Friday, 2 December 2022

Croatia into World Cup Last 16: Zlatko Dalić Comments on Japan, Joško Gvardiol, and VAR

December 2, 2022 - Croatia coach Zlatko Dalić addressed the press the morning after Croatia secured their World Cup round of 16 spot. Croatia will play Japan on Monday, and Dalić gave his first impressions. 

The Croatia national team will play in the 2022 World Cup round of 16 against Japan, the winner of Group E. Second-placed Croatia will thus face a rather unexpected opponent for a spot in the quarter-final. Coach Zlatko Dalić spoke to the press in Qatar the morning after Groups E and F were completed. 

Recall Croatia and Morocco drew 0-0 in the opening match, after which Croatia beat Canada 4-1 and finished 0-0 against Belgium, enough to win second place in Group F. Croatia thus crosses over with the winner of Group E, Japan, which lost to Costa Rica 0-1, and beat Germany and Spain 2-1.

Have you had time to analyze the match against Belgium one more time?

"I looked at it last night in peace, I got the statistics, and the impression is better than yesterday. Great match by Croatia, great 98 minutes. Control, defense, pressing - everything was at the highest level. Full control. We had two or three situations that could have been fatal, but they came from our mistakes, not Belgium's game.

The complete story was great. There were so many good things. According to statistics, we ran 122 kilometers and did not fail in that segment. Everything we did was very, very good. The impression after the recording is better than after the game."

What awaits Croatia against Japan?

"Tough game for both teams. Spain took the lead and thought it was over, but Japan never wavers and never gives up. Japan deserved to win because they were compact and fast. Germany was eliminated, and Belgium and Denmark, which speaks of the quality of the other national teams. Maybe earlier, we would have chosen Japan as the best option, but they beat Germany and Spain, and Japan is anything but an easy opponent."

How is Croatia doing physically?
"We work very well all the time; training is at a high level. We didn't fail the physical fitness part, and I'm not afraid of that. We have to rest for two days and prepare for Japan, but we are full of energy and motivation. We want to avoid injury. We can't rest the whole team, but it's not necessary either."

How would you rate Japan as a team, and what will be critical for that game?
"If someone finishes first in the group ahead of Spain and Germany, they are good and quality. Japan showed that they do not give up. They came back after losing and have great quality. We must be disciplined and patient and not make mistakes at the beginning of the game. Japan punishes it with counterattacks. We have to have a good comeback."

How does it feel to be statistically one of the best coaches at the World Cup?
"I will look at it from the aspect of Croatian football and the national team. We have continuity; we are always at the top. Along with Germany and France, we are the only ones with medals in the last 20 years. We are a small country; we must be happy and proud. It's not my success, but it's the success of all of us. I hope this is not the end and that Croatia will do better and bigger things.

We have become a team that deserves the respect I'm talking about, not that we play at 1 pm as World Cup finalists. We deserved it with the results. However this ends, it is a fact."

What is the next goal?
"Appetites have not increased. We must be calm and modest and look for what is most important. It's the next game. We must not think that we have done great things. We did what we were preparing for, and we are moving on. When we were first in the group with nine points in Russia in 2018, we went to Denmark. I said then that we would have been losers if we had lost that game. No one would remember the group.

It is the same now. We will not go with big announcements. We will try to win the next game and take the next step. We must be firmly on the ground. We know that Japan has a lot of players in Europe, or eight of them in the Bundesliga. They also have players at Celtic, good players in the championship. The Japan coach knows European football. Japan will be a worthy rival to Croatia.

I'm not surprised that Japan is in the round of 16. They deserved it with their games and quality, and I congratulate them on that."

Dalić commented on the photo of Joško Gvardiol in his mother's arms.

"It warmed my heart when I saw it. That's why he's the best stopper in the world; you can't be complete if you don't have those feelings. That picture is the picture of the Croatia national team. I congratulate his mother for raising such a son."

And what about that VAR call in last night's match?
"I don't usually comment on the reffing, but I was angry. It's a centimeter; it takes away the emotion. Because of this, Croatia lost the World Cup title. It hurts. If this were the interpretation, that hand in Russia would not be a penalty."

Source: Index.hr

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

Thursday, 1 December 2022

Croatia and Japan to Meet in 2022 World Cup Round of 16

December 1, 2022 - Croatia and Japan will meet in the 2022 World Cup round of 16 on Monday, December 5. 

With a 0:0 draw against Belgium in the 3rd round of Group F, Croatia secured a spot in the 2022 World Cup round of 16 on Thursday night. 

Morocco topped Group F with seven points, Croatia finished in second with 5, and Belgium and Canada were knocked out of the tournament. 

After Croatia and Belgium finished, the Group E matches were played. And what a crazy way we got to find out Croatia's next World Cup opponent.

Japan beat Spain 2-1 and topped Group E, meaning they play Croatia as the second-placed team min Group F. Spain thus finished second in Group E and will play Morocco, who finished first in Group F. Germany and Costa Rica have been knocked out of the tournament.

You can find all of the possible scenarios of how Croatia learned about its opponent below. 

How Croatia's round of 16 match opponent was decided 

Spain
If Spain beat Japan, they were guaranteed first place. A draw was enough for Spain to pass from first place. However, Spain could have dropped to second only if Costa Rica beat Germany. If Spain lost to Japan, they needed a draw between Costa Rica and Germany or for Germany to win to advance. In that case, goal difference is the deciding factor. 

Japan
Japan could not lose if they wanted a spot in the round of 16. If Japan and Spain drew, Japan would go through if Germany and Costa Rica drew. A draw could also happen if Germany won, but then the total number of goals scored by those teams is considered. A Japan win secured their spot in the next round, almost certainly from first place. 

Germany
Germany was in the most difficult situation in terms of points and only needed a win against Costa Rica. With a win, Germany would be in second place. However, they could only be first if Japan beat Spain - then the goal difference between Germany and Spain would be considered, and Spain has a big advantage there.

Costa Rica
Costa Rica would be eliminated if they lost. They could only move on with a point if Spain beat Japan. If Costa Rica won, they could have been first only if Spain and Japan played a draw. 

Croatia and Japan thus play their round of 16 match on Monday, December 5, at 6 pm local time. 

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

Thursday, 1 December 2022

Croatia Advances to 2022 World Cup Round of 16!

December 1, 2022 - Croatia and Belgium finished 0-0 at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium on Thursday night, which was enough for Croatia to advance to the 2022 World Cup round of 16!

Croatia and Belgium met at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium on Thursday, December 1, for their final Group F match at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. 

The Croatia national team enters the last round with 4 points: 1 point for drawing against Morocco and 3 points after defeating Canada 4-1. Belgium, on the other hand, had only 3 points going into the final round. While they narrowly beat Canada, they suffered a shocking defeat to Morocco (0-2). 

Belgium needed a win to advance to the round of 16, while Croatia would be safe with a draw. Croatia losing would seriously complicate their chances of moving forward and would depend on the result between Morocco and Canada in the other Group F match. 

There has been a lot of talk about the crisis in the Belgium camp as one of the world's top national teams struggles to find its rhythm. Are they motivated enough by the noise to prove everyone wrong against Croatia?

Lineups

Croatia: Livaković; Juranović, Lovren, Gvardiol, Sosa; Brozović, Modrić, Kovačić; Kramarić, Perišić, Livaja

Belgium: Courtois, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Meunier, Castagne, Witsel, Dendoncker, De Bruyne, Carrasco, Trossard, Mertens

Match report 

Seconds after the whistle to start the match, Perisic hit a rocket at Belgium's goal, which went wide. Croatia was dangerous in the next few plays and got the ball into the penalty area. 

Carrasco threatened in the 3rd minute, but Croatia's defense cleared any potential danger. 

Croatia looked calm as they played one-twos up the midfield, working their way into Belgium's box. 

Belgium picked up their game and looked for holes in the Croatia defense to play through to Carrasco. There was a close encounter in the 11th minute when he shot near post, but it was brilliantly kicked out by Livakovic for a Belgium corner. 

A quick counter for Belgium in the 12th minute saw De Bruyne take the ball up into Croatia's half, finding Mertens alone on the left wing. Fortunately, Mertens shot high over the goal. 

Modric took a free kick in the 14th minute. The ball made it into the penalty area and the play ultimately resulted in Kramaic falling to the ground. The ref immediately called for a penalty. After consulting VAR, the penalty was recalled due to offside. 

Croatia looked better than Belgium in the first 20 minutes of the match. They quickly found their rhythm, was first to every ball and put pressure on the defense. They only had to watch out for quick Belgium counterattacks thus far. 

Croatia was awarded a corner in the 26th minute, which was cleared by the Belgium defense. 

Belgium spent a few minutes in Croatia's half, unable to produce anything dangerous enough for a goal. Croatia was composed with short passes up the pitch to regain possession.

Sosa worked his way up the left wing and found Brozovic alone at the top of the box, who took one touch too many before shooting. Livaja tried with his head but went over the goal.

Up until now, Belgium struggled to connect passes or crosses. However, Belgium regained possession in the last 5 minutes of the first half and began to control the game. Mertens had a chance in the 43rd minute, and De Bruyne tried crossing into the penalty area in the next play, which was saved by Livakovic.

Kramaric found Sosa in Croatia's next attack, which he shot over the goal. 

Lukaku was warming up to go in for the second half. The referee announced four minutes of additional time. Juranovic closed out the half with a volley on goal.

The first half ended 0-0. The other Group F match between Canada - Morocco ended 1-2 at the half. 

The first half ended with 46% possession for Croatia and 53% for Belgium. Both teams had 5 shots on goal, 0 on target, and 1 corner kick. 

The second half started with no substitutions for Croatia. Lukaku replaced Martens for Belgium. 

Belgium had a dangerous chance in the 48th minute, which Gvardiol cleared for a corner. The ball ultimately found Lukaku's head and ended in Livakovic's hands. 

Croatia had an excellent chance in the 50th minute. Gvardiok received the ball at the top of the box, faked the defense, and found Kovacic, whose shot skimmed off Courtois' fingers for a corner. 

Croatia had another great chance three minutes later. Brozovic picked up the pass on the edge of the penalty area and shot directly at Courtois. Modric did the same moments later. 

Trossard came off for Thorgen Hazard in the 58th minute. 

The most dangerous chance of the match came in the 60th minute. De Bruyne brilliantly played Carrasco. The Croatia defense tried clearing the play before the ball found Lukaku. His shot rocked the post. 

Croatia made their first substitutions in the 64th minute - Petkovic came on for Livaja and Pasalic for Kramaric.

Croatia threatened again in the 67th minute. Modrić received a great cross from the penalty area. He shot sharply to the right side of the goal, but Courtois made a great save. 

In the 72nd minute, Leander Dendoncker came off for Youri Tielemans and Yannick Carrasco for Jeremy Doku. 

The match attendance was announced in the 76th minute - 43,984. 

Ivan Perisic dribbled through Belgium's defense but failed to get a shot off in time. The ball was cleared by the Belgium defense and ended up in Croatia's box and ultimately out a Belgium corner. Croatia got lucky. 

Croatia had a few chances in the next few minutes. Juranovic got the ball into the box, and Petkovic played Broz into the penalty area. Broz just missed the ball. 

But another dangerous attempt from Belgium followed, with Lukaku just missing the goal. 

Eden Hazard came on in the 87th minute and was given the captain band from De Bruyne. 

A Belgium free kick in the 88th minute went into the hands of Livakovic. And another even more threatening play that Livakovic saved on the goal line. 

The ref added 4 minutes of stoppage time to the end of the match. 

Lovro Majer came on for Kovacic in the 90th miunte. 

It was a very tense last few minutes with everyone on the edge of their seat. But the minimum result we needed, we got. Croatia and Belgium finished 0-0, which was enough for Croatia to advance to the last 16! 

Luka Modric was awarded the man of the match. 

Group F crosses over with Group E. The final group E matches are played later tonight, when Croatia will learn its opponent. 

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

Wednesday, 30 November 2022

Dalić and Kovačić ahead of Belgium: "A Tough Match Awaits, but We are Ready"

November 30, 2022 - The national teams of Belgium and Croatia held press conferences the day before their final 2022 World Cup Group F match in Qatar. 

Croatia and Belgium meet on Thursday, December 1, at 18:00 local time at Ahmed bin Ali Stadium in Qatar. Both national teams held press conferences with the coach and one player, with Belgium taking the floor first. 

Player Timothy Castagne answered questions first.

How did you feel after Monday's meeting, and will it change something on the pitch?

"It wasn't a crisis meeting, as you might have heard. There were no insults. We used it as a way to improve and be better."

Is Belgium in war mode?

"We are trying to show more solidarity with each other. We are trying to be more focused. We know there is a lot of pressure. We are trying to rediscover the values we had before and enjoy ourselves; that's when we play better. It's important for us, for Croatia, and the country. We need to play more aggressively. We need to show more control."

Why will Belgium beat Croatia?

"I am convinced that we will win. I know the quality of our team. I know what we are capable of. We don't need to prove anything to anyone. We will win it for us and our country. 

We have been united, but not enough. You need to be united if you want to go far in a World Cup tournament. You need to fight for your teammates. The meeting was helpful in that respect. We expect a lot from each other. I don't think our confidence is as low as people think. We are not in crisis mode like the press has said. We have been worse. If we want to be a big team and go far, we must show that even under pressure, we can deliver. It's a big game; if we win, we go through. 

We let the criticism affect us. Maybe we heard people saying we were a golden generation and started doubting ourselves. We lost some of the confidence we had. We know that we believe in ourselves."

What do you think about the Croatia team?

"It's tough to say there is a favorite. We know Croatia is very good and went to the final last time. We also know we have beaten them. We have the quality to win. It'll depend on how badly Croatia or Belgium wants it."

Does finishing 3rd in 2018 put a lot of pressure on the Belgium players?

"Yes. We know that is the standard you set yourselves. We need to not think about what might happen if we lose, but what will happen if we win."

Belgium coach Roberto Martinez Montoliu answered the questions next:

"We were not happy with our performances. Losing 2-0 was a shock; we were unhappy with it. I think we have listened too much to the noise. The less you listen to the noise, the better."

What does he think about Dalić?

"Dalić is a thinker, a gentleman, and we share many values. He joined in a chaotic moment. You can see a clear direction from him. He has only gotten better. I cannot speak highly enough of the job he has done.

I was impressed with Croatia against France in Nations League. The quality of this team is excellent. They have togetherness; they are brave. Lovren coming back brings added value. I would highlight this team's competitive dynamics, not just the midfield."

Croatia coach Zlatko Dalić and Mateo Kovačić followed:

"It's a deciding game for our group. One of the best teams in the world. We await a tough match. We saw a slightly weaker Belgium in the last two games. We are ready. We are not going for a point or to play for a draw. We need to play how we did against Canada. It will be a very tough game," said Dalić. 

"Belgium is a top team. We will show our true face as we did against Canada," said Kovačić. 

"Belgium was first on the FIFA list for a long time. The coach is amazing, and the team is amazing. We have our quality, and they have theirs. We know how challenging this game will be. We await the toughest Belgium tomorrow. We are ready for that," added Dalić. 

"We all came here to have the best World Cup. We know what we are capable of. There isn't fear. We will do what we did against Canada," added Kovačić. 

"I've known Lukaku for a long time. He is a phenomenal player. We have been training for this match and how to be ready for them. De Bruyne has played in the Premier League forever. We need to be careful with him. We must focus on ourselves, though; that is most important."

How is the atmosphere in the Croatia team?

"I am not taking into consideration anything about the meeting Belgium had. I am only thinking about them as the 2nd national team in the world. Nothing can change overnight. They are an incredible national team. They are #2, and we are #12. Our atmosphere is excellent, calm, no drama," said Dalić. 

"We played great against Canada. When we play together like that, we can beat anyone. We are going to show tomorrow that we can replicate that against Belgium. We need to show the same face we showed against Canada," said Kovačić. 

"This game is even more important than the last two. The team will give the most of themselves. It will be a much different game than against Morocco and Canada. It will be much harder. No disrespect, but Belgium is a class above," said Dalić. 

What's the plan for Lukaku?

"We have prepared the team as if Lukaku is playing. He will get the ball, guard the ball, and find Hazard. He is a big player. He hasn't played many games lately, but it doesn't matter for that type of player," said Dalić. 

"The atmosphere in their team doesn't worry us. We are only analyzing their game; that's all that matters," concluded Kovačić.  

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

Tuesday, 29 November 2022

FIFA Disciplinary Case Opened against Croatia for Fan Taunts at Canada Goalkeeper

November 29, 2022 - The FIFA Disciplinary Commission opened a case against the Croatian Football Federation (HNS) due to the fan behavior at the 2022 World Cup match between Croatia and Canada on Sunday, November 27. 

"HNS was reported due to the discriminatory and xenophobic behavior of some Croatia fans at the match against Canada, as well as for the banners with the same content," released HNS on Tuesday. 

A group of Croatia fans insulted Canada goalkeeper Milan Borjan, who has Serbian roots and who previously made statements about the Homeland War.

When Croatia won 4-1, an offensive poster appeared in the stands, accompanied by offensive shouts. 

"Borjan, Ustašo" was among the chants, though special attention was drawn to a John Deere banner. In addition to "Knin 95" written on it, the company's slogan was changed from "Nothing runs like Deere" to "Nothing runs like Borjan". John Deere is the most famous brand of tractors in the world. This means of transport is a symbol of the mass flight of Serbs during Operation Storm, which liberated Croatia from the occupied territories in 1995. Around 200,000 Serbs left the so-called "Republic of Serbian Krajina" in August of that year, including the then 7-year-old Borjan, reports Index.hr.

Borjan reacted by showing the fans a three-finger sign or Serbian national salute. After the game, Borjan said he received several messages from 'primitive' Croatia fans after his phone number was leaked before the game.

"Disciplinary proceedings have been initiated due to the behavior of some of our fans. I cannot comment on individual proceedings, but HNS always condemns discrimination and racism. We have six days to respond, and the Federation will most likely make a statement, and then we will see what happens next," said HNS spokesman Tomislav Pacak.

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

Monday, 28 November 2022

Zlatko Dalić after World Cup Win: Canada is a Small Step, Croatia Must Confirm it Against Belgium

November 28, 2022 - Croatia coach Zlatko Dalić addressed the press after Croatia's crucial World Cup win against Canada on Sunday night at Khalifa International Stadium. 

Zlatko Dalić opened the conference by saying he was surprised by Belgium in their first two World  Cup matches. Belgium beat Canada 1-0 and lost to Morocco 0-2. Croatia will play their last Group F match against Belgium. A draw is good enough for Croatia to advance into the last 16.

"In the first game against Canada, Belgium had a bad start, but they managed to win. Big national teams win games even when they don't play well. Against Morocco, they had several opportunities, and when they went for it all or nothing, they conceded the second goal. However, they are not happy with their performance, and I expect a much better Belgium against us," he said. 

Dalić was asked if he was under stress ahead of Canada. 

"Every game is stressful for me. It's like that; that's us. I have no problem with that. We played well against Canada, but it's a small step; if we don't confirm it with Belgium, we haven't done anything," he added. 

"We can't get carried away with the match, we had a little fun, but now the preparation for Belgium begins. We have quality, I believe we can, and we will look for it. The data that we ran 120 kilometers is great; we outran and outplayed Canada. A very good match. We haven't been this good in all segments of the game for a long time."

He also spoke about Andrej Kramarić and his position in the team.

"Media are creating that drama around him. Instead of asking about his scoring, you ask what his position is. Got some better questions? The two of us resolved everything two years ago. He will play what he is told; he understands that and made up his mind. So be silent, work, and it'll come back to him."

The midfield played together for several years, culminating in the silver medal in Russia.

"It is difficult to replace Rakitić, but we need Kovačić as he was yesterday. With his vertical conquest of the pitch. When the team struggled yesterday, he kept the game's rhythm. In preparations, we said that the most important thing is to break through the first block; if we break through that, everything opens up. The team was fantastic, but Andrej and Mateo might have been a shade better."

The coach spoke about whether he knew the squad for Belgium.

"We will see the situation with the players today at training. I think everyone who entered justified their role. We planned to start with Marko Livaja, so later, Bruno entered the game. We were thinking about whether it would be Budimir or Petković. We ran enough, and the solution was to put a player to guard the ball. He replaced Marko, and I think that was good. I am happy we have guys on the bench who can come in and continue in the same rhythm."

A Belgian journalist asked Dalić to explain why it was difficult for Croatia to play against Belgium in the last ten years.

"For the last ten years, Belgium has been at a high level. For five years, they were first in the FIFA ranking. They played great, won bronze at the World Cup, and were always in the finals. That's why it was difficult to beat them because they are a great team."

Canadian coach John Herdman did not congratulate Zlatko Dalić after the game.

"I experienced that twice in my career. When we beat Argentina and now. I don't remember leaving the pitch in my career without congratulating whoever beat me. I think it's basic culture, but I won't get into that. As far as I have seen and filmed, the gentleman is a good coach, promising, and has ambition, but he is young and will learn the latter."

Belgium is a crucial match. The most important thing is that Croatia rests well in the next two days.

"To repeat the approach, the same desire, and energy. We still have good reserves. Ivan Perišić was very dangerous, and he set up two goals. A slightly different role than against Morocco. He played more forward, like Kramarić. It is very important against Belgium that our midfield is at a high level. It is important not to make these small mistakes because the opponent will punish them. We mustn't have black holes like in the first 10 minutes against Canada."

When asked who he would like in the round of 16, Spain, Germany, or Japan, Dalić concluded:

"Japan."

Source HRT

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

Sunday, 27 November 2022

Kramarić, Livaja, and Majer Bring Croatia Crucial World Cup Win against Canada (4-1)

November 27, 2022 - With two goals from Andrej Kramaric and one each from Marko Livaja and Lovro Majer, Croatia topped Canada 4-1 in their second 2022 World Cup match on Sunday at Khalifa International Stadium in Qatar. 

After drawing 0-0 against Morocco, expectations were high for Croatia to get a good result against Canada. The two teams met at Khalifa International Stadium in Qatar on Sunday, November 27, at 19:00 local time. Canada lost their 2022 World Cup opener against Belgium 0-1. 

But the group got a lot more interesting an hour before Croatia and Canada met. Morocco defeated Belgium 2-0. 

This means that Morocco will have enough points to qualify for the last 16 in their last round against Canada.

Croatia's fate largely depends on the result against Canada tonight. If Croatia wins, they also need a point in the last round against Belgium. And if they lose? Only a win is good enough in the last round.

Even if Croatia lost to Canada, there is still some hope. A win against Belgium would bring them four points. In theory, Canada and Morocco can have that much, and the goal difference will decide. 

Recall, leading up to the match tonight, Canada coach John Herdman stirred the pot by saying, 'eff Croatia.' You can read Dalić's response and plan for Croatia in the press conference roundup yesterday. 

Lineups

Croatia: Livaković, Sosa, Gvardiol, Lovren, Juranović, Brozović, Modrić, Kovačić, Perišić, Kramarić, Livaja

Canada: Borjan, Miller, Vitoria, Johnston, Davies, Eustaquio, Hutchinson, Laryea, Buchanan, Larin, David

Match report

The match couldn't have started with a bigger wake-up call for Croatia. Tajon Buchanan crossed into the penalty area in Canada's first attack, in the first minute of the match. The ball found Alphonso Davies, who found a hole in the Croatia defense to head the ball in for 0-1 Canada.  

Croatia attacked in the 6th minute, with Kramaric crossing into the penalty area at the Canada keeper.  

Another dangerous Canada attack saw Larin 1-on-1 with Livakovic. Luckily he was called offside. 

Perisic attacked up the left wing in the 10th minute and forced the ball out for a corner. Modric played short. The ball ultimately went out for a Croatia throw-in. 

Croatia started to find their rhythm in the 16th minute with quick passes through the midfield. Sosa crossed into the box in the 17th minute, forcing the Canada keeper to punch the ball out. Juranovic played it back in, but the ball finished in the hands of the Canada keeper. 

A Canada corner in the 19th minute was fortunately cleared by Gvardiol. Croatia looked tired, and it was only the 21st minute. 

Kovacic played a brilliant ball to Livaja in the penalty area, which was just slightly too quick to get a shot off. 

Canada was looking dangerous, and their quick legs were running circles around Croatia. 

Croatia finally looked like they had a chance to score in the 26th minute. Croatia's midfield moved the ball up the pitch to Livaja, who played through to Kramaric to score. Kramaric's goal was called offside. 

Lovren fouled Davies outside of the box in the 30th minute, giving Canada a dangerous free kick. 

Croatia attacked well from the 30th minute. Livaja got a shot off in the 35th, which the keeper pushed out for a corner.

But Croatia's chance finally came. Perisic nutmegged Johnson on the left wing to find Kramaric. Krama shot far post for the equalizing goal in the 36th minute! 

Croatia picked up their game until the end of the half. And Hajduk Split's Marko Livaja was the hero for Croatia this time. The striker beat the keeper and found the back of the net in the 44th minute for 2-1! Marko Livaja is the first Hajduk player to score for Croatia at the World Cup. 

Five minutes of additional time were added. Croatia had a corner to finish the first half, which ended 2-1. Croatia had five attempts on goal, 4 shots on target, and 3 corner kicks in the first half. 

The second half started without any changes for Croatia. Stephen Eustaquio subbed off for Ismael Kone, and Cyle Larin subbed off for Jonathan Osorio (Canada). 

Canada had a dangerous chance in the 48th minute. Fresh-legged Osorio just missed the goal. 

Croatia almost found the back of the next again in the 50th minute. Kovacic attacked up the midfield and played Krama on the right wing. Krama crossed it over the box to Sosa. Sosa played it back into the box and just missed Perisic and Livaja in front of the goal.

And another Croatia chance in the 54th minute. Brozovic faked and played the ball through the right wing. Juranovic crossed it into the box, and Krama's shot was hit out for a corner by the keeper. 

Canada threatened again in the 55th minute and took their second corner of the match. The ball was cleared by Gvardiol. 

The Canada keeper nearly made a catastrophic mistake in the 57th minute, passing the ball straight to Perisic outside the box. Perisic crossed the ball back in, but it went straight to the keeper. 

Dalic made his first sub in the 60th minute. Goalscorer Livaja was subbed off for Dinamo's Bruno Petkovic. For Canada, Richie Laryea subbed off for Junior Hoilett. 

Canada was awarded a dangerous free kick just outside the box in the next play. Davies played into the Croatia wall. 

By the 67th minute, Croatia's experience was outclassing Canada. The defense was calm and collected and first to every ball, while Canada was making careless mistakes and misjudging passes. 

Big-tournament-player Andrej Kramaric wasn't done, either. Perisic crossed the ball from the left to find Krama in the box. Krama faked the Canada defense to score far post for 3-1 Croatia in the 70th minute!

Both teams made substitutions in the 73rd minute. Jonathan David went off for Lucas Cavallini, and Atiba Hutchinson went off for Sam Adekugbe. Dalic brought off Kramaric for Nikola Vlasic. 

Vlasic forced a Croatia corner in the next play. Perisic called to the Croatia fans in the crowd to make noise. 

Another Croatia chance in the 78th minute. Persic played around the Canada defense on the left wing. His shot was saved by the Canada keeper. The ball ultimately found Kovacic alone in the penalty area, who decided to play Vlasic instead of shooting. It could have easily been Croatia's 4th goal. 

Perisic tried shooting again in the 82nd minute but was wildly off target. 

Dalic made three more subs in the 86th minute. Perisic for Orsic, Modric for Pasalic, and Kovacic for Majer. 

Six minutes of stopped time were added. 

'Veceras je nasa festa' could be heard in the stands, and rightfully so, as we awaited yet another goal. A quick counter saw Orsic 1-on-1 with the Canada keeper and Majer to his left. Orsic played Majer in the box to make it 4-1 Croatia! 

The official attendance at the match was announced - 44,374. 

Croatia meets Belgium in their final Group F match on Thursday, December 1, at 6 pm local time. 

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

Wednesday, 23 November 2022

Croatia and Morocco Ends Without Goals in 2022 World Cup Opener at Al Bayt Stadium

November 23, 2022 - Croatia opened their 2022 World Cup campaign at Al Bayt Stadium against Morocco on Wednesday. 

After an incredible run in 2018, where they finished as World Cup finalists, Croatia opened their 2022 World Cup campaign four years later. Croatia and Morocco met on Wednesday at Al Bayt Stadium in Qatar to kick things off. Croatia is in Group F, with Canada and Belgium up next in their group. 

Dalić and Modrić spoke to the media on Tuesday before the match. Dalić revealed he is satisfied with preparations, although lasting only a week as players gathered in the middle of the club season. Even with the short time together, Dalić said that Croatia is ready for the 2022 World Cup. 

TCN is on the ground in Qatar following Croatia in the group stage of the tournament. It was a balmy 27 degrees Celsius at Al Bayt Stadium, located north of Doha in Al Khor, Qatar. 

The starting lineups for today’s match are as follows:

Morocco: Bono - Hakimi, Aguer, Saiss, Mazraoui - Amrabat, Amallah, Ounahi - Boufal, Ziyech, El-Nesyri

Croatia: Livaković - Juranović, Lovren, Gvardiol, Sosa - Modrić, Brozović, Kovačić - Vlašić, Kramarić, Perišić

Match report

Croatia possessed well in the first minute of the match and played out for a Morocco goal kick. There were howls from the Morocco fans in the stands every time Croatia touched the ball. 

Croatia's first corner came in the 5th minute of the match. Modric and Kovacic played it short, with Luka sending the ball into the box. Morocco ultimately cleared the ball, but it went back into Croatia's possession. 

Morocco had their first dangerous attack in the 7th minute. Croatia's defense cleared it and took back the ball. 

Another slight scare for Croatia happened in the 10th minute when Kovacic lost the ball in Croatia's half. Gvardiol was there to clear it out for a Morocco throw-in.

Hakimi shot in the 13th minute, but it deflected off Croatia's defense and into Livakovic's hands. 

Modric crossed the ball into the penalty area a minute later, with no one in front of the goal to receive it. 

Perisic capitalized on a nearly fatal Morocco mistake, shooting from about 30 meters out with the ball gliding just over the crossbar. 

Ziyech nailed a dangerous ball into the penalty area in the next Morocco attack, but it went out for a goal kick. 

Luka fouled Hakimi right outside the box in the 19th minute. The ref called for a Morocco free kick, which was, fortunately, drilled into Croatia's wall. 

Kramaric had a brilliant attack in the next play and sent the ball back into the center, which went out for Croatia's second corner. 

Morocco had another dangerous play in the 25th minute when En-Nesyri was found in the penalty area. Croatia was holding more possession of the ball, but Morocco was getting more chances at goal.

The stadium exploded into Morocco fan chats often, making this feel like a true home atmosphere for them. 

Brozovic had an impressive attack from the midfield and played Vlasic on the right wing, who had his back turned to the play.  

Another dangerous free kick for Morocco came in the 40th minute, outside the box on the right. Brozovic chested the ball to Modric, and it was ultimately cleared out for a throw-in. 

The match halted in the 42nd minute when Vlasic dropped onto the pitch, complaining of calf pain. After the medics came to assist him, Vlasic decided he could go on.  

Croatia's best chance came when a Perisic and Sosa combo found Vlasic at the top of the box in the first minute of stoppage time, resulting in a brilliant save by the Morocco keeper. Vlasic and Modric both had chances to end the first half.

The match ended 0:0 at halftime. 

The second half started with one sub for Croatia - Pasalic replaced Vlasic. There were no subs for the Morocco team. 

There were no real dangerous attacks in the first five minutes of the second half, and then things started getting interesting. 

Noussair Mazraoui headed the ball into Livakovic's hand. In the next attack, Modric played Juranovic, who crossed into the box. The ball went out for a Croatia corner. Morocco's keeper Bono brilliantly stopped Croatia from scoring, and the match stopped before Morocco could capitalize on a counter-attack as Bono and Mazraoui both called for medical assistance. Both players continued. 

Modric tried playing a long ball into the box in the 58th minute, but no teammates were to be found. Mazraoui was finally subbed off for Atiat-Allah. 

Morocco was awarded a free kick outside the box in the 63rd minute. Hakimi stepped up to take this one which was nailed at Livaovic's goal. Livi punched the shot out for a Morocco throw in. 

Morocco subbed off Boufal for Ezzazouli in the 65th minute. 

Luka intercepted the ball from the Morocco defense in the 66th minute. He and Kramaric tried moving into the box but were denied by the Morocco defense. 

Croatia held possession for the next few minutes, calmly passing around in an effort to tire out the Morocco side.

Kramaric was subbed off for Livaja in the 71st minute. 

Juranovic was fouled on the right wing for a free kick, Luak sent it in, and the ball was played out for a Croatia corner. The cross found Livaja, who chipped back into the box for another Croatia corner. The play ended in the hands of Bono. 

The commentator announced 59,407 fans in the stands for the game. 

Amrabat clipped Modric's back heel for a yellow card. 

Kovacic was subbed off for Majer in the 79th minute. A Morocco handball in Croatia's favor was called for a free kick near the right sideline moments later. Luka sent the ball into the box, which found Gvardiol's head, and went out for a goal kick. 

Morocco's coach entered fresh legs in the 81st minute in hopes of getting a goal. The Morocco fans grew even louder.

Juranovic was founded when running up the line for a Croatia free kick in the 87th minute. 

Perisic was subbed off for Orsic in the 90th minute. Six minutes of stoppage time were added to the end of the match. 

The match ended without goals (0-0). 

Croatia plays Canada next on Sunday, November 27. 

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

Wednesday, 16 November 2022

Kramarić Scores in Croatia's 1-0 Friendly Win in Riyadh before World Cup

November 16, 2022 - Andrej Kramarić scores in Croatia's only friendly match ahead of the World Cup. Croatia beat Saudi Arabia 1-0 in Riyadh on Wednesday. 

In the only preparatory match before the World Cup in Qatar, the Croatia national team won 1-0 against Saudi Arabia. Andrej Kramarić brought the victory to Croatia with a great goal in the 82nd minute.

Coach Zlatko Dalić started this match with Croatia's reserves. As announced, Dalić chose a mixed lineup, mostly with players who will not start against Morocco next week. 

Croatia Lineup

Livaković, Stanišić, Lovren, Erlić, Barišić, Sučić, Brozović, Majer, Pašalić, Vlašić, Petković

Croatia looked rough in the first half and only had one shot on goal. Saudi Arabia proved to be a formidable opponent until the very end. Saudi Arabia had several attempts and even hit the post. On the other hand, Croatia was mainly invisible. At halftime, Dalić subbed off Vlašić and Sučić for Kovačić and Oršić. In the 58th minute, Lovren and Petković were subbed off for Vida and Kramarić. 

Kramarić scored in the 73rd minute, but it was called offside. Luka Modrić and Ivan Perišić entered the match only in the 65th minute. 

Croatia finally secured the victory in the final 10 minutes of the match. A great ball by Luka Modrić found Kramarić in the 82nd minute. He shot from about ten meters and hit the near post of the goal for the Croatia lead and ultimate win. Croatia had another goal disallowed after Ivan Perišić scored in the 87th minute. 

This was Croatia's fifth win in a row, coming off a successful Nations League campaign. 

Croatia's first World Cup match in Group F is against Morocco on Wednesday, November 23, at 11 am Croatia time. Croatia travels from Riyadh to Qatar tomorrow. 

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

Wednesday, 9 November 2022

Zlatko Dalić Announces Final 2022 World Cup Croatia Squad

November 9, 2022 - The final 2022 World Cup Croatia squad was announced today. 

Croatia national team coach Zlatko Dalić announced the final 2022 World Cup Croatia squad two weeks before Croatia's first match in Qatar. The final list of 26 players was announced at a press conference in Zagreb. 

Recall Hajduk goalkeeper Lovre Kalinić was not included in the wider list due to injury.

Goalkeepers Kotarski and Labrović, defenders Ćaleta-Car and Pongračić, midfielders Mišić and Ivanušec, and forwards Čolak and Brekalo were dropped from the final list and are not going to Qatar from the wider list. 

National teams can have between 23 and 26 players on the final list of players for the World Cup.

The Croatian Football Federation (HNS) must submit the final list of players to FIFA on November 14. After that, it is possible to change players up to 24 hours before the first match in case of injury.

2022 World Cup Croatia Squad

Goalkeepers: Dominik Livaković, Ivica Ivušić, Ivo Grbić

Defenders: Domagoj Vida, Dejan Lovren, Borna Barišić, Josip Juranović, Joško Gvardiol, Borna Sosa, Josip Stanišić, Martin Erlić, Josip Šutalo

Midfielders: Luka Modrić, Mateo Kovačić, Marcelo Brozović, Mario Pašalić, Nikola Vlašić, Lovro Majer, Kristijan Jakić, Luka Sučić

Strikers: Ivan Perišić, Andrej Kramarić, Bruno Petković, Mislav Oršić, Ante Budimir, Marko Livaja

Croatia plays their first match on Wednesday, November 23, at 11 am Croatia time against Morocco. On Sunday, November 27, Croatia meets Canada, and on Thursday, December 1, Croatia plays Belgium in their final Group F match. 

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

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