Sunday, 25 September 2022

Croatia Beat Austria for UEFA Nations League Finals Spot!

September 25, 2022 - Croatia beats Austria 3:1 in Vienna for a spot in the UEFA Nations League finals! Croatia thus finished at the top of Group 1 and is among the final four teams in the Nations League A. 

Croatia and Austria met on Sunday night at the Ernst Happel stadium for the last match in the UEFA Nations League group stage. 

The Austrian Football Association announced that more than 40,000 tickets had been sold, but the bigger news was that around 20,000 fans would be cheering for Croatia, even though Austria predicted 2,700 tickets for the visiting team. 

After beating Denmark in Zagreb on Thursday, the road to the Nations League Finals was clear. Croatia would secure first place in Group 1 and the final tournament with the victory against Austria. With a loss or a draw, Croatia would also advance, however, only if Denmark did not beat France in Copenhagen at the same time.

Recall, Croatia defeated Denmark twice and France once, after opening the competition with an unpleasant defeat in Osijek against Austria. It was Austria's only victory in the group, while they took a point against France and lost their other three matches. 

Lineups

Austria: Lindner, Trimmel, Posch, Danso, Alaba, Baumgartner, Seiwald, X.Schlager, Sabitzer, Arnautović, Gregoritsch

Croatia: Livaković, Stanišić, Lovren, Gvardiol, Barišić, Modrić, Brozović, Kovačić, Vlašić, Budimir, Perišić 

Match Report

Croatia's first attack came in the 3rd minute, which resulted in a corner kick. Modric found Brozovic, who missed the ball and gave Austria a quick counterattack. 

Croatia regained possession, and Perisic moved quickly up the left wing before cutting into the box but failed to get a shot off.  

Croatia's brilliant start of the game was rewarded with a goal in the 6th minute. Vlasic masterfully won the ball in the midfield to find captain Luka Modric to score for 0:1 Croatia! 

But a wake-up call for Croatia came two minutes later. A hospital ball from Stanisic to an Austria player found Baumgartner for 1:1. 

More bad news came for Croatia in the 16th minute. Brozovic overextended his left leg and immediately dropped to the ground. The player called to be subbed off for what looked like a hamstring injury. Lovro Majer was subbed on in the 18th minute. 

Arnautovic weakly shot at Livakovic from 20 meters out in the 22nd minute. 

Austria's best chance came a minute later. Baumgartner shot between Croatia's stoppers and missed just wide of the goal. A lucky miss for Croatia. 

Austria possessed well and had another close chance in the 35th minute. A misunderstanding between Livaković and Gvardiol saw them awkwardly collide. The ball came to Baumgartner, who turned to shoot but luckily went over the goal.

Austria looked better as the half progressed, and Livakovic brilliantly saved Croatia from a goal after Arnautovic was one-on-one with the Croatia keeper. 

Vlasic brought some life back for Croatia with a shot in the 45th minute. Four minutes of stoppage time were added to the half.  The match went into halftime at 1:1.

The second half started without any changes for either team. Perisic was shown a yellow card in the 47th minute. 

Budimir fell in the penalty area in the 53rd minute, but there wasn't enough contact to be called for a penalty. 

Croatia attacked well in the 55th minute. Modric played through to Vlasic, who crossed in the box to Budimir, but the Austria defense prevented a shot. 

Austria was awarded a free kick in the 58th minute but shot into Croatia's wall. The ref called for another free kick for Austria, this time in closer range to the goal. Lovren was shown a yellow card for intentionally playing with his hand. A double block by the Croatia defense stopped the play. 

Dalic subbed on Marko Livaja for Ante Budimmir and Borna Sosa for Borna Barisic in the 62nd minute. Wober, Lainer, and Cham entered for Arnautović, Posch, and Trimmel. 

A great attack for Croatia saw Kovacic get a shot off which was deflected for a corner. 

Another incredible save by Livakovic from a Gregoritsch header. 

Perisic was one-on-one with the Austria defense in the 66th minute and forced a corner. 

But then it finally happened. Croatia's midfield found Perisic on the left, who crossed far post to Livaja. Livaja moved behind the Austria defender and headed near post into the goal for 1:2 Croatia in the 69th minute! 

And then another Croatia corner in the 71st minute. Modric played short to Majer, who found Lovren alone far post. A diving header into the opposite side of the goal, and it was 1:3 for Croatia! 

Croatia played smart in the last 10 minutes, keeping possession of the ball without any unnecessary risks.

Kramarić and Pašalić were subbed on for Kovačić and Vlašić in the 84th minute. 

Three minutes of stoppage time were added to the end of the match and the match ended 1:3 for Croatia! 

With this result, Croatia finishes at the top of Group 1 and advances to the UEFA Nations League Finals! The final tournament will be held from 14 to 18 June 2023 and will feature the four group winners of Nations League A. 

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

Thursday, 22 September 2022

Croatia Moves to Top of Nations League Group with Win against Denmark in Zagreb!

September 22, 2022 - Croatia beats Denmark 2:1 in Zagreb and moves to the top of their Nations League group! 

Croatia and Denmark met at a sold-out Maksimir Stadium in Zagreb on Thursday night in the 5th round of the Nations League.  

Before tonight's match, Demark led the group with nine points, while Croatia was two points behind with 7. A win would bring them to the top of the group. 

Croatia also played for the first time in their new kits, which they will wear at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. 

The winner of the group travels to the Nations League final tournament, which is scheduled for June next year, while the bottom team moves to League B.

Before the national anthems, recently retired national team member Šime Vrsaljko was honored by the Croatian Football Federation. 22,715 fans were in attendance. 

Lineups

Croatia (4-3-3): Livaković - Juranović, Josip Šutalo, Gvardiol, Sosa - Modrić, Brozović, Kovačić - Pašalić, Kramarić, Perišić

Denmark (4-3-3): Schmeichel - Andersen, A. Christensen, Kjaer, Maehle - Wass, Höjbjerg, Delaney - Skov Olsen, Eriksen, Braithwaite

Match Report

Luka had the first attack of the match in the 2nd minute and played up the pitch with Kramaric. Luka took the ball to the goal line and got Croatia's first corner. Luka sent the ball in, but Sosa played back into the box to find Gvardiol's head. Brozovic shot over the goal in the 5th minute. 

Perisic and Kramaric played up the left wing in Croatia's next attack, but Perisic played to the keeper. In the 7th minute, Mario Pasalic sent the ball in front of the opponent's goal, but it was cleared by the defense. 

Denmark finally began possessing from the 10th minute. Sosa cleared a dangerous shot by Eriksen and Croatian regained possession. Luka was brilliant again in the 15th minute, dribbling into the Denmark box and crossing into the penalty area. No Croatia player could get to the ball quick enough. Denmark then forced a quick counter which resulted in their first corner. 

Croatia's best chance came in the 16th minute when Perisic crossed into the box from the goal line. The ball was then played out to Kovacic, who shanked over the goal. 

Perisic's shot in the 21st minute also went over the goal. Daniel Wass had a great chance for Denmark in the next play but just missed the goal.

Another great attack for Croatia in the 25th minute went out for a corner. The ball ultimately found Gvardiol's head but went out of play. 

Livakovic saved a dangerous chance from Denmark in the 34th minute. Joakim Maehle fought for space but show low in the middle of the goal and straight into Livakovic's hands.

Ivan Perišić received a yellow card in the 36th minute. 

Eriksen shot from outside the box in the 38th minute, forcing Livakovic to punch the ball out for a corner. 

Croatia kept possession with short passes and waited for a hole in the defense. The match ended 0:0 at halftime. 

The second half started without any changes. 

Croatia's first corner of the second half came in the 47th minute. The ball came out to Borna Sosa at the top of the box, who shot low in the bottom left corner of the goal for 1:0 Croatia!

Kramaric shot from a distance in the next attack but went over the goal.  

Modric was fouled on the edge of the box in the 56th minute. Perisic shot low near post but hit the outside net. 

Denmark made their first subs in the 60th minute. Mikkel Damsgaard came on for Martin Braithwaite, Rasmus Hojlund for Thomas Delaney, and  Rasmus Kristensen for Daniel Wass.

Luka and Perisic had a great play in the 65th minute, and Luka's shot was blocked by the Denmark keeper. Kramaric tried to score on his own in the next attack but played to the Denmark defense. 

Kovacic missed a great opportunity in the 69th minute.

Dalic subbed off Pasalic, Perisic, and Kramaric for Vlasic, Orsic, and Petkovic in the71st minute. Mathias Jensen was subbed for Simon Kjaer.

A lapse in the Croatia defense gave Eriksen space to shoot in the 77th minute. The Denmark star nailed the upper corner of the goal to tie the game. 

Mateo Kovačić was replaced by Lovro Majer in the 79th minute, which resulted in a goal seconds after he entered the pitch. Majer shot with his left foot into the right corner of the goal for 2:1 Croatia! 

Croatia's defense cleared a dangerous Denmark chance in the 84th minute. The play continued and Livakovic kept the game a 2:1. 

Denmark was hungry to equalize, but Croatia remained solid. Vlasic had a chance in the 90th minute, and the ref added 4 mins of stoppage time. Denmark had a scary chance in the final minutes.  

Luka Modric was subbed off in the 2nd minute of stoppage time for Domagoj Vida. 

The match ended 2:1 for Croatia! Croatia plays Austria next on Sunday in Vienna. 

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

Thursday, 15 September 2022

2022 Croatia National Team Kits Presented ahead of Nations League and World Cup

September 15, 2022 - The 2022 Croatia national team kits have been presented ahead of Croatia's upcoming Nations League matches later this month. 

The Croatian Football Federation and technical partner Nike presented the new Croatia national team kits with the legendary checkers, which the 2018 World Cup finalists will wear for the first time in the upcoming Nations League matches in September, announced HNS

The redesigned red and white home jersey and the away jersey inspired by nature will be worn by captain Luka Modrić and his teammates at the World Cup in Qatar, where the team will try to repeat the magic from 2018.

The first kit is inspired by the 'vatreno srco' theme (burning heart), perfectly fitting the passionate, hardworking, and fiery character of the Croatian people and the national team. It is a redesigned and modernized version of the checkers that has become a globally recognized symbol of Croatian pride. Unevenly arranged, the well-known design is revamped, with the HNS coat of arms proudly shining in the center of the jersey, next to the blue Nike logo.

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The away jersey further refines the iconic checkers through Croatia's natural beauty and national pride; in this case, they are blurred and wavy lines combining dark blue and turquoise colors designed to resemble the tides of the Adriatic Sea, whose waves wash over the Croatian coast. The stylistic patterns of surnames and numbers on the jerseys are also in the spirit of Croatian history and tradition, given that they are inspired by the historical Croatian Glagolitic script.

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"I am extremely proud that I had the privilege of wearing the beautiful Croatian jersey the most times, and I am looking forward to the new kit that follows the recognizable tradition. Those magical red and white checkers make the Croatian jersey the most recognizable in the world, and the new design reminds me a little of 1998 and the legendary team who inspired my generation. I really like the attractive design and colors on the away jersey, and I'm sure it will be very popular among our fans," said Croatia captain Luka Modrić.

Nike's innovative Dri-FIT ADV technology was used to make the new jerseys. They are made of one hundred percent recycled polyester from recycled plastic bottles, and their breathable material prevents excessive sweating and body heating.

Registered Nike customers can now buy the new collection on Nike.com, and it is also available for pre-order through the HNS webshop. In addition, the new Vatreni kit will be available in other authorized Nike stores from September 21.

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

Monday, 5 September 2022

Croatia Team Announced for Denmark and Austria Nations League Matches

September 5, 2022 - Croatia coach Zlatko Dalić has announced the list of players for the September Denmark and Austria Nations League matches.

After four rounds, Croatia holds second place in the group with seven points, and with two wins, they would secure first place and thus a place in the Nations League final tournament. Croatia can reach the "Final Four" in other ways, and it needs a point to avoid the last place that leads to League B, reports HNS

Croatia will host Denmark at Maksimir on September 22 at 8:45 pm and play against Austria three days later at the Ernst Happel Stadium in Vienna (8:45 pm). Tickets for both matches can be found HERE.

The 2018 World Cup finalists will gather on September 19 in Zagreb, and coach Dalić has invited 25 players with seven potential call-ups. 

"We still have two weeks until we reunite, and during that period, we will intensively monitor the reserve players and see who else we could call up. Also, in agreement with the U-21 national team coach, Igor Bišćan, we will consider whether any of the players invited here join the young national team for the crucial match against Denmark," said coach Dalić.

"As is usual at the start of the season, we have certain challenges - some have injury problems, some players have changed clubs, and some have changed status within the team. Clearly, this list largely reflects our thoughts ahead of the World Cup, but we have more than two months until then and, of course, the fight for certain positions is still open," said the coach.

"We did a great job with victories in Denmark and France; these were performances that boost confidence and confirm the high potential and quality of our national team. With these results, we put ourselves in a position to secure the final tournament, which would be an outstanding result in such a competition, but we know that it will not be easy. We saw at home against Austria what it means if we are not at one hundred percent from the first minute - the only way is maximum togetherness and compactness. We're going step by step, we value both opponents, but we believe in ourselves, and of course, we're going for two victories," coach Dalić is optimistic.

"First of all, given the calendar this year, we must see these matches as preparation for the World Cup. Therefore, we want to see a compact, competitive, and ready Croatia, and at the same time gain knowledge about what we still need to improve before Qatar," concluded Dalić.

Croatia squad

Goalkeepers: Dominik Livaković, Lovre Kalinić, Ivica Ivušić

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

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

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

Reserves: Josip Brekalo, Duje Ćaleta-Car, Luka Ivanušec, Marin Pongračić, Kristijan Jakić, Antonio Mirko Čolak, Nediljko Labrović

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

Monday, 8 August 2022

Realities of a Female Football Journalist in Croatia: The Good, Bad, and Not So Ugly

August 8, 2022 - What's it like being a female football journalist in Croatia? A look into my life for the last 5 years. 

It all started when a former colleague told me I'd never see a press pass for Croatia national team games. Well, it actually started well before that.

I was born with a love for football and likely kicked my way out of the womb. My family history probably has something to do with it.

My grandfather was a sports journalist in Split for Slobodna Dalmacija in his early 20s and friends with many Hajduk players at the time. After swapping Split for NYC in 1958, he became one of the top football referees in New York and worked the line during Santos v. Benfica at Yankee Stadium in 1968. In other words, Pele v. Eusebio. My dad was the ball boy and met the entire Santos team in the locker room, including Pele, who signed his match program. And that wasn't my grandpa's only time reffing Pele, either. 

 

A few years later, my grandpa was chased down the streets of New York by the unhappy fans of a local Italian club. I guess they weren't pleased with his decisions during the match. The incident even prompted Split's most famous journalist (and my grandfather's dear friend), Miljenko Smoje, to write about it in Slobodna Dalmacija.

"If Miro wanted to get chased by fans, he should have stayed in Split."

My dad went on to play football, attended the 1974 World Cup in Germany as a fan, and was a coach in San Diego. He and my grandpa raised a team of players in my small hometown of Fallbrook, developing their talents from the ages of 10 to 18. It was only a matter of time before I swapped ballet shoes for Copa Mundials. 

My football career started at the age of six, playing recreational soccer for a team called the 'Spiders.' Often seen dancing on the pitch and confusing my ballet talents with what I was meant to do with a ball, I ultimately had to choose between ballet or soccer. Soccer won primarily because of the friendships I had made at the time. In ballet, everyone was looking out for themselves. 

I played competitively in San Diego from that point on, with practice three times a week, tournaments every weekend, and parents who had to sacrifice any free time they had. It took me to the Gothia Cup final in Sweden, Varsity all four years of high school, and friendships that turned into sisters to this day. 

Opting out of playing in college, my football career ended at 17, opening space for other things - like moving to San Francisco. But my love for football never dwindled, and I never missed a Hajduk match at Poljud during my summer visits to Croatia or cheering for the national team in the Euros or World Cup no matter where I was and no matter what time the games were. 

Fast forward to 2015. I move to Croatia, can attend every Hajduk home match of the season, and catch the Croatia national team playing around the country during international breaks. This was heaven. One year later, I joined Total Croatia News as the editor of Total Split. The sports editor position had already been filled, but we decided that I would write about specific events, which was how I eased my way in. I took over as Sports Editor in 2017 and told myself I would make the most of it. 

I had been writing about sports for maybe a month or so, getting my bearings around handball, water polo, and other sports I wasn't all too familiar with. What I knew was football, and what I wanted to write about was football, but I had to grip the ropes of all sports to justify my place in this role. Croatian athletes also excel in almost everything, meaning I had much to learn. 

The Croatia national team had a World Cup qualifier against Ukraine in Zagreb that March, which made me think: "Why couldn't I attend as a journalist?" Considering my new role and all. I sent a message to my colleague and asked if he knew about the protocol for applying.

"I wouldn't even bother - you'll never get a press pass for Croatia games." 

Okay, that was encouraging. I knew I was young (26 at the time), a woman, and new to this whole thing, but to shut someone down so quickly was not something I'd stand for. I found out how to apply through HNS, did, and waited for a reply. I was an accredited journalist at my first official international football match on March 24, 2017. 

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The season press pass for Hajduk came shortly after that, and I covered my first Europa League campaign between Hajduk and Everton - at Goodison Park in Liverpool and Split.

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I was maybe in over my head covering my first away match, considering it was Wayne Rooney's Everton at the time. While I will never forget the euphoria amongst the fans of your club in another city, the feeling inside a Premier League stadium for the first time, and watching Nikola Vlašić against Rooney, what really got me was the return match a week later.

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I nearly fainted in the press box when Radošević scored a screamer against Everton at a sold-out Poljud. It had never been louder. And not advancing past Everton didn't matter. From that moment, there was no turning back. 

I wanted to be a football journalist. 

Later that year, Croatia continued their World Cup qualifiers. After an unimpressive 1:0 against Kosovo at a flooded Maksimir (so flooded that the game had to be stopped and finished the next day), the next match was the one that mattered, and Croatia needed a win against Finland.

The match ended 1:1 at Rujevica, forcing coach Ante Čačić's sacking and Croatia's fate at the 2018 World Cup uncertain. It was as if the life was sucked out of Rijeka, and Croatia, that night, though it was the draw that changed it all. And likely the most depressing post-match press conference I have attended. 

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But there was hope when the relatively unknown Zlatko Dalić came in to save the day, winning 2:0 away against Ukraine and pushing Croatia into the World Cup qualifying play-off against Greece. Croatia was going to the World Cup, and the chaos of writing through these qualifiers certainly took a few years off my life. 

As I was still quite new at this, I didn't expect to get a press pass for Russia, and looking back; I would not have wanted to be anywhere but Split that summer of 2018. But I definitely was not prepared for what was in store. 

Okay, the World Cup is a big deal. Still, considering Croatia's rather frightening display in the qualifiers, I don't think Croatia fans expected too much - and with tensions still high between Hajduk fan group Torcida and HNS, many were hesitant to get too excited in Split. "Maybe that'll take off some of the pressure," I thought. And then Croatia beat Argentina 3:0.

I knew I had to prove myself on the international stage reporting about the World Cup for Total Croatia News, as it was the biggest tournament I had covered thus far. Getting your fingers to type fast enough when covering these matches live is hard enough, but it's another thing when your country is at stake and you owe a quality match report to the enthusiastic Croatian diaspora, even during those nail-biting extra-time finishes and penalty shootouts. How I survived that, I'll never know. 

But there was another layer to my football journalism that summer - radio interviews. 

Given TCN's non-stop coverage of Croatia at the World Cup, coupled with Croatia's impressive play and Modrić and Lovren's fresh perjury charge in the Mamić case, all eyes were on Croatia that summer. And being one of few covering Croatia at length in English, my phone started ringing - especially once Croatia was matched up against England in the semi-final.

I thus became the Croatian correspondent for several radio stations in the UK that summer, one of which is the largest sports radio station in the world - talkSPORT. I counted over 20 radio interviews once all was said and done and Croatia became the 2018 World Cup finalist. I realized just how important it was to be a native English speaker and football journalist in a foreign country - especially when you're on the international stage.

Later that year, I had my first star-studded press experience at Wembley Stadium, when England gained revenge on Croatia in the UEFA Nations League, and even went into the TalkSport studio in London to recap the match.

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2018 ended with an interview request from BBC. And a year after that, I interviewed THE Mark Bosnich in Sydney, Australia thanks to Total Croatia News.

Covering football during the pandemic was not nearly as fun, but being amongst the select few allowed at a stadium when the ban on fans was still in force definitely brought necessary excitement to staring at the walls of your house. 

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And seeing Cristiano Ronaldo in action on Hajduk territory holds a special place in my heart. 

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As Nations League continued, so did qualifiers for the 2020 Euros, which Croatia clinched at Rujevica Stadium against Slovakia. With the tournament postponed by a year and a press application process that had to be repeated multiple times due to tournament delays, I wasn't feeling too confident that I'd be attending this one. But less than a month before the tournament began, I got the email: 

CONFIRMED: Accreditation Request for UEFA EURO 2020

And I was off to cover my first international tournament. 

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With the tail-end of the pandemic making it an absolute nightmare to make this happen, I persisted. After vaccinations and repeated Covid tests, exemptions from UEFA needed even to enter the UK, and QR codes necessary to grab a bite in London and Glasgow, I was one of few Croatian journalists that endured a Covid-riddled EURO 2020, covering Croatia from London to Glasgow and Copenhagen. And I was one of few women journalists at all. 

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The round of 16 match against Spain was undoubtedly the highlight, especially when a fan launched a full beer at my laptop after Croatia took the game to extra time at Parken Stadium. While I could have lost my job had my laptop died and I couldn't finish writing about that game, I would have left the Euros satisfied.

And while international football has given my career an unexpected boost, the best football experiences are the ones at home, at Poljud Stadium. Especially when you witness Hajduk win their first trophy since 2013, in the Croatian Cup final, just a few months ago. 

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What has being a female football journalist in Croatia taught me?

That anything is possible in Croatia, so long as you put your mind to it, especially when you love something as much as I love football. If you're passionate enough about something, it will show in your work, which will ultimately be recognized. In my case, my passion brought me to an international stage that 26-year-old Daniela would have never believed possible. Now, if I get a press pass for the World Cup in Qatar this year...

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Secondly, being a woman in a man's world is empowering. No matter which match I attend in Croatia or around Europe, I am always one of few women, if not the only, reporting from the press box. I have not been treated differently, nor have my opportunities been any different. The radio shows prove that - and TalkSport even called me a Croatian football expert. Even with my silly Californian accent. 

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And finally? Don't listen to your colleagues. At least when they tell you that you can't do something. You should always set out to prove people wrong. Football, especially, has that effect on people. 

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

 

Monday, 13 June 2022

Early Luka Modrić Penalty Gives Croatia First-Ever Win against France!

June 13, 2022 - Croatia finally beats France in their 10th meeting on Monday night, winning in the 4th round of Nations League at Stade de France in Paris. An early Luka Modrić penalty gave Croatia their first-ever victory against France. 

The Croatia national team met France in the 4th round of the Nations League at Stade de France in Paris on Monday. It was Croatia's 5th time playing at the famous French stadium. 

Going into this match, Denmark lead the group with six points, Austria and Croatia had four points each, while France sat at the bottom with two points. France needed a win tonight to have any hope of getting out of the group and avoid relegation in the Nations League. 

Before this match, Croatia recorded six defeats and three draws in nine matches against the current world champion France, with a goal difference of 9-20.

Lineups

France: Maignan - Koundé, Konaté, Kimpembe, Digne - Kamara, Guendouzi, Rabiot - Nkunku, Mbappé, Benzema

Croatia: Ivušić - Stanišić, Erlić, Šutalo, Juranović - Brozović, Modrić, Kovačić - Pašalić, Budimir, Brekalo

Match Report 

Croatia had their first corner of the match in the 3rd minute after a nice attack into France's half. Budimir fell in the box during the play which forced the ref to look at VAR for a penalty check. The ref called a penalty for Croatia which Luka Modrić scored for 0:1 Croatia in the 5th minute!

Mbappé had a shot on target which Ivusic saved Tchouameni.

France picked up the intensity in the 12th minute, testing Croatia's defense in the box, but the center backs cleared any danger. Croatia had a counter moments later which saw France's keeper and Budimir clash just outside of the box. Croatia was awarded a free kick which Modric hit at the keeper.

It was a match of fouls called for Croatia, with Brekalo elbowed in the nose in the 18th minute. Fortunately, he was well enough to continue the match. 

Mbappé was dangerous again in the 22nd minute, though Croatia managed to stop him before he got a shot off. 

France danced around Croatia's half for the next few minutes until Brozovic fouled to stop the play.  Nkunku had an excellent chance in the 28th minute which went just wide of Croatia's goal. 

Croatia finally regained possession and moved into France's half in the 30th minute. Juranovic crossed to Budimir in the box a minute later which went off his head back into the play. 

A quick Croatia counter in the 34th minute saw Juranovic play Budimir in the box which the France keeper got to first. Croatia denied Mbappe and Benzema from getting a shot off in the following play.

Juranovic found Budimir again in a similar play in the next few minutes. Budimir shot near post which went out for a Croatia corner. 

France calmly held possession for the next few minutes, but a Croatia counter in the 43rd minute got them back in the game. Croatia's defense remained solid in the back to keep them ahead before the half. France even hit the near post net a minute before the half and headed over the goal! The match was 0:1 for Croatia at halftime. 

France made two changes at halftime - Pavard and Tchouameni came on for Konude and Kamara. 

France had their first dangerous attack in the 46th minute. Mbappe dribbled to the goal line and crossed into the box which the Croatia defense cleared with a header. Tchouameni shot at Ivusic a minute later. 

Budimir was one-on-one with the France keeper in the 49th minute and shot over the crossbar.

Benzema dribbled through the defense in the 53rd minute but Croatia was able to stop the play. Mbappe shot in the 54th minute which went wide of the goal.

Luka found Juranovic on the left wing in the 57th minute. The France defender headed it back which Juranovic attacked and played back to Pasalic who couldn't quite get a shot off. 

Ivusic made an incredible save with his foot to stop Mbappe from scoring in the 60th minute. The ball went out for a corner and Croatia cleared the play. 

Dalic subbed off Pasalic for Majer in the 64th minute.

France was hungry for a goal in the following 5 minutes with a few threatening plays in Croatia's box. Pavard's shot was blocked by the Croatia defense. Chaos in the penalty area ended thanks to Sutalo who found Ivusic and stopped the play. 

Brekalo found Majer at the top of the box in the 71st minute which was saved by the France keeper. Budimir came out for Kramaric and Brekalo for Vlasic in the 73rd minute. France subbed on Coman for Nkunku.

Coman dribbled to the goal line for a France corner in the 74th minute. Mbappe's shot was saved by Ivusic.

A dangerous free kick for France was taken by Mbappe in the 77th minute and went over the goal. 

Griezmann was subbed on in the 80th minute. Mbappe fouled Erlic moments later.  France did not leave Croatia's half. 

A quick counter for Croatia came in the 83rd minute but France was quick to regain possession. Young Bayern defender Josip Stanisic was absolutely brilliant on the right side to stop Coman. 

Rabiot shot over the goal in the 86th minute. Croatia was playing defense for most of the second half. 

Croatia finally regained possession in the 87th minute. Vlasic shot at the keeper. 

The ref added 4 minutes of stoppage time. Croatia played calmly in the remaining minutes but France picked up the intensity to get a goal. A dangerous chance in the final seconds just went wide of the goal. Konate headed over the goal in the final second. The ref blew the final whistle and Croatia recorded their first-ever win against France! 

Croatia continues their Nations League campaign in September against Denmark at home and Austria away. 

For more, check out our sports section.

Monday, 13 June 2022

Current Croatia National Team Jerseys Worn for Last Time, New Design Coming for 2022 World Cup

June 13, 2022 - The 4th round of the Nations League tonight in Paris marks the end of the current Croatia national team jerseys, as the away kit will be worn for the last time at Stade de France. The home kit was retired against France at Poljud last week, and new kits are expected for the 2022 World Cup. 

Another 2018 World Cup final rematch between France and Croatia takes place tonight in Paris at Stade de France as part of the Nations League 4th round, reports Gol.hr.

Apart from the fact that Croatia will be looking for its first victory against France in their 10th meeting, this match will also be remembered as the last time the Croatia national team away jersey will be worn ahead of its new design for the 2022 World Cup. 

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Slobodan Kadic

Croatia had already said goodbye to its current home kit - the classic red and white checkers - when they played against France in the 2nd round of the Nations League at Poljud last week. These jerseys saw the light of day after the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

The Croatia national team will wear new jerseys at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The new jersey design will premiere at the two September Nations League matches - the first will be played against Denmark in Croatia and the second away against Austria.

The exact design of the new jerseys is still unknown and has not been announced in any manner by HNS, but the famous portal footyheadlines.com, dedicated to club and national team jerseys, has already toyed with how they may look.

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Footy Headlines used leaked information or projections of Nike's template for the 2022 World Cup.

They are inspired by the famous sets of other clubs and national teams for next season. Since they know what will be in style next season or what colors and designs will dominate in the football world, they were able to speculate about Croatia's possible new kit.

The Croatia home jersey is usually composed of red, white, and blue, always with the Croatian coat of arms, the now world-famous red and white checkers.

Footy Headlines claim that the blue color will be different than usual. It will be a little brighter, royal blue, the so-called “Battle Blue” Swoosh.

They underline that Nike presented only a sample of blue and white in its internal catalog, while red remains unknown. This is explained by Nike’s designs for next season. First, they pointed to the new Barcelona jersey, which is dominated by shades of blue, while red is on the defensive.

The portal claims that the Croatia national team away jersey will combine navy blue with red patterns.

For more, check out our sport section.

Saturday, 11 June 2022

A New Era: Coach Zlatko Dalić Praises Young Croatia National Team Players

Junee 11, 2022 - Coach Zlatko Dalić praises the young Croatia national team players including Erlić and Šutalo in Croatia's 1:0 win against Denmark last night. 

The Croatia national football team defeated Denmark 1:0 in Copenhagen in the Nations League third round on Friday night. Mario Pašalić scored for Croatia in the 69th minute.

After the victory in Denmark, coach Zlatko Dalić congratulated his players and thanked the fans:

"Congratulations to the boys on a great game, especially the second half when we turned the game around. We have shown high quality. This is what Croatia can do and needs to do. There is one more game left against France. Thanks to the fans who cheered us on the whole time," Dalić told Nova TV after the match. 

The coach commented on Marcelo Brozović:

"Brozović can play and it is not a problem for him to play. If he says he has energy, which he does, he doesn’t need to be changed. He is a great winner and a great player for the Croatia national team. With Modrić, Kovačić, and Brozović in the midfield, everything was different."

About Erlić and Šutalo:

"All praise to those young guys who took the opportunity, imposed themselves, and played with a lot of confidence. Stanišić also played a great game, at the top level. All three brought another headache, but a positive one," the coach said.

Šime Vrsaljko is in the picture again:

"Šime was absent for a long time, he played well and we do not want to spend him. We also need him to return as high quality as possible. The advantage is in the togetherness and encouragement of the team. I’m glad he came back after a year. I can only praise the guys. After Osijek, great against France, even better today. France is one of the best teams in the world if not the best. It's a bit of a problem that we only have these three days. We need to rest and recuperate. With this kind of energy and togetherness, we can do a lot," added coach Dalić.

Goal scorer Mario Pašalić also commented on the match:

"Everything was easier when Modrić and Kovačić entered the game in the second half," said Pašalić. Pašalić has been excellent in the attack for Italian first league club Atalanta and reacted in the same way in the 69th minute. He found himself in the right place and skillfully secured Croatia's first victory in this season's Nations League.

"I have that feeling to shoot and find myself in the right spot. Luckily the ball came to me and we won. But, everything is much easier when Modrić, Kovačić, and Brozović play. In the second half, we really took over," said Pašalić after the game.

He also talked about the difficult moments the team went through in the first 45 minutes:

"The first half was extremely difficult. We struggled with everything. We couldn’t come out with the ball, we didn’t have possession and we couldn’t keep the ball for long. But everything changed in the second half. We gained possession, and then we started creating opportunities as well. In the end, we came to a goal. Of course, when Modrić and Kovačić came in, that change took place, the two of them are the best midfielders in the world and they look great in the middle together with Brozović. When they come into play you get some security."

The next opponent is France, who drew against Austria and is the only team in the group without a win after three rounds.

"Who would say that France would not win after three rounds. We're all here for points. It will be interesting until the end," said Pašalić.

Source: HRT

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

Friday, 10 June 2022

Croatia Beat Denmark (0:1), Adds First Three Points in UEFA Nations League!

June 10, 2022 - In their third match in the UEFA Nations League, Croatia beat Denmark in Copenhagen with a goal from Mario Pašalić and took their first three points, which now places them third in the table with 4 points, tied with Austria!

In the third fixture of group A, Croatia visited Denmark in Copenhagen hoping to get their first three points after losing to Austria in Osijek (0:3) and drawing against France in Split (1:1). The coach of the Croatia national team, Zlatko Dalić, has prepared a starting eleven with quite a few changes compared to the two previous games. The last time the two teams faced each other was at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, where both drew 1:1 at the end of 120 minutes. Croatia won the match by penalties.

Croatia's starting eleven to face Denmark: Dominik Livaković; Šime Vrsaljko, Martin Erlić, Josip Šutalo, Josip Juranović; Kristijan Jakić, Marcelo Brozović, Luka Ivanušec, Mario Pašalić, Mislav Oršić; Andrej Kramarić.

Denmark starting eleven: Kasper Schmeichel; Daniel Wass, Joachim Andersen, Andreas Christensen, Joakim Maehle; Pierre Emile Hojbjerg, Thomas Delaney, Christian Eriksen; Andreas Olsen, Andreas Cornelius, Mikkel Damsgaard.

Match summary:

Denmark was superior to Croatia in the first half. There was not a big difference in possession of the ball between the two teams, but the Danish offense created more danger in the first 45 minutes. It is worth noting the great defensive work of the two center backs Josip Šutalo, who made his debut today, and Martin Erlić. Both the Croatian midfield and offense couldn't find a way to create much danger in the Danish area.

In the second half, the presence of Luka Modrić and Mateo Kovačić brought more ideas to the Croatian team, who were able to control the ball more calmly and therefore began to find ways to create clearer scoring chances. Finally, a goal from Mario Pašalić in the 69th minute would give Croatia victory and their first victory in the UEFA Nations League, curiously, after adding only one point from their two home games. Croatia climbs to third place in the table tied on points (4) with Austria. Despite the defeat, Denmark remains in the lead with 6 points.

Match highlights:

The first 5 minutes of the match were of shared possession between both teams. In the 6th minute, Cornelius took advantage of a poor clearance by the Croatian defense for Denmark's first attempt on goal, but his shot went high.

In the 8th minute of the match, Cornelius received a yellow card for dangerously contesting a ball with Croatian goalkeeper Livaković, who had to be treated by the doctors for a long time.

In the 11th minute, Joakim Maehle was left one on one with Livaković after a very good collective play. However, his shot went wide for the Croatian goal.

The first goal attempt for Croatia came from Dinamo Zagreb midfielder Mislav Oršić in the 13th minute, who tried to finish off a good Croatian counterattack, but his shot went high.

In the 40th minute, Cornelius again found a great opportunity to score after an error by Kristijan Jakić. The Danish forward put the ball to Livaković's right post, but the Croatian goalkeeper responded with a great save.

Three minutes later, the referee disallowed a goal by Cornelius, after a foul by Maehle on Vršaljko when they were contesting for the ball inside the Croatian box.

The referee added 2 more minutes to the first half, and both teams went into the break tied 0:0. Possession at the end of the first half was 54% for Denmark and 46% for Croatia.

After the break, Dalić brought in three players. Josip Stanišić replaced Šime Vrsaljko, Mateo Kovačić replaced Kristijan Jakić, while Luka Ivanušec left the field for Luka Modrić

Luka Modrić, after a great individual play inside the Danish area in the 56th minute, crossed the ball into the small area but none of his teammates could convert the chance.

In the 58th minute, Mislav Oršić was replaced by Nikola Vlašić.

In the 60th minute, Andrej Kramarić had a great opportunity to convert Croatia's first goal, with a powerful first-touch kick inside the box, but Kasper Schmeichel made an amazing save. However, the referee invalidated the play due to a previous offside.

In the 61st minute, the Danish team made its first three substitutions of the match, all at once. Rasmus Kristensen came on for Daniel Wass, Jonas Wind for Andreas Cornelius, and Martin Braithwaite for right-winger Mikkel Damsgaard.

In the 63rd minute, Luka Modrić found a space to shoot outside the box, but goalkeeper Schmeichel had no problem stopping his attempt.

In the 67th minute, Danish defender Joachim Andersen received his team's second yellow card after a violent tackle on Andrej Kramarić. It could have been a red card.

A free throw was awarded after the foul. Luka Modrić put the ball into the box, and a clear attempt by Stanišić was deflected by a Danish defender.

The first goal of the match came for Croatia on the following corner kick in the 69th minute. Luka Modrić played short and found Brozović, who put a dangerous cross into the area that was first headed by Kramarić, and Mario Pašalić would find the ball at his feet to score Croatia's first goal

In the 75th minute, Stanišić would receive the first yellow card for Croatia as he attempted to stop Martin Braithwaite.

Christian Eriksen took the free-kick into the box but Braithwaite sent it well past Livaković's goal.

In the 77th minute, Andrej Kramarić was replaced by Ante Budimir in a tactical substitution.

In the 82nd minute, Martin Braithwaite again missed a great opportunity for Denmark.

In the 83rd minute, Yussuf Poulsen came on to replace Andreas Olsen in the Danish team.

Three minutes later, after a great collective play, Marcelo Brozović found an opportunity to kick the ball outside the Danish box, but his shot went close to Schmeichel's right post. The referee booked Ante Budimir for a foul on that play. It was the second yellow card for Croatia.

A minute later, in the 87th minute, the Danish team found the equalizer after a tangled play in the Croatian area, but the goal was disallowed for offside.

In the 90th minute, Yussuf Poulsen, who barely played ten minutes, was replaced by Robert Skov due to injury.

The referee added 5 more minutes to the match.

Brozović would have one more try in the 94th minute, but his shot went high. The referee ended the match in the 95th minute and Croatia took their first three UEFA Nations League points away from home.

Croatia will play France in Paris on June 13th.

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

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