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.

Thursday, 19 November 2020

What Awaits Croatia in 2022-23 Nations League?

November 19, 2020 -  What awaits Croatia in 2022-23 Nations League? A look at the busy schedule ahead for the 2018 World Cup finalists. 

Even after losing to Portugal on Tuesday night at Poljud, the Croatia national team has secured a spot in the elite Nations League group in the next edition of this competition, which will be played in 2022.

Croatia will remain in League A, and so far, 10 national teams are known that can be their rivals in this group.

In addition to France and Portugal, against whom they competed this fall, the elite group will include Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Belgium, Denmark, England, Spain, and Germany.

It remains unclear whether Ukraine or Switzerland will be in this group, as their last round match of Group 4 has been postponed due to coronavirus, and we now must wait for UEFA's decision. If the match ends at 3:0 for Switzerland, they will remain in League A while Ukraine will drop to League B.

Wales, Austria, the Czech Republic, and Hungary have been promoted from League B to League A for 2022, while Sweden, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Iceland have been relegated.

The timing of the 2022 Nations League, however, will be quite interesting, namely, because the World Cup in Qatar is played from November 21 to December 18, 2022. Thus, UEFA was forced to shift the calendar compared to the previous two Nations League editions.

As June is free because the World Cup is played in late autumn in 2022, it was decided that four Nations League rounds will be played that month, and two more in the second half of September. The national teams will then gather at the end of October 2022 or the beginning of November, when preparations for the World Cup will begin.

So, what's next for Croatia?

With just over 200 days to go to the Euros next summer, that's hardly the only competition on Croatia's mind...

UEFA's preliminary draw for the 2022 World Cup will occur on December 7, 2020, at 18:00 CET in Zurich.

Thus, the European qualifiers will feature five groups with six teams and five groups with five teams. All teams within a group will play each at home-and-away between March and November 2021, meaning Croatia could already play two or three World Cup qualifiers in March!

Source: Gol.hr, FIFA.com 

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

Wednesday, 18 November 2020

Croatia U-21 Side Secures Spot at 2021 European Championship!

November 18, 2020 - After a turbulent but successful journey through the qualifications, the Croatia U-21 side will play at the 2021 UEFA European Under-21 Championship!

After a huge victory against Lithuania in Pula (7:0) and Greece’s victory against Scotland (1:0), the young Vatreni won second place in the qualifying Group 4 for the European Championship, and the results in other groups allowed them to place among the five the best runners-up.

Before the final round, Croatia was in a difficult, almost hopeless situation. After they played 2:2 in Scotland and the Czech Republic defeated Greece, it was clear that Croatia lost their chances for first place.

The only hope for qualifying for the Euros was to get through among the top five runners-up. However, coach Igor Bišćan's side did not depend only on themselves, but on other matches' outcome.

In the end, it all came together.

First of all, Croatia had to beat Lithuania in Pula with three or four goals to have the best possible goal differential.

Although Croatia played without Adrian Šemper, Joško Guardiola, Borna Sosa, Darko Nejašmić, Sandra Kulenović, Lovro Majer, David Čolina, and Bartol Franjić, they still beat Lithuania 7:0.

Croatia also needed a victory for Greece in Athens against direct rival Scotland, who needed a victory to win first place in the group. Greece celebrated 1:0, thus pushing Croatia to second and Scotland to third.

With the victory in Pula and Scotland's defeat, Croatia won second place in the group behind the Czech Republic but had to wait for the outcome in other groups to find out if it will be one of the five best second-placed national teams.

Among the five were certainly Portugal and Switzerland, and almost certainly Iceland, whose match against Armenia was canceled.

Croatia, Belgium, Romania, and Poland fought for the remaining two places. With a convincing victory against Lithuania, Croatia overtook Poland, but they still needed a Belgium mistake against Bosnia and Herzegovina or Romania against Denmark.

Croatia was helped by the young BiH team, who beat Belgium 3:2 in a great match in Sarajevo.

Croatia will thus play in the group stage from March 24 to 31, 2021, and if they pass the group, they will play in the second round of the European Championship from May 31 to June 6, 2021.

Croatia played at the European Championship in 2000 and 2004, and at the last edition in 2019, in Italy and San Marino.

In addition to the hosts Hungary and Slovenia, the national teams of Croatia, Russia, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Denmark, Spain, England, France, Italy, Portugal, Germany, and the Czech Republic, which took first place in Group 4, have so far won visas for the European Championship.

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

Monday, 16 November 2020

Zlatko Dalic Calls Up Osijek Stopper for Portugal and More Croatia News Ahead of Poljud

November 16, 2020 - Croatia and Portugal meet in Split on Tuesday for their final Nations League match this season. A look at the latest Croatia news ahead of Poljud. 

After losing 2:1 to Sweden on Saturday evening in Solna, the Croatia national team traveled to Split, after which they held their first training in Omis on Sunday. The training included Dejan Lovren, who joined the Croatia squad in Stockholm after his yellow card suspension.

The Croatia players that recorded the most minutes against Sweden (Modrić, Vlašić, Perišić, Livaković, Kovačić, Brekalo, Barišić, Ćaleta-Car, Pongračić) took part in a regeneration training at the hotel. Uremović is currently out of the lineup after an injury he sustained during the Sweden match. 

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HNS

Although training in Omis was held without the presence of spectators due to the coronavirus pandemic, locals hung a large jersey with the last name of their fellow citizen, Ivan Perišić, and did their best to ensure that Croatia had everything they needed in the small coastal town.

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HNS

On Sunday evening, the Croatia national team medical service received the team's latest COVID-19 test results. Croatia was tested after arriving from Stockholm to Split, before the match against Portugal.

After a week of worrying results, we finally have some good news, as all members of the national team and members of the national team staff are negative for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Coach Zlatko Dalić can count on all remaining players in the national team.

Recall, Domagoj Vida tested positive in Istanbul on Wednesday, and Marcelo Brozović tested positive in Stockholm on Friday. In compliance with the epidemiological rules and UEFA's Return to Play protocol, the Turkish and Swedish epidemiological services decided that the isolation of other national team members was not necessary.

But even though everyone corona-free, Dalić still struggled to fill certain positions in the defense ahead of the crucial Portugal meeting on Tuesday. He has thus decided to call-up Osijek stopper Milo Škorić in the absence of Duja Ćaleta-Car (yellow cards) and Filip Uremović (injury).

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HNS

The Osijek captain will join Croatia during the day on Monday and is expected to play against Portugal in Split on Tuesday.

Škorić has three appearances for the Croatia national team, and interestingly, in all three Škorić appearances, Croatia won 2:1 (Mexico, Wales, and Georgia).

Source: HNS

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

 

Monday, 16 November 2020

HNS Executive Director Marijan Kustic Says Croatia Will No Longer Play at Maksimir

November 16, 2020 - Croatia will no longer play at Maksimir Stadium in Zagreb, confirmed the executive director of the Croatian Football Federation (HNS), Marijan Kustic.

Index.hr reports that this is even though Dinamo started repairing the south stand, which was destroyed in the earthquake.

Recall, there was room for the national team at Maksimir in reduced capacity during the coronavirus pandemic. Still, when the spectators return to the stands, the national team will no longer play at the infamous Zagreb stadium.

"We do not want to question at all that our national team, 2018 World Cup finalists, must have an adequate stadium in the capital. Maksimir is no longer an adequate stadium for the World Cup finalists. The city of Zagreb must give answers to Dinamo and finally find a solution and take action to build a new one. It would be inappropriate for the capital and a club like GNK Dinamo to have such a dilapidated stadium," Kustic said, noting that there are many countries that are neither at the economic nor football level of Croatia, but have better stadiums.

Kustic mentioned that the spectators are a priority for HNS and that they do not have adequate conditions at Maksimir. In Rijeka, Pula, Varazdin, Osijek, and Split, the situation is different, so the national team will play there in the future until the situation in Zagreb is resolved.

According to a rough estimate, more than a billion kuna has been pumped into Maksimir so far. That is why the Croatian Football Federation launched the idea of building a national stadium.

"We want the national team to play all over Croatia, but the stadium in Zagreb is no longer comfortable, half of the stands are not working, everything is closed and depressing. After the earthquake, the situation worsened; we don't know if it is safe. My personal opinion is that the national team's time at Maksimir has passed," Miskovic said.

The national team does not want to play at the stadium either, and in October, after the match against Sweden, Zenit stopper Dejan Lovren spoke about it publicly.

"All the national teams are surprised that we were second in the world, and we have such conditions. Two or three thousand people came to the match against Sweden at the ugliest stadium in Europe. People didn't have umbrellas, they were rained on, and I wanted to shake everyone's hand. It is inadmissible for a national team like ours, which promoted Croatia in the best possible way, to come here and rightly listen to the Sweden coach's insults. Obviously, some priorities in this country are not right. Some priorities, such as the cable car, are irrelevant. I think that hospitals, kindergartens, and schools should be built first, and then maybe a stadium, but we are not looking for that for ourselves, but for the people who come to watch us. I think we will wake up only when Serbia makes a national stadium," Lovren said at the time. 

After the national team campaign in October, coach Zlatko Dalic was also clear about using Maksimir stadium for national team matches.

"I don't know what else to say about it. I've been talking for two years; others have been talking for a decade. Maybe we shouldn't talk anymore but cut and say we won't play there. We keep saying it's not a stadium for the national team, and we keep coming. Maybe HNS should say it a lot; we don't play there anymore, although it would be inconvenient to avoid a city again when hosting the national team," said Dalic.

In October, Croatia last played in Zagreb in the Nations League matches against Sweden (2:1) and France (1:2), when a third of the stadium's capacity was open. The only match in November that will be played at home, against Portugal, will be at Poljud on Tuesday.

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

Saturday, 14 November 2020

UEFA Nations League: Sweden Tops Croatia 2:1 in Solna

November 14, 2020 -  Sweden tops Croatia 2:1 in Solna on Saturday in their penultimate Nations League match of Group 3. 

Sweden and Croatia fought to maintain their status in the elite group of Nations League on Saturday. Sweden went into Saturday's match in the last place without points, while Croatia was in third with 3 points. 

Croatia was fortunate to see some crucial players return to the lineup for this match, including starting goalkeeper Dominik Livaković and striker Bruno Petković.

Dalic's starting 11 thus included: Livaković, Uremović, Ćaleta-Car, Pongračić, Barišić - Kovačić, Modrić - Vlašić, Brekalo, Perišić - Budimir.

Croatia's first attack of the game happened already in the 2nd minute. Nikola Vlašić received the ball on the edge of the penalty area, and instead of taking the shot, he backheeled to Modrić. Unfortunately, the Sweden defense was there to clear the ball.

Sweden had their first dangerous attack four minutes later, though a brilliant Livaković save kept the score even. Sweden continued attacking, and a corner in the 12th minute was luckily cleared by Croatia's defense. Forsberg had a shot on goal in the 15th, forcing Livaković to save the day, again.

Croatia struggled to maintain possession in the first 20 minutes of the match, and Sweden continued aggressively with their attacking play.

Croatia received their first corner in the 20th minute, which Modrić played short. Brekalo had one of Croatia's first shots on goal moments later.

A quick attack by Brekalo and Perišić put Sweden's keeper to work again, and ultimately resulted in a corner. Croatia starting waking up. 

Uremović fouled Forsberg just outside the box for a dangerous free kick in the 27th minute, which Livaković cleared out for a corner. Sweden remained in Croatia's box for the three minutes that followed. 

Duje Ćaleta-Car received a yellow card in the 34th minute, meaning he misses the match against Portugal in Split on Tuesday. 

Unfortunately, Kulusevski danced around Croatia's defense to score for 1:0 in the 36th minute. 

In the 41st minute, Uremović came off with an injury, and Josip Juranović entered the game.

Just before halftime, Danielson increased Sweden's lead to 2:0. 

The second half started with no changes for Croatia. 

Croatia picked up their game at the start of the second half and was consistently pressing Sweden's defense. However, no plays were coming to fruition thanks to a solid Sweden defense.

Sweden blew a huge chance to increase their lead yet again in the 62nd minute. Pašalić was subbed on for Budimir in the 63rd. 

Another quick counter by Sweden saw Forsberg shoot over the crossbar, and Perišić saved Sweden from scoring another goal in the 68th. 

Croatia kept falling short and failed to connect passes in the attack. 

In the 76th minute, Dalic made three substitutions - Petković, Melnjak, and Rog were subbed on for Brekalo, Kovačić, and Pogrančić.

And finally, a miracle in the 80th minute - a Danielson own-goal made the game 2:1! Alas, there was hope for Croatia. 

In the final minutes of the match, Sweden had far too many chances for another goal, but Livaković remained solid and kept the net clear. Vlašić failed to capitalize on a brilliant ball across the box from Juranović in the 88th. 

With three minutes added time, Croatia was unable to play for the draw. A last-minute shot for Vlašić was saved by the Sweden keeper. The match ended 2:1 for Sweden. 

As it stands now, Croatia remains in third place in Group 3. 

Croatia and Portugal will meet in their final Nations League match on Tuesday at Poljud Stadium in Split. 

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

Thursday, 12 November 2020

Domagoj Vida Played Coronavirus-Infected against Turkey, HNS Explains

November 11, 2020 - Croatia national team player Domagoj Vida played coronavirus-infected in the friendly match between Croatia and Turkey on Thursday evening, which ended 3:3.

On Thursday, we will find out what the further procedure is and whether this situation will affect the Nations League matches this Saturday against Sweden and Tuesday against Portugal.

We are transmitting the HNS press release in its entirety:

"Immediately after midnight local time in Istanbul, the Croatia national football team's medical service received the SARS-CoV-2 virus test results, among which was a positive result among the players.

After all the players and staff members were negative in the regular test for the match against Turkey on Monday, the regular test for the match against Sweden was done on Wednesday morning. HNS received the official test results after midnight local time, which showed that national team member Domagoj Vida is positive for coronavirus.

The Croatia national team's medical service received initial information at the end of halftime that there was one potentially positive result. This is a common test procedure, and a questionable result is retested to confirm the result.

At that time, coach Zlatko Dalic had already decided to substitute Vida. The national team's medical service isolated Vida according to all epidemiological measures until the confirmation of the test results.

Vida will spend the next few days in self-isolation in Istanbul following regulations.

All other national team members and staff members, who tested negative, will travel to Stockholm. It is taken into account that the national team complied with all epidemiological measures, following UEFA's Return to Play protocol.

In addition to Vida, one member of the HNS delegation was also positive, and was not in contact with national team members or staff members."

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

 

Wednesday, 11 November 2020

Turkey v Croatia Worn Match Shirts Up for Online Auction

November 11, 2020 - Worn match shirts from the Turkey v Croatia friendly on Wednesday night will be auctioned online for humanitarian purposes.

After the Croatia national football team became the first in the world last year to donate their competitive match shirts (Croatia - Hungary) to an online auction for humanitarian purposes and collect more than 30 thousand euro, the Vatreni will follow the same example tonight after the friendly match against Turkey.

Therefore, all Croatia national team members playing tonight's match against Turkey will auction their shirts from the match. The proceeds will go to the Fire Heart Foundation (Vatreno Srce), founded and run by Croatia national team members and coaches. Through the foundation, they have helped Croatia's children and youth for years with donations to the Children's Clinic and the Step into Life campaign.

The shirts will be available for auction at https://matchwornshirt.com/club/croatia. You can submit your bids from the beginning of the match, and the auction will end ten days after the match. The starting price of all shirts is 89 euros, including the cost of delivery anywhere in the world.

Each shirts will have the Turkey - Croatia label and signed by the national team member who wore it.

Join the auction at https://matchwornshirt.com/club/croatia, support the work of the Fire Heart Foundation, and treat yourself or your loved ones to a memory of a lifetime!

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Wednesday, 11 November 2020

Turkey and Croatia Draw in Friendly Match (3:3)

November 11, 2020 - Turkey and Croatia met in Istanbul for a friendly match on Wednesday as preparation for their upcoming Nations League matches against Sweden and Portugal. 

The Croatia national team met Turkey in a friendly match in Istanbul at 6:45 pm on Wednesday. The friendly was played at Besiktas stadium and served as preparation for coach Zlatko Dalic before the Nations League matches against Sweden and Portugal. 

Croatia's starting 11 was anything but standard, featuring several young players - Sluga - Juranović, Vida, Pongračić, Melnjak - Rog, Badelj - Brekalo, Pašalić, Oršić - Budimir.

As announced, Dalic gave priority to players who did not have many opportunities in the national team jersey. 

The match kicked off without spectators and was fairly even until the 22nd minute when carelessness in the Croatia defense resulted in a Turkey penalty. Tosun scored for 1:0.

Fortunately, just 10 minutes later, Budimir equalized the score, though Croatia wouldn't have been as lucky if VAR was involved. A missed Budimir handball and goal made the game 1:1 in the 32nd minute. 

But not even 10 minutes after that, Croatia's defense fell apart... again. Juranovic was beat on the right side, and Turuc scored for the 2:1 lead at the half. 

The second half began with one substitution - Uremovic came in for Vida.

It didn't take long for Croatia to equalize. Oršić found Brekalo on the right side, who sent a sharp ball into the box, which found Pašalić alone on the left to score for 2:2 in the 53rd.

Just two minutes later, Oršić found the head of Brekalo, who put Croatia in the lead for the first time of the match - 2:3!

Unfortunately, Croatia's lead didn't last long - Under equalized for Turkey in the 58th (3:3).

In the 60th minute, Toma Basic replaced Badelj and debuted for Croatia, while Caleta-Car replaced Pongracic, and Perisic replaced Brekalo.

In the 66th minute, Mirko Antonio Colak was subbed on for Budimir, also making his Croatia debut.

By the 68th minute, Turkey had 3 shots on goal to Croatia's 5.

Even Luka Modric got his chance against Turkey, replacing Mario Pasalic in the 76th minute. 

With 10 minutes to go, Croatia didn't want to settle for a draw and was hunting for their fourth goal. The referee added three minutes, though neither side was able to score.

The friendly ended 3:3. 

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

Monday, 9 November 2020

Coach Zlatko Dalic Announces Updated Croatia Lineup

November 9, 2020 - The Croatia national team gathered on Monday ahead of its upcoming matches against Turkey, Sweden, and Portugal. Coach Zlatko Dalic announced an updated Croatia lineup and game plan.

The Croatia national football team is expected to play three matches in just six days. The 2018 World Cup finalists will play against Turkey in a friendly match on November 11, followed by their final Nations League campaign against Sweden on November 14 and in Split against Portugal on November 17.

Dejan Lovren was dropped from the squad at the last minute for the friendly match, and the Zenit stopper cannot play against Sweden due to cards. Lovren will thus join the national team in Split.

"I expect all invited players to come throughout the day and everyone to attend training. I know there were some problems, but we don't have any new announcements regarding absences. The only one who will be absent is Lovren, in agreement with me. He will stay in Russia and join the national team when we come to Split. He has a minor tendon injury and two yellow cards, so we don't have him against Sweden. We know that Kramaric will not attend due to injury, and the others on the list are all there," said Dalic.

The national team includes debutants Tomo Basic of Bordeaux and Marin Pongracic of Wolfsburg.

"Basic deserved an invitation based on his games for his club, and we want to try Pongracic, who has already received an invitation several times but could not come due to injuries. This time he is healthy, but I know he has been absent for a long time. I want him to be in the national team and feel the atmosphere," said Dalic.

Livakovic was also dropped from the lineup. Dalic thus has Kalinic, Grbic, and Sluga at his disposal, who will probably get a chance ahead of the others.

"Lovre Kalinic has been with us for a long time, but he hasn't been goalkeeping lately. There aren't many dilemmas because Sluga is the only one regularly in goal; he has rhythm and form. We will try to give a chance to two goalkeepers depending on the situation. I hope that Livakovic will be ready soon, he could join us already during these matches, but we will not rush with him. I trust the goalkeepers who are there," concluded Dalic.

Source: HNS

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

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