Friday, 15 October 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To learn more about sport in Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, 8 September 2021

Croatia against Russia at Poljud to Decide 2022 World Cup Spot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 8: Cyprus - Croatia

October 11: CROATIA - Slovakia

November 11: Malta - Croatia

November 14: CROATIA - Russia

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

October 8: Russia - Slovakia

October 11: Slovenia - Russia

November 11: Russia - Cyprus

November 14: Croatia - Russia

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

To learn more about sport in Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, 1 September 2021

2022 World Cup Qualifiers: Russia and Croatia Draw in Moscow (0:0)

September 1, 2021 - Russia and Croatia draw in Moscow in the first 2022 World Cup qualifier for the Vatreni this month. 

The Croatia national team continued their qualification cycle for the 2022 World Cup against Russia at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.

Coach Zlatko Dalic faced a problem before the start of the match. Gvardiol, who was supposed to play stopper with Lovren, felt muscle tightening before kick-off. Duje Ćaleta-Car entered the starting lineup instead. Recall, Luka Modrić did not travel with the team to Russia due to an injury. 

Lineups

Russia: Guilherme; Mario Fernandes, Diveev, Dzhikiya, Karavayev; Kuzyayev, Barinov, Golovin; Ionov, Miranchuk, Zakharyan

Croatia: Livaković; Juranović, Lovren, Ćaleta-Car, Sosa; Brozović, Kovačić; Vlašić, Pašalić, Perišić; Kramarić

The match started with a Russia attack which was no problem for Livaković. Good movement up Croatia's wings saw a few balls played into the penalty area but went short to Russia's keeper. Croatia's first corner of the match was in the 11th minute. Ćaleta Car's header went high over the goal. 

Russia's most dangerous opportunity came in the 14th minute with a rocket from Zakharyan, but Livaković's fingertips forced it out for a corner. 

Croatia began attacking more aggressively in the 5 minutes that followed, with crosses lobbed into the box by both Sosa and Juranović. 

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Slobodan Kadic

While Croatia maintained possession they maintained their calm and didn't attack Russia's goal much from the 30th minute. Russia, however, also had trouble giving Livaković much work to do. 

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Slobodan Kadic

Croatia's best chance came in the 40th minute with a world-class through ball from Kovačić. The Russia keeper beat Kramarić to it by a millisecond, thus ending the play. Another great chance happened two minutes later. A brilliant Juranović cross into the box went off Pašalić's head to Perišić who just shot wide of the goal. 

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Slobodan Kadic

The match ended 0:0 at the half after a much more offensive Croatia in the final 5 minutes.  

The second half started with a shot on goal for Russia which Livaković saved to keep the score 0:0. Croatia's first real chance of the second half came 10 minutes later when Vlašić shot over the goal. Croatia was struggling to break through the tough Russia defense. 

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Slobodan Kadic

Croatia's defense was lucky when a Russia attack was called offside in the 62nd minute. Sosa shot from outside the box two minutes later but it was an easy save for the Russia keeper. 

Luka Ivanušec came in for Mario Pašalić in the 69th minute. Mislav Oršic came in for Andrej Kramarić and Mirko Livaja for Ivan Perišić in the 72nd. 

Russia increased its attacking game but failed to find the back of the net. Ivanušec shot at the keeper in the 81st minute. An injury ended Ćaleta Car's game in the 84th minute. Mile Škorić was subbed on in his place. 

A weak clearance from Lovren in the 87th minute nearly cost Croatia a goal, but Livaković saved it to keep the score even. The final few minutes saw panic for the Croatia defense who were threatened by Russia in the penalty area. 

Four minutes were added by the referee. 

Kovačić used his technical skills to dribble through the Russia defense, sending a slow-motion ball across the goal line in the 2nd minute of added time for another Croatia chance, but it wasn't enough. The match ended 0:0. 

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

To learn more about sport in Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Monday, 30 August 2021

Zlatko Dalić Ahead of Croatia's 2022 World Cup Qualifiers: Luka is Impossible to Replace

August 30, 2021 - September is nearly here, meaning Croatia's 2022 World Cup qualifiers are upon us. Coach Zlatko Dalić spoke to the press ahead of the first match against Russia on Wednesday. 

The Croatia national football team has arrived in Moscow, where the first of three September matches will take place. Croatia will face Russia on Wednesday to continue the 2022 World Cup in Qatar qualification cycle, reports HNS.

Croatia coach Zlatko Dalić fondly remembers the beautiful memories of Moscow and the historical silver but is aware of the fact that one cannot live from old glory in football. 

"Three years have passed since the World Cup in Russia, but that is now behind us. Of course, it is nice to come here and remember everything we experienced. Still, our new task is the qualifying match against Russia, and we are focused exclusively on that," says Zlatko Dalić, who once again explained the choice of players against Russia, Slovakia, and Slovenia.

“I stand behind this list. I have chosen players who play in their clubs and are in shape. I wouldn’t talk about names and specifically explain why I didn’t call someone, but no one was written off or crossed out. If those who are not there now are in shape and play in their clubs, maybe they will be with us again. This is a team that I believe can get a good result in these three games. How many points will be enough for us for Qatar? According to some of my calculations, we will need 20 or 21 for the first place, which means that we have to catch another 14, 15 in the next seven games."

Before the September matches, Dalić was first left without the captain and best player, Luka Modrić, due to an adductor injury. Then the news followed that Ante Budimir would miss at least the first match.

"It is impossible to replace Luka, but that is why all other players have to take on a greater amount of responsibility, especially the more experienced ones. One player cannot replace Luka, but everyone else must take on more responsibilities. It will be difficult for us without Luka and his help, but we have to get used to it. Luka will not be with us forever; I believe we will replace him as a team because we cannot change him according to the chess - 'figure for figure.' The midfield line? We will see, there is Brozović, Modrić, Pašalić, and Vlašić, and we will look for solutions among them. Again, Ivanušec is in good shape; our midfield must not and will not be a problem. Of course, Luka is difficult to replace, but I'm not afraid; I believe in this team."

Several Croatia members are currently in the middle of club transfers, which can be a problem ahead of important matches.

"Yes, that is a problem, their heads are in transfers, they have a lot of inquiries and information, and it is difficult for them to concentrate, and that worries us. Fortunately, Vlašić has finished his, he is on his way from London to Moscow, but they all have to forget the transfers and turn to the match against Russia. So my meeting with the players today will be in that direction. I know that these are their careers and lives, but now we are only interested in Russia." 

When it comes to Russia, the team has undergone significant changes compared to the one that played the World Cup quarterfinals against Croatia.

"Russia plays differently than in 2018 or at this year's Euro, which is logical considering that they have a new coach. Before, they looked for Juba with long balls. Karpin cultivates a different style, looking for a passing play in a 4-3-3 formation. We prepared for that; I spoke a lot with Olić, Ćorluka, and Pletikosa. Russia will not surprise us. This match is crucial to them; they allowed 20,000 spectators to be in the stands, we have a hard job ahead of us, but I believe that we will respond with aggression, fighting spirit, and energy," concluded the Croatia coach. 

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

To learn more about sport in Croatia, CLICK HERE.

 

Sunday, 21 February 2021

Olympic Qualifiers: Croatia Defeats Russia on Penalties to Qualify for Tokyo!

February 21, 2021 - Croatia defeats Russia on penalties in the 3rd-place match of the Olympic qualifying tournament in Rotterdam to qualify for Tokyo! 

Croatia and Russia met in the 3rd-place match of the Olympic qualifying tournament in Rotterdam on Sunday afternoon. A win was enough for Croatia to automatically secure a spot in Tokyo, as the top three national teams from the qualifiers advance to the Olympic Games. 

Behind Croatia are seven rounds made up of five victories and two defeats at the Olympic Qualifying tournament in Rotterdam thus far. Recall, Croatia won their first match against Romania at 16:6, defeated the Netherlands 25:8, topped France 10:13lost to Russia 13:14, and beat Germany 22:8 in the final group stage match. 

Croatia thus finished the group stage with eight points, four wins, and a defeat against Russia, which finished first with nine points. 

In the quarterfinal match on Friday, Croatia was better than Georgia (15:6), but lost to Montenegro in the semifinal match on penalties on Saturday. Russia lost to Greece 10:13 in the second semifinal on Saturday. 

Croatia v. Russia 

Maro Jokovic scored the first goal of the match from a penalty for 1:0 with 6:49 to go in the first quarter.  A Milos-Vrlic combo made it 2:1 for Croatia a minute later. Vukicevic made it  3:2 with 3:54 to go. Adro Buslje scored for 4:2 with less than 3 minutes left. The first quarter ended at 4:3.

Milos scored to open the second quarter for Croatia at 5:4. Vukicevic scored for 6:6 with 3:04 to go. It was 6:7 for Russia going into halftime. 

Garcia scored for 7:7 with 6:17 left in the third quarter. Croatia finally retook the lead for 8:7 thanks to a Bukic goal with 2:55 left. Fatovic scored for 9:8 with 4:60 seconds to go in the third quarter. 

It was 9:9 with 5:20 to go in the final quarter. Buslje scored for 10:9 with 4:47 left. Vrlic scored for 11:10 with 1:20 to go. The match ended at 11:11 and went to penalties, which Croatia won 25:24!

The finalists of the qualifying tournament, as well as the national team that wins the match for third place on February 21, qualifies for the Olympic Games in Tokyo, which are scheduled from July 24 to August 8, 2021. 

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

Wednesday, 17 February 2021

Olympic Qualifiers: Croatia Water Polo Falls to Russia (13:14)

February 17, 2021 - In game four of the Olympic Qualifiers in Rotterdam, Croatia water polo falls to Russia for their first defeat in the tournament.

On Wednesday afternoon, Croatia and Russia met for the penultimate group stage match, which also carried a bit more importance - it was the match for first place in the group.

Behind Croatia are three rounds and three victories at the Olympic Qualifying tournament in Rotterdam. Recall, Croatia won their first match against Romania at 16:6, defeated the Netherlands 25:8, and topped France 10:13

Russia, on the other hand, was weak in the first two games, though they claimed victory over France and drew their second against Romania. However, in their third match on Tuesday, they topped Germany by 12 goals. 

Croatia v Russia Recap

While Russia was the first to score, Rino Buric equalized 40 seconds later, and a goal by Josip Vrlic made it 2:2 with 6:21 to go in the first quarter. Luke Loncar gave Croatia the lead with 5:33 left (3:2). 

Fatovic scored for 4:3 with 3:05 to go in the first quarter, though missed a penalty a minute later. Fortunately, he scored for 5:3 with just over a minute to go, which is how the first quarter ended. 

Croatia opened the second quarter with goals by Ante Vukicevic and Maro Jokovic for +3 (7:4). Lovre Milos made it 8:5 with 3:58 to go, and Vukicevic scored for 9:5 moments later. 

Russia opened the third quarter with a goal for 9:8, though Croatia's Bukic scored for 10:8 with 5:28 to go. Fatovic scored for 11:8 one minute later and scored his fourth goal of the game for 12:9 with just under 3 minutes to go. 

Andro Buslje made it +4 (13:9), which was the last goal scored for Croatia in the third quarter which ended at 13:11. 

Russia equalized in the final quarter for 13:13 with five minutes to go in the match - and with 2:25 left, Russia took the lead (13:14), which was the final score of the game. 

Croatia will meet Germany (Thursday, February 18, at 8:30 pm) in the final group stage match. 

Following the group stage, the quarterfinal stage will commence on Friday, February 19, in which the four best teams from each group will meet.  The pairs will be determined by their positions in the standings (A1 - B4, A2 - B3, A3 - B2, and A4 - B1). 

The four winning teams will play in the semifinals on February 20. The finalists of the qualifying tournament, as well as the national team that wins the match for third place on February 21, will qualify for the Olympic Games in Tokyo, which are scheduled from July 24 to August 8, 2021. 

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

Monday, 18 November 2019

Davis Cup Madrid: Russia Tops Croatia 3:0 in First Round

November 18, 2019 - The Davis Cup debuted its new format on Monday in Madrid. Croatia kicked off their competition in Group B against Russia. 

The Croatia national tennis team lost the first duel on Monday, when Borna Gojo, a 21-year-old debutant for Croatia, was defeated by Andrey Rublev 3:6, 3:6 after an hour and eight minutes of play.

Borna Gojo (ATP-280), who only made his way into the world of professional tennis three months ago, had a poor start to the match against the favored Rublev, the 23rd best player in the world. He lost his service in the first game, but managed to collect himself and immediately return with a break. However, the remainder of the first set was a one-way street in which the Russian tennis player took Gojo’s serve two more times.

At the start of the second set, Gojo had two consecutive breaks but did not use them. Rublev then came to a break and routinely concluded the match in his favor.

Gojo played for American Wake Forest University and joined Croatia after Marin Cilic dropped out due to injury. Interim coach Franko Skugor opted for Gojo because he felt he could do better on a faster basis than Nino Serdarusic.

“I’m not satisfied, I had some chances, but I didn't serve well enough. My serve was not at the level as usual, and especially not at the level for this match. I also had occasions where I could be more aggressive, but I was nervous, so I played safely.  We will get the positive things out of this match and try to be as good as possible on Wednesday," Gojo said after his performance.

In the second match, Croatia’s best tennis player Borna Coric lost to Karen Khachanov 7:6(4), 4:6, 4:6.

Coric opened the match well, won the first set, but unfortunately lost his energy in the continuation of the match due to recent virus. Hachanov thus turned the result in his favor.

There was not too much excitement in the first set until it was 3:3 and both tennis players held their serves. Khachanov had three consecutive break points to lead 4:3. However, Borna managed to even it at 4:4. The set was then decided in the thirteenth game. Hachanov led 2:0 with a mini break, but Borna returned and had a tiebreak at 7:4.

In the second set, Khachanov managed to equalize, and the key was the seventh game in which Khachanov broke Coric for the 4:3 lead. In the next game, Borna had the opportunity to get back the game he lost, but failed.

Coric dwindled in the third set. In the fifth game, he saved four break points, but in the seventh game, he struggled and Khachanov came to a great advantage, which he defended until the end of the match.

It was their third encounter and the first win for the 17th best tennis player in the world. Coric won his first two matches in 2017 in Rotterdam and Milan.

“I played the first set great, I even surprised myself a little, the second set, in my opinion, I was better, I didn't break him at 3:3 and then everything went downhill. My strength fell and I could no longer get anything out. I’m sorry about the second set where; I thought I had the match in control, two, three points decided the match and he prevailed. I just didn't take my chances,” Coric said.

Ivan Dodig and Nikola Mektic played in the doubles match that followed against Khachanov and Rublev and lost 7:6 (3), 6:4. Thus, Croatia lost 0:3 to Russia on day one.

At this year's Davis Cup, eighteen teams are divided into six groups of three teams. The winners of the groups and the two best runner-up teams will advance to the quarterfinals. All matches are played in a format with two singles matches and one doubles match.

Croatia's group also includes Spain, led by the world number one tennis player Rafael Nadal.

Spain and Russia meet tomorrow, and in the last match in the group, the title defender Croatia will play against Spain on Wednesday.

Source: HRT

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

Sunday, 7 July 2019

Reflecting on Russia: Croatia Secured World Cup Semi-final One Year Ago Today

On July 7, 2018, Croatia and Russia met in front of 40,000 fans for the quarterfinal of the World Cup in Sochi. The stadium shook like an earthquake. 

It was rumored that Vladimir Putin, the KGB, and special units helped Russia reach this stage of the competition, though nothing could help the host nation that night in Sochi. Croatia won on penalties and thus secured a spot in the World Cup semi-final, reports 24 Sata on July 7, 2019.

Judging by the game against Denmark, after Russia, it was clear the entire country needed psychiatric help, or pills to pop to get them through over 120 brutal minutes. This quarter-final was not for the faint of heart.

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It was a game where Danijel Subašić fought through the pain to magically save a penalty with one foot, 

“During the warm-up, I felt pain in my muscle. I massaged my leg and saw that I could continue. The pain came again later, but I did not want to give up, I knew that the coach needed another substitution because many of them complained about problems,” said Subašić.

However, Suba became a hero, a hero of the nation, who eliminated Russia and Denmark.

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Many players could barely stand on their feet during the game and looked at the bench after any hope a change could be made. 

"I do not know where they gathered their strength, they made a miracle," coach Zlatko Dalić said.

“During the break, masseuses quickly served the players, as in a Formula 1 box. I had a small edema, but I survived, as we survived the entire tournament,” said Subašić.

After 90 minutes, the game was 1:1, and after 120 minutes - 2:2. Croatia's fate would be decided by penalties for the second consecutive game.

But after the team and Croatians across the world spent all of their nerves against Denmark, how would anyone survive this drama again?

“How did I survive through penalties? Here, my stomach is still shaking. Horror, but who cares, we have entered the top four in the world,” said Mario Mandžukić.

Just as against Denmark, the last penalty came down to Ivan Rakitić - and the world stopped. Rakitić scored, and Croatia was off to the World Cup semi-final. 

The Croatian players sprinted from the half towards Rakitić, jumped on Zlatko Dalić and embraced Ivica Olić.

And there were tears. 

“I cried. No words can describe that feeling at that point, especially when it's over,” says Rakitić.

Before the game, Rakitić said he watched ‘Rocky’, the cult classic with Sylvester Stallone, as a motivator. 

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Slobodan Kadić

"I watched Rocky fight against Ivan Drago and he wondered if we could do something like that because the Russians were strong, aggresive and tall. But we have come to the victory tonight, like Rocky,” said Rakitić after the game.

Before the game, defender Vedran Ćorluka was certain Croatia would move on.

“They do not have a chance. I know them very well and we are better in all positions, just about all,” said Ćorluka of the Russia team.

"I am experiencing all of the emotions, there is a lump in my throat, I’m crying on the bench, I'm overwhelmed, I could not stop. I was not able to stop the tears, so much happened. The players ran to the penalty box, where they went for Rakitić,” Dalić wrote in his book" Russia of Our Dreams ".

The dressing room celebration lasted for three hours. The team belted “Moja domovina”, “Nije u šoldima sve”, and “Dome moj”.

Croatia finally left without voices, with exhaustion swept across their faces. But who cared. After twenty years, they had repeated Croatia's greatest success and secured a spot in the World Cup semi-final. 

And their World Cup fairytale continued. 

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

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Rakitić's Winning Penalty Against Russia: A Mini Version (Video)

We all remember Croatia’s game-winning penalty against Russia in the 2018 World Cup, and if you don’t, allow us to refresh your memory. 

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