Sunday, 27 March 2022

Croatia Secures Pot 2 in 2022 World Cup Draw

March 27, 2022 - Croatia has secured Pot 2 in the 2022 World Cup draw after playing 1:1 against Slovenia on Saturday. 

After drawing 1:1 against Slovenia on Saturday, the Croatia national football team secured a place in the second strongest group in the 2022 World Cup draw. 

The draw for the World Cup will be held in Doha on Friday, April 1. The 2022 World Cup will be hosted by Qatar from November 21 to December 18 this year.

The International Football Federation (FIFA) has indicated that strong draw groups will be formed according to its ranking, which will be published on March 31. Since the qualifications are still not over on all continents and because Croatia is currently 15th in the FIFA rankings, one point from two games against Slovenia and Bulgaria was enough for Zlatko Dalić's side on this mini-tour in Doha.

Thus, Croatia's goal was achieved already in the first match against Slovenia, and now Croatia can anticipate the draw a bit more relaxed. 

Croatia has thus avoided some powerful teams by securing Pot 2. 

Namely, Croatia cannot meet Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, and Uruguay. Mexico and the United States should be added if those two national teams confirm their spot at the World Cup in the remaining two CONCACAF rounds. Potential opponents from Pot 1 are Qatar, Brazil, Belgium, France, Argentina, England, Spain, and Portugal, unless North Macedonia shocks them in the remaining qualifier. 

In Pot 3, Croatia is most likely threatened by Sweden, Egypt, Japan, Iran, Serbia, Morocco, Korea, and Poland. The last group will include Ecuador and Saudi Arabia for sure. 

Thirty-two national teams will play in eight groups of four teams at the World Cup. The top seeds in the draw will be the host Qatar plus the top seven ranked national teams in the FIFA rankings, announced on March 31. It will be the last World Cup with 32 national teams, and from 2026, 48 national teams will participate. Europe will have 13 representatives in Qatar, and there can be a maximum of two national teams from the same continent in each group.

Recall, the current World Champion is France (and Croatia the 2018 finalist), while we will not watch the current European champion Italy at the World Cup this year. 

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

Saturday, 26 March 2022

Croatia and Slovenia Draw 1:1 in First Doha Friendly Match

March 26, 2022 - Croatia and Slovenia draw 1:1 in the first friendly match in Doha on Saturday. Croatia meets Bulgaria next on Tuesday. 

The Croatia national football team met Slovenia in a friendly match at the Education City Stadium in Doha today at 15:00. 

Even though this was a friendly match, it was still important for Croatia. Namely, Croatia needs one draw from two friendly matches to be placed in Pot 2 in the World Cup draw scheduled on April 1. 

Zlatko Dalić is using this friendly tournament to try out the new system of three in the back, though it is also a great opportunity to get a glimpse of the conditions that await them at the end of the year when the World Cup begins.

Lineups 

Croatia: Livaković - Pongračić, Ćaleta Car, Gvardiol - Perišić, Juranović - Jakić, Kovačić, Modrić - Kramarić, Budimir

Slovenia: Oblak - Blažić, Bijol, Brekalo - Karničkik, Gnezda Čerin, Kurtić, Sikošek - Zajc, Šporar, Lovrić

Recap

Croatia's first serious attack came already in the 3rd minute. Perišić passed on the left side and centered the ball in Slovenia's penalty area, though it could not reach Kramarić and was cleared by the Slovenia defense. 

Modrić won a free kick after being fouled on the right side, which the Slovenia defense cleared in the 12th minute. A minute later, Jakić took Croatia's first shot on goal. Slovenia had their first attack in the 15th minute. 

Kovačić won a free kick in the 28th minute. Modrić tried to find Budimir but Oblak was solid in goal to keep in 0:0. 

Kramarić scored for the Croatia lead in the 39th minute. Ćaleta-Car played a through ball down the right wing, which found Andrej one-on-one with the keeper for 1:0! 

Croatia had another chance in the 43rd minute. Kovačić's backheel found Perišić on the left side. However, Perišić shot from the near post twice - the first time at Oblak and the second time hitting Budimir. 

Perišić passed on the left side again with a minute to go in the first half, but Oblak remained solid. 

Croatia ended the first half with 69% of the possession and five shots (two were on target). 

Croatia started the second half without any changes to the lineup. 

Croatia kept up their intensity in the second half with several chances in the first 10 minutes, with Modrić and Juranović hitting dangerous attempts. 

Dalić made his first substitutions in the 68th minute. Livaja, Majer, and Pašalić went in for Budimir, Modrić and Kovačić. Four minutes later, he made his second round of subs - Vlašić, Oršić, and Vida came in for Kramarić, Perišić, and Ćaleta-Car. 

Croatia maintained possession for the second half, with a few moments of Slovenian intensity.  

Livaja had a chance in the 84th minute and Pašalić a minute later. Slovenia's closest opportunity came in the 87th minute with a mix-up in front of Livaković, but the play was ultimately called offside. 

Oršić had a chance a minute later, and Livaja played Juranović for a cross back into the penalty area, but it was saved by Oblak. Oršić shot over the goal in the 89th. 

A quick reaction from Slovenia found saw them capitalize on Croatia's defense to equalize for 1:1 in the 90th minute, which was the final score. 

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

Friday, 25 March 2022

Zlatko Dalić Reveals Croatia Lineup against Slovenia in Doha

March 25, 2022 - Zlatko Dalić has revealed the Croatia lineup against Slovenia tomorrow, which kicks off the friendly tournament in Doha. 

The Croatia national football team will play a friendly match against Slovenia in Doha on Saturday at 3 pm, which will be an excellent opportunity for coach Zlatko Dalić to try out the new system.

"I expect the players to show what we have been doing these two days, and we have had great training sessions these two days. I can tell you right away which 11 will start tomorrow. Livaković will be in goal; the back three will be Ćaleta Car, Gvardiol, Pongračić; Perišić, and Juranović will be on the wing, and the three in the midfield are Jakić, Modrić, and Kovačić. Kramarić and Budimir lead the attack.

The decision to play here is one hundred percent right; we are here to get acquainted with the conditions that await us at the World Cup. I need to emphasize that this is great that we have already qualified so we can play more relaxed."

Croatia has not yet secured a place in the second pot for the World Cup group draw:

"There is no relaxation, and we have to play to win, we have two good opponents, and we have to play at the highest level."

Joško Guardiola is one of Croatia's best new players. 

"It all depends on Joško; he has shown his potential, he has to work every day and prove himself again, that is the most important thing. Nevertheless, we got a great player for the national team."

Dalić spoke about their decision to come to Doha for these friendly matches:

"I worked hard to come here, to see the conditions; I wanted to feel this place as a team. We wanted to play against Qatar, but I understand their coach wants some easier opponents. I wish Qatar a lot of luck, they put in a lot of effort, and I have a lot of fond memories here."

Slovenian journalists were interested in how seriously Croatia was preparing for Slovenia:

"We come here with full respect for Slovenia and Bulgaria; Slovenia has a great coach in Kek, we will have a worthy opponent tomorrow. We were preparing for the game, they have already beaten us once, so we know how dangerous they are. I was one of those who invited Slovenia to this tournament."

Guardiol was also present at the press conference and commented on the new system:

"I am not unfamiliar with playing three in the back, as we have been practicing this with Leipzig for half a year. The problem with the national team is that we don't have much time to adjust, but the last two training sessions, we were maximally focused on this, and we will try to transfer that to the game."

Source: HRT

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Thursday, 30 December 2021

Croatia Handball Euro 2022 Prep: Friendly Loss to Slovenia a Wake-Up Call

December 30, 2021 - The Croatia handball Euro 2022 prep continued with a friendly match against Slovenia on Wednesday night in Celje.

On Wednesday, the Croatia men's senior national team suffered a heavy defeat in a friendly match against Slovenia in Celje (33:26). It was the first meeting after three hard training days in the second phase of preparations in Poreč. Nevertheless, Slovenia sent a serious warning to Croatia. The team will have two days off before final preparations in Osijek.

Both national teams were incomplete and missing players from the Bundesliga. In addition, Zvonimir Srna left Zagreb earlier in the day due to an illness (not coronavirus). In any case, Slovenia showed more and deservedly celebrated the win as payback for the defeat they suffered against Croatia in Novigrad / Cittanova in early November.

Neither team was ready for solid, aggressive defense from the very beginning. Luka Cindrić put Croatia ahead for the first eight minutes. Slovenia then took the lead and lost their advantage only once.

Like the first meeting recently in Istria, Slovenia entered Croatia's 6-7 meters when they wanted and scored. In the 12th minute, Slovenia was up by 2 for the first time (8:6). However, Croatia did not give up and was always 1-2 goals behind. Croatia made eight technical errors in the first half and constantly offered Slovenia a new opportunity to stay ahead. 

Croatia failed to equalize in the last minute of the first half, and Jože Baznik brought Slovenia to +2 at halftime (17:15). Croatia conceded 17 goals again in one half, which speaks volumes about the defense.

Slovenia easily went ahead by 5 points at the beginning of the second half. However, Croatia caught up after about ten minutes.

In the first 15 minutes of the second half, Croatia scored only 4 goals. Slovenia was more aggressive, concentrated, and took advantage of Croatia's mistakes. In the last five minutes, Slovenia was up by 7 for 30:23 and managed to maintain that lead almost without much effort until the end.

Slovenia's top scorers were Blaž Janc and Gašper Marguč, with seven goals each. Croatia's top scorers were Luka Cindrić and Luka Šebetić, with five goals each.

Croatia had only 48 percent of the attacks (Slovenia 56 percent). Slovenia scored 7/7 counters (Croatia 4/4). Croatia had 13 technical errors / lost balls to Slovenia's 12. Slovenia played 6 minutes with a player less, and Croatia 14. 

HRS

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Sunday, 28 November 2021

World Women's Handball Championship Final Prep: 'Queens of Shock' Top Slovenia 29-21

November 28, 2021 - The 'Queens of Shock' are back in action this winter, completing their final preparations for the World Women's Handball Championship in Spain this December by winning 29-21 in a friendly match against Slovenia on Saturday in Poreč. 

The Croatia women's handball team defeated Slovenia with a convincing 29-21 (15-10) in the last preparatory match on Saturday at Žatika hall in Poreč, before the team heads to the IH World Women's Handball Championship in Spain. 

Nenad Šoštarić's team played well and held their own until the end of the game when they had less time to relax. Overall, they were solid in defense. This resulted in a constant increase in their advantage throughout the match.

It was already 6-2 in the 11th minute after Croatia had a 4-0 series, and at halftime, Slovenia was five goals behind (15-10).

Croatia was up +7 (17-10) in the 34th minute, and Slovenia managed to stay five goals behind (20-15) until the 44th minute. The "queens of shock" scored seven in the next eight minutes and received only two goals. In the 52nd minute, they were up +10 (27-17).

In the end, Slovenia managed to mitigate the defeat slightly (29-21).

Paula Posavec, Ćamila Mičijević, and Ana Turk scored four goals each for the Croatia national team, and Katarina Ježić, Lara Burić, and Ivana Dežić shook the net three times each.

Former Podravka player Tjaša Stanko led Slovenia, who was the most efficient in the game with eight goals.

"Today, they played one nice game. Most of the shortcomings, which we noticed in the first game and through joint training, we corrected. Each player gave a damn, and it was nice to watch," said coach Nenad Šoštarić, who is waiting on the leaders of the Croatian Handball Federation to decide on the number of players who will travel to Spain so he can define his list.

They may lead all 18 players who took part in the final preparations, but they may have to leave two handball players in Croatia if the HRS leadership decides that an expedition of 16 of them will go to Spain.

Croatia will open its appearance at the World Champs against Brazil, scheduled for Thursday, December 2, in Ciutat de Castell, starting at 6 pm. Two days later, Croatia will play against Paraguay (18:00) and on December 6 against Japan (20:30).

The best three national teams will continue the competition in the second phase, in which they will be merged with the group in which Spain, Austria, Argentina, and China will play. The two best national teams from the second phase will qualify for the quarterfinals.

Source: HRT

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

Thursday, 25 November 2021

2023 Basketball World Cup Qualifiers: Croatia Loses to Slovenia in Dramatic Finish (74:76)

November 25, 2021 - The Croatia basketball team opened the 2023 Basketball World Cup qualifiers with a loss to Slovenia in Zagreb on Thursday night. 

The Croatia basketball team opened the first round of 2023 World Cup qualifications against Slovenia at the Dražen Petrović hall in Zagreb on Thursday. The 2023 Basketball World Cup will be held in Japan, the Philippines, and Indonesia, from Friday, August 25, 2023, to Sunday, September 10, 2023.

Lineups

Croatia: Rogić, Marčinković, Drežnjak, Marić, Rudan. Klupa: Gnjidić, Kalajžić, Badžim, Prkačin, Gabrić, Bundović, Branković, Perković.

Slovenia: Rupnik, Blažić, Prepelič, Dimec, Murić. Klupa: Nikolić, Rebec, Lapornik, Hodžić, Čebešek, Kosi, Macura, Habot.

1st Quarter

With a 3-pointer by Bundović, Croatia led 19:16 at the end of the first 10 minutes. It was 11:3 and 16:10 for Croatia, though Slovenia equalized at 16:16.

2nd Quarter

Slovenia went into halftime leading 39:41. Rogić's 3-pointer was too early and too short for a possible lead at halftime. Croatia also had a 10-point advantage, but it was Slovenia to go into the 3rd quarter ahead. 

3rd Quarter 

Croatia led 56:55 going into the last 10 minutes of the game. Bundović was the first player to hit double-digits for Croatia against Slovenia. 

4th Quarter 

The dramatic final quarter saw Croatia maintain the lead, with two minutes to go ahead 72:69. However, Slovenia ultimately came back in the last two minutes to win it 74:76. 

About two thousand spectators came to see the much younger and promising Croatia play in Zagreb tonight. Bundović ended the game with 16 points, seven rebounds, and five assists. 

The World Cup qualifiers are played in six qualifying cycles of two matches, divided into rounds 1 and 2, as was the case with the qualifiers for the last World Cup. The next cycles are in February 2022, June 2022, August 2022, November 2022, and February 2023.

Croatia plays Finland next in Espoo, part of the more famous Helsinki metropolitan area, on Sunday, November 28 at 18:00.

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

Tuesday, 23 November 2021

Croatia Readies for 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup Qualifiers

November 23, 2021 - A press conference ahead of the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup qualifiers and Croatia's first match against Slovenia on Thursday in Zagreb. 

A press conference of the Croatia men's senior national team was held today at the KC Dražen Petrović Press Center ahead of the first qualifying matches for the World Cup, held in 2023 in Japan, Indonesia, and the Philippines, reports HKS.

At the conference, basketball legend Dino Rađa was available to the media for all questions, this time in the capacity of the president of the HKS Expert Council, national team coach Veljko Mršić and national team members Pavle Marčinković and Lovro Gnjidić.

Dino Rađa immediately drew attention to the national team youth: “As you can see, we have rejuvenated the team as much as possible. The atmosphere at training is very good; you feel a good vibe. The guys work as honestly as possible and are unencumbered. As much as youth and inexperience can be their flaw, so much so that it can be turned into an advantage because they don't carry some former results. They have only one task, and that is to get off the court with bloody knees, and everything else will be forgiven. I wish them good luck!"

Coach Veljko Mršić continued Dino's thoughts: “True, a new national team. A combination of youth and experience will be the best possible in the last two windows in late autumn 2022 and early 2023. We will certainly be good even now because, as Dino said, the guys are doing really well. The atmosphere is great; from the first day of the gathering, they look very good in training and commitment and behavior on and off the court. I'm sure it will lead us to play good basketball, without worrying about the result, and burdened only with one thing: to be very concentrated and think of each possession as if it were the last. The players have a lot of room for improvement, and I expect us to be better from game to game."

Pavle Marčinković is one of the national team members with the most experience: “The atmosphere is excellent. Not to forget, there are those of us who have been through a couple of cycles, so even though this is a newer and younger team, our goals, postulates, and principles are still the same. We will continue to build the result on a good defense and a strong transition back and forth. I think that we have a lot to look forward to with these young players; they play important roles in their clubs, and they are full of self-confidence.”

Twenty-year-old Lovro Gnjidić is part of the senior national team for the first time: “Coming to the senior national team, after all the younger categories, is a dream come true. The team is great, we get along great, and I think we clicked well."

When asked if he was nervous about his debut, Lovro answered: "It may be small, but I am focused, and I will do my best."

Croatia - Slovenia is scheduled for Thursday, November 25, at 20:45 in KC Dražen Petrović in Zagreb. Tickets can be purchased through ulaznice.hr and at the box office on Wednesday from 10 am to 6 pm and on Thursday from 10 am until the end of halftime.

Finland - Croatia is played in Espoo, part of the metropolitan area of ​​the more famous Helsinki, on Sunday at 18:00. You can watch both matches on the SportKlub program.

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

Saturday, 6 November 2021

Croatia Handball against Slovenia in European Championship Prep Friendly Tonight

November 6, 2021 - We will watch Croatia handball against Slovenia in a friendly match in Novigrad tonight as part of the national team's European Championship preparations, which have been taking place in Poreč all week. 

The Croatia national handball team will play a friendly match against Slovenia today at 6 pm in Novigrad, broadcast on HTV 2 for everyone at home, reports HRS.

After short preparations in Poreč all week, Hrvoje Horvat's team has a match that will serve as preparation for the European Championship, which will be held from January 14 to 30, 2022, in Hungary and Slovakia.

Respecting the recommendation of the Civil Protection Headquarters, due to the increasingly difficult epidemiological situation, the number of spectators in the hall is limited.

 

"One demanding phase is coming to an end, and it was a critical phase for us because we have entered certain changes. There is a big responsibility on new players, but I believe we will respond to all these challenges. Marin Šipić felt his shoulder a little, it is nothing serious, but we invited Grahovac to take his place," said coach Hrvoje Horvat when announcing the friendly match.

According to the announcements coming from Slovenia, the national team should arrive with their complete squad. Slovenia did a great job qualifying for the 2022 European Championships. They won four and lost only one match, with one draw. At the last European Championship in 2020, they won 4th place. In Egypt, on the other hand, at this year's World Cup, they finished ninth.

The last official match between Croatia and Slovenia was in France at the World Cup. In the fight for bronze, Slovenia then celebrated 31:30 and thus reached its first and only world championship medal.

Croatia did not have Luka Cindrić during these preparations, and Fran Mileta sat out after a serious injury in a recent game. Luka Šebetić also has minor problems with his heel, but he should be available to the coach, just like Ivan Pešić, who has a sore neck.

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

Tuesday, 7 September 2021

2022 World Cup Qualifiers: Croatia Tops Slovenia 3:0 at Poljud!

September 7, 2021 - Croatia tops Slovenia in their final 2022 World Cup qualifier this month thanks to goals by Marko Livaja, Mario Pašalić, and Nikola Vlašić! 

Croatia met Slovenia in their final 2022 World Cup qualifier this month at Poljud Stadium in Split. Around 20,000 spectators were expected for this match, though only those with COVID certificates were able to enter the stadium. Split Police have been vigilant since the morning to avoid any incidents. 

Recall, Croatia already played two qualifiers in the last week - against Russia in Moscow, and against Slovakia in Bratislava, taking 4 points.

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Slobodan Kadic

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Slobodan Kadic

Lineups:

Croatia: Ivušić, Juranović, Lovren, Vida, Barišić, Brozović, Kovačić, Pašalić, Livaja, Perišić, Kramarić

Slovenia: Oblak, Stojanović, Bijol, Mevlja, Balkovec, Gnezda Čerin, Stanković, Kurtic, Lovrić, Iličić, Šeško

Croatia's first attack happened in the first minute of the match. Ivan Perišić ran the ball up the wing and shot on goal. Andrej Kramarić had a chance two minutes later which went out for a goal kick. 

Another attack for Croatia in the 5th minute saw Juranović carry the ball up the right wing to find Kramarić who crossed into the box. Barašić played the ball back in from the left and Pašalić headed to the keeper. 

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Slobodan Kadic

Croatia's first corner kick came in the 6th minute. The ball ultimately found Barašić who shot over the goal. 

Croatia's best chance came in the 9th minute - a Perišić cross made its way to the penalty box with 3 Croatia players in front of the goal. 

Another incredible chance for Croatia in the 19th minute - a beautiful play between Kramarić, Perišić, and Barašić found Andrej at the top of the box, though his shot went straight to the keeper. 

Another almost goal happened in the 25th minute - Oblak was out of his goal but Livaja was unable to shoot before the ball went out for a goal kick. 

Livaja tried his luck and shot from 30 meters out in the 28th minute which Oblak touched out for a corner. 

Then it finally happened - Hajduk superstar Marko Livaja scored for 1:0 Croatia in the 33rd minute!

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Slobodan Kadic

Pašalić had a chance two minutes later off a corner but headed to the Slovenia keeper. 

A cross in from Juranović in the 37th minute found Perišić's head but was an easy save for Oblak. Perišić dribbled up the left wing a minute later but shot over the goal. Oblak made an unbelievable save in the next minute to keep it 1:0. 

Croatia was playing really beautiful football, which was a huge improvement from their game against Slovakia. The momentum from the home fans was certainly helping. The match ended 1:0 for Croatia at the half. 

Croatia's attacking game did not dwindle to start the second half. Balls were launched into the box from both sides, though Oblak always seemed to find his way there. 

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Slobodan Kadic

Slovenia was having a hard time making it past the halfway line in the first 10 minutes of the second half. 

Slovenia subbed in Hajduk player Jan Mlakar in the 53rd minute. 

Zlatko Dalić made his first sub in the 57th minute - Marko Livaja came out for Nikola Vlašić. 

Kova dribbled through the Slovenia defense in the 60th minute which went out for a corner.

But it didn't take long for Croatia to get their second goal. A Perišič cross found Pašalić who scored for 2:0 in the 66th minute! Playing at Poljud was certainly giving these former Hajduk stars an extra push. 

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Slobodan Kadic

Mateo Kovačić was subbed off for Luka Ivanušec, Andrej Kramarić came off for Mislav Oršić, and Dejan Lovren came off for Duje Ćaleta Car in the 76th minute. 

Nikola Vlašić nearly had his chance in the 81st minute after dribbling to the goal line but was unlucky in the end. 

Ivan Perišić was subbed off for Antonio Čolak in the 85th minute. 

Oršić and Ivanušec both had chances in the 88th-90th minutes, but the game remained 2:0. Four minutes of extra time were added. 

A Hajduk hattrick tonight became a reality - Nikola Vlašić scored in the final minute of the game for 3:0! 

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Tuesday, 7 September 2021

Ivan Perišić to Captain Croatia against Slovenia: Every Game at Poljud is Special

September 7, 2021 - Croatia national team coach Zlatko Dalić and Inter Milan midfielder Ivan Perišić spoke to the press ahead of Croatia's final September 2022 World Cup qualifier at Poljud on Tuesday. Ivan Perišić will captain Croatia against Slovenia. 

Croatia needs a victory at Poljud to increase points after consecutive visits to Russia and Slovakia.

"Certainly, there will be no Livaković in goal; we will not take any risks; Gvardiol is also questionable. I am not inclined to force what I am not sure of, as in the case of Modrić and Budimir. We will go with healthy and ready players. This, after all, was shown by this census at the beginning of the September cycle. Some players played a lot, Sosa, Juranović, Lovren… I'm a little scared to start a game with players who played a lot. We won’t change and invent much because we have nothing. I will say that Livaja will start the game, he has known this for several days, and I expect great things from him; he deserved it with his performances for Hajduk. In what position will he play? Everyone is there to play what is meant for them. Nobody plays a dominant position, even though the media constantly emphasize it," says Zlatko Dalić, who went on to discuss the importance of a victory and the demands of the third game in a week.

"We have to be favorites at our stadium, in front of our fans. Perhaps this will be the most difficult match for us because it is the third in just seven days against an aggressive and combative opponent who beat us in Slovenia. If we do not show the energy from Bratislava and Moscow, it will be difficult for us. However, I doubt that the audience will carry us in our motive, and I believe we will win the match. In which way, it doesn't matter; only the points are important."

Slovenia is no easy opponent. 

"Slovenia is not just Jan Oblak. Iličić rested; he is fresh and the biggest danger; he forms an attacking axis with Lovrić, and I expect Mlakar as well. Slovenia will play as much as we allow them and as we position ourselves on the field. We did not let Russia or Slovakia play with pressure; I am delighted with that game segment. We must react well to other opponents' balls again. Problems in the attack? We were a little futile going forward, but these aren’t games to die for in beauty. Points matter, not impressions. I said that I had no objections to what Croatia played, except for that final."

The team will once again be weakened with the absence of Luka Modrić.

"Luka will not be forever; we cannot keep repeating Luka, Luka, Luka. No one can replace him individually; we can only replace him as a team; we must understand that. He started training; he will be with us in October. We have to get rid of that rumor so that we can play without the captain, who we miss a lot."

There will be no lack of support at Poljud, and well-filled stands are expected.

"The support of the audience will be important to us. We remember Hungary and the fantastic atmosphere that reigned at Poljud during that match. It was an atmosphere that gave you chills. However, since I was the coach, where the point was that we played, it was beautiful for us, in Osijek, Rijeka, Zagreb… Regardless of what someone wants to do that is worthless, the Croatian people recognize the good. Therefore, I expect great support from the stands, and we will try to thank you with three points," concluded Dalić.

Ivan Perišić will lead Croatia as captain against Slovenia. Ivan is aware that the victory against Slovakia in Bratislava additionally raised the self-confidence of the national team.

"The atmosphere is great after the victory in Slovakia; it gave us extra energy. We did well in the matches against Russia and Slovakia, we did not concede a goal, and we can be satisfied with two of perhaps the most difficult away games. However, if we don't beat Slovenia, it won't mean much," said Perišić, who spoke about the hard September rhythm of these matches.

"The rhythm is tough; everything happened in a short time, it will be a little easier in October and November, but then we will already have two games a week with our clubs. Whoever survives will talk, ha, ha, ha… However, we have 25 players so that the coach can choose and distribute the forces. The skeleton of the team is there; the younger players already have a lot of serious games, they give us extra strength." 

Ivan spoke about the course of the match against Slovenia.

"We will start from the first minute to score; it will be easier if we open them at the start, as was the case against Hungary at Poljud. We definitely need to improve our attack, and we need more time for that. Poljud? Every game at Poljud is something special; it means a lot to me, family, friends, we can't wait for it to start."

Source: HNS

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