Monday, 19 October 2020

15 Croatian Footballers Competing in Champions League, from Biggest Stars to Promising Talents

October 19, 2020 - This season, fifteen Croatian footballers will play in the Champions League. A look at the Croatian representatives, from the biggest stars to the promising young talents.

Less than two months after Bayern beat PSG 1:0 in the Champions League final in Lisbon and won their sixth European title, a new edition of the elite European club football competition begins this week.

However, this year, it is held without a Croatian representative because Dinamo failed to qualify, losing to Ferencvaros, who then skipped Molde and won its first appearance in the Champions League in 25 years.

The formula is still the same - 32 clubs are divided into eight groups of four teams. The first two clubs from each group will make it to the round of 16, third-place will move to the Europa League, while the last place team ends their European story.

Placing in the group stage gave clubs 15.2 million euro, a victory in the group stage is worth 2.7 million, and a draw is 900,000 euro. Placing in the round of 16 brings another 9.5 million euro, and the prizes go up to 19 million euro, which is what the European champion title awards.

However, this season, at least the first part of the competition, will be played under the great shadow due to the coronavirus. Because of the pandemic, the competition was suspended last season, and after it resumed, a final tournament was held with the top eight teams in Lisbon.

The coronavirus continues to threaten the competition. The matches will be played under strict epidemiological rules. Still, as the cases heat up again, there is a huge fear about if the competition will be played regularly and to the end.

"In an outstanding season, the European football community has shown the strength of unity off the pitch. Players and clubs have come together to help their local communities cope with national restrictions. Leagues, national associations, and governments have worked with UEFA to organize competitions in four different countries, which was an unprecedented feat for any sports organization in the world," UEFA President Alexander Ceferin said recently.

“Together, we have learned an important lesson for the future of our beautiful game, if we all work together, if we are willing to make sacrifices and solidarity, football can overcome any opponent,” he added.

Bayern will defend the title, and the circle of candidates traditionally includes Liverpool, Manchester City, PSG, Juventus, Barcelona, and Real Madrid. Last season, Lyon and RB Leipzig surprised by reaching the semifinals, as did Atalanta, who only lost in the quarterfinals at the very end against PSG, a finalist.

This year, Croatia will not have a representative in the Champions League. Still, the colors of Croatia will be represented by 15 players, two assistant coaches (Igor Tudor and Ognjen Vukojević), and one sports director (Darijo Srna).

The list is led by the former best football player in the world and the winner of four Champions League titles in the Real Madrid jersey, Luka Modrić. This season, we will also watch Ivan Rakitic (Sevilla), Dejan Lovren (Zenit), Mate Kovacic (Chelsea), Ivan Perisic (Inter), Marcelo Brozovic (Inter), Vedran Corluka (Lokomotiv), Sime Vrsaljko (Atletico Madrid) ), Ivo Grbić (Atletico Madrid), Mario Pašalić (Atalanta), Duja Ćaleta-Cara (Marseille), Dominik Kotarski (Ajax), Roko Baturina (Ferencvaros), Luka Sučić (RB Salzburg) and Matej Mitrović (Club Brugge).

Spain, England, Italy, and Germany have the most clubs, four each, and, interestingly, Russia has three clubs.

The first round starts on October 20 and 21, and the final sixth round will be played on December 8 and 9. This season's final is in Istanbul at Ataturk Stadium.


GROUP A: Bayern Munich (Germany), Atletico Madrid (Spain), RB Salzburg (Austria), Lokomotiv Moscow (Russia)
GROUP B: Real Madrid (Spain), Shakhtar (Ukraine), Inter (Italy), Borussia Moenchengladbach (Germany)
GROUP C: Porto (Portugal), Manchester City (England), Olympiakos (Greece), Marseille (France)
GROUP D: Liverpool (England), Ajax (Netherland), Atalanta (Italy), Midtjylland (Denmark)
GROUP E: Sevilla (Spain), Chelsea (England), Krasnodar (Russia), Rennes (France)
GROUP F: Zenit (Russia), Borussia Dortmund (Germany), Lazio (Italy), Club Brugge (Belarus)
GROUP G: Juventus (Italy), Barcelona (Spain), Dynamo Kyiv (Ukraine), Ferencvaros (Hungary)
GROUP H: PSG (France), Manchester United (England), RB Leipzig (Germany), Istanbul Basaksehir (Turkey)


Group E: Chelsea - Sevilla, Rennes - Krasnodar (21:00)
Group F: Zenit - Club Brugge (18:55), Lazio - Dortmund (21:00)
Group G: Dynamo Kyiv - Juventus (18:55), Barcelona - Ferencvaros (21:00)
Group H: PSG - Manchester United, Leipzig - Istanbul Başaksehir (21:00)


Group A: Salzburg - Lokomotiv Moscow (18:55), Bayern - Atletico Madrid
Group B: Real Madrid - Shakhtar Donetsk (18:55), Inter - Borussia Monchengladbach
Group C: Manchester City - Porto, Olympiacos - Marseille
Group D: Ajax - Liverpool, Midtjylland - Atalanta


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


Thursday, 26 March 2020

HNS Publishes Daily Training Videos for Young Croatian Footballers at Home

March 26, 2020 - The Croatian Football Federation (HNS) will publish daily videos featuring individual training sessions intended for young Croatian footballers to perform in their own home, yard or garage.

Due to the global coronavirus pandemic, more than 100,000 young footballers in Croatia have been left with no opportunity to train and enjoy football.

Therefore, the Croatian Football Federation has organized a ‘train at home’ project during which they will publish daily videos with individual training that young footballers can perform at home, without additional equipment and supplies.

The project was created by HNS Chief Instructor Petar Krpan and HNS conditioning instructor Ivan Krakan, in collaboration with a working group of representatives of the 1st HNL Youth Clubs. The working group was established in December during the HNS winter camp, consisting of representatives from Osijek (Miroslav Žitnjak), Rijeka (Edo Flego), Lokomotiva (Jurica Čabraja), Hajduk (Andro Fistonić), Dinamo (Anđelko Ivanjko) and Slaven Belupa ( Vedran Medenjak).

The goal of the project is to encourage young footballers, but also all other athletes, to use their time for physical activity and refining their skills during this crisis. The training will be available daily on HNS's YouTube channel, as well as on HNS's Instagram and Facebook pages.

"We know players in professional club schools will receive quality instruction during this 'forced break', but HNS's mission is to care for more than 100,000 young football players across the country. Fortunately, we live in a time where technology can reach everyone individually at home.

We believe this is an ideal way to provide young Croatian footballers with instruction from top coaches and fitness professionals and encourage them to work for themselves in these challenging times. We are sure that conducting this training will make it easier to stay at home for boys and girls who are certainly having a difficult time being away from training, the ball, and teammates. That being said - to a healthy body, and healthy spirit! Work out at home!", said HNS Chief Instructor Petar Krpan.

HNS emphasized that all training is intended exclusively for independent work in one's own home.

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

Friday, 1 February 2019

Winter Transfer Window 2019: Which Croatian Footballers Left Clubs?

For Croatian footballers, the winter transfer period promised significant things. Domagoj Vida was meant to go to an ‘Italian Giant’, Ivan Perišić was to live his dream in the Premier League, and the story of Nikola Kalinić was as up and down as ever. In the end, however, only a few Croatian footballers managed to secure deals that have them switching clubs in the middle of the season. 

After all the talk and media speculation, here is what really happened in this winter transfer window, as reported by T.portal on February 1, 2019. 

Ivan Perišić

Perhaps the biggest disappointment is felt by Ivan Perišić, who failed to achieve his dream to play in the English Premier League after his transfer to Arsenal (if there was a contract on the table at all) fell through. Perišić has hit the bottom of the barrel for Inter Milan fans, who whistled at Perišić in the last game against Lazio. 

Because Perišić was not shy about showing his desire to leave the Serie A club, restoring confidence in the fans won’t be easy - and he is currently in disagreement with coach Luciano Spalletti, who even benched him against Lazio. 

Domagoj Vida

Croatian defender Domagoj Vida was very close to a transfer from Turkish club Beşiktaş to Roma, though no agreement was made. The 29-year-old defender showed no remorse, and instead took to his Instagram to show his love to the Turkish club.

I am privileged to be coveted by several well-respected European clubs, but I am also very grateful and thankful to the president @forman1903 and club management for seeing me as an important part of @besiktas. Together with my family, I feel very welcomed and respected here in Turkey and I am looking forward to fighting for Black Eagles and our fans.”

Nikola Kalinić

Nikola Kalinić’s departure from Atletico Madrid after only half a year was also expected, as Alvaro Morata left Chelsea to join the club. Atletico coach Diego Simeone decided to keep Kalinić in the end, although the forward saw the interest of Valencia, Schalke, and Tottenham. The question, however, is just how good staying at Atletico is for Kalinić, as he could see far less playing time in the spring season. 

Šime Vrsaljko

There were even talks about Croatian defender Šime Vrsaljako returning to Atletico Madrid from Inter Milan, though he awaits an upcoming knee operation and should see a long recovery in 2019.

Marko Rog

There are some happy endings to the winter transfer window, and Marko Rog is one of them. The 23-year-old has agreed to leave Napoli and head to Sevilla on loan until the end of the season. While the first news from the transfer reported that Sevilla would have the option to buy the Croatian for some 20 million euros once the loan is complete, we’ve learned that Rog will return to his carer in Naples in June. The good news is that Rog should see more playing time at Sevilla than  Napoli, which should also help his chances of falling in favor with Croatia coach Zlatko Dalić, too. 

Alen Halilović

Alen Halilović managed to secure a deal in the final minutes of the transfer window, which will see him go on loan from Milan to Belgian club Standard Liège. It is undoubtedly a good move for the 22-year-old who has long been without continuous performances in competitive games. 

Franko Andrijašević

Former top player of the Croatian First League, Franko Andrijašević, has also managed a successful move from Gent to Waasland-Beveren, where he will play on loan. 

Lovre Kalinić

Former Hajduk goalkeeper and current first keeper of the Croatia national team Lovre Kalinić has left Gent to continue his career at Aston Villa, who play in the second tier of the English football league system - the Championship. 

Croatian First League transfers

Perhaps the most powerful signing in Croatia was by young Hajduk midfielder Ante Palaversa who agreed with Manchester City for just over six million euro, while Dinamo’s Mario Budimir has gone to Persepolis. 

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

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