch. And that's very difficult to do, because not only do we have the quality, but we also play with so much passion and togetherness for Croatia," Dalic said.

You can read the full interview on the FIFA website HERE.

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

Thursday, 17 December 2020

2022 World Cup Qualifiers: Croatia Meets Cyprus and Malta in Rijeka

December 17, 2020 - The Croatian Football Federation has announced the schedule for the 2022 World Cup qualifiers in March when Croatia meets Cyprus and Malta. 

The Executive Board of the Croatian Football Federation decided on the host of Croatia's qualifying matches against Cyprus and Malta in March 2021. 

On March 24, 2021, the Croatia national team will open the European qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup in Qatar in 2022 away against Slovenia. 

The 2018 World Cup finalists then have two matches at home, against Cyprus and Malta, and the HNS Executive Board has decided that the two matches will be played at the HNK Rijeka stadium (Rujevica).

The match against Cyprus will be played on March 27 starting at 18:00, and three days later, the match against Malta is scheduled at 20:45.

Croatia has played 16 games in Rijeka so far and has never lost, with 13 wins and three draws.

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).

Source: HNS

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

Friday, 11 December 2020

FIFA FIFPro Names Luka Modric Among the World's 55 Best Footballers for 8th Time

December 11, 2020 - Another great recognition for Croatia's greatest footballer, as FIFA FIFPro names Luka Modric among the world's 55 best footballers for the 8th time. 

HNS announces that the Croatia national football team captain, Luka Modric, is on the list of 55 footballers who have been shortlisted for the best team in the selection of the International Association of Professional Footballers FIFPro and the International Football Federation FIFA.

Modric is on the shortlist of the best players for the eighth time and has the opportunity to be among the best eleven, an honor that FIFPro has chosen since 2005, for the sixth time in a row. Modric was selected in the top 11 in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019. About 25,000 professional footballers from all over the world choose the best team of the season consisting of one goalkeeper, four defenders, three midfielders, and three strikers.

The fifty-five shortlisted players include goalkeepers Alisson Becker (Liverpool, Brazil), Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid, Belgium) David de Gea (Manchester United, Spain), Gianluigi Donnarumma (Milan, Italy), Moraes Ederson (Manchester City, Brazil) ), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham, France), Keylor Navas (PSG, Costa Rica), Manuel Neuer (Bayern, Germany), Jan Oblak (Atletico Madrid, Slovenia) and Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona, Germany).

Defenders include David Alaba (Bayern, Austria), Jordi Alba (Barcelona, ​​Spain), Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham, Belgium), Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool, England), Dani Alves (Sao Paulo, Brazil), Jerome Boateng (Bayern, Germany), Alphonso Davies (Bayern, Canada), Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool, The Netherlands), Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli, Senegal), Matthijs de Ligt (Juventus, The Netherlands), Marcelo (Real Madrid, Brazil), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid, Spain), Andrew Robertson (Liverpool, Scotland), Thiago Silva (Chelsea, Brazil) and Raphael Varane (Real Madrid, France).

Midfielders include Thiago Alcantara (Bayern / Liverpool, Spain), Dele Alli (Tottenham, England), Sergio Busquets (Barcelona, ​​Spain), Casemiro (Real Madrid, Brazil), Philippe Coutinho (Bayern / Barcelona, ​​Brazil), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City, Belgium), Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United, Portugal), Leon Goretzka (Bayern, Germany), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool, England), Frenkie de Jong (Barcelona, ​​The Netherlands), N'Golo Kante (Chelsea, France), Toni Kroos (Real Madrid, Germany), Joshua Kimmich (Bayern, Germany), Luka Modrić (Real Madrid, Croatia) and Thomas Müller (Bayern, Germany).

The srikers are Sergio Agüero (Manchester City, Argentina), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal, Gabon), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid, France), Serge Gnabry (Bayern, Germany), Erling Haaland (Borussia D., Norway) , Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Milan, Sweden), Harry Kane (Tottenham, England), Robert Lewandowski (Bayern, Poland), Sadio Mane (Liverpool, Senegal), Kylian Mbappe (PSG, France), Lionel Messi (Barcelona, Argentina), Neymar Junior (PSG, Brazil), Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus, Portugal), Mohamed Salah (Liverpool, Egypt) and Son Heungmin (Tottenham, South Korea).

The FIFA and FIFPro best eleven in the 2019/20 season will be announced on December 17, 2020. 

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

Thursday, 10 December 2020

Croatia U-21 Team Learns Opponents for Euros Next Year

December 10, 2020 - The Croatia U-21 team has learned their opponents for the European Championships next spring.

The draw for the Under-21 European Football Championship was held today in Nyon. The Croatia U-21 team, led by coach Igor Bišćan, found out their opponents for the upcoming competition. 

Thus, Croatia will play against Switzerland, Portugal and France in Group C, which is one of the most difficult groups in this tournament.

Matches in groups A and C will be played in Hungary, while the national teams in groups B and D will meet in Slovenia.

Before the draw, the national teams were divided into four groups, and the young Croatia squad was placed in the third strongest group with Romania, Russia and the Czech Republic. 

Nine group winners and the five best second-placed teams, including Croatia, qualified for the final tournament of the U-21 European Championship. The hosts of the tournament, Hungary and Slovenia, join them in the championship.

The schedule of the U-21 Euros has been changed due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the final tournament will be held for the first time in two separate terms. Group stage matches will be played between March 24 and 31, 2021, while relegation matches will be played between May 31 and June 6, 2021. The final will be held on June 6, 2021, in Ljubljana.

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

 

 

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