Thursday, 27 August 2020

Champions League Qualifiers: Dinamo Moves Forward after Dramatic Penalty Shootout

August 27, 2020 -  Dinamo is in the third qualifying round of the Champions League. The Zagreb club celebrated in Romania against Cluj on Wednesday after a penalty shootout.

After 120 minutes, the match ended 2:2, and all Dinamo players scored penalties except Amer Gojak, while the home team missed two.

Goals for the Croatian champions, who played 70 minutes with a player down thanks to Theophile's red card, were scored by Gojak and Lirim Kastrati. Dinamo led twice, but the home team managed to come back both times. It was especially painful for Dinamo when Debeljuh scored in the 92nd minute for extra time.

During the penalty shootout, Dinamo won 6:5. Interestingly, this is only the second time that penalties have decided Dinamo's fate in the Champions League. The first time the Zagreb club was eliminated by Sheriff in the 2010 Champions League.

Match recap

Cluj entered the match better, but Dinamo soon found their rhythm and in the 14th minute, the "Blues" took the lead. After a short tussle with the defender, Ivanusec shot, Balgradean defended, but Gojak rebounded to find the back of the net.

Cluj had their first big chance in the 20th minute, but Deac shot high. Five minutes later, the host threatened again, this time in front of Dinamo's goal. In the 36th minute, Cluj had another chance. Deac shot from a free-kick, the ball bounced off the wall to Chipciu who shot brilliantly into the near corner, but Livakovic was ready.

In the very end of the first half, Dinamo had two great opportunities, but failed to succeed - Orsic and Dilaver both hit the crossbar.

Unfortunately, the second half brought big problems for Dinamo. The crucial moment happened in the 51st minute when Theophile-Catherine earned a red card. The French stopper committed a foul on Debeljuh by pulling him from behind, which the Portuguese referee rewarded with a penalty kick and exclusion.

Deac took the penalty, but Livakovic defended brilliantly. Unfortunately, the home team equalized in the 64th minute, anyhow. Pereira shot from 25 meters, and Livakovic reacted badly by receiving a goal for 1-1.

In the 78th minute, Dinamo took a new lead. Kastrati scored for the 2-1 lead.

In the remaining minutes, Cluj rushed for an equalizer and extra time, and when it already seemed that Dinamo would celebrate, the host equalized in the second minute of the referee's added time. The goal was scored by 23-year-old Croatian striker Gabriel Debeljuh.

Petkovic lost the ball in the middle of the pitch, after which Cluj sprinted for the counter. The ball came on the wing to Rondon who sent a great ball into the penalty area where Debeljuh scored for 2-2 and extra time.

In extra time, Dinamo coped very well with the player less and managed to bring the match to penalties.

Two Croatian football players played for Cluj - Gabrijel Debeljuh and Damjan Đoković. Both the whole game.

Dinamo will be the leader in the third qualifying round as well, and they will certainly not play against Young Boys, Red Star, Qarabag and Maccabi. Potential rivals for the Croatian champion are Molde, Midtjylland, Ferencvaros, Omonia and Dinamo from Brest.

The draw for the third qualifying round is on August 31, and one game will be played on September 15 or 16. The playoffs will be played in two games on September 22/23 and September 29/30.

Lokomotiva failed to advance for the 3rd qualifying round of the Champions League after losing to Vienna's Rapid 0-1 in the 2nd qualifying round at Kranjčevićeva Street Stadium. The only goal of the match was scored by Ercen Kara in the 32nd minute.

For the latest travel info, bookmark our main travel info article, which is updated daily

Read the Croatian Travel Update in your language - now available in 24 languages

Join the Total Croatia Travel INFO Viber community.


Monday, 24 August 2020

HNL Round 2 Recap: Hajduk Better than Osijek, Lokomotiva Tops Rijeka

August 24, 2020 - The 2nd round of the Croatian First League was held from August 21 to 23, 2020. This round saw big wins for Lokomotiva, Dinamo and Hajduk.

Lokomotiva v. Rijeka (1:0)

Lokomotiva and Rijeka opened the 2nd round on Friday, August 21, 2020, in Zagreb. 

The first half went without goals, and it wasn't until the 53rd minute that Halilovic scored the only goal of the game for the Lokomotiva win. 

Lokomotiva is currently in 6th place with 3 points, while Rijeka is in 4th with 3 points. 

Istra 1961 v. Dinamo (0:1)

Istra and Dinamo met at Aldo Drosini Stadium in Pula on Friday, August 21, 2020. 

After another scoreless first half, a double yellow for Kastrati saw Dinamo play with a man down from the 57th minute. Nevertheless, a Dinamo penalty was scored by Bruno Petkovic in the 87th minute for the 0:1 win.

Istra is currently in the last place with 0 points, while Dinamo is in first place with 6 points. 

Slaven Belupo v. Gorica (1:2)

Belupo and Gorica met in Koprivnica on Saturday, August 22, 2020. 

While Belupo was the first to score with a goal by Glavcic seconds before halftime, two late goals by Mudrinski in the 86th and 93rd minutes gave Gorica the win. 

Belupo is currently in 8th place with 1 point, while Gorica is in 2nd with 6 points. 

Sibenik v. Varazdin (0:1)

Sibenik and Varazdin met on Saturday, August 22, 2020, at Subicevac Stadium in Sibenik. 

After Sibenik's Spanja received a red card in the 85th minute, Varazdin scored a late game-winner thanks to Benko in the 89th minute. The game ended 0:1.

Sibenik is currently in 9th place with 0 points, while Varazdin is in 5th place with 3. 

Osijek v. Hajduk (1:2)

Osijek and Hajduk closed out the 2nd round on Sunday, August 23, 2020, at City Garden Stadium. 

Hajduk was the first to score thanks to a header by Jairo in the 34th minute. A Caktas penalty two minutes later put Hajduk up 0:2 in the 36th minute. Jugovic scored for Osijek in the 43rd minute for 1:2, which was the final score of the game. 

Osijek is currently in 7th place with 1 point, while Hajduk is in 3rd with 6 points. 

All games were played without the presence of spectators. You can see the full HNL table here

For the latest travel info, bookmark our main travel info article, which is updated daily

Read the Croatian Travel Update in your language - now available in 24 languages

Join the Total Croatia Travel INFO Viber community.


Friday, 21 August 2020

Ivo Grbic to Atletico Fans: "I am from Split, Biggest Club in Croatia with Best Fans"

August 21, 2020 - After the transfer of his life, Croatian goalkeeper Ivo Grbic introduced himself to Atletico Madrid fans.

Croatian goalkeeper Ivo Grbic introduced himself to the fans of Atletico Madrid, where he signed a goalkeeping contract on Thursday. Grbic has signed a four-year contract and will be the reserve goalkeeper for Slovenian first-keeper Jan Oblak.

"I am very happy. I am grateful to all the people at the club who welcomed me. Thank you to the fans for the welcome. My dream has come true. I have come to Madrid and I will play for one of the biggest clubs in the world," said the new Atletico Madrid goalkeeper.

"Atletico is one of the biggest clubs in the world. I watched all their games this season. I like coach Simeone and the character of the team. In all games, all the players give 100 percent of themselves, have a great coach and top fans. My favorite players in Atletico's history are Forlan and Fernando Torres, and today Jan Oblak," Grbic said and continued how much he loves and appreciates the Slovenian keeper.

"All my dreams have come true. I will do every training and learn from one of the best goalkeepers in the world. For me, he is the best. Oblak is from Slovenia near Croatia and I will learn from him every day."

Grbic is a child of Hajduk. He grew up at Poljud and left the club two years ago for Lokomotiva, which brought him for free. Today, he made the biggest transfer in the history of the Kajzerica club.

"I'm from Split, a city that has the biggest club in Croatia, which also has the mentality of always giving 100 percent on the pitch. It has the best fans in Croatia. I know everything about Atletico. Vrsaljko told me everything I need to know; he told me that we have the best coach in the world and I am really happy to play for this club. Aupa Atleti," said Grbic.

For the latest travel info, bookmark our main travel info article, which is updated daily

Read the Croatian Travel Update in your language - now available in 24 languages

Join the Total Croatia Travel INFO Viber community.



Thursday, 20 August 2020

Ivo Grbic Signs for Atletico Madrid in Record Croatian Goalkeeper Transfer

August 20, 2020 - The 24-year-old Lokomotiva goalkeeper Ivo Grbic has officially signed for Atletico Madrid! reports that Ivo Grbic has signed the contract of his life. The child of Hajduk is going to famous Spanish club Atletico Madrid, though not from Poljud - but Kajzerica.

Lokomotiva is responsible for the colossal transfer, selling Grbic to Atletico for six million euro. The Zagreb club brought him from Hajduk for free.

As the Spanish portal Goal has learned, Grbic, accompanied by his manager, went by plane to Madrid on Wednesday, where he will undergo medical examinations and sign a historic contract for Croatian football.

The most expensive transfer of a Croatian goalkeeper was six million euro when Ghent sold Lovre Kalinic to Aston Villa, and even before that transfer, Kalinic also held the record for the most expensive Croatian goalkeeper. Hajduk sold him to Ghent for 3.7 million euro.

Thus, Lokomotiva breaks Hajduk's club record, and soon Kalinic's six million will become the second-largest goalkeeper transfer in Croatian history.

Namely, some sources say that Grbic's transfer could increase up to eight million euro thanks to bonuses, but these are still just speculations and there is no official confirmation of the news.

Goal revealed that Slaven Bilic almost agreed on Grbic's transfer to WBA, but at the last minute, Atletico offered the most and sealed the deal on the promising 24-year-old goalkeeper. The Spaniards write that Bilic put an offer on Grbic's table, and the young goalkeeper was in favor of going to England, but Atletico swooped in and ruined the plans of the former Croatia coach. 

Atletico is sending Alex Dos Santos, a goalkeeper from their football school, to Lokomotiva, and Lokomotiva will also receive 15% of Grbic's sales to another club in the future, Spanish media reports. 

For the latest travel info, bookmark our main travel info article, which is updated daily

Read the Croatian Travel Update in your language - now available in 24 languages

Join the Total Croatia Travel INFO Viber community.

Monday, 17 August 2020

HNL Round 1 Recap: Dinamo Crush Lokomotiva, Hajduk Better than Istra at Poljud

August 17, 2020 - The Croatian First League first round of the 2020/21 season was held from August 14 to 16, 2020. The opening round saw Dinamo embarrass 2019/20 season runners-up Lokomotiva, while Hajduk started with a win at home. Due to epidemiological reasons, all games were played without spectators. 

Varazdin v. Gorica (1:5)

Varazdin and Gorica opened the 1st round on Friday, August 14, 2020, in  Varazdin. 

Spikic scored the first goal for Gorica in the 39th minute for 0:1 at the half. Djurasek equalized in the 63rd for 1:1. A Mudrinski goal in the 81st put Gorica back in the lead, which was followed by three goals from the 90th minute by Doka, Canadjija, and Mudrinski for a final score of 1:5. 

Varazdin is currently in 9th place with 0 points, while Gorica is in 2nd with 3. 

Rijeka v. Sibenik (2:1)

Rijeka and Sibenik met on Saturday, August 15, 2020,  at Rujevica stadium. 

It was Sibenik to take the lead in the 9th minute thanks to a goal by Bulat - and Rijeka's Yakete didn't equalize until the 84th minute! A 90th-minute goal by Muric ultimately gave Rijeka the win. 

Rijeka is currently in 4th place with 3 points, while Sibenik is in 7th with 0. 

Osijek v. Slaven Belupo (0:0)

Osijek and Belupo met on Saturday, August 15, 2020, at City Garden Stadium.

A double yellow for Skoric has Osijek playing with 10 men from the 30th minute. Neither team was able to score. 

Osijek is currently in 5th place with one point, while Belupo is in 6th with one point. 

Hajduk v. Istra 1961 (2:0)

Hajduk and Istra met at Poljud on Sunday, August 16, 2020. 

While the first half went without goals, it was Dimitrov to put Hajduk in the lead for 1:0 in the 72nd minute. Gyursco increased Hajduk's lead to 2:0 with a goal in the 83rd minute, which was the final result. 

Hajduk is currently in 3rd place with 3 points, while Istra is in 8th with 0. 

Dinamo v. Lokomotiva (6:0)

Dinamo and Lokomotiva closed out the first round on Sunday, August 16, 2020, at Maksimir stadium. 

Two quick goals by Majer in the 6th and 27th minute put Dinamo in the 2:0 lead at the half. Gavranovic increased Dinamo's lead to 3:0 in the 50th minute, while goals by Orsic and Ivanusec in the 78th and 79th minutes made it 5:0. Andric scored the final goal of the match ten minutes later for the 6:0 result. 

Dinamo is currently in first place with 3 points, while Lokomotiva is in last with 0. 

You can see the full HNL table here

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


Monday, 10 August 2020

Dinamo Zagreb and Lokomotiva Learn Opponents for Champions League Playoffs

August 10, 2020 - A draw was held for the second qualifying round of the Champions League. Among the names were Croatian clubs Dinamo Zagreb and Lokomotiva. reports that the Croatian champion was the top seed in the draw for the champions and drew the winner of Romanian club Cluj or Maltese club Floriana. Lokomotiva, which participated in the draw of teams that did not win national championships, drew Vienna Rapid, the easiest possible rival in the competition of Plzen and Besiktas.

Dinamo was unlucky in the home draw, too, and will play away on August 25 or 26, because only one game is being played at this stage of the competition. Lokomotiva will host its rival.

The new season starts in Romania on August 22. Cluj won the title for the third year in a row last season, this time with a five-point advantage after losing just one game in the Champions League play-offs. The team's top scorer is 34-year-old Ciprian Deac, who scored 18 goals in 42 games.

This season, as the second-placed team, Cluj passed the Europa League group, which included Lazio, Celtic and Rennes, and was eliminated by Seville in the knockout phase thanks to an away goal.

On the eve of the draw, Lokomotiva had two wishes - to draw Rapid and be the host. Both wishes came true for the Croatian runner-up, so at the end of the month in Kranjceviceva, they will be chasing a spot in the third qualifying round of the Champions League. By eliminating Rapid, Lokomotiva would secure at least the group stage of the Europa League.

The night before the draw, Dinamo found out about its potential rivals - Romanian Cluj, Maltese Floriana, Hungarian Ferencvaros, Swedish Djurgarden, Slovak Slovan or the representative of the Faroe Islands KI. Cluj, Ferencvaros and Slovan were at the top or in the top half of the clubs, meaning that the Zagreb club could not get tougher rivals.

In the third qualifying round, one game will be played. Dinamo would be the leader in that phase, as well as in the play-off, which is played in two games. Clubs that are eliminated in the Champions League qualifiers continue to compete in the Europa League.

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



Monday, 10 August 2020

Lokomotiva Player Tests Positive for Coronavirus

August 10, 2020 - A Lokomotiva footballer has tested positive for coronavirus, whose name has not been released. The club issued a statement on Sunday evening. 

"A Lokomotiva player who returned to Zagreb with a fever after a five-day break was tested for COVID-19 and the result was positive. According to the Personal Data Protection Act (GDPR), we are unable to disclose the identity of an infected person. The competent epidemiological service was immediately notified, which imposed a measure of strict self-isolation on the player, all following the recommendations of the Croatian Civil Protection Headquarters and the HNS working group," Lokomotiva said.

This is the first case of coronavirus infection in the HNL, reports

"Even though the player was not in contact with the players of the first team after returning from vacation, intensified supervision will be carried out in the next period, and they will react promptly based on the epidemiological situation. In the coming period, the first team will train in strict conditions, without the use of locker rooms, with regular temperature measurements in accordance with the protocols of UEFA and HNS. The players and the professional staff will be tested for COVID-19 during the week, and on two more occasions before the match of the 2nd qualifying round for the Champions League, in accordance with UEFA protocol.

The rest of the team, according to the instructions of the epidemiological service, does not have to go into self-isolation, but all activities in the club will be held under stricter protection measures. The competent epidemiologist estimated that there were no elements of additional risk for the club, but the Working Group for the return of HNS competition recommended increased supervision and additional hygienic and epidemiological measures," reads the statement published by Lokomotiva on its website.

Lokomotiva will continue its preparations for the upcoming season, but under special protection measures. The training match in Karlovac, which was supposed to take place on Monday night, was canceled, as well as the trip to Mreznica, to the hotel-restaurant Mirni kut in Zvecaj, where the team was supposed to stay until Wednesday. All training will be held at Kajzerica.

For now, there is no danger that UEFA will expel Lokomotiva from the qualifications for the Champions League because of this case. UEFA can, however, apply rigorous measures to a certain club in case that club does not have 13 healthy players.

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

Sunday, 2 August 2020

Rijeka Secures 6th Croatian Cup Title After 1:0 Victory Against Lokomotiva

August 2, 2020 - Rijeka celebrated the Croatian Cup on Saturday, defeating Lokomotiva 1:0 in the final in Sibenik.

Tibor Halilovic scored the winning goal in the 76th minute. This is Rijeka's sixth cup title, while Lokomotiva is still without a trophy, suffering two defeats in the final.

Rijeka celebrated in a hard game with a goal by Halilovic, although Lokomotiva had better chances throughout the match. However, the club that has won the cup three times in the last four years proved once again they know how to seal the deal in crucial moments. 

In a very careful first half, almost without a single chance, Lokomotiva almost reached the goal in the 42nd minute, but Tolic's shot was saved by goalkeeper Pandur.

In the second half, much better football was played, and already in the 52nd minute, Kastrati hit the post. In the 63rd minute, after Escoval's foul on Kastrati, referee Pejin awarded a penalty kick, but after the intervention of the VAR, Pejin changed his mind and awarded only a free-kick.

In the 76th minute, Rijeka scored from the first real chance. After a long action in which Pavicic found Tibor Halilovic, he easily hit the net from ten meters out.

Eight minutes before the end of the match, Grbic defended a dangerous header by Colak, and in the 93rd minute, Lokomotiva's Jakic hit the crossbar in the last chance to even the result. 

rijeka kup 1.jpg

Drago Sopta / HNS

"Rijeka is an institution, the club's management knows what it wants, the players and coaches have support, the city loves the club, we have great fans and when you have such a symbiosis, then something happens. Today we succeeded, the trophy is here," said the coach of Rijeka Simon Rozman in an interview for HRT after the final celebration.

"The week behind us is very emotional, we were preparing, we were only interested in the trophy. We also had a bit of sports luck, but the most important thing is that the trophy is there. It was hard, especially at the start, there were a lot of ups and downs, and we got up at the right time. I said not everything is ideal, but the trophy is there, and third place in the championship. In the end, I am very tired, the difficult season is behind us," added the Rijeka strategist.

Lokomotiva had a great season, but after second place in the championship, they failed to win the first trophy in club history.

"Congratulations to Rijeka on the trophy, but also to my team on a very good game. I think we did everything we could and that we looked good from the tactical side, but the ball didn't go into the goal today. It’s football and it needs to be accepted. I think we had extraordinary opportunities in the first half, in the second as well, but football is played for goals, Rijeka scored one more and everything is clean and clear. Congratulations to Rijeka," said Lokomotiva coach Goran Tomic.

Source: HRT

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

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Just Two Weeks Away, New Croatian First League Schedule Announced

July 29, 2020 - Just 20 days after the end of the 2019/20 season, the new Croatian First League (HNL) season will begin.

On Wednesday, in the presence of all clubs and the commissioner for the competition Josip Brezni, the draw of the competing pairs of the Croatian First League for the 2020/21 season was held, which determined the schedule of matches in the 30th Croatian Championship, which will begin on Friday, August 14.

The draw determined that the champion Dinamo and runner-up Lokomotiva will meet in the 1st round, while the other pairs of the 1st round are Osijek - Slaven Belupo, Hajduk - Istra 1961 / Orijent, Rijeka - Sibenik and Varazdin - Gorica.

The Championship will end on May 15, 2021, when Slaven Belupo - Varazdin, Rijeka - Gorica, Dinamo - Sibenik, Hajduk - Lokomotiva and Osijek - Istra 1961 / Orient will meet.

The biggest derby is scheduled for the 4th round, on September 12, when Hajduk welcomes Dinamo. The Adriatic derby between Hajduk and Rijeka is scheduled for the 5th round at Rujevica. One round later, Rijeka travels to Dinamo as guests.

The potential Rijeka city derby, if the Orient qualifies for the First League, will be played in the 3rd round. Osijek is facing a demanding schedule at the start, playing in the 2nd round against Hajduk, in the 3rd against Dinamo, and the 4th against Rijeka.

The last Championship, which was suspended for almost three months due to the coronavirus pandemic, ended only on July 25, and the Cup final between Rijeka and Lokomotiva is set for August 1 in Sibenik. The qualification playoff for the Croatian First League between Orient and Istra 1961 is still to be played. The first match will be played in Rijeka on August 2, and the return match will be in Pula on August 5.

You can read more about the Croatian First League here.

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

Monday, 27 July 2020

Two Teams to Represent Croatia in Champions League Qualifiers for Third Time

July 27, 2020 - For the third time in history, Croatia will have two clubs in the Champions League qualifiers.

HRT reports that in the two attempts so far, Croatian clubs have not managed to win group competitions, and it will not be easy for Dinamo and Lokomotiva this season either.

Croatia had two clubs in the qualifications of the elite competition for the first time in the 1999/2000 season when the Croatian colors were defended by Dinamo, i.e., the then Croatia, and Rijeka. The Zagreb team was successful, while Rijeka was not.

The Blues had only one obstacle; in the third qualifying round, they knocked out the Hungarian club MTK and qualified for the group stage. After the 0:0 result in Zagreb, the team led by Osvaldo Ardiles won 2:0 in Budapest, and the hero of the match was the double scorer Josip Simic (58, 86).

Dinamo played in the group stage with Manchester United, Marseille and Sturm that season. Although they were the last in the group, the legendary “zero” at Old Trafford is still remembered.

Rijeka started the qualifications in the 2nd qualifying round, where they lost to Partizan. The Belgrade team celebrated 3:1 in front of their spectators, and in the return match at Kantrida with 3:0.

The following season, in the summer of 2000, Croatia also had two representatives in the Champions League qualifiers. They were Dinamo and Hajduk, and both clubs were eliminated.

Dinamo started as champions in the third qualifying round, but was knocked out by Milan. The Blues took the lead at San Siro in the first match with a goal by Renato Pilipovic in the 19th minute, but the Rossoneri turned the score around with three goals (Sevcenko 23, 42, Comandini 60).

Milan was convincing in the return match and celebrated 3:0 at Maksimir with goals by Shevchenko (23, 42) and Jose Maria (55).

Runner-up Hajduk started in the second qualifying round and was immediately shocked by Hungarian club Dunaffer (0:2, 2:2). The Hungarians won the first match at Poljud 2:0 (Tokoli 57, Eger 90), while the second match ended 2:2. In the return match, Hajduk led thanks to two goals by Mate Bilic (9, 28), but Dunaffer returned both times (Zavadszky 20, Tokoli 87).

Dinamo and Lokomotiva will fight in the third attempt for Croatian clubs in the elite competition. 

Dinamo will start the hunt for the Champions League from the second or third qualifying round.

If in the Champions League round of 16, Lyon is eliminated by Juventus on August 7, and Napoli a day later by Barcelona, ​​Dinamo will start their European journey in the third qualifying round. However, if at least one of the two clubs qualifies for the Final Eight, Dinamo will have to play the 2nd qualifying round.

The Blues will be the winners in both the second and third rounds, and perhaps in the final “play-off round”. Relegation in the Champions League play-offs brings a direct placement in the Europa League groups.

Lokomotiva starts from the 2nd round of qualifications, and it is inevitable that they will not be the top seed in the draw.

The name of their opponent will be known on August 10, and one game will be played, which is scheduled for August 25 or 26.

Relegation to the 2nd qualifying round of the Champions League brings placement to the 3rd qualifying round of the Europa League, however, if the Croatian runner-up skips the first hurdle in the qualifications, they will have guaranteed a European autumn. Namely, relegation in the 3rd round of the Champions League means direct placement in the Europa League group stage.

We emphasize that only one match will be played in all preliminary rounds, and a draw will decide the host. The only exception is the last, play-off round in which the standard two matches will be played.

The preliminary round of the Champions League will be played between August 8 and 11, the first qualifying round on August 18 and 19, the second on August 25 and 26, the third on September 15 and 16, and the playoffs on September 22 and 30. The group draw will be held in Athens on October 1, and the competition begins on October 20.

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


Page 7 of 9