Thursday, 9 June 2022

Croatia U21s Crush Estonia to Finish Qualifications, 2023 Euro Spot Still Unknown

June 9, 2022 - The Croatia U21s convincingly beat Estonia away on Wednesday, finishing the 2023 Euro qualifications with 22 points. As Norway still has two games left to play, Croatia's fate at next year's Euros is still uncertain. 

In the last round of Group A of the European Championship qualifiers, the Croatia U21 national team outclassed Estonia 4-0 away and thus finished the qualifications at 22 points.

However, it is still unknown whether Igor Bišćan's team will go directly to the Euros as the winners of the group or will finish in second place and have to go to additional qualifications.

Namely, the schedule has been put together so that the last round matches are not all played at the same time. Currently, the situation is such that the biggest threat to the young Croatia side is the third-placed Norway, which still has two more games to play - a visit to Finland and a home match against Azerbaijan.

Since the goal difference is in the standings, the good news is that the young Croatia national team crushed Estonia 4-0 and finished with +15 (25:10). This specifically means that if Finland, who currently has +7 (18:11) beat Norway by any margin of fewer than eight goals, Croatia will finish in the first place and qualify for the European Championship next year. 

If the result is a draw or if Norway wins that match, which is played on Friday, June 10, then Norway (especially if they triumph in Finland) will have the advantage at home against Azerbaijan on Tuesday, June 14.

Euro U21 Qualifiers, Group A:
1. Croatia 22, 25:10 (10)
2. Finland 19, 18:11 (9)
3. Norway 18, 22:10 (8)
4. Austria 16, 22: 13 (10)
5. Azerbaijan 7, 11:22 (9)
6. Estonia 0, 0:32 (10)

Match report

Estonia and Croatia met at Rannastaadion in Pärnu, Estonia on Wednesday. Croatia went furiously through the first half and gained a 3-goal lead at halftime. Gabriel Vidović scored in the seventh minute, Mario Vušković in the 14th minute, and Antonio Marin scored in the 41st minute. The final score was set by Toni Fruck in the 55th minute for 0-4 Croatia.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated sports section

Tuesday, 7 June 2022

8th Croatian Football Federation Executive Board Session Held in Solin

June 7, 2022 - The 8th Croatian Football Federation Executive Board session was held in Solin on Monday, at which a decision was made on the names of men's football competitions in the upcoming season.

On Monday, the Croatian Football Federation Executive Board met in Solin ahead of the UEFA League of Nations match between Croatia and France at Poljud, reports HNS.

A decision was made that the highest level of competition in men's football will again be called the Croatian Football League, while the second, third, and fourth levels will be called, respectively, the First Football League, the Second Football League, and the Third Football League. Subsequently, it is possible to add to these names the name of the title sponsor of each level of competition.

"We wanted to single out the first stage of the competition and give additional importance to the lower stages of the competition, so we considered several solutions. In the end, we decided to return the first stage of the competition to its original and recognizable name, Croatian Football League, which has become common among fans, in public, and in the media, which we have witnessed in recent years when the name was the First League, but we all said that it is ours - HNL.

In this way, we paid tribute to the history and recognition of the HNL while avoiding international expressions such as "premier" or "elite," which have no tradition in Croatian football. We have also emphasized second, third, and fourth level clubs. Furthermore, we will continue to strengthen all marketing, promotional and commercial aspects," said HNS President Marijan Kustić.

The Executive Board also accepted the decision on distributing funds from the TV rights contract, whereby the largest part will go to the clubs of the Croatian Football League - 9.33 million euros. The rest of the funds will be directed to the First Football League, 1st ŽNL, 1st HMNL, HNK for youth, HNK for women, and HNK in indoor soccer.

The Executive Board determined the participants in the competition from the first to the third level, i.e., the qualification for the First and Second Football Leagues.

The new Ordinance on Football Competitions, the Ordinance on Club Cooperation, the Licensing Report for the Competition Year 2022/23, the Report on the Organization of Football Camps in Australia and the USA, and the document Basics of Veteran Football were adopted.

The Executive Board also decided to purchase artificial grass needed to build seven more lawns in counties across the country.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated sports section

Monday, 6 June 2022

UEFA Nations League: Croatia and France Draw at Poljud (1:1)

June 6, 2022 - Croatia and France draw at Poljud in the 2nd round of the UEFA Nations League at Poljud on Monday. 

Croatia and France met for the 2nd round of the Nations League on Monday at Poljud Stadium in Split. Croatia opened this year's Nations League with a shock 0:3 defeat to Austria in Osijek. France also lost their opening match against Denmark 1:2. 

Both Croatia and France were weakened due to injuries. Croatia was without Ivan Perišič, Marko Livaja, Joško Gvardiol, and Petar Musa. For France, Mbappe, Benzema, Kante, and Coman did not properly train with the team last night. Croatia, however, has yet to beat France. 

As coach Zlatko Dalić said at the press conference last night, France even without their usual stars is still France - and even their B team is a force to be reckoned with. 

Tonight is also Croatia captain Luka Modrić's 150th appearance for the Croatia national team. He made his debut on March 1, 2006, in Croatia's 3:2 victory against Argentina. Luka has scored 21 goals in 149 games so far, participated in three World Cups and four European Championships, and has been the team captain since 2016.

Lineups

Croatia: Livaković, Juranović, Erlić, Vida, Barišić, Brozović, Kovačić, Modrić, Majer, Brekalo, Budimir

France: Maignan, Pavard, Saliba, Kimpembe, Digne, Guendouzi, Tchouaméni, Diaby, Rabiot, Nkunku, Ben Yedder

Match Report

Croatia maintained possession for the first five minutes of the match, with a few potential attacks in the penalty area. Croatia's first corner came in the 6th minute. Luka played short to Brekalo, who played back to Luka and then Majer for a shot off target. 

France picked up the pace in the next 5 minutes and had their first corner in the 10th minute. 

Juranović headed out a close encounter for France for their second corner of the match in the 12th minute. Kovačić played Budimir into the penalty spot the minute after which was cleared by the France defense. 

Croatia's defense was solid tonight in comparison to the debacle last weekend in Osijek. Calm, collected, and without any mishaps so far. 

Croatia's best chance of the match came in the 18th minute - Kovačić played a brilliant through ball to Budimir who shot near post forcing a tricky save for the France keeper. The ball went out for a corner. 

France had another chance in the 23rd minute which was shot wide. 

A minute later a breakaway for Kovačić saw him fouled outside the box. The ref decided to play advantage for Croatia instead, and France won back possession. 

Lovro Majer was fouled in France's half which the ref did not call. France then pushed up the pitch and scored an offside goal in the 31st minute. 

Croatia was awarded a free kick in the 33rd minute but Vida was offside.  

Livakovic made a brilliant save after Vida let Diaby get a shot off in the 39th minute - and another save moments after that. France had another corner in the 40th minute and another two corners three minutes later. Croatia's defense had no problem clearing the play. 

One minute of stoppage time was added to the first half. The match was 0:0. 

The second half started without any substitutions. 

Lovro Majer sent a stunning pass through the France defense, which found Ante Budimir's head, but the ball went wide of the goal. 

But it was France to score first. Rabiot made it 0:1 in the 52nd minute. 

Croatia moved the ball nicely into France's half in the 57th minute and was dangerous in front of the France keeper but could not get a shot off.  

Juranović found Budimir at the top of the box and played it back to Brozovic who couldn't find his footing to shoot. 

France subbed off Ben Yedder for Griezmann, and Kamara for Tchouameni. For Croatia, Majer came off for Pasalic and Brekalo for Orsic. 

Budimir was fouled just outside the box in the 63rd minute which the ref allowed them to play on. 

Dalic subbed off Budimir for Kramaric in the 68th minute.

Luka had a great chance in the 70th minute. He cut back to his left foot to shoot on target, forcing the France keeper to make a diving save.  

Livakovic made a brilliant save in the 75th minute to ensure the match stayed 0:1.

Luka Modric was subbed off for Luka Sucic and Mateo Kovacic for Nikola Vlasic in the 78th minute. 

Croatia had another chance in the 80th minute which was ultimately called for a penalty thanks to VAR. Kramaric made it 1:1 in the 82nd minute!

Vlasic shot on target in the 86th minute forcing the ball out for a corner. A Croatia mishap in the defense almost cost them the match two minutes later, but Griezmann shot wide of an empty goal. 

The ref added 4 minutes of stoppage time to the match in which neither team was able to score - though Sucic had a great chance. The match ended 1:1. 

Croatia plays Denmark next in Copenhagen on Friday, June 10. 

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated sports section

Friday, 3 June 2022

Croatia Nations League Campaign Kicks Off with Shock Defeat to Austria (0:3)

June 3, 2022 - A troubling display in Osijek tonight as the Croatia Nations League campaign kicks off with a 0:3 defeat to Austria.

The Croatia-Austria match was the first in a series of four UEFA Nations League matches the national team will play in 11 days this month. 

On paper, Austria was the easiest opponent for Croatia in this year's Nations League edition, which will serve as preparation for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Croatia was after three points at City Garden tonight, as the next three matches will be even tougher to win points. 

Tonight's match was also the final for the national team at City Garden, as the new Pampas stadium will be used in Osijek from next year.

Lineups

Austria: Lindner - Danso, Trauner, Wöber - Lainer, Laimer, Schlager, Weimann - Sabitzer - Arnautović, Onisiwo

Croatia: Ivušić - Juranović, Pongračić, Ćaleta-Car, Sosa - Brozović, Kovačić, Pašalić - Majer, Kramarić, Brekalo

Recall, Croatia was without Perišić, Gvardiol, Musa, and Livaja, while Luka Modrić will get some rest in this match after winning the Champions League with Real Madrid.

Recap

Croatia had their first chance of the match already in the 2nd minute. Brekalo found Pasalic in the penalty area. In the 8th minute, Majer found Kramaric on the far post and Lainer's reaction nearly caused an own goal. 

Kramaric's shot was blocked in the 14th minute after which Brozovic also had a chance. Croatia was hungry for an early goal. 

Croatia's best chance so far came in the 18th minute. Brekalo again found Pasalic running into the box who missed with his head. 

Pasalic had another chance in front of the goal from a corner in the 21st minute, and Austria had a chance just wide of the goal moments later.

Another chance for Croatia in the 25th minute - Brozovic played the Austria defense to find Pasalic open in the box who shot a second too late. 

Kovacic had the first shot on target in the 28th minute, which was pushed out by the Austria keeper for a corner. Kramaric shot at the keeper in the 31st which went out for another corner. 

Sosa lost the ball in the defense giving Arnautovic a shot on goal, which he luckily hit over. But Austria got their goal in the end - Arnautovic scored for 0:1 in the 41st minute. 

Majer hit the near post for a corner in the 44th minute. The first half ended 0:1 for Austria. 

Borna Barisic went on for Borna Sosa at the start of the second half. 

Croatia came out motivated at the start of the second half. Brekalo and Majer found Pasalic who had a chance in front of the goal in the 47th minute, after which Brozovic missed a chance. 

Ivusic brilliantly defended an Austria shot, though Austria caught the Croatia defense asleep shortly after. Gregoritsch calmly put the ball in the back of the net for 0:2 in the 53rd minute - and in the 57th minute, Austria made it 0:3. 

Dalic subbed off Kramaric, Majer, and Pasalic for Modrić, Budimir, and Vlasic a minute later.

Croatia's shaky defense and inability to find the back of the net did not make for a pleasant atmosphere at City Garden. 

Kovacic came off for Orsic in the 70th minute.

Croatia was without any solid chances in the second half and was lucky that Austria didn't increase their lead. 

The ref added 3 minutes of stoppage time, but the match ended 0:3 for Austria. 

Croatia will welcome France on Monday in Split, followed by the first two away games in Group 1 - on June 10 in Denmark and on June 13 in France. All matches are played at 20:45.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated sports section

Friday, 3 June 2022

Croatia U21s Concede Two Stoppage-Time Goals to Complicate Euro Qualifications

June 3, 2022 - The Croatia U21s nearly had the Euros spot in their hands, up 2:1 against Norway in the 80th minute. With two goals conceded in stoppage time, Croatia no longer controls their destiny for a spot at the Euros next year. 

The U21 Croatia national team played a key European Championship qualifier in Drammen, Norway on Friday. The match started at 6 pm. 

A victory against Norway would have ensured Croatia's spot at the Euros with one round to go. Croatia plays their last match of the qualifiers against last-placed Estonia.

In the first match between these two teams played in Varaždin, Croatia won 3:2. Both teams recorded defeats in the last qualifying round. Croatia surprisingly lost to Finland, while Norway lost away against Austria.

Only the first-placed team in the group goes directly to the Euros, while the second-placed team goes to the playoffs.

Lineups

Norway: Klaesson, Hjelde, Heggheim, Daland, Sebulonsen, Ceide, Hove, Arnstad, Vetlesen, Botheim, Larsen

Croatia: Kotarski, Čolina, Soldo, Šutalo, Stanišić, Krizmanić, Vušković, Kačavenda, Sučić, Matanović, Šimić

Recap

Croatia took the early lead thank to Luka Sucic. Kacavenda started the counter and pushed Simic in the middle well, and while he lost the duel, the ball came back to Kacavenda who played Sucic for 0:1 Croatia! Two minutes later Norway hit the post. 

Norway continued to press and finally equalized in the 37th minute. Botheim scored with his head for 1:1. Kotarski almost defended, but the shot was too strong.

The match was 1:1 at the half. 

Croatia had some brilliant chances in the second half but did not retake the lead until the 80th minute. Sucic found Simic at the top of the box who scored for 1:2 Croatia! This was exactly the result needed to secure their spot at the European Championship.

The ref added 5 minutes of stoppage time. Croatia nearly had the win and Euros spot in their hands but conceded two goals in 5 minutes. In the first minute of stoppage time, Daland scored for 2:2. Larsen scored for 3:2 with a minute left and the Norway victory. 

Croatia is still in first place with 8 games played and 19 points, while Norway is in 3rd place with 7 games played and 15 points. 

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated sports section

Wednesday, 1 June 2022

Zlatko Dalić's Father Passes Away in Livno, Croatia Led by Coaching Staff

June 1, 2022 - Zlatko Dalić's father Ivan Dalić has passed away in Livno. The Croatia team will be led by the coaching staff until Dalić's return. Croatia and Austria face off in Osijek on Friday, June 3. 

Croatia national team coach Zlatko Dalić has traveled to Livno after the death of his father Ivan Dalić, reports HNS.

"We received this news with great sadness about Zlatko's father's passing. We express our deepest condolences to Zlatko and his family and tell him that the entire Croatian football family is standing by him in this difficult time.

We want him to find a little consolation in the fact that his father left extremely proud of everything that Zlatko has achieved in life, what kind of man he became and what kind of family he built. May Ivan rest in the peace," said the president of HNS, Marijan Kustić, calling on the media and the public to respect the privacy of coach Dalić at this time.

Kustić will lead the delegation of the Federation at the last farewell in Livno, and until the coach returns to the Croatia camp, the national team will be led by Dalić's professional coaching staff.

According to Sportske Novosti, Dalić plans to return to lead the national team in Osijek against Austria on Friday.

Dalić often visited his hometown in Livno and his parents' house as both Dalić's father Ivan and mother Kata had been ill for a long time. Ivan was hospitalized even before the 2018 World Cup in Russia when he experienced his son's greatest success.

"Son, be firm and your own, and stay as long as possible in Russia," he told him four years ago. Zlatko has never hidden his immense devotion to his father and family, so this is a tremendous loss for him.

It is an incredible coincidence that France coach Didier Deschamps also lost his father Pierre on the first day of the Nations League preparations for the France national team. 

Dalić and Deschamps will face each other at Poljud in Split as Croatia and France meet in the Nations League on June 6 at 20:45. 

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated sports section

Monday, 30 May 2022

Croatia Nations League Gathering: Perišić Out, Musa and Livaja Questionable

May 30, 2022 - The Croatia Nations League gathering is held today before the Vatreni plays their first match against Austria in Osijek on June 3. 

Croatia national football team coach Zlatko Dalić has announced the first Nations League match against Austria, which will be played on June 3 in Osijek, reports Gol.hr and Index.hr.

It will be great preparation for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, which awaits us at the end of this year. After Austria at City Garden Stadium, Croatia will go to Poljud against France, which should come with its biggest stars.

Four days later, on June 10, Croatia will play against Denmark away, and on June 13, Croatia will head to Paris to meet France in the return match.

It is already known that Ivan Perišić will not compete in this June Nations League campaign due to injury. Still, two other players are in question - Petar Musa and Marko Livaja.

"Unfortunately, Perišić dropped out. He may have been in the best shape of all the players, but now the most important thing is recovering and being ready for the World Cup. Petar Musa, who is ill, will probably drop out, but Marko Livaja is also sick. That is why we invited Luka Ivanušec. I am incredibly sorry for Musa, who was supposed to be with us for the first time today.

Many have had good seasons, but it's six months until the World Cup. Our quality is unquestionable because we have the backbone of the older players. The younger ones are also coming. For Musa, this was supposed to be a good test. I hope that during the summer, those who have problems in their clubs will solve them to be even better. I don’t have any bad insights about last year. A lot of good things have been done."

Dalić says he wants to test all the players in four Nations League matches but that the result is very much the priority.

"We want to be good, competitive. Try all the players we invited, but the result is important. It will be a problem that the boys have been on vacation for seven or eight days, but everyone is like that. We will play in our system 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1. We are going for the victory in every match," said Dalić.

And what about Modrić?

"Luka Modrić is coming tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. After everything he has done, he will compete in Osijek and Paris, i.e., all four matches. We need him to be in good health. We will see how much and how he will play in Osijek. After training, we'll see whether we need to call anyone else."

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated sports section

Saturday, 28 May 2022

HNS President Comments on Fan Safety Meeting in Croatia: "Fans Supported, Hooligans Condemned"

May 28, 2022 - A fan safety meeting in Croatia was held between HNS, MUP, Hajduk, and Dinamo on Friday after the clash between Torcida and the police last weekend. HNS president Marijan Kustić weighs in on the progress made. 

The recent riots on the A1 motorway near the Desinec rest area resulted in dozens of injured fans and police officers, while four fans suffered gunshot wounds. More than 40 people are currently in pre-trial detention. The Croatian Football Federation invited representatives of Hajuk, Dinamo, but also the Police Directorate to a meeting on Friday

The goal of the meeting was to find a way to avoid this scenario from happening again. The incident is considered the worst conflict between police and fans since Croatia's independence. RTL's Andrija Jarak spoke exclusively about the conclusions of the meeting with the head of the Football Federation, Marijan Kustić.

Kustić said that he was happy with the direction in which the conversation was going.

"We all agreed on some things unanimously that we have to do in the future. What is very important is that we agreed that we all have to respect the regulations that exist regarding the protocol, and that the Federation and the Police Directorate will sign an agreement where operational meetings will be held before high-risk matches before the protocol is respected and clubs definitely have an obligation to communicate with fans.

We will also send a letter to the fans or involve the fans in the meeting to express an opinion on some things that they think should be fixed. We must all do everything together to ensure the safety of the fans. It is in our interest to bring it to the highest level," said Kustić.

When asked if this means that the duty and obligations between the Federation, the police, and the organizers will be divided, Kustić answered in the affirmative.

"We all agreed on that. We all have to respect the regulations, they are the same for everyone, and the protocol is known. We will work on some things soon and I am definitely glad that we agreed on those things," he said.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated sports section

Friday, 27 May 2022

Fan Safety in Croatia: HNS, MUP, Hajduk, and Dinamo Reach Three Conclusions

May 27, 2022 - Fan safety in Croatia was discussed at the Croatian Football Federation between HNS, MUP, Hajduk, and Dinamo. 

A meeting of Croatian Football Federation representatives was held today on the Croatian Football Federation premises, led by President Marijan Kustić, Police Directorates headed by Chief of Police Nikola Milin, and GNK Dinamo and HNK Hajduk, led by Presidents Vlatka Peras and Lukša Jakobušić. The meeting was held on the topic of security and the organization of football matches, reports HNS.

In a constructive atmosphere and after exchanging views, the following conclusions were reached:

1. All stakeholders in football matches are invited to comply with safety regulations at sports competitions.

2. An agreement will be concluded between the Ministry of the Interior and the Croatian Football Federation on implementing measures at high-risk matches and matches where a larger number of visiting fans is expected. In doing so, existing good practices from domestic and international matches will be taken into account. The agreement will be drawn up until the beginning of the new competition year, i.e., the Super Cup match.

3. Fan clubs will be invited to get involved in drafting the said agreement by giving their suggestions and pointing out the problems identified.

It was also agreed that representatives of the Federation, clubs, and the police would constantly communicate regarding the preparation and conduct of football competitions.

"I must emphasize that the term 'freedom to the fans' does not refer to those fans who in any way cause riots, who in any way participate in dishonorable acts and there are institutions for that. This refers to those unjustly detained and I hope that will be determined in the end. We are a fan club, not only do we have an obligation, but we stand firmly behind them. That is why we responded to this meeting," said Hajduk president Lukša Jakobušić after the meeting with HNS, Dinamo, and police representatives.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated sports section

Friday, 27 May 2022

Croatia and Saudi Arabia Friendly Scheduled Ahead of 2022 World Cup

May 27, 2022 - Croatia and Saudi Arabia will play a friendly match on November 16 in Riyadh ahead of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

The Croatia national football team will play a friendly match against Saudi Arabia in Riyadh on November 16, 2022, reports HNS.

This will be the last test for Croatia before the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Saudi Arabia is the 49th national team in the world based on the FIFA rankings, and will also play at the World Cup, in Group C with Argentina, Mexico, and Poland.

"We are pleased about this agreement with Saudi Arabia, which will be a good last test for the Vatreni before the World Cup. Thus, we fulfilled the wish of the coach and our staff to play a match near Qatar for acclimatization. From the organizational point of view, HNS will, as always, provide maximum support to the national team before and during the World Cup, which the 2018 World Cup finalists deserve. I believe that with the quality and togetherness, which the Croatia national team certainly has, we will once again have reason to rejoice with the Vatreni," said the President of the Croatian Football Federation, Marijan Kustić.

"Given the unusually short preparations for the World Cup, we wanted to be in the Middle East from the first day of the gathering to acclimatize as soon as possible to the conditions that await us in Qatar and therefore see this meeting in Riyadh as an ideal stop for the final test before the World Cup. Saudi Arabia is a regular participant in the World Cup, one of the best teams in Asia, and we will be tested against a non-European team, which we rarely play against, and which will certainly be motivated against the World Cup finalists," said Croatia coach Zlatko Dalić.

"We are thrilled that we will play the last preparatory match before the World Cup against the current World Cup finalists. We want to get the most out of this game in technical and tactical terms. It will be a big test for our players before the first game at the World Cup in Qatar," said the coach of Saudi Arabia, Herve Renard.

The national team will gather on November 14, and after the match against Saudi Arabia on November 18, they will stay at their camp in Doha.

As a reminder, Croatia will open the World Cup in Qatar on November 23 at 11 am at the Al Bayt Stadium against Morocco. The second match will be played on November 27 at 5 pm at the Khalifa International Stadium against Canada. The third is on December 1 at 4 pm at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium against Belgium.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated sports section

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