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.

 

 

Wednesday, 9 December 2020

Croatia National Team Stadium Back on Table, HNS Hopes it Won't Take 9 Years to Build

December 9, 2020 - Building a Croatia national team stadium is back on the table. Representatives of HNS, the City of Zagreb, and the Ministry of Tourism and Sport weigh in on what's next.

Index.hr reports that on HRT's show Otvoreno on Tuesday evening, the topic was constructing a Croatia national stadium.

The guests of the show were the executive director of the Croatian Football Federation (HNS) Marijan Kustić, former footballer and president of the football union Dario Šimić, state secretary at the Ministry of Tourism and Sports Tomislav Družak, director of the Institute for Physical Planning of the City of Zagreb Ivica Rovis and HRT sports commentator Stjepan Balog.

For footballers, the issue of the national stadium has become offensive

Dario Šimić was the most specific about the construction of the new stadium.

"I'm worried that we are repeating ourselves. We have to wait a long time for the paperwork; it takes two to three years before the construction itself. We can realistically expect that stadium in 2030. We are doing the show, we have done it before, but this issue of the national stadium has already become offensive for us footballers," said Šimić, after which Marijan Kustić took the floor.

Funding football infrastructure is not the job of the Federation

"I would like Dinamo representatives to be here with us. They are mostly in that part of the agreement with the City. I hope it won't take us nine years to build a stadium. People are upset that we are talking about a national stadium. We are talking about the stadium in Zagreb, and the people from Dinamo were supposed to be here. The plan should go ahead as soon as possible. I think that something bad needs to happen at Maksimir stadium to start something," Kustić explained and continued.

"In the last few years, we have invested over 70 million kuna in stadiums through the HNS Executive Board, which should be the duty of clubs and cities. That is why we are constantly initiating investment in infrastructure. This is not the Federation's job, and I do not see which federation in Croatia and Europe invests so much in sports infrastructure. Dario Simic said it well; a man shudders when he sees what kind of stadium we have in Zagreb."

If the decision is not made immediately, nothing will be initiated

Šimić replied to Kustić.

"The society and the 1,500 clubs in Croatia deserve better infrastructure. If we don't start now and make a decision right away, nothing will start. Everything else is frustrating and sad."

State Secretary Tomislav Družak also joined the discussion

"A meeting of HNS, the City of Zagreb and Dinamo was organized two months ago. The Ministry of Tourism and Sport is initiating the construction of the stadium. We will not be financiers; we can participate in projects and give ideas, which can be the way. If the City wants to build a stadium, it has to find a model in which Dinamo will participate. They need to be asked something. Croatia needs a multifunctional and self-sustaining stadium that will not take taxpayers' money," Družak said.

In the end, host Damir Smrtić asked Marijan Kustić if HNS would implement a hybrid lawn at Poljud.

"A letter was sent to Hajduk today. Next Tuesday is a meeting with Hajduk regarding the construction of a hybrid pitch," Kustić concluded.

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.

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