Tuesday, 15 October 2019

What Does Croatia Need to Qualify for Euro 2020? A Closer Look

October 15, 2019 - After Croatia drew in Cardiff on Sunday, their fate in the European Championships next year won’t be decided until the final qualifier against Slovakia.

The 2018 World Cup finalists knew that they could secure the Euros on Sunday with a win against Wales - but nothing is ever as easy as it seems with this national team. 

Namely, Gol.hr writes that after drawing in Wales, Croatia still sits at the top of Group E with 14 points, while Hungary follows in second with 12 points. The other three national teams in the group have one match less: Slovakia has 10 points, Wales has 8, and in the last place is Azerbaijan, who is already eliminated. The top two teams from each group automatically have a spot in the Euros.

It is easier to calculate Group E if the countries with one game less, i.e., Slovakia and Wales, are hypothetically given three points for wins against Azerbaijan in the qualifiers to be played next month. Thus, the group would stand as follows: Croatia 14, Slovakia 13, Hungary 12, Wales 11.

The group can certainly be shaken up in November when Croatia and Slovakia meet on November 16, which is followed by Wales and Hungary on November 19. However, Croatia maintains the best position as they have a one-point advantage and are playing at home.

Thus, even with a draw against Slovakia, Croatia not only advances to the Euro, but they will certainly sit at the top of the group. Wales would then be four points behind, and Hungary three, though they have a worse ratio.

But, as we said, that is the best-case scenario. 

A defeat in the last round against Slovakia would mean: falling to second place, and the possibility of Hungary throwing Croatia into third place if they defeat Wales away. However, even the worst outcome (falling to third place) could still guarantee a spot at the Euros. Recall, there will be additional qualifications based on Nations League, where Croatia would have to knock out two opponents. We have yet to know who they could be, but chances are the national teams of Switzerland, Iceland, Northern Ireland, and so on.

The simplest solution, of course, would be to win against Slovakia in the final round at home. However, we must keep in mind that no easy task awaits our 'Vatreni', thanks to the absence of Dejan Lovren and Domagoj Vida, who will have to sit this one out due to yellow cards. We can expect Slovakia to attack, because a victory is their only safe road to the Euros. 

HNS is also looking to change the stadium from Rujevica in Rijeka to Maksimir in Zagreb for the final qualifier to ensure our national team can play in front of as many home fans as possible. We await an answer later today. 

Remember, a win, which guarantees a safe spot at the top of the group, also promises a more favorable Euro 2020 draw.

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

Sunday, 13 October 2019

Euro 2020 Qualifiers: Wales and Croatia Draw 1:1 in Cardiff

October 13, 2019 - After winning 3:0 against Hungary in Split on Thursday, Croatia met Wales at Cardiff City Stadium on Sunday for the 8th round of the Group E Euro 2020 qualifiers. 

The Croatia national team and Wales met in front of 31,000 fans in Cardiff for the 8th Euro qualifying round in Group E. After topping Hungary 3:0 at Poljud stadium in Split on Thursday, Croatia was hungry to win in Wales - and ultimately secure enough points to lock in their spot at the Euros next year. 

Dalic came out with a slightly different lineup than what we saw in Split. As Croatian media reported, Dalic called up Hajduk midfielder Filip Bradaric in place of Marcelo Brozovic, who was ruled out of Sunday’s game because of cards. Dalic also opted to start Croatia’s young forces Nikola Vlasic and Josip Brekalo and give Ante Rebic and Ivan Rakitic rest. Thus, Croatia’s starting 11 included Livaković, Barisic, Vida, Lovren, Jedvaj, Modric, Kovacic, Perisic, Vlasic, Brekalo, and Petkovic.

Not unlike the game against Hungary, Croatia got their first goal early. A stellar run by Brekalo from the midfield line carried the ball into the box and to the boot of Petkovic. A quick lay off to Nikola Vlasic found the corner of the net for 1:0 in the 9th minute.

In the 13th minute, Vida was given a yellow card, which forces him to miss Croatia’s next Euro 2020 qualifier against Slovakia. Lovren received a yellow not long after, meaning he'll miss the next game, too.

By the 20th minute, Croatia held over 80% of the ball possession and continued to dominate on the pitch. A free-kick for Wales taken by Gareth Bale shortly after was unsuccessful. 

As the first half progressed, neither team was performing to their potential. Plays were sloppy, there were unnecessary fouls, and few attacks came to fruition. However, Wales picked up the pace and was far more aggressive than Croatia in the end. A sloppy defensive play (and questionable missed foul by the ref) failed to stop Bale in the third minute of injury time, who equalized for 1:1 at the half.

Kovacic was unable to continue the game after an injury in the first half, and Ivan Rakitic took his place. 

Wales almost scored their second goal in the 55th minute, though Livakovic defended with difficulty. Perisic crossed into the box to Jedvaj moments later, but a handball was called on Croatia. 

Bale nutmegged Rakitic in the 60th minute and was almost dangerous in the penalty area, though his trip denied him from getting off a shot - or the penalty he was looking for. 

Two minutes later, Dalic subbed in Ante Rebic for Petkovic. Croatia's next dangerous play came in the 70th minute. Brekalo's cross found the head of Perisic, who connected with Vlasic at the top of the box. Vlasic laid the ball off to Jedvaj, who shot with the outside of his foot and just missed the far corner of the goal. 

Unfortunately,  a collision in the 88th minute saw Modric off the pitch (and almost with the help of a stretcher). Badelj came in the take his place. The referee added 8 minutes of injury time. 

In the final minutes of the match, Croatia pressed but was unable to capitalize on their chances. The game ended 1:1. 

Croatia's next Euro 2020 qualifier is against Slovakia on November 16 at Rujevica stadium in Rijeka. 

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

Sunday, 13 October 2019

Croatia Shirts of Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic, and Dejan Lovren Most Desired

October 13, 2019 - An online charity auction is underway in which you can win a Croatia national team shirt worn in the Euro qualifier against Hungary at Poljud.

HNS announced on Wednesday that the Croatia national football team would be the first in the world to donate all worn jerseys from one competitive match to an online charity auction.

Thus, after the match against Hungary on Thursday, Modric, Rakitic, Perisic, Lovren, Vida, and other members of the 2018 World Cup finalist squad auctioned the match shirts they wore online. All proceeds from the auction will go to the Vatreno Srce Foundation, which was founded by the Croatia national team and coach. 

The starting price of each shirt was 89 euro, with shipping included anywhere in the world, but bids have so far multiplied. As expected, HRT reports that the value of Luka Modric's jersey, which now goes to the bidder from Hungary for 4100 euro, has increased the most. The shirt of Ivan Rakitic reached 2500 euro, while Dejan Lovren takes third place with a shirt worth 1500 euro!

All shirts worn during the Hungary match are available for bidding online at www.matchwornshirt.com. Bids can be submitted from the start of the match, and the auction will end after four days (Monday).

And even better? Each shirt will be marked 'Croatia-Hungary' and will be signed by the national team member who wore it!

All proceeds from the auction go to the Vatreno Srce Foundation, which for many years, has helped Croatia’s children and youth. You might recall that they donated significant funds to the Children's Clinic last year as part of the Korak u život campaign.

You can get in on the action here, support the work of the Vatreno Srce Foundation, and treat yourself or your loved ones to the gift of a lifetime.

Croatia and Hungary met at Poljud stadium in Split on Thursday for their crucial 2020 Euro qualifier, which they won 3:0 in front of 32,000 fas.  It was the first time the national team has played in Split since 2015. 

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

Saturday, 12 October 2019

Croatia Leaves Split for Cardiff, Ryan Giggs Looking for Win against 'One of World's Best'

October 12, 2019 - Croatia national team coach Zlatko Dalic addressed the press after defeating Hungary in Split. On Saturday, Croatia set off to Wales, and Dalic will not settle for less than 3 points. 

“It would be nice to win and that's our goal. We have no right to enter any match calculated. In terms of quality, I cannot tell this team that we are going to play for a point, but rather try to secure a spot in the European Championships and have a peaceful November. In Wales, more challenging conditions await us, as there has been a lot of rain, and we are playing on a Sunday. No wonder players are often injured. I hope we didn't spend too much against Hungary, especially because not everyone played until the end. Still, I expect the players to say if they are not in top condition, Dalic said for HRT and commented on the convincing victory at Poljud.

“We acted well as a team; in arranging the lineup, the experience was taken into account, and everyone gave their best. I do not need to point out anyone. We managed to save ourselves a little bit and I'm thrilled we are continuing this series of good games. I received many congratulations, and in the end, we all have to be happy and proud, it was a great night for Croatian football.”

For Sunday's match in Cardiff, Dalic called on Hajduk midfielder Filip Bradaric instead of Marcelo Brozovic. We still do not know who will replace Brozovic. 

“We will miss Brozovic because of cards. We will miss his stamina and aggressiveness, but we will analyze Wales and find a solution, a replacement,” Dalic added.

Wales coach and Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs commented on the match against Croatia after drawing to Slovakia 1:1 two days ago.

"Croatia is one of the best national teams, has fantastic players, and is a favorite in tomorrow's game," Giggs began on Index.hr.

"However, we are playing in front of our fans, and our chance of a positive result is even greater. We need to be as focused as possible throughout the game, be aggressive on the ball, and defend against their counterattacks. We have a plan for how to counter them and play against them. We will see if this brings us the victory we want,” Giggs emphasized.

Ethan Ampadu and Jonathan Williams are scheduled to start the match, as will striker Kieffer Moore who scored two days ago in Slovakia. Giggs hopes Aaron Ramsey will recover from his injury.

"We did not write him off. Aaron did not play in these qualifications, but every good player is necessary if we want to get to the Euro. We still have time and we will know more on matchday if he can help against Croatia. But we have players who can do a good job,” Giggs said.

Wales and Croatia have played five matches so far, with four Croatia wins and one draw. During the World Cup qualifications on March 26, 2013, Wales led in Cardiff thanks to a Bale goal, then lost 1:2 thanks to a Lovren goal in the 77th and Eduardo da Silva in the 87th minute. In this series of qualifications, Croatia celebrated 2:1 in Osijek with an own goal by Lawrence in the 17th minute and a Perisic goal in the 48th. Brooks scored for Wales in the 77th minute.

Wales have not lost their last nine home games in the Euro qualifications, with seven wins and two draws. They lost to England (0:2) in March 2011 in the fight for the Euros. On the other hand, Croatia has only won twice in the last seven European qualifying appearances played away, with three draws and two losses.

Croatia and Wales will meet in Cardiff on Sunday at 8:45 pm for the 8th round of Group E in the Euro 2020 qualifiers. Croatia is first in Group E with 13 points, which is three more than Slovakia, four more than Hungary, and six more than Wales, who has one game less. Azerbaijan is in the last place with one point.

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

Thursday, 10 October 2019

Euro 2020 Qualifiers: Croatia Tops Hungary 3:0 at Poljud!

October 10, 2019 - Croatia and Hungary met at Poljud stadium in Split on Thursday for the first time since 2015. The stadium was nearly a sellout, and the national team was reunited with 32,110 of their Dalmatian fans.

The 2018 World Cup finalists and Hungary met in the 7th round of Group E in the 2020 Euro qualifications on Thursday in Split. Coach Zlatko Dalić was lucky to have his full squad, except for Andrej Kramarić, who is recovering from an injury. 

Thus, Croatia’s starting eleven included Dominik Livaković in goal, Tin Jedvaj, Dejan Lovren, Domagoj Vida, and Borna Barišić in the defense, Marcelo Brozović, Luka Modrić, Ivan Rakitić, Ante Rebić, and Ivan Perišić across the midfield, and Bruno Petković up top. 

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Slobodan Kadic

Recall, Croatia lost to Hungary 2:1 in their second Euro 2020 qualifier earlier this year. 

The game kicked off at 8:45 pm, and Croatia had their first chance two minutes in when Modrić’s volley went over the goal. Perišić shot at the keeper moments later, though it didn’t take long for them to score, after all. Captain Luka Modrić found himself one-on-one with the keeper to put Croatia in the lead five minutes into the game! 

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Slobodan Kadic

Croatia continued to press in the minutes that followed and maintained possession. Ivan Perišić had another chance in the 16th minute, though a deflection forced a corner for Croatia. A foul on Modrić resulted in a free-kick for Croatia just outside the penalty area, though Jedvaj couldn’t quite get to the ball. 

Hungary had its first corner in the 20th minute, which was followed by another in the 21st. Croatia’s defense cleared it out for yet another corner, though Hungary was unable to capitalize on their chances.

Croatia increased their lead in the 24th minute. Ante Rebić found himself on a counter-attack with Bruno Petković unmarked on the penalty spot. A Bruno back heel around the keeper made it 2:0 for Croatia. 

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Slobodan Kadic

Croatia had another dangerous attack in the 39th minute. Rebić once again carried the ball up the left-wing, with no Hungarian defender in sight. Rebić crossed into the box, though Petković was unable to get another goal. Though his second goal came just moments later - and Croatia was leading 3:0 at the half. 

Hungary came out hungry at the start of the second half and tried to push an attacking game, though the defense remained solid. Croatia was given a penalty in the 53rd minute, though Ivan Perišic shot at the keeper, which gave Croatia a corner in the end. Amidst the chaos, Hungary's Kleinheisler was given his second yellow card, and Croatia was up a player for the rest of the game. 

In the 59th minute, Dalić used his first substitution - young Brekalo went in for Perišić in the 60th minute. Luka Modrić was subbed out in the 66th minute for Mateo Kovačić. In the 67th minute, Hungary had a shot on goal, though it was an easy save for Dominik Livaković. 

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Slobodan Kadic

In the 73rd minute, Nikola Vlašić came on for Ivan Rakitić. 

With 10 minutes to go, Croatia continued their attacking game, and a goal by Vlašić was correctly called offside. Ante Rebić hit a rocket from the right in the 85th minute, which just missed the far post. Croatia was getting chances, though they couldn't get their fourth goal. 

After three minutes of injury time, the game ended 3:0 for Croatia, and the atmosphere at Poljud could not be matched.  

With this win, Croatia remains at the top of Group E. Their next match is against Wales in Cardiff on Sunday, October 13. 

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

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Ivan Rakitic in Split: My Heart Beats for Croatia

October 8, 2019 - Croatia and Hungary will meet at Poljud on Thursday at 8:45 pm in a crucial qualifier for the European Championship next summer. Ivan Rakitic spoke to the media on Tuesday from the Le Meridien Lav Hotel in Split. 

Headlines in Croatian media this week will focus heavily on a critical meeting of our 2018 World Cup finalists - Croatia will meet Hungary on Thursday in Split. And while Croatia's fate in the 2020 Euro competition lay heavily on the result itself, the match also carries more significance - it is the first time the Croatia national team has played in Split since 2015. 

Ivan Rakitic re-joined the team after he was absent from the lineup for Croatia's qualifiers in September, naming his alarming situation at Barcelona at the time as the reason. On Tuesday, he faced the Croatian media at the Le Meridien Lav Hotel in Split, the home of the Croatia national team for the week. 

"I am very happy to play in Split. My best friends are here. I am happy to be with the team and staff again. The stadium sold out in a day; we await a full stadium of our fans."

Why did Rakitic opt out of the national team in September?

For me, the national team is always first, but the situation in my club wasn't right. I needed to come to the national team with a clear head to give my all, and at that time, I wasn't at my best. I thank everyone for understanding. Luka gave me his support. It was a tough decision for me." 

How was it to watch Croatia play so well against Slovakia?

"I was so happy to see how well we played. We were fantastic. The coach said it was the best game under his leadership. I think we can be even better.” 

Rakitic touched on the two big games ahead against Hungary and Wales. 

"We know the games ahead will be difficult. We lost to Hungary away. But I can't wait for the atmosphere, the fans, the full stadium. If we get 6 points, that is the best-case scenario. But we have to go step by step. First is Hungary."

What does Rakitic think about bringing the national team back to Split? 

"We will give our all. We know that Dalmatia wants the national team here. And we as a national team want to play everywhere.

We know that the people wanted the national team in Split. We could see that with how quickly the stadium sold out. Something extraordinary awaits us on Thursday. We are the World Cup finalists. We are going together for the win." 

What does Rakitic have to say about the media speculation that he didn't want to play for the national team?

"Everyone has their opinion and their right, but no one has a bigger love of playing for Croatia than me. Switzerland gave me everything, but my heart beats for Croatia. I’ve been with the team 12, 13 years. I felt that way yesterday, today, and will feel that way forever. Croatia is number one.”

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

 

Monday, 30 September 2019

HNS Announces Extensive Security Measures for Croatia Match at Poljud: The Details

September 30, 2019 - HNS announces the security measures for fans ahead of Croatia's Euro 2020 qualifier at Poljud.

Before and during the 2020 European qualifier between the national teams of Croatia and Hungary, which will be played on 10 October at 8:45 pm at Poljud stadium in Split, a special security procedure and traffic regulations will be in place at the entrances to the stadium.

Stadium Opening 

Poljud stadium will be open to fans from 6:45 pm. Due to the extensive security measures that will be taken to prevent bringing in prohibited articles into the stadium area, fans are invited to come to the stadium as early as possible. 

Tickets

On the day of the match, there will be no sale or exchanging of tickets for the match between Croatia and Hungary. HNS reminds that the tickets are personalized and as a prerequisite for entering the stadium, a valid identity document (ID or passport) must be presented with the ticket.

Pursuant to the Conditions of Ticket Purchases, persons who do not match the personal data on the ticket during surveillance will be prohibited from entering the stadium and their ticket will be void without the right to a refund. As they are in violation of the law, please note that they can be detained and handed over to the police for competent misdemeanor proceedings.

Each person must have a ticket and use the seat marked on the ticket when entering the stadium until the end of the match. All persons without a valid ticket, as well as persons found in the sector/part of the stadium for which they do not have a valid ticket, will be removed and handed over to the police for competent misdemeanor proceedings.

Traffic info on match day

On match day, in the narrow area of Poljud Stadium at Ulica Mediteranskih igara 8, a temporary traffic regulation will be put in place, which will prohibit the movement of motor vehicles, except licensed vehicles, tenants and users of business premises.

Fans are invited to come to the immediate area of the stadium on foot or by public transport. Parking will be prohibited in the narrow area of Poljud stadium due to the limited number of parking spaces except for accredited vehicles.

Fair and correct behavior of fans

“We ask supporters to comply with the provisions of the Law on the Prevention of Disorder in Sports Competitions and the Law on Public Order and Peace, in particular regarding inappropriate chanting, alcohol consumption and the use of pyrotechnics.

Umbrellas, larger bags or backpacks, bottles, lighters, coins and other items suitable for injury or that can cause a fire will no be allowed into the stadium. Fags or banners larger than 2.00 m x 1.00 m or with inappropriate content will also be disallowed. Flags or banners will not be allowed on the fences or other areas of Poljud stadium to obscure the view from or to the stands.

We invite all fans, visitors, and citizens to be fair, correct, and show good sportsmanship without racist and discriminatory chanting before, during, and after the match.

At the same time, we take the opportunity to inform you that, following the Police Affairs and Powers Act, police will operate video and photo recordings of the narrower area and the stadium itself.

The use of pyrotechnics is not allowed and those who use them will be prosecuted per the Law on the Prevention of Disorder in Sporting Competitions, all aiming to ensure this event is a suitable sporting event,” concludes HNS. 

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

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Poljud Sells Out in Day and a Half for Croatia's Euro Qualifier Against Hungary

September 25, 2019 - The Croatia national team will return to Split next month for the first time since 2015 - and based on the number of tickets sold in just over 24 hours, it's not hard to see just how eager Croatian football fans are to see the 2018 World Cup finalists in action at Poljud stadium. 

Croatia and Hungary will play one of the decisive matches for the 2020 European Championships on 10 October at Poljud stadium in Split, which will be played in front fo 34,000 fans.

Namely, more than 30,000 tickets were sold on Tuesday after they went on sale at noon, while the remaining 3,977 tickets were snagged by Wednesday afternoon. Index.hr reports that the famous Split stadium is now officially sold out. 

The first sections to sell out at Poljud were the East and West, and on the second day of ticket sales, the only section with tickets available was the North. 

The last time Croatia played a match at a Poljud stadium in front of fans was in a friendly against Switzerland in 2012.

After four and a half years and the infamous swastika incident against Italy, the Croatia national team finally returns to Poljud. Split will host Croatia and Hungary in one of the key European Championship qualifying matches of Group E.

Tickets were initially available for a lower presale price until October 6, costing 250 kuna for the West, 200 for the East, and 125 for the North. 

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

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Ticket Sales Begin for Croatia's Euro Qualifier Against Hungary at Poljud

September 24, 2019 - Croatia and Hungary will meet for their next Euro 2020 qualifier at Poljud stadium in Split.

24 Sata reports that ticket sales for Croatia's long-awaited match against Hungary at Poljud begin on Tuesday at the Spaladium Arena and online, and interest is high. Recall, the Croatia national team hasn’t played in Split since 2015. 

A few hours before tickets went on sale for the crucial Euro 2020 qualifier between the national teams of Croatia and Hungary on October 10,a line in front of the box office at Spaladium Arena was formed, which was monitored by police.

After four and a half years, the Croatia national team returns to Split after lengthy negotiations between the City of Split, Hajduk and the Croatian Football Federation (HNS). Hajduk tacitly approved the arrival of the national team, but withdrew from partaking in the organization of the match.

Ticket presales begin on Tuesday at 12 pm at the Spaladium Arena box office (weekdays 12 pm to 6 pm) and online. The presale runs until October 6.

Tickets for the north stands cost 100 kuna, while it is 150 kuna to sit in the east and 200 kuna for the west. After the presale ends, prices go up to 125, 200 and 250 kuna. Tickets for the game against Wales in Cardiff are also on sale for 260 kuna each.

The national team schedule for their week in Split is also known. Namely, the national team will gather on Monday, October 7, at the Le Meridien Lav Hotel. The team will hold their training before the match in Omis. The only activity at Poljud will be a training and press conference the day before the match.

The day after the game, the national team will hold their usual stretch at the hotel gym, and takeoff for Cardiff on a charter flight on Saturday, the day before the match against Wales.

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

Monday, 23 September 2019

Zlatko Dalic Announces Lineup for October Qualifiers, Rakitic Returns

September 23, 2019 - Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic has announced the list of players for the October qualifying matches against Hungary and Wales.

HNS reports that the 2018 World Cup finalists will gather on Monday, October 7 in Split to begin preparations for the games against Hungary and Wales as part of their qualifiers for the 2020 European Championship.

The meeting against Hungary is scheduled for Thursday, October 10 at Poljud stadium, after which the team will travel to Cardiff on Saturday for the game against Wales on Sunday, October 13.

Recall, Hungary defeated Croatia 2:1 in Budapest, while Croatia beat Wales in Osijek with the same result. Dalic’s squad welcomes the October qualifiers as the first-placed team in Group E, with one point ahead of Slovakia and Hungary and four ahead of Wales.

Zlatko Dalic opted for the following players in this national team action:

Goalkeepers: Dominik Livaković (Dinamo), Lovre Kalinić (Aston Villa), Simon Sluga (Luton Town)

Defenders: Domagoj Vida (Bešiktaš), Dejan Lovren (Liverpool), Tin Jedvaj (Augsburg), Borna Barišić (Rangers), Matej Mitrović (Club Brugge), Dario Melnjak (Rizespor), Mile Škorić (Osijek), Karlo Bartolec (Kobenhavn)

Midfielders: Luka Modrić (Real Madrid), Ivan Rakitić (Barcelona), Mateo Kovačić (Chelsea), Milan Badelj (Fiorentina), Marcelo Brozović (Inter), Mario Pašalić (Atalanta), Nikola Vlašić (CSKA Moskva)

Attackers: Ivan Perišić (Bayern), Ante Rebić (Milan), Bruno Petković (Dinamo), Josip Brekalo (Wolfsburg), Mislav Oršić (Dinamo)

Call-ups: Marko Rog (Cagliari), Dino Perić (Dinamo), Filip Bradarić (Hajduk), Mijo Caktaš (Hajduk)

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

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