Thursday, 16 December 2021

UEFA Nations League Draw: Croatia to Face France, Denmark, Austria

December 16, 2021 - The UEFA Nations League draw was held tonight. Croatia has been drawn into Group 1 against France, Denmark, and Austria. The 2022 Nations League competition will be played next June and September. 

Croatia learned who they will play in the 2022 Nations League tonight. The Croatia national team will play in the elite A league against 

Croatia was placed in the third strong hat and could not be drawn against England, Poland, and Switzerland. As in the previous edition, Croatia would face two stronger opponents and a slightly less attractive national team from the weakest, 4th hat.

Potential opponents for Croatia in the A league were one national team from each of these three strong groups:

Group 1: France, Spain, Italy, Belgium
Group 2: Portugal, Netherlands, Denmark, Germany
Group 4: Wales, Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary

What is particularly interesting are the dates that UEFA has planned for these six group matches. Due to the complicated football calendar thanks to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, which will be played in November and December next year, the Nations League dates have been tightened to just two months.

Namely, the Nations League will be played in June and September, with four games in just two weeks in June next year, while two games are planned for September.

From June 2 to 14, i.e., across 12 days, UEFA has planned four games to be played every three days. This term is not ideal, as footballers will already be exhausted after the club season come to an end. 

It is not yet known how this Nations League season will affect the qualifications for Euro 2024. UEFA has said that this has not yet been decided.

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

Friday, 24 September 2021

Potential Nations League Opponents for Croatia Revealed

September 24, 2021 - Potential Nations League opponents for Croatia have been revealed, while the groups for the 3rd edition of the competition will be decided in a draw on December 16. 

UEFA has announced the strongest groups for the upcoming Nations League draw on December 16 in Montreux, Switzerland, reports T.portal.

The Croatia national football team is still in the strongest, League A of the UEFA Nations League, and to start, Croatia has at least found out which three national teams they certainly cannot meet in the group stage. 

The plan is for the Nations League matches to be played in June and September next year, primarily because the World Cup in Qatar will be played in late winter, through November and December.

Croatia has thus been placed in the Group C draw group with England, Poland, and Switzerland.

But who does that leave as Croatia's potential opponents?

From Group A, Croatia can face France, Belgium, Italy, and Spain, in Group B, Portugal, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany, while from Group D, Croatia can play against Wales, Austria, the Czech Republic, or Hungary.

The winners of the UEFA Nations League will play the Final Four tournament in June 2023. They will also have a place in the additional qualifiers for Euro 2024 if they do not qualify for that competition through regular qualifiers.

The last national teams from each of the four League A groups are relegated to League B.

Nations League draw groups (December 16):

Group A: France, Belgium, Italy, Spain
Group B: Portugal, Netherlands, Denmark, Germany
Group C: CROATIA, England, Poland, Switzerland
Group D: Wales, Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary

Nations League 2022/'23:

Round 1: June 2-4, 2022
Round 2: June 5 to 7, 2022
Round 3: June 9-11, 2022
Round 4: June 12-14, 2022
Round 5: September 22-24, 2022
Round 6: September 25-27, 2022

Recall, Croatia still has to finish up their 2022 World Cup qualifiers this year, with two games next month against Cyprus away and Slovakia at home. After that, Croatia completes their qualifying campaign in November against Malta away and Russia at Poljud. 

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

To learn more about sport in Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Tuesday, 17 November 2020

UEFA Nations League: Croatia Falls to Portugal at Poljud (2:3)

November 17, 2020 - Croatia and Portugal met for their final Nations League match this season at Poljud Stadium in Split on Tuesday evening. Croatia falls to Portugal 2:3. 

Croatia was fighting for survival in the Nations League elite group against the 2016 European champion and 2019 Nations League winner Portugal. 

A draw was enough for Croatia to stay among the elite if Sweden did not win against France at the same time.

Coach Zlatko Dalic could not count on almost eight first-team players for the Portugal match due to injuries and coronavirus. The starting 11 included Dominik Livaković; Josip Juranović, Dejan Lovren, Mile Škorić, Domagoj Bradarić - Luka Modrić, Marko Rog, Mateo Kovačić - Nikola Vlašić, Mario Pašalić, and Ivan Perišić.

Portugal, on the other hand, started with their strongest 11 -  Nelson Semedo, Ruben Dias, Ruben Semedo, Mario Rui - Danilo, Moutinho, Bruno Fernandes - Joao Felix, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Diogo Jota.

The match started promptly at 8:45 and was even for the first 10 minutes. Croatia was quick with one-twos and neutralized Ronaldo up top. Lovren tightly marked the Juventus attacker. 

Portugal received their first corner in the 11th minute which was played short and resulted in another corner from the other side. Croatia's defense was solid in the aggressive attacks that followed, but Portugal had their third corner by the 14th minute. 

Croatia had a stellar chance in the 21st minute off a Vlasic cross, but Pasalic couldn't get his header past the Portugal keeper. 

A Portugal free-kick moments later gave the away side yet another corner, which was punched out by Livakovic.

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Slobodan Kadic

Even with the consistent Portugal attacks, this Croatia side was looking far better than the match against Sweden. Croatia received their first corner in the 26th minute. 

And then it happened. Croatia endured and a quick counter found the boot of Mateo Kovacic who scored for 1:0 in the 29th!

Croatia received their second corner after a Modric free-kick in the 31st, and another in the 32nd. They certainly picked up their momentum with quick plays in the attack. Ronaldo was neutralized by the Croatia defense the entire first half.

Another brilliant chance for Croatia was just short of 2:0 as Juranovic hit wide in the 36th. Livakovic kept it 1:0 after a dangerous Portugal free-kick moments later.

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Slobodan Kadic

Portugal was persistent in the final minutes of the first half and was eager to equalize, but thanks to Croatia's solid backline, held by Lovren, Skoric, and Livakovic, the match ended 1:0 for Croatia at the half.

The second half started with no changes for Croatia. 

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Slobodan Kadic

Portugal's best chance of the game so far came from a free kick in the 47th minute, which Dias headed over the goal.

Rog received a double-yellow in the 51st minute, forcing Croatia to play with a man down for the remainder of the half. Dias finally got his chance moments later. A Ronaldo free-kick was hit out by Livakovic, which found Dias for the equalizer. It was 1:1 in the 52nd.

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Slobodan Kadic

Unfortunately, Joao Felix gave Portugal the 1:2 lead in the 60th.

Dalic made his first substitution in the 63rd minute - Brekalo came in for Pasalic. Not even one minute later, Kovacic scored again for 2:2!

Brilliant footwork between Vlasic, Bradaric, Kovacic, and Brekalo almost made it 3:2 for Croatia, and a solid Skoric and Livakovic made sure Portugal didn't score. 

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Slobodan Kadic

Dalic made his second substitution of the match in the 83rd minute - Mislav Orsic came in for Vlasic.

A goalkeeper gaffe saw Dias score for the Portugal lead in the 90th minute. Dalic substituted Basic for Kovacic seconds later. The match ended 2:3 for Portugal. 

With this result, Croatia remains in 3rd place and thus maintains their spot in the Nations League elite group. 

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

Tuesday, 17 November 2020

Croatia will be Pride of People Again, Says Dalic Ahead of Portugal at Poljud

November 17, 2020 - Croatia national team coach Zlatko Dalic held a press conference before the final Nations League match this season when the 2018 World Cup finalists will host the 2016 European champions Portugal at Poljud in Split. 

Everyone must do their best

"In Portugal and in the first half in Sweden, we were not aggressive, combative, compact, we ran a little, and against such quality rivals you can't be at 80 percent, but everyone has to do their best. We were in trouble there. In Portugal, we didn't manage: they played their game, and we were weak. This game means a lot to us, we want to stay in League A, and I hope for an interesting and solid game."

We will be the pride of our people again

"I am aware that the results and our game are not good; no one has to tell me that. This is not the level of a year or two ago; this is our reality. This is the process of creating a new national team, and I stand behind it. I am sure that we will do everything to make it much better in March and at the Euros, to be competitive. I told the players that they must not stop believing in themselves and their quality and that one or two defeats cannot erase all the good from the past and that we will be at the level again, a national team that is the pride of our people. It doesn't look like that now, but it is the best that Croatia has now. We are fighting, we agree, and we are going to get a good result tomorrow to finish this year nicely."

A coach full of motivation and energy

"I am frustrated with the situation around me, but this is my job. I must not show dissatisfaction, and I have to get the most out of it because it was my dream to be the Croatia coach, and I am proud of it. I am full of motivation and energy to do something, and nothing will shake me. I'm a coach; I know the pressure is huge, but I'm not afraid of anything; I'm doing the best I can. I've done everything I imagined."

Let them show and prove themselves

"Pongračić dropped out today, we don't have seven or eight first-team players, and we have a lot of problems that we have to solve from hour to hour. I have an idea of ​​the lineup; Bradarić will go to the left flank; I want to give him a chance at his stadium because I think he is the future. Lovren is our only stopper so far, so we called Škorić, there is also Juranović. Everyone is in rhythm, everyone is playing, and they will get a chance, let them show and prove themselves. Neither Budimir nor Petković can last the whole game. We miss the last midfielder; without that, we have problems, and we will try to find a solution so that Modrić and Kovačić can be turned towards the attack. We always want to win."

Portugal is one of the best

"Portugal is a great team, it has quality players, and they want to win every game, just like us. We don't expect an easy job, Portugal is one of the best. They have young players like Felix and Jota, who fit in well with the older ones like Ronaldo and Pepe. They rightly hope for a great result again. We are second in the world, and we try to stay that way. We are going through a change of generations, so we are not at the level we were, but we will be there again, and we will be competitive with the best like Portugal, Spain, and France."

Cristiano Ronaldo

"The fact that Ronaldo came to play this game that is not the fight for first place spoke enough about his motivation and desire. He came to play against Croatia, he was not in previous matches, and he is a really great player. Like our Luka, he is doing his best at the age of 35."

Source: HNS

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

Sunday, 15 November 2020

Zlatko Dalic After Croatia's Defeat: It's Not an Easy Time for Us, We Need to Beat Portugal

November 15, 2020 - Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic addressed the press after Croatia's defeat to Sweden on Saturday evening in Solna. 

Zlatko Dalic, the Croatia national team coach, held a press conference after the UEFA Nations League match between Sweden and Croatia in Solna (2:1).

Sweden was the better opponent

"Congratulations to Sweden on the win; they were better than us, especially in the first half, when we didn't respond to their aggressiveness, speed, and mobility. That was our problem. In the second half, we were better, more aggressive, and more compact, but that wasn't enough. Then we showed will and energy; that's the positive thing about this game."

No surprises

"Sweden didn't surprise me, they showed us a good game in Zagreb, and they lacked a bit of luck against Portugal and France. They have good individuals, and they played well as a team."

We need to fix the impression of Croatia

"Portugal and France already know their positions, but they are great teams and will not relax in the last round. We must try to improve the impression of us and the result and try to beat Portugal. Our goal is to stay in the elite group, it is vital to us as World Cup finalists, and we will do everything to stay."

Dejan Kulusevski

"He was justifiably named the player of the match; he showed great quality. Sweden has a great individual who can play in several positions, and he is also good at Juventus. He is young and will play at a high level for years; he impressed me."

Problems for Croatia

"We're slowly going into a generational shift; we're having problems. It's not an easy time for us, we've been missing seven or eight first-teamers, and we can't wait for all this to end."

Source: HNS

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

Monday, 9 November 2020

Coach Zlatko Dalic Announces Updated Croatia Lineup

November 9, 2020 - The Croatia national team gathered on Monday ahead of its upcoming matches against Turkey, Sweden, and Portugal. Coach Zlatko Dalic announced an updated Croatia lineup and game plan.

The Croatia national football team is expected to play three matches in just six days. The 2018 World Cup finalists will play against Turkey in a friendly match on November 11, followed by their final Nations League campaign against Sweden on November 14 and in Split against Portugal on November 17.

Dejan Lovren was dropped from the squad at the last minute for the friendly match, and the Zenit stopper cannot play against Sweden due to cards. Lovren will thus join the national team in Split.

"I expect all invited players to come throughout the day and everyone to attend training. I know there were some problems, but we don't have any new announcements regarding absences. The only one who will be absent is Lovren, in agreement with me. He will stay in Russia and join the national team when we come to Split. He has a minor tendon injury and two yellow cards, so we don't have him against Sweden. We know that Kramaric will not attend due to injury, and the others on the list are all there," said Dalic.

The national team includes debutants Tomo Basic of Bordeaux and Marin Pongracic of Wolfsburg.

"Basic deserved an invitation based on his games for his club, and we want to try Pongracic, who has already received an invitation several times but could not come due to injuries. This time he is healthy, but I know he has been absent for a long time. I want him to be in the national team and feel the atmosphere," said Dalic.

Livakovic was also dropped from the lineup. Dalic thus has Kalinic, Grbic, and Sluga at his disposal, who will probably get a chance ahead of the others.

"Lovre Kalinic has been with us for a long time, but he hasn't been goalkeeping lately. There aren't many dilemmas because Sluga is the only one regularly in goal; he has rhythm and form. We will try to give a chance to two goalkeepers depending on the situation. I hope that Livakovic will be ready soon, he could join us already during these matches, but we will not rush with him. I trust the goalkeepers who are there," concluded Dalic.

Source: HNS

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

Wednesday, 14 October 2020

UEFA Nations League: France Better than Croatia in Zagreb

October 14, 2020 - France was better than Croatia in Zagreb in the 4th round match of the UEFA Nations League. 

The Croatia national team met France in the 4th round of the Nations League on Wednesday at Maksimir Stadium in Zagreb. Seven thousand fans (30% of the stadium) were there to cheer on Croatia.

Croatia beat Sweden 2:1 at the same stadium on Sunday and took third place in the group. With a victory against France, they would join the fight to win the group. 

Coach Zlatko Dalic changed the starting formation a bit from Sunday's match against Sweden. While Livakovic stayed in goal, the backline included Borna Barisic, Domagoj Vida, Dejan Lovren, and Filip Uremovic. The midfield featured Luka Modric and Milan Badelj, with Nikola Vlasic as the attacking midfielder. Ivan Perisic and Mario Pasalic were on the wings, with Bruno Petkovic up top. Marcelo Brozovic had to sit this game out due to cards. 

France coach Didier Deschamps, on the other hand, sent his strongest players in the attack, and decided to rotate the midfield - Lloris; Mendy, Varane, Lenglet, Digne; Tolisso, N'Zonzi, Rabiot; Mbappé, Griezmann, Martial.

The first five minutes of the match was even, and Croatia even had a chance to attack thanks to a quick run by Bruno Petkovic. However, it was France to find the back of the net first after Griezmann nailed the upper corner of the goal in the 8th minute for 0:1. 

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Slobodan Kadic

France danced around Croatia's defense and had what seemed like another sure chance in the 15th minute though Mbappe luckily hit wide. 

Five minutes later, Lovren had a chance with a header off a Croatia corner kick which went over the goal. 

A foul on Petkovic awarded Croatia a free-kick just outside the box in the 24th minute. Perisic hit just over the crossbar.

Vlasic took the France midfield in a quick counter-attack that found Barisic in the box, though Croatia was unable to capitalize. They certainly picked their momentum. 

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Slobodan Kadic

Croatia spent the better part of the next ten minutes in France's half. Perisic and Petkovic called for a handball in the box in the 35th minute after a brilliant play by Vlasic and Pasalic, but the ref let them play on.

Petkovic capitalized on a Mendy mistake in the 42nd minute and proceeded to get fouled again outside of the box, though there was no whistle to be heard. 

A header from a France free-kick in the 44th minute made it close to being 0:2 but the match ended 0:1 at the half.  

The second half began with some changes by Dalic. Kovacic and Brekalo were subbed on for Badelj and Pasalic.

Within the first two minutes, Perisic had a great attack on goal, though no one was in the box in time to receive his cross. Nikola Vlasic hit a rocket in the 52nd minute which just missed the goal. 

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Slobodan Kadic

Croatia was aggressive at the start of the second half and gave France little chance of moving their attacking game. Modric and Petkovic worked their way into the box often but the France defense held their backline. 

Petkovic came out for Ante Budimir in the 60th minute.

After continued pressing from Croatia, it finally happened. Split wunderkind Nikola Vlasic did it again and scored the equalizer for 1:1 in the 64th minute! 

The Croatia crowd found new energy to cheer and chant in the minutes that followed, which gave Croatia the strength to carry on. 

France was awarded a corner that shouldn't have been which resulted in a crowd in front of Croatia's goal and quick reaction from the defense to clear the ball. Croatia was lucky France didn't retake the lead. 

Bradaric came on for Perisic in the 78th minute.

Unfortunately, a long ball from Pogba found Mbappe who caught the Croatian defense off guard to score for 1:2 in the 79th minute. Dalic subbed Kramaric on for Vlasic one minute later. 

Brekalo hit a rocket from just outside the box in the 85th minute which gave Lloris a tough time to save. Croatia was not giving up hope. 

Modric found Kramaric for a chance in the 89th minute which Lloris saved again. More chances for Croatia in the final minutes of added time also proved unsuccessful. The match ended 1:2 for France.

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Slobodan Kadic

Croatia's Nations League campaign continues next month against Sweden away and Portugal at Poljud Stadium in Split. 

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

Saturday, 27 June 2020

UEFA Nations League Schedule Confirmed: Croatia National Team Returns in September

June 27, 2020 - The Croatia national team will return this September for their first game in 10 months. 

UEFA announced the exact schedule for the Nations League competition on Friday. HRT reports that the Croatia national team, who will play in group A3, will open the competition with a visit to the defending champions Portugal on September 5 at 20:45. It will be the first game for the 'Vatreni' after a 10-month break.

Zlatko Dalic's team will be tested for the second time in this competition on September 8 against the 2018 World Champions, France, also played away. In the third round, Croatia will meet Sweden at home on October 11 (at 18:00), and three days later, they will play against France again, but at home (20:45).

In the fifth round, on November 14, Croatia will play against Sweden (20:45), and the competition will end on November 17 at home, where they will meet Portugal (20:45).

The winner of the first edition of the Nations League was Portugal. The winner of the UEFA competition wins 7.5 million euro, and each participant in League A will receive 1.5 million euro, while in the lower leagues (groups B, C and D) the prize pool is slightly lower. The total prize pool has increased from 76.25 million to 81.5 million euro because there are now 16 teams in the A league, not just 12.

You can find the full match schedule in the elite class of the Nations League below. 

LEAGUE A
Group 1
Round 1 - September 4
Italy - Bosnia and Herzegovina
Netherlands - Poland
Round 2 - September 7
Bosnia and Herzegovina - Poland
Netherlands - Italy
Round 3 - October 11
Bosnia and Herzegovina - Netherlands
Poland - Italy
4 Round - October 14
Italy - Netherlands
Poland - Bosnia and Herzegovina
Round 5 - November 15
Italy - Poland
Netherlands - Bosnia and Herzegovina
Round 6 - November 18
Bosnia and Herzegovina - Italy
Poland - Netherlands
Group 2
Round 1 - September 5:
Iceland - England
Denmark - Belgium
Round 2 - September 8:
Belgium - Iceland
Denmark - England
Round 3 - October 11
England - Belgium
Iceland - Denmark
Round 4 - October 14
England - Denmark
Iceland - Belgium
Round 5 - November 15
Belgium - England
Denmark - Iceland
Round 6 - November 18
Belgium - Denmark
England - Iceland
Group 3
Round 1 - September 5
Portugal - CROATIA
Sweden - France
Round 2 - September 8
France - CROATIA
Sweden - Portugal
Round 3 - October 11
CROATIA - Sweden
France - Portugal
Round 4 - October 14
CROATIA - France
Portugal - Sweden
Round 5 - November 14
Portugal - France
Sweden - CROATIA
Round 6 - November 17
CROATIA - Portugal
France - Sweden

Group 4
Round 1 - September 3
Germany - Spain
Ukraine - Switzerland
Round 2 - September 6
Spain - Ukraine
Switzerland - Germany
Round 3 -
Spain - Switzerland
Ukraine - Germany
Round 4 -
Germany - Switzerland
Ukraine - Spain
Round 5 -
Germany - Ukraine
Switzerland - Spain
Round 6 -
Spain - Germany
Switzerland - Ukraine
NOTE: The group winners will play in the final tournament

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

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Croatia Remains in Elite Group of UEFA Nations League after Format Change

September 25, 2019 - Although the Croatia national team was relegated to League B of the UEFA Nations League last year, a format change keeps them with the elite teams in the competition. 

A meeting of the UEFA Executive Board was held in Ljubljana on Tuesday, deciding that the Elite group of of the Nations League (League A) would be expanded to 16 teams instead of the previous 12 national teams.

Thus, Croatia will remain in the highest-ranking group,  irrespective of the fact that they placed last when they were grouped with England and Spain. Recall, Croatia opened the Nations League last year with a 6:0 loss to Spain, and drew against England in Rijeka behind closed doors. Croatia then fantastically topped Spain in Zagreb 3:2, and lost 2:1 to England at Wembley. 

“The UEFA Nations League will have a new league structure comprising 16 teams in Leagues A, B and C and 7 teams in League D, as of the 2020/21 edition. The teams are allocated to leagues based on the overall ranking following the 2018/19 inaugural UEFA Nations League.

This change to the format follows a consultation process which involved all of UEFA's 55 national associations and reflects upon their desire to further minimise the number of friendly matches.

In addition, it enhances sporting fairness as all teams in the same group will play their last match on the same day and at the same time,” writes UEFA

In addition to Croatia, who will again play against Europe's strongest teams, Germany, Poland and Iceland will remain in League A, though they should have also been relegated. It is not yet decided what exactly the Nations League standings will mean for the 2022 World Cup, but that should be known soon.

The teams will be divided into four groups of four teams, and the group winners will compete in the Nations League final tournament (semifinal, match for third place and the final) in June 2021. The group draw is scheduled for March 3, 2020, in Amsterdam. The competition itself will start in the autumn of 2020 and will be played in September, October, and November.

Nations League Groups:

League A: Croatia, Germany, Poland, Iceland, Sweden, Ukraine, Denmark, Portugal, Netherlands, BiH, England, Switzerland, Belgium, France, Spain, Italy.

League B: Russia, Austria, Wales, Czech Republic, Scotland, Norway, Serbia, Finland, Slovakia, Turkey, Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Bulgaria, Israel, Hungary, Romania.

League C: Greece, Albania, Montenegro, Georgia, Northern Macedonia, Kosovo, Belarus, Cyprus, Estonia, Slovenia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Moldova

League D: Gibraltar, Faroe Islands, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Andorra, Malta and San Marino.

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

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Euro 2020 Qualifying Draw: Despite Nations League Relegation, Croatia Still Top Seed

Croatia will still be a top seed in the Euro 2020 qualifying draw despite being relegated from the Nations League on Sunday. 

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