Wednesday, 4 May 2022

HNS, Hrvatski Telekom, and SuperSport Sign Historic Croatian Football Contract

May 4, 2022 - A historic Croatian football contract was signed today by the Croatian Football Federation, Hrvatski Telekom, and SuperSport. 

Today in Zagreb, the leaders of the Croatian Football Federation, Hrvatski Telekom, and SuperSport signed an agreement on television and marketing rights for matches under the auspices of the Croatian Football Federation, announced HNS.

The contract signing ceremony by which Hrvatski Telekom became the owner of television and SuperSport marketing rights for matches owned by the Croatian Football Federation was organized in the Opera Hall of the Westin Hotel in Zagreb. Contracts run from the beginning of the 2022/23 competition year until the end of the 2025/26 competition year.

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HNS

It is the most valuable agreement for television and marketing rights in the history of domestic club football. During the four contracted years, Hrvatski Telekom will invest EUR 36 million for television rights, while SuperSport will invest a total of EUR 8 million for marketing and betting rights. The Croatian Football Federation has thus provided 44 million euros in four years for domestic football.

"I thank the present management of Hrvatski Telekom and SuperSport for their trust and the respect they have shown for such a significant investment in domestic football. We are especially pleased to sign such vital contracts with companies that are proven friends and partners of Croatian football, which gives us additional faith that together, we will make our First League but also other competitions even stronger, more attractive, and better.

It is unnecessary to emphasize how much these funds will mean for our first leagues and other clubs in Croatia - this is the most crucial contract related to domestic club football in history and confirms its market value. I am sure that this value will continue to grow thanks to this agreement and that this significant investment will pay off for our partners as well," said HNS President Marijan Kustić.

"I am delighted to continue our long-term cooperation with HNS. We always strive to provide our customers with the best sports content, and Croatian football falls into that category because it is about content close to the fans of all Croatian clubs. With our renewed four-year partnership with HNS, we are laying the foundations for the further development of Croatian football clubs, to enjoy even more competitive competition and better matches in production and on the leading pay-TV platform in Croatia," said the President of the Management Board of Hrvatski Telekom Kostas Nebis, while the member of the Management Board Nataša Rapaić added:

"Croatia is a sports nation in which football has a special status and significance, and the Croatian Football League has never been so interesting. We are pleased that HT can convey this excitement and positive emotions to the Croatian audience. We stand for these values as a company - connectivity, positivity, and creating new opportunities."

SuperSport has become the owner of marketing and betting rights, and satisfaction with the signed contract was expressed by a member of the SuperSport Management Board, Goran Đurić:

"We are proud that SuperSport has become a direct partner of Croatian football, in which we have invested significantly before. I believe we all agree that our football league has never been more interesting, and we are convinced that this agreement will allow further development of clubs and domestic competitions. We trust HNS, and we are looking forward to working with the Federation and Hrvatski Telekom on the further marketing, commercial, and media development of domestic football."

"Football is the most popular, important, and most-watched sport in Croatia. The First League is equally watched and important to both spectators and our players as the strongest football competitions in the world, such as the Champions League. That is why we are thrilled that today we signed such a valuable contract that will enable our football to continue to grow, which is visible by all criteria. We are proud to provide our players with the highest quality content as market leaders," added SuperSport Board Member Radim Haluza.

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HNS

"For HNS, and especially Croatian clubs, the contract we signed today is truly of historical importance. I want to thank our partners, Hrvatski Telekom and SuperSport, for their trust and congratulate all clubs that have raised the level of quality and the curiosity of the competition to the level that we can sign a contract like this. An important role in increasing the league's attractiveness was played by HNS's first league turf project, which shows that for all of us - clubs, federations, and local communities - further development of stadium infrastructure should be a strategic determinant so that the value of our 'product' continues to grow," HNS Executive Director Tomislav Svetina emphasized.

After signing the contract, the leaders of HNS handed over one home and one reserve jersey of the 2018 World Cup finalists to the leaders of Hrvatski Telekom and SuperSport with the numbers 2022 and 2026, which together show the duration of the contract signed today.

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

Saturday, 23 April 2022

NK Rijeka Wins 3:1, Osijek Misses Golden Chance to Reach First Place

April 23, 2022 - In the derby of the 32nd round of the Croatian First League, the football players of NK Rijeka defeated Osijek 3-1 at home in Rujevica. NK Osijek missed out on a great opportunity to clinch the top of the table and would move into third place if Hajduk wins on Sunday.

Goals for Rijeka were scored by Robert Murić ('19, PEN), Haris Vučkić ('36), and Josip Drmić ('48), while Antonio Mance ('65) reduced the score difference to 3-1, reports Slobodna Dalmacija.

Both teams started attacking intensely at the beginning of the game, as several of Osijek's introductory attempts were defended by Rijeka's goalkeeper Labrović. In Rijeka's first dangerous attempt, Drmić's shot in the 9th minute was stopped by Osijek's goalkeeper Ivušić. NK Rijeka took the lead 10 minutes later. Čeberko recklessly played the ball with his hand in his own area, so referee Zebec pointed to the white dot, and Murić scored the penalty kick. By the end of the first half, Rijeka was a much better opponent and in the 30th minute Selahi shook the crossbar with a powerful shot, but six minutes later there was no save for Ivušić's goal. Drmić calmed down the ball very well in the visiting area and assisted Vučkić, who hit it under the crossbar with a powerful shot from eight meters.

At the beginning of the second half, Rijeka scored its third goal. Murić ran through the right wing, sending a sharp ground ball for Drmić, in an attempt that was not difficult to increase the advantage of his team. After that, Osijek went on a full offensive and seemed that in the 57th minute they should have been awarded a penalty kick. Solano was caught napping as Kleinheisler lifted a ball over him following a free-kick, but the ball hit the bar, rebounding into the keeper's arms. The situation was also reviewed through the VAR and the decision surprisingly remained in force, although the footage clearly shows a blow to the Hungarian's foot. However, the guests reduced the score difference to 3-1 in the 65th minute when Mance received the ball 25 meters from the goal, took two steps forward, and shot, and the ball hit Smočić's block on the way to the net and deceived Labrović.

With this defeat, Osijek missed the opportunity to take the top of the table, remaining second with 64 points, two less with a game more than leaders Dinamo, who are visiting Gorica on Sunday, and two more with a game more than third-placed Hajduk, who are visiting Slaven Belupo on Sunday. Rijeka is fourth with 58 points.

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

Sunday, 3 April 2022

World Cup and Croatia: 5 Reasons to Dream of Glory (Again)

April 3, 2022 - The Vatreni already know their rivals for the biggest football event to be held in Qatar this year, and there are reasons to believe that Modrić and company can add yet another page to the wonderful history between the World Cup and Croatia.

There is no easy rival in the World Cup, and this should be well known by now. It doesn't matter what path took you to the biggest stage in football, once you're there all you think about is winning and advancing as far as you can. If not, ask Croatia in 1998 and twenty years later, in 2018. To qualify for the World Cup in France, Croatia had to play a two-game playoff against Ukraine, after finishing second in their qualifying group behind Denmark. They beat the Ukrainians 3-1 on aggregate, and destiny led them to finish third in their first-ever World Cup finals.

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The Croatian national team, led by ''Ćiro'' Blažević, reached third place in France '98. (Image: Croatian Football Federation)

Unlike other national teams, Croatia's qualifying history has not been constant. After the success in France, Croatia qualified directly for the World Cups in Korea-Japan in 2002, and Germany in 2006. However, they would miss the World Cup in South Africa in 2010 and again would need the playoffs to qualify for the World Cups in Brazil in 2014 and the most recent in Russia in 2018. Little or nothing Messi's Argentina, host Russia or Harry Kane's England would have imagined, that the Croats did not travel to Russia on vacation. They had a mission, and this led them to overcome what was done by Šuker, Boban, or Prosinečki twenty years before that. Croatia, defying the odds, reached the final of a World Cup.

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Croatia could not beat France in the World Cup final in Russia, but the second place achieved will always be remembered. (Photo: PIXSELL)

Can Croatia repeat a memorable feat? We think so, and here are 5 reasons why you should too.

Group draw

Two days ago, the draw for the group stage of the World Cup in Qatar was held. Croatia, despite coming second in the previous World Cup and finishing first in their qualifying group, was placed in Pot 2 of the draw. Those led by Dalić could not avoid playing against teams such as Brazil, France, Argentina, or Spain, but they could avoid others such as the Netherlands or Germany, also in Pot 2. Thus, the chances for Croatia to be put in a theoretical ‘‘group of death’’ were low.

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Image: @FIFAWorldCup/Twitter

Croatia will be in Group F, with the Belgian team as the leader, and where they will be joined by Canada and Morocco. I would like, at this moment, to remember the first thing I said at the very beginning: there is no easy rival in the World Cup. Oh yes, I've read loads of people on social media saying "not bad" or that it is an "affordable group for Croatia". The reality is that we are up against Morocco, a team that has matured since the last World Cup in Russia and one of the toughest in Africa. While the absence of Hakim Ziyech (Chelsea) may sound motivating for many, the Moroccans still have a group of talented players such as Yassine Bounou (Sevilla), Achraf Hakimi (PSG), Sofyan Amrabat (Fiorentina), Adel Taarabt (Benfica), Youssef En-Nesyri (Sevilla), or the very young Ez Abde, from Barcelona B.

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Croatia's first World Cup match will be against Morocco on November 23 at Al Bayt Stadium. (Image: @EnMaroc/Twitter)

Canada might sound to many like the rival to beat, but don't underestimate that the Canadians finished the CONCACAF standings in the first place and very comfortably ahead of more experienced teams like the United States, Mexico, or Costa Rica. The North American country will be looking to bring out the best in a golden generation that includes the likes of Alphonso Davies (Bayern Munich), Jonathan David (Lille), and Cyle Larin (Besiktas).

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Croatia's second game will be against Canada on November 27 at the Khalifa International Stadium. (Image: @CanadaSoccerEN/Twitter)

Finally, Belgium will surely be Croatia's big test, and many believe that it will be between them who will go through to the round of 16 as group leader. But despite the fact that some point out the bad moment and the injuries of Eden Hazard at Real Madrid, the lack of continuity of Romelu Lukaku at Chelsea, or the departure of emblematic defenders such as Vincent Kompany or Thomas Vermaelen, the truth is that the Belgian team also has reasons to go far. A team that has Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid), Yannick Carrasco (Atlético Madrid), Axel Witsel and Thomas Meunier (Borussia Dortmund) at the peak of their football maturity, as well as many youngsters who will refresh the team with their mischief, like Youri Tielemans (Leicester City), Alexis Saelemaekers (Milan), Albert Sambi Lokonga (Arsenal) or Jérémy Doku (Rennes), is a team to bet on as World Cup champions. In 2018, they were the third-place team behind Croatia.

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Croatia will close the group stage against Belgium on December 1 at the Ahmed bin Ali Stadium. (Image: @BelRedDevils/Twitter)

So if the group is not as easy as we thought, why would it be a reason to dream? Although I insist that confidence comes from not underestimating the rivals but instead being cautious, other groups have more even teams. Group E has Spain, Germany, and Japan (waiting for Costa Rica and New Zealand). Group H has Portugal, Uruguay, South Korea, and Ghana. Croatia will first play Morocco, then Canada, and will play the last game of the group stage against Belgium. If Croatia believes in its chances, it could arrive with six points to face the Belgians and fight for first place in the group. But, of course, those six points must be won first, and for that, they will have to be at the same level as the Moroccans and the Canadians.

A new generation of Croatian football players

Something that surprised (and saddened) everyone after the World Cup in Russia was the retirement from the national team of many players who were part of that wonderful team that got second place: Danijel Subašić, Vedran Ćorluka, Ivan Rakitić or Mario Mandžukić. Likewise, some starting players have been left out due to physical problems, such as Ivan Strinić, or behavior, such as Ante Rebić.

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Mario Mandžukić and Ivan Rakitić, two key players who are no longer part of the Croatian national team. (Photo: Igor Kralj/PIXSELL)

It is difficult to deny the negative impact of their absences on the Croatian team, and this could be seen in the subsequent Nations League (2018-19 and 2020-21) and Euro 2020, where it seemed that Dalić's team could not find a way to cover their exits.

But the Croatian team, especially in the second part of the World Cup qualifying phase, seems to have found several young players who will make their debut in the top competition, and nourish the team with their energy and desire. Dominik Livaković (Dinamo Zagreb) in goal, defenders Borna Sosa (Stuttgart), Joško Gvardiol (RB Leipzig), and Josip Juranović (Celtic), midfielders Nikola Vlašić (West Ham), Nikola Moro (Dynamo Moscow), and Lovro Majer (Rennes), and striker Josip Brekalo (Torino) are some of the players who will complement the more experienced players.

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Lovro Majer (left) and Joško Gvardiol (right), two young Croatian players who are called to renew the national team with their youth and projection. (Photo: Josip Regovic/PIXSELL)

Likewise, and despite not being as young as those already mentioned, some players who did not go to the last World Cup will also have the opportunity to bring the best of their talent and experience to the Croatian team. Marko Livaja (Hajduk Split) and Mislav Oršić (Dinamo Zagreb) shine in the Croatian First League and will help Vatreni regain offensive power with their fighting spirit.

In the last games that gave Croatia the qualifying ticket, these players showed not only to be decisive but also made it clear that they are ready for any football challenge. Many of them are starters for their clubs and in competitive leagues, and some of them are even starters for the national team. Let's hope Dalić gives them the opportunities they need to shine and gain experience.

Experience all around the field

And while many of the players who achieved the epic in Russia are no longer in the squad, Croatia will need more than ever of those who stayed. Croatia will need their leadership, their experience, and their hunger for revenge. An extremely young team is not always good, and neither is a team with a lack of renovation. But Croatia seems to have found that balance, and in all lines.

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Marcelo Brozović, the undisputed midfield leader at Inter Milan who became champions of Serie A in the 2020-21 season. (Photo: Milan Sabic/PIXSELL)

The good news for Dalić is that several of the players who were in Russia, despite now being four years older, are in even better sporting form than they were back then. Marcelo Brozović has established himself as the decisive player in Inter Milan's midfield, ending Juventus' reign in Serie A last year and fighting for a second consecutive Scudetto this season. Also at Inter, Ivan Perišić has managed to maintain his status as a starter, and despite the passing of the years, Ivan continues to be a benchmark in the Neroazzurro attack, as he proved himself by winning the 2019-20 UEFA Champions League during his loan spell at Bayern Munich.

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The last seasons of Mateo Kovačić at Chelsea have been spectacular and he is called to be the companion of Modrić and Brozović in the Croatian midfield after the retirement of Ivan Rakitić. (Photo: Igor Kralj/PIXSELL)

Mateo Kovačić, who played a more secondary role in 2018, is now indisputable in Thomas Tuchel's plans at Chelsea, with whom he won the 2020-21 UEFA Champions League, in a midfield that also includes players like Kante, Jorginho, or Saul. Many fans of the London team consider him not only his favorite but also the best. In defense, Dalić still has Domagoj Vida and Dejan Lovren, who in 2018 showed the world their valuable fighting spirit on the field, something that they can still pass on to the younger players.

World Cup calendar

Due to the high temperatures in Qatar between June and July, the usual format of the World Cup will change for the first time in its history. Now, the opening match will be on November 21, while the final will be on December 18. Previously, the group draw was held in December, six months before the start of the tournament. This year, the qualified teams already know their rivals with more than eight months to go until the start of the World Cup. Also, after the draw in December, the players used to face only the second part of the season and some friendlies before integrating with their national team in June.

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Contrary to previous editions, the World Cup will take place between November and December, and the draw for the group stage will take place in April. (Image: @HNS_CFF/Twitter)

In this way, Zlatko Dalić not only has two additional months to evaluate his players well before making a final decision on his squad in October or November, but he will do so by playing high-competition matches such as the Nations League, in a group that they make up France and Denmark (qualified for the World Cup in Qatar) and Austria, which reached the playoffs. Thus, some players who were not part of the qualifying process from the beginning will have more opportunities to show that they can be decisive in Dalić's tactics. Sometimes four friendlies before the World Cup are not enough to draw any conclusions about line-ups and strategies.

On the other hand, the Croatian players will play two different seasons before the start of the World Cup: the second part of the 2021-22 season, and the first part of the 2022-23 season. This can be beneficial for three main reasons. First of all, some players who are currently not playing many games as starters (Nikola Vlašić at West Ham or Šime Vrsaljko at Atletico Madrid), can solve their situation with a transfer or loan to another team during the summer, and from this way to pick up more form by playing more games.

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Croatia already knows its rivals eight months before the start of the World Cup, enough time to study them and prepare. (Photo: Igor Kralj/PIXSELL)

Secondly, some players like Ivan Perišić at Inter, Mateo Kovačić with the current problems at Chelsea, or Dejan Lovren at Zenit, can resolve the contracts with their current clubs, and thus become more focused on the field and the Croatian national team.

Finally, and taking into account the competitiveness of the second part of the season, many football players used to miss the World Cup in June as there was not much time to recover from their injuries, some even minor. If it were the case (hopefully not) that a Croatian player suffered an injury in these months, it is possible that they could recover before the World Cup in November, especially considering the rest months between June and July.

The Croatian national team has everything to arrive in good physical condition and great concentration in November, and Dalić to decide on a harmonious line-up and strategy, which could help them face their rivals in Group F with a lot of preparation.

One of the Best Players in the World

Croatia did not get third place in France '98 with a single player, nor the second place of Russia in 2018. Football is a team sport, and to win a World Cup eleven players is not enough, but a complete squad with players committed to a common goal. That is the reason why Croatia reached the final against France before other teams like Argentina, Portugal, or Brazil.

However, if in your squad you have a uniquely talented player, an undisputed figure in one of the best football clubs in history, a leader with 16 years of experience in the national team, and an endless fighting spirit when it comes to attacking and defending even in the 120th minute, it is enough to motivate an entire country and make them believe that they can go very far. Some still believe to this day that Luka Modrić received the 2018 World Cup best player trophy, the Ballon d'Or, and FIFA The Best as consolation after losing the final against France. If his season with Real Madrid (where he was decisive in winning the 2017-18 UEFA Champions League) and his goals and performance in the 2018 World Cup were not enough, Luka has shown them today that he is more relevant than ever and one could even say that he's in the best moment of his career.

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Luka Modrić will play his fourth and last World Cup at the age of 37 and in great shape. (Photo: Luka Stanzl/PIXSELL)

Since he secured a place in Real Madrid's starting eleven in the 2013-14 season with Ancelotti (winning the UEFA Champions League along the way), no player has been able to take his place. Along the years, Luka has seen how several midfielders have come, gone, and stayed: Sami Khedira, Xabi Alonso, Mesut Özil, Asier Illarramendi, Isco, James Rodriguez, Toni Kroos, Martin Odegaard, Casemiro, Dani Ceballos, Federico Valverde, Eduardo Camavinga... but the Croatian has always been a constant, and has recently reached an agreement with Real Madrid to extend his contract even further.

Luka will arrive at the World Cup at the age of 37, probably being one of the oldest among all players. However, and as has been shown in this season of the Spanish La Liga (where Real Madrid is close to winning the title with a great difference in points over their rivals) and in the UEFA Champions League, the Croatian captain is in a great moment of form and with intact talent and technique. Also, Modrić's style of play and his position on the pitch are essential for the team's performance. Some rely on goalkeepers, central defenders, or even forwards as the star of the team, but Croatia sees having a player who is among the best in the world in attacking and defensive work as the key to success.

Luka assists, scores goals, recovers balls, and, above all, leads his team by example and attitude. This will be his last World Cup for him, and we are sure that he will want to say goodbye to the national team in the best possible way and with him a team with talented players who will help him lead Croatia back to glory.

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

Tuesday, 15 March 2022

Dinamo 2021 Financial Report: Impressive Figures for Croatian Football

March 15, 2022 - The Dinamo 2021 financial report was released before the Eternal Derby against Hajduk last weekend, with nearly record-breaking revenues. 

Last weekend, Dinamo published its annual financial report ahead of the derby against Hajduk. As all eyes were on Poljud, this news went under the radar -  but the figures are interesting, even historical, reports Gol.hr.

Namely, for the first time, Dinamo's expenses broke through 60 million euros; more precisely, they reached 62.4 million euros (472,631,751 kuna).

Revenues amounted to 478,998,976 kuna, so Dinamo in 2021 ended up with a surplus of around 6.3 million kuna. 

These figures are spectacular for Croatian conditions. While the revenues are not record-breaking, they are not far from the record.

Dinamo earned more in 2016, or 492,723,273 kuna, but only 389,075,780 kuna was spent. In principle, this is the only year in which a larger amount was saved, but even those hundred million kuna "surplus" went to waste the following year, when the minus was 113 million kuna.

In 2020, the revenues of the Maksimir Club amounted to 381,940,537 kuna and expenditures to 379,132,303 kuna. However, in April of the same year, the pandemic resulted in the termination of cooperation with Nenad Bjelica and a reduction in the salaries of Dinamo players. The reason given was savings due to financial problems caused by the pandemic. Then, the policy of permanent cost-cutting was announced.

However, in the end, it turned out that Dinamo spent about 13 million kuna more in that year than the previous one when there was no pandemic. That information was published at an Assembly without the presence of the media.

It is pretty clear that Dinamo earned a hundred million kuna more than the previous year, made several lucrative transfers, and went far in the Europa League. Still, it is unclear how there was such a sharp turn and change of course in light of the announced cost-cutting policy. 

Most of the increase in spending went to players' salaries and the working community. About 35 million more was spent on this segment than the previous year.

The total amount to salaries is 300,780,887 kuna or about 40 million euros. If we assume that most of the amount goes to the player's wages, at least three quarters, including both the first and second team players on payroll, it turns out that the average is more than half a million euros a year per player.

Since it is easy to assume that most go to the first team from the cost of players' salaries, it can be concluded that the average is well over half a million euros per player. Gol.hr reveals that their sources say that the highest-paid is Mislav Oršić, who has a salary of one million euros net per year according to the new contract.

Premiums and bonuses need to be added. When everything is added up, Oršić does not earn significantly less in Dinamo than he would earn in Burnley, which wanted to bring him in the last winter transfer window. According to Gol's sources, he would have a salary of around 1.3 million euros at that English club.

It turns out that the smallest part of Dinamo's expenses goes to compensation for reinforcements. Dinamo has spent 5.4 million euros on incoming transfers from July 1, which is when transfers for this season are calculated. Last season, until June 30, 2021, Dinamo spent 12.4 million euros on new reinforcements.

It will be interesting to see last year's financial reports for the remaining top members of Croatian football. Dinamo regularly had a bigger budget than Osijek, Hajduk, and Rijeka combined in previous years.

For example, in 2020, Osijek had total expenditures of around 115 million kuna, of which about 40 million kuna went to players' salaries. 

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

Monday, 28 February 2022

Full Capacity at Croatian Stadiums Returns!

February 28, 2022 - Finally, some good news, as full capacity at Croatian stadiums returns, especially delighting fans of Croatian football and the Croatian First League. 

Interior Minister and Chief of the Civil Protection Headquarters Davor Božinović announced six new decisions on Monday, including one that will especially delight all fans of Croatian football and the Croatian First League, reports Gol.hr.

As of Tuesday, March 1, the epidemiological measure that clubs could allow only 40 percent capacity at each of the stands at their stadiums will be abolished.

There is no longer any limitation on the number of spectators for outdoor competitions. However, for indoor competitions, 50 percent of the stands are allowed to be filled instead of 20 percent, as has been the case so far. This decision had been in force since January this year.

What hasn’t changed is that an EU Covid-certificate will have to be shown when entering the stadium, in digital or paper form.

The capacity restriction has negatively affected the attendance of the Croatian football clubs. With capacity restrictions, Hajduk sold out the championship matches against Slaven Belupo and Rijeka, Osijek welcomed Dinamo with the maximum possible capacity last weekend, and Dinamo played their Europa League match against Sevilla last week under the same conditions. 

The weekend behind us brought two big derbies between clubs from the top of Croatian football. Hajduk hosted Rijeka, and Osijek hosted Dinamo according to the current rules and restrictions of 40 percent. 

The first match that could be played in front of full stands will be the big derby between Hajduk - Dinamo, which will be played on Saturday, February 12, as part of the 27th round.

Given the great interest in Croatian First League matches, where four clubs are fighting for the title of national champion, there should be a significant increase in visitors for the upcoming games at stadiums across the country.

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

Tuesday, 22 February 2022

HNS Secures EUR 44 million for Croatian Football TV and Media Rights Over Next 4 Years

February 22, 2022 - The Croatian Football Federation has secured 44 million euros for Croatian football TV and media rights over the next four competition years.

At Monday's session, the Croatian Football Federation Executive Board decided on selecting partners for television and media rights for competitions under the auspices of HNS for the next four competition years, reports the HNS website

After terminating the contract with Endorphin Magine, the HNS management held meetings with companies interested in buying TV and media rights, followed by three official offers to purchase TV rights - A1 Croatia, Hrvatski Telekom, Sportklub and AB SportConsulting. At the same time, the SuperSport offer for media rights arrived.

At the session, the HNS Executive Board considered the three received offers and chose Hrvatski Telekom, which was the most generous of 9 million euros per year. Thus, in the four years that the contract is expected to last, Hrvatski Telekom will pay 36 million euros to HNS for the associated TV rights.

In addition, the SuperSport offer for media rights of 1.5 million euros per competition year for sponsorship rights and 500,000 euros per competition year for betting rights was accepted.

In total, HNS has secured 44 million euros for television and media rights over the next four years.

"As we announced last week, we quickly found the best solution for Croatian clubs and Croatian football as a whole. Negotiations with interested companies showed great interest in Croatian club football and accepted offers from HT and SuperSport best confirm this great value.

We are glad to continue our cooperation with Hrvatski Telekom, which has been a great partner of Croatian football for many years, so we do not doubt that this cooperation will be very successful. This is an unprecedented step forward for the Federation and our clubs, and I am convinced that these 44 million euros will ensure further progress in the First League and all other competitions," said HNS President Marijan Kustić.

An agreement has also been made between Hrvatski Telekom and HRT, according to which one match of each round will be broadcast on national television.

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

 

Tuesday, 28 December 2021

Two Croatian Players Among The Guardian's Top 100 in 2021

December 28, 2021 - The Guardian, which has been making a list of the 100 best footballers of the year since 2012, recently published its ranking for 2021. Two Croatian players made the list. Find out who they are and where they rank.

Since 2012, The Guardian publishes a list of the 100 players who stood out the most in the year. The collective achievements with both their clubs and national teams, as well as their individual performance, are decisive factors in assembling the ranking. In 2021, two Croatian players have been included in the top 100 footballers of the year: Luka Modrić and Marcelo Brozović. You can check the full list here.

Despite the fact that the Croatian national team failed to repeat in EURO 2020 what they achieved in the last World Cup in Russia in 2018, they managed to secure their ticket to the next World Cup in 2022 in Qatar. In this way, Croatia finishes in 15th place in the last FIFA ranking of the year, being 11th in Europe.

But 2021 was, despite everything, a year of very good results for Croatian players around the continent. For example, Mateo Kovačić managed to lift his fourth Champions League, his first with Chelsea FC. However, the two Croatian players on The Guardian's list were Real Madrid's Luka Modrić and Inter Milan's Marcelo Brozović.

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Photo: Davor Javorovic/PIXSELL

The historic captain of the Croatian national team continues to defend the Real Madrid crest with the same energy and passion as in the past decade, despite his 36 years. Years pass and the Zadar-born footballer continues to own his position in the white midfield, well ahead of young footballers who have come to the club in recent years such as Federico Valverde, Martin Odegaard, or Dani Ceballos. Luka is ranked 40th on the list, and The Guardian writes the following about his inclusion:

‘‘Ah, Luka, don’t ever go. At the start of last season it looked like he might, like time had finally caught up with him, like Madrid’s midfield was about to be renewed, and that was reflected in this list: he was 71st. But then he returned to the heart of everything good and this season he has been superb. Up 31 places – and he could be even further up than that. Aged 36, he’s still better than the rest. Just don’t say the word rest to him. “I feel happier when I’m playing,” he says.’’

Indeed, Luka did not get any title with Real Madrid at the end of the 2020/21 season, but he was chosen as the Player of the Season by the club and the fans. Likewise, in the course of this season (which is also taken into account when drawing up the list at the end of the year), Luka has been decisive in placing Real Madrid at the top of the La Liga table, much less in front of their eternal rivals, Atlético de Madrid and FC Barcelona. For his teammates, Luka continues to play as a promising youngster and that is, in addition to motivating, important for the team's performance both in attack and defense.

Marcelo Brozović is the second national representative on the list of the 100 best footballers in 2021. The 29-year-old Zagreb-born midfielder won the Serie A title with his club, Inter Milan, thus breaking the dominance of his eternal rivals, Juventus, who had just won 9 Scudettos in a row. Brozović was in fact one of the determining players in Antonio Conte's team, along with Nicolo Barella in midfield, and Lautaro Martínez and Romelu Lukaku in attack, all of them also included among the 100 best footballers of the year.

''Brozo'' arrived on the neroazzurro team in 2015 from Dinamo Zagreb, and it has been the passage of time that has managed to forge his maturity as a footballer. Thus, the midfielder has gone from being a discreet player to one of the most notorious for his involvement both in defensive work, as well as when providing assists to his teammates and even scoring goals on his own.

About Brozovic, who was ranked 81st on the list, The Guardian wrote:

‘‘Antonio Conte defined Brozović as “the darling of the [Inter] team” that won the Scudetto for the first time since 2010. Even in a side that prided themselves on hard graft, the Croatian pushed himself further than the rest – covering more distance per game than any other player in Serie A last season. Yet Brozovic is much more than a domestique peddling away anonymously so that teammates can shine. His vision and incisive passing were fundamental to Inter’s fast-break approach under Conte, and remain so now that Simone Inzaghi is adapting the Nerazzurri to a more possession-focused approach.’’

Marcelo Brozović continues to be decisive in the functioning of the Italian team, and this is how they are currently positioned at the top of the Serie A table. Inter is currently working on the renewal of the Croatian midfielder's contract, as they consider him as a fundamental piece of the neroazzurro project. It should be noted that the two Croatian players faced each other in the group stage of the Champions League, and both made it to the round of 16.

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

Monday, 25 October 2021

Croatian Footballers Around Europe: TCN's Weekly Review

October 25, 2021 - In less than three weeks we will know if Vatreni will qualify directly for the next World Cup in Qatar. For the decisive matches against Malta and Russia, Zlatko Dalic counts on his players to arrive in good form. We review the activity of Croatian footballers in their respective clubs.

The coach of the Croatian national team, Zlatko Dalić, released today the list of Croatian footballers who will face Malta and Russia in the last two group matches, to define the qualification for the Qatar World Cup in 2022. With less than three weeks to go, we review the performance of Croatian footballers in their respective clubs this week which, overall, has been very good. The vast majority played matches in European tournaments and, over the weekend, in their respective domestic leagues. So, how did Croatian footballers perform this week with their clubs?

IN CROATIA

Dinamo Zagreb - Three Croatian footballers called up by Dalić played in Sunday's draw between Dinamo Zagreb and NK Istra. Dominik Livaković, the national team's starting goalkeeper, and Mislav Oršić were part of the starting line-up, while Luka Ivanušec entered for Marko Bulat in the 60th minute. Istra found the first goal of the match in the 79th minute, after a great team effort that was well defined by Croatian striker Dion Drena Beljo in a 1v1 game against Livaković. Soon after, however, Dinamo tied the game in the 84th minute. Luka Ivanušec's free-kick found Dino Perić's head and the defender beat the Istra goalkeeper to equalize. The final result was 1-1. Dinamo are in third place in the table in the Croatian First League, three points behind Rijeka and Osijek, but the team from the capital have two games less. On Thursday, Dinamo Zagreb faced Rapid Wien in Austria. The three players called up by Dalić were part of the starting eleven. The hosts took the lead with a goal from Gruell in the 9th minute, but Oršić scored the equalizer in the 24th minute with an assist from Ivanušec. Ten minutes later, Livaković would concede a goal again, for Rapid Wien's 1-2. In the second half the score did not move, and the final result was 1-2 for the home team. Dinamo Zagreb are second in Group H of the Europa League, six behind the leader, Nikola Vlašić's West Ham, and tied with 3 points with Rapid Wien and Genk.

NK Osijek - On Saturday, Osijek faced NK Hrvatski Dragovoljac at home, and a Croatian player called up by Zlatko Dalić, Mile Škorić, played the match. The 30-year-old defender born in Vinkovci played the entire 90 minutes, and his team prevailed thanks to a goal scored by Croatian midfielder Žaper in the 71st minute, following a corner play. The final result was 1-0 for the home team, and Osijek are in second place in the table, tied on points with the leader, Rijeka.

Hajduk Split & Gorica - In the goalless draw between Hajduk Split and Gorica, played at Poljud, three Croatian footballers called up to be part of the national team played the entire match. For Hajduk, goalkeeper Lovre Kalinić and forward Marko Livaja, and for Gorica, left-winger Kristijan Lovrić. Neither could take all three points, and they had to settle for a draw. In this way, Hajduk is in fourth place in the table with 21 points in 12 games played, and Gorica with 18.

IN GERMANY

Josip Stanišić - On Wednesday, Stanišić entered in the 77th minute for Thomas Müller and then provided an assist for Sane's goal that sealed Bayern München's 4-0 win over Benfica in Group E in the Champions League. He was left on the bench on Saturday in the 4-0 win against Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga. Bayern München are first in their Champions League group and in the Bundesliga table.

Borna Sosa - In Stuttgart's second consecutive draw in the Bundesliga, this time at home, Borna Sosa played the 90 minutes against Union Berlin on Sunday. The left-back could not reverse the 1-1 result, where Borna's team managed to save a valuable point in the 93rd minute, with an agonizing goal from Faghir. Stuttgart are 13th in the Bundesliga with 10 points in 9 games played. 

Andrej Kramarić - The Croatian striker and historical top scorer for Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga, who also scored in Croatia's last draw against Slovakia in Osijek, played the entire game against Bundesliga leaders Bayern München, but could do little to prevent the defeat by 0-4 of his team. Hoffenheim are in the eleventh position on the table.

Joško Gvardiol - The 19-year-old defender started the game on the bench, where RB Leipzig visited Paris Saint-Germain for the third round of Group A of the Champions League on Tuesday. The German team managed to turn the result around, after an early goal from Kylian Mbappé. However, in the second half, two goals from Lionel Messi would put PSG ahead on the scoreboard again. In the 70th minute, after Messi's first goal and PSG's second to equalize, Gvardiol came in for Lukas Klostermann. In injury time, with the result favorable for the hosts, the Croatian defender fouled Achraf Hakimi in the Leipzig area, and the referee signaled a penalty. Kylian Mbappé missed it, but even so, the French team took all three points. In the Bundesliga, Gvardiol played the entire match in Leipzig's home win against Greuther Fuerth, 4-1. Leipzig are last in their Champions League group with zero points, and in the Bundesliga, they are in the sixth position in the table, three points from the Champions League zone.

Kristijan Jakić - The midfielder who plays for Frankfurt played the entire game against Greek team Olympiacos on Thursday, for the third round of Group D of the UEFA Europa League, where his team took a 3-1 victory at home. On Sunday, however, he couldn't do much to prevent his team's defeat against Bochum 0-2. The Croatian was part of the starting eleven but was changed at halftime when his team was losing 0-1. Eintracht Frankfurt are first in their group in the Europa League after a valuable victory over Olympiacos, who are behind by one point. In the Bundesliga, things are not going very well, since they are fifteenth in the table and only three points from relegation. Interestingly, the only game they have won this season was against Bayern München at the Allianz Arena, on October 3.

Marin Pongračić - The Croatian defender was part of Borussia Dortmund's starting eleven that played away against Arminia Bielefeld. The 24-year-old German-born defender played the entire match, as Dortmund prevailed 3 goals to 1. A mistake by Pongračić almost gave the hosts the lead, but his team reacted quickly on defense. The goals were scored by Emre Can in the 31st minute from the penalty spot, Mats Hummels made it 0-2 in the 45th minute with a spectacular volley, and England's Jude Bellingham scored an unforgettable goal to seal it 0-3 in the 72nd minute. At the end of the game, in the 87th minute, the home team would find the discount through a penalty converted by Klos, after a foul by Hummels. Borussia Dortmund, with this result, is in second place in the Bundesliga, just one point behind the powerful Bayern München.

IN FRANCE

Ivo Grbić - The 25-year-old Split-born goalkeeper played both games for his team, Lille, this week. On Wednesday, for the UEFA Champions League, his team hosted Sevilla of Spain. The Croatian goalkeeper did not concede goals, but his team was unable to score against Sevilla. The final result was 0-0. Croatian left-back Domagoj Bradarić was not on the list to face the Spanish. On Saturday, Grbić's team again drew back, but this time against Brest for France's Ligue 1, and with a 1-1 result. The Croatian defended his goal for 90 minutes, and despite the fact that Lille gained the advantage in the 19th minute thanks to a goal from David, Brest managed to get the equalizer in the 32nd minute, where Faivre beat the Croatian goalkeeper. Bradarić did not play the match and stayed on the bench. Lille are third in Group G of the Champions League, five points behind leaders FC Salzburg and one point behind second, Sevilla. In Ligue 1, they are in tenth place, four points behind the zone to qualify for the Champions League.

Duje Ćaleta-Car - The Croatian center-back was another of the Croatian footballers who played both games for his club this week, both in European competition and in his respective league. On Thursday, for the third round of Group E of the UEFA Europa League, his team, Olympique Marseille, faced Lazio in Rome. And on Sunday, Marseille hosted Paris Saint-Germain at the Stade Vélodrome. Ćaleta-Car helped his team in both games to keep a clean sheet, but the Marseille forwards were unable to score against both Lazio and PSG. Thus, the Croatian central defender had to settle for two goalless draws this week. In the UEFA Europa League, Marseille are third in their group, one point behind Lazio and four behind the leaders, Galatasaray. In France's Ligue 1, the Ćaleta-Car team are fourth in the table with 18 points, one point behind Nice and three behind Lens. PSG leads the French tournament with 28 points.

Lovro Majer - Despite not being called by Dalić for the upcoming games against Malta and Russia, the Croatian footballer is making sure to be noticed for the World Cup. The former Dinamo Zagreb midfielder did not start in either of his team's two games this week. However, he knew how to take advantage of the minutes they gave him in both games. On Thursday, Rennes faced NŠ Mura in Slovenia for the third round of Group G of the UEFA Conference League. The French team took all three points after winning 1-2. Lovro Majer came in in the 63rd minute to replace Flavien Tait. The French team leads their group with 7 points, followed by Vitesse from the Netherlands with 6 points, and Tottenham from England with 4 points. His rivals this week are last with zero points. For France's Ligue 1, Rennes hosted Strasbourg on Sunday. In a match that seemed to find no winner, it was Rennes defender Aguerd who broke the tie in the 82nd minute with a great assist from Croatian footballer Lovro Majer, who had entered just four minutes earlier. Now his team is in fifth place in the table, tied on points with Marseille, but with one more game.

IN ITALY

Marcelo Brozović & Ivan Perišić - On Tuesday, for the Champions League, the two Croatian footballers from Internazionale were chosen in the starting eleven, where they played the third match of Group D against the leaders, Sheriff FC. The team from Milan took all three points, after winning 3-1. In the 85th minute, with the result already sentenced, Simone Inzaghi gave rest to the two Croats. Brozović came out for Sensi, and Perišić for Kolarov. On Sunday, the "neroazurri" would face one of their greatest rivals, Juventus. Once again, Brozović and Perišić would be part of the starting eleven to face the "bianconeri" at the Giuseppe Meazza stadium. Inter took the lead in '17 with a goal from Edin Džeko. In the 72nd minute, shortly after receiving a yellow card, Perišić was replaced by Denzel Dumfries, who in the 86th minute caused a penalty after a foul on Alex Sandro. Paulo Dybala scored from twelve steps in '89 and saved a point for Juventus. Brozović played the entire match. Inter are third in their group in the Champions League with 4 points, and third in the Italian Serie A, with 18 points.

Mario Pašalić - Despite not winning his matches, both for the Champions League and Serie A, the Croatian midfielder did not have a bad week with Atalanta. In the third match of Group F in the Champions League, the Italian team faced Manchester United at Old Trafford. Surprisingly, the Bergamo team took the lead in the first half with a goal from Pašalić in the 15th minute. Demiral added another in the 29th minute to put Atalanta 0-2. Rashford put the discount on for the Red Devils shortly after starting the second half. In 57 ', Pašalić received a yellow card and was replaced in 68'. Shortly after, Maguire would score the equalizer and in the final minutes, Cristiano Ronaldo sealed the comeback. For Serie A, on Sunday, Atalanta hosted Udinese at the Gewiss Stadium. The end result was a 1-1 draw. The local team began winning in the 56th minute, with a goal from Malinovsky after an assist from Croatian Mario Pašalić, who was replaced again, this time in the 74th minute. Interestingly, Udinese's goal to tie the game would come almost to the end of the match, with the Croatian on the bench.

Josip Brekalo - Torino FC, coached by Croatian Ivan Jurić, faced Genoa on Sunday at the Stadio Olimpico Grande Torino. Croatian midfielder Josip Brekalo played the entire match and performed well. His team led comfortably 2-0 after halftime, but a Mattia Destro goal put Genoa in search of an equalizer in the 70th minute. Seven minutes later, Brekalo scored the third for Torino to give the home side some tranquility. Despite Genoa scoring another goal in the 81st minute through Caicedo, it was not enough to equalize. Brekalo's team took all three points and is in 12th place in the table with 11 points.

IN ENGLAND

Mateo Kovačić - On Wednesday, the reigning Champions League winners faced Sweden's Malmo in their third Group H match. In the London side's landslide 4-0 win, the Croatian midfielder had to watch the match from the bench. However, in Chelsea's game against Norwich City on Saturday, German coach Thomas Tuchel let Mateo play all 90 minutes of the game, and the Croatian did not disappoint. Chelsea swept Norwich in a bulky 7-0 victory. Kovačić was the owner of the midfield, in a great display of his level, assisting two of the seven goals. The Croatian has five assists and one goal in nine games played so far. Despite having a lot of competition in the midfield with players like Jorginho, Kanté or Saúl, the Croatian magician has all the confidence of his coach. Chelsea are second in their Champions League group, with 6 points, 3 behind Juventus. In the Premier League, they are the leaders with 22 points, followed by Liverpool and Manchester City, with 21 and 20 points respectively.

Nikola Vlašić - Vlašić played 83 minutes in West Ham's 3-0 win over Genk for the third round of Group H in the Europa League, played in London. However, the Croatian midfielder did not play a minute in the ''Hammers'' win against Tottenham on Sunday. Moyes's team took all three points after beating their rivals in the city 1-0, with a goal from Michail Antonio in the 72nd minute. It has not been a good start for Nikola after joining the English team in the summer from CSKA Moscow, playing just 3 Premier League games, and so far he has been unable to score a goal or provide an assist. His team has won all their matches so far and ranks first in their group in the Europa League, and in the Premier League they are in the Champions League zone, in fourth place.

Simon Sluga - The 28-year-old Poreč-born goalkeeper played the entire game in the victory of his team, Luton Town, against Hull City for the Championship, the second division of English football. The goalkeeper did not concede a goal, and Luton Town won 1-0 at his stadium, Kenilworth Road. Sluga's team is in 5th place in the table, in the play-off zone, and 8 points away from the direct classification to the Premier League.

IN SPAIN

Luka Modrić - The captain of the Croatian team played both games this week for Real Madrid, both in the Champions League against Shakhtar, and in the long-awaited El Clásico on Sunday against his eternal rivals, Barcelona. By the third round of Group D, the ''whites'' crushed the Ukrainians in Kyiv, with a score of 0-5. Modrić was part of the starting eleven, and in the 51st minute, he assisted Vinicius Jr. for Real Madrid's 0-2. In the 78th minute, he was replaced by Eduardo Camavinga. On Sunday at the Camp Nou in Barcelona, the undisputed starter at Real Madrid for several seasons started in midfield alongside Toni Kroos and Casemiro. Real Madrid took the lead in the 32nd minute with a great shot from David Alaba at Ter Stegen's far post. In a match where both teams had their chances, both Real Madrid to extend their advantage and Barcelona to tie, it was the visitors who found the 0-2 thanks to a counterattack in which Lucas Vásquez calmly defined. Later, Sergio Agüero would find the discount for the Blaugranas, but there was no more time to save a point for the home team. Luka played the entire game and now his team is second in their Champions League group, tied with six points with the leaders, and second in La Liga, just one point behind the leaders, Real Sociedad, and with one less match.

IN SCOTLAND

Borna Barišić - The Glasgow Rangers left-back played both games for his team this week in the Europa League on Thursday, and for the Scottish Premiership on Sunday. Both matches resulted in victory for the Scottish team led by the legendary Steven Gerrard. Barišić played all 90 minutes in Rangers' 2-0 win against Danish team Brøndby. On Sunday they faced St. Mirren, and Barišić again played the entire match. Despite the fact that Rangers began losing very early with a goal 4 minutes into the game, the Croatian team needed only two minutes to turn the scoreboard. At the end of the first half, Roofe scored a penalty in 42 'and Morelos scored in 43'. There were no more goals, but it was enough to take all three points at the end of the match. In the Europa League, Rangers are in third place in Group A with 3 points, six points behind Lyon and one point behind Sparta Prague. In the Scottish Premiership, they are the leaders with 23 points.

Josip Juranović - Like Barišić, the former Dinamo Zagreb defender also enjoyed victories for his team in the Europa League and the Scottish Premiership, but with Borna's rival team Celtic. On Tuesday 19 they faced Ferencvaros, and despite the fact that Josip Juranović was not on the squad list, Celtic managed to take all three points with a comfortable 2-0 victory. On Saturday, however, Juranović played the entire game as a left-back, scoring his team's second and last goal from the penalty spot, against St. Johnstone. Celtic have 3 points in Group G of the Europa League, 4 points behind Leverkusen and Betis. In the Scottish Premiership, they are in fourth place but behind their eternal rivals, Rangers, 4 points apart.

IN SWEDEN

Antonio-Mirko Čolak - Croatian forward Antonio-Mirko Čolak did play all 90 minutes for Malmö FF on this week's UEFA Champions League match but was unable to change the outcome of the match, in which his team was crushed 0-4 by Chelsea of England. On Sunday, for the Allsvenskan, his team visited Varbergs and managed to salvage a point in a 1-1 draw. Čolak played from the start until the 82nd minute, but couldn't put his name on the scoreboard. His team is last in their group in the Champions League, with zero points. In the Swedish league, Malmö is third, just one point behind the leader, Djurgaarden.

IN RUSSIA

Dejan Lovren - The Croatian defender played all 90 minutes for his team, Zenit St. Petersburg, both in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday against Juventus and against Spartak Moscow in the Russian Premier League on Sunday. Against the Italian giants, Lovren's team could not avoid a goal in the 86th minute scored by Dejan Kulusevski, and they were defeated 0-1 in Russia. That leaves them in third place in Group H, with 3 points, 6 behind Juventus and 3 behind Kovačić's Chelsea. But Lovren and his teammates turned the page of the Champions League, seeking revenge against Spartak Moscow, and crushed their rivals with a resounding 7-1 result. Lovren played the entire match, but could not contain the Quincy Promes discount for the visitors in the 53rd minute. The result places Zenit at the top of the Russian Premier League, with 26 points from 12 games played. They are followed by the other two teams from the Russian capital: Dinamo Moscow and CSKA Moscow, both with 3 points less.

Filip Uremović - The defender and captain of Rubin Kazan played the entire match between his team and FC Ufa, the hosts. The end result was a 1-1 draw. In the first half, defender Abildgaard fouled Golubev inside Rubin Kazan's box, and the referee signaled a penalty later scored by Ufa striker Golubev. But Uremović's team would find the equalizer in the second half, through an own goal scored by Zhuravlev, after a dangerous cross from Rubin Kazan midfielder Kvaratskhelia. With this tie, the Croatian defender's team is in ninth place in the table with 16 points from 12 games and 10 behind the leader, Dejan Lovren's Zenit.

Nikola Moro - The Dinamo Moscow midfielder scored in his team's 4-1 win over Khimki. Croatian footballer Nikola Moro opened the scoring in the 12th minute with a header, after a corner play in which he beat two defenders in the jump. His teammate Grulev scored twice (26 'and 60'), and Tyukavin scored the other in the 52nd minute. The game was played in the capital, and the locals were close to taking the three points with a great result and a clean sheet, but in the last minutes, the visitors scored the discount goal through their striker, Ademi. With this result, Dinamo Moscow stalks the leader, Zenit, with 23 points in 12 games played. They are separated by 3 points.

IN TURKEY

Domagoj Vida - The Croatian defender and Besiktas captain played the entire match against Sporting Lisbon at Vodafone Park in Turkey for the third round of Group C of the UEFA Champions League. Vida couldn't avoid a painful 1-4 loss. The visiting team's center-back, Coates, scored the first goal of the game in the 15th minute on a corner play. Larin leveled things for Besiktas in the 24th minute also on a corner play, and it looked like the home side could regain hope of scoring their first Champions League points. However, the weight of the Portuguese team was felt and they scored two more goals in the first half, once again with a goal from their captain Coates in the 27th minute, very similar to the first, and after a hand from the Croatian in the area of ​​the Besiktas defending a corner, Sarabia converted the 1-3 from the penalty spot. For that play, the Croatian defender received a yellow card. Shortly after, Besiktas found the 2-3 through Teixeira with a magnificent volley at the end of the first half, but it would be annulled by VAR, who found it offside. Besiktas could not find a way to get closer on the scoreboard and even with Sporting, and in the 89th minute, the Portuguese scored the fourth and final goal. The Turkish team is last in their group with zero points in 3 games, losing all against Ajax, Borussia Dortmund, and on Tuesday against Sporting. Today he will play against Galatasaray in an intense duel for the Turkish SüperLig, where they are sixth with 17 points, 7 behind the leader Trabzonspor but with one game less (which they will play today).

The Croatian national team will face their Maltese counterparts in Ta 'Qali on November 11 at 8:45 p.m. And on November 14, at 3:00 p.m., Croatia will host the Russian national team at the Poljud to define the winner of Group H.

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

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Thursday, 9 September 2021

HNK Hajduk Split Will Appear in the New EA Sports Videogame FIFA 22!

September 9, 2021 - Great news for fans of the ''bijeli'' and the world's best-selling football simulator series, as the Croatian club announced that it will appear in the new edition of the popular EA Sports videogame, and now fans will be able to choose Hajduk Split to play with!

Hajduk Split announced yesterday on its social networks and official website that it will be an officially licensed team in the new edition of the best-selling football simulator in the world: FIFA 22. The announcement was surprising not only because of the inclusion of Hajduk itself, but because Croatian football, in general, has been underrepresented in the video game.

For instance, the last time the Croatian national team appeared in the EA Sports videogame was in 2012 (with the exception of the special editions of the FIFA World Cup in 2014 and 2018), despite the great growth and evolution not only of the team in the previous decade but also by its players in international and local tournaments. Likewise, the Croatian First League has never appeared in the video game.

When it comes to European football, the EA Sports videogame has officially licensed the main leagues on the continent such as the Premier League (England), La Liga (Spain), Serie A (Italy), the Bundesliga (Germany), the Ligue 1 (France), the Eredivisie (Netherlands) the Liga NOS (Portugal). Additionally, it includes European leagues such as those of Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, Norway, Poland, Romania, Scotland, Sweden, Switzerland, and Turkey. Finally, some European teams belonging to unlicensed leagues are in the Rest of the World category, and this is the case of teams such as CSKA Moscow (Russia), Dinamo Kyiv (Ukraine), Olympiacos (Greece), or Viktoria Plzen (Czech Republic).

The official gameplay trailer for FIFA 22 was shared a month ago.

The only Croatian team present in the game is Dinamo Zagreb, which for a few years has been an eligible team in the Rest of the World category. Similarly, the EA Sports videogame is officially licensed by UEFA's main international tournaments, such as the Champions League, the Europa League, and the recently founded Conference League. For this reason, Dinamo Zagreb has maintained its validity in the game by participating in at least one of these tournaments.

Hajduk will then join Dinamo Zagreb in the latest edition of the EA Sports videogame, as officially licensed teams on the Rest of the World category. Being a FIFA licensed team means having, for example, real uniforms and their sponsors, as well as the squad and their names. Despite no official confirmation, the game will most likely not include the Stadion Poljud or the official faces of the players. The technology used to reproduce stadiums and faces is being used almost exclusively with clubs belonging to the major licensed leagues.

Something positive about the presence of Hajduk Split in the new EA Sports videogame is the possibility that players can hire Hajduk players in Career Mode, where they can manage and train a club by making signings and developing the most promising players. Thus, it will be possible to hire a promising youngster from Hajduk Split to FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, or Manchester United and make him a star of the team. Unfortunately, Hajduk Split cannot be used in Career Mode, as only clubs belonging to a licensed league can be used in this mode.

On its official website, Hajduk Split announced the club's presence in the new EA Sports videogame in this way:

''FIFA 22, the most authentic football simulation available, is becoming even more realistic with HNK Hajduk, which will present itself to many fans of this mega-popular game in the latest season!

With the official entry into FIFA 22, Hajduk strengthens its position in global football and confirms that it follows world trends and the practice of the world's largest clubs.

With 17,000 players in more than 700 teams, in more than 90 stadiums in more than 30 leagues, FIFA 22 brings unparalleled authenticity and the most comprehensive interactive football experience. FIFA 22 is the only place where you can play in cult competitions such as the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, the brand new UEFA Europa Conference League, Premier League, Bundesliga, LaLiga Santander, CONMEBOL Libertadores and CONMEBOL Sudamericana.

Enhanced by revolutionary HyperMotion technology, ie the integration of advanced motion recording of 22 professional footballers in a competitive match (11 vs. 11) and machine learning (knowledge from 8.7 million frames of advanced match recordings), FIFA 22 brings an ever more realistic football experience to all players' homes!

The official release of FIFA 22 is scheduled for October 1, 2021!''

The club promoted the news on its social networks and on its website with an image of its star, Marko Livaja, who has just scored his first goal for the national team at Stadion Poljud in the qualifying match against Slovenia, along with the official logo of the videogame and the Hajduk Split crest. Many fans of Hajduk Split are already beginning to suspect if the Croatian player, being the image of the news, will have a personalized face or if he will have a good rating in the game. Some are even beginning to recommend that he and his teammates be given ratings of 90 or more (something that only occurs with players like Mbappé, Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, or Lewandowski):

Some Croatian players who have official faces in the videogame are: Luka Modrić, Marcelo Brozović, Mateo Kovačić, Ivan Rakitić, Ivan Perišić, Andrej Kramarić, Ante Rebić, Šime Vrsaljko, Nikola Vlašić, Duje Ćaleta-Car, Borna Sosa, Josip Brekalo and Tin Jedvaj. 

The Croatian national team is expected to return to the EA Sports videogame next year, with the start of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. To do so, they will have to continue their good run of results and ensure their qualification in the coming months against Cyprus and Malta in their away games, and against Slovakia and Russia at home. Let's hope that very soon the company decides to officially include the Croatian national team in the game and, in the same way, the Croatian First League and the rest of the teams.

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Friday, 16 July 2021

2021/22 HNL Season Begins Today, Fans Return to Stands with Covid Certificates

July 16, 2021 - The 2021/22 HNL season officially begins today, bringing football and fans back to Croatian stadiums. 

The new HNL season starts today! After the Croatia national team competed in the Euros, club football is back to kick off the 31st season of the HNL (Croatian First League), reports HRT.

Fans are returning to the stands with COVID certificates, and there are many new coaches. The title is defended by Dinamo, and the main competitors for the title will be Osijek, Hajduk, and Rijeka. Instead of Varaždin, Hrvatski Dragovoljac returned to the First League.

Dinamo and Slaven Belupo open the championship at Maksimir today from 18.55, and Osijek and Šibenik will play from 21.00.

Dinamo opened the new season with European appearances against Valur. Before the new European challenges against Cypriot club Omonia in the 2nd qualifying round, the Blues welcome Slaven Belupo in the opening match of the new HNL season. Damir Krznar is facing new challenges on the Dinamo bench after he was responsible for Dinamo's biggest European victory against Tottenham last season. Dinamo, with some new faces in the locker room, is hoping to defend the title again. Their attack was strengthened by Duje Čop, many players returned from loan, and it is questionable whether exit transfers will be made by the national team members Livaković, Petković, or Oršić.

Slaven Belupo has a new coach - Dean Klafurić, and the attack is led by the experienced Ivan Krstanović. The club has so far been strengthened by Vinko Soldo, Mario Marina, Lovro Zvonarek, Nedim Hadžić, and Mateo Monjac.

After last season's second place, Osijek went on the offensive in the summer transfer window to strengthen the team in order to compete more strongly for the title. Nenad Bjelica brought Šimo Gržan and, most importantly, locked down the top scorer of the league, Ramon Mierez, with a contract. In an exchange with Hajduk, Darko Nejašmić arrived, and Josip Vuković moved to Poljud. If Kleinheisler, Bočkaj, and Škorić remain, the Osijek club will be very uncomfortable this season.

Šibenik has a new coach Mario Rosas, and the club has been strengthened by Stefan Perić, Camilo Mesa, and three Dinamo players on loan - Julardžija, Marin, and Jurić.

The remaining matches of the first round of the new season continue on Saturday and Sunday, between Lokomotiva and Hajduk, and Rijeka and Gorica. The round will end on Sunday between Istria and Hrvatski Dragovoljac.

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