Sunday, 5 June 2022

France and Croatia Press Conferences Held Ahead of UEFA Nations League at Poljud

June 5, 2022 - France and Croatia press conferences were held at Poljud Stadium on Sunday ahead of the UEFA Nations League match on Monday in Split. 

The France captain for tomorrow's match, Presnel Kimpembe, and France coach Didier Deschamps opened the press conference at Poljud. 

Who will be the France captain? How will you play an exhausted Griezmann?

"Kimpembe will be the captain, no doubt about it. As for Griezmann, I will not judge him by one game as you do. At the end of the season, the situation is complicated for everyone. But, both for us and for Croatia, not everyone is fresh, that is clear."

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Will the tactics change because you are without some of your big players? 

"We have to give a chance to other players. For example, Lloris is the main goalkeeper, but we must also give Mike Maignan a chance to play. We planned to change before, and there are no surprising changes."

Will Mbappe play against Croatia?

"We have not given up on Mbappe for the match, We have five injured players, including Benzema. We will see who will be ready for the match."

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How do you see this rejuvenated Croatia?

"It should be noted that Croatia started the game well, but Austria was fresher. We are used to playing against Croatia and I hope that the game will be positive for us."

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France held a training session in which four players trained on a stationary bike, while the others practiced on the pitch. Mbappe, Kounde, Kante, and Coman trained on stationary bikes, while Benzema ran laps around the pitch. 

Coach Zlatko Dalić and captain Luka Modrić opened the press conference for Croatia. Luka was asked questions first: 

"We did not expect that defeat against Austria. It was a tough defeat for us. We need to look forward and not calculate too much and be depressed about it. We have France tomorrow. It's never nice to lose but maybe it's good to lose sometimes to see where our mistakes are. It's not easy to win when we aren't at our best. We will see tomorrow.

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We need to be focused. We know a tough game awaits us. We know our record against France isn't great. We are still waiting for a win. We need to believe that we can win. It'll be a full Poljud. We need to use that as a motive and turn around that losing streak. 

We know it's tough for everyone at the end of the season. It's not easy to play 4 games in 11 days in the Nations League. You are put in that situation and you need to pull through. Maybe these games would be better played in a mini-tournament instead of like this. But this is how it is. We need to be maximally focused, give our all, and do all that we can. That's how we have been preparing for tomorrow."

What about playing against Benzema?

"We both feel amazing. Everything we have done this year is amazing. Winning the 5th Champions League title is incredible. Benzema and I haven't spoken about this game yet. I just hope he won't be in the same form as he has been for tomorrow's game."

Coach Zlatko Dalić took the floor. 

"It was not a good loss. We didn't expect that against Austria. All of my losses have been in the Nations League, but we need to keep our heads up and see what we can do. We want to make up for the loss against Austria. 

Belgium, France, England, and Croatia all lost in the first round of the Nations League. Even with France playing without some of their starters tomorrow, their second team is incredible. They will always be amazing - we need to make sure we are. Every game for Croatia is important. We want to stay in the Elite Nations League."

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated sports section

Friday, 3 June 2022

Croatia Nations League Campaign Kicks Off with Shock Defeat to Austria (0:3)

June 3, 2022 - A troubling display in Osijek tonight as the Croatia Nations League campaign kicks off with a 0:3 defeat to Austria.

The Croatia-Austria match was the first in a series of four UEFA Nations League matches the national team will play in 11 days this month. 

On paper, Austria was the easiest opponent for Croatia in this year's Nations League edition, which will serve as preparation for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Croatia was after three points at City Garden tonight, as the next three matches will be even tougher to win points. 

Tonight's match was also the final for the national team at City Garden, as the new Pampas stadium will be used in Osijek from next year.

Lineups

Austria: Lindner - Danso, Trauner, Wöber - Lainer, Laimer, Schlager, Weimann - Sabitzer - Arnautović, Onisiwo

Croatia: Ivušić - Juranović, Pongračić, Ćaleta-Car, Sosa - Brozović, Kovačić, Pašalić - Majer, Kramarić, Brekalo

Recall, Croatia was without Perišić, Gvardiol, Musa, and Livaja, while Luka Modrić will get some rest in this match after winning the Champions League with Real Madrid.

Recap

Croatia had their first chance of the match already in the 2nd minute. Brekalo found Pasalic in the penalty area. In the 8th minute, Majer found Kramaric on the far post and Lainer's reaction nearly caused an own goal. 

Kramaric's shot was blocked in the 14th minute after which Brozovic also had a chance. Croatia was hungry for an early goal. 

Croatia's best chance so far came in the 18th minute. Brekalo again found Pasalic running into the box who missed with his head. 

Pasalic had another chance in front of the goal from a corner in the 21st minute, and Austria had a chance just wide of the goal moments later.

Another chance for Croatia in the 25th minute - Brozovic played the Austria defense to find Pasalic open in the box who shot a second too late. 

Kovacic had the first shot on target in the 28th minute, which was pushed out by the Austria keeper for a corner. Kramaric shot at the keeper in the 31st which went out for another corner. 

Sosa lost the ball in the defense giving Arnautovic a shot on goal, which he luckily hit over. But Austria got their goal in the end - Arnautovic scored for 0:1 in the 41st minute. 

Majer hit the near post for a corner in the 44th minute. The first half ended 0:1 for Austria. 

Borna Barisic went on for Borna Sosa at the start of the second half. 

Croatia came out motivated at the start of the second half. Brekalo and Majer found Pasalic who had a chance in front of the goal in the 47th minute, after which Brozovic missed a chance. 

Ivusic brilliantly defended an Austria shot, though Austria caught the Croatia defense asleep shortly after. Gregoritsch calmly put the ball in the back of the net for 0:2 in the 53rd minute - and in the 57th minute, Austria made it 0:3. 

Dalic subbed off Kramaric, Majer, and Pasalic for Modrić, Budimir, and Vlasic a minute later.

Croatia's shaky defense and inability to find the back of the net did not make for a pleasant atmosphere at City Garden. 

Kovacic came off for Orsic in the 70th minute.

Croatia was without any solid chances in the second half and was lucky that Austria didn't increase their lead. 

The ref added 3 minutes of stoppage time, but the match ended 0:3 for Austria. 

Croatia will welcome France on Monday in Split, followed by the first two away games in Group 1 - on June 10 in Denmark and on June 13 in France. All matches are played at 20:45.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated sports section

Monday, 30 May 2022

Croatia Nations League Gathering: Perišić Out, Musa and Livaja Questionable

May 30, 2022 - The Croatia Nations League gathering is held today before the Vatreni plays their first match against Austria in Osijek on June 3. 

Croatia national football team coach Zlatko Dalić has announced the first Nations League match against Austria, which will be played on June 3 in Osijek, reports Gol.hr and Index.hr.

It will be great preparation for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, which awaits us at the end of this year. After Austria at City Garden Stadium, Croatia will go to Poljud against France, which should come with its biggest stars.

Four days later, on June 10, Croatia will play against Denmark away, and on June 13, Croatia will head to Paris to meet France in the return match.

It is already known that Ivan Perišić will not compete in this June Nations League campaign due to injury. Still, two other players are in question - Petar Musa and Marko Livaja.

"Unfortunately, Perišić dropped out. He may have been in the best shape of all the players, but now the most important thing is recovering and being ready for the World Cup. Petar Musa, who is ill, will probably drop out, but Marko Livaja is also sick. That is why we invited Luka Ivanušec. I am incredibly sorry for Musa, who was supposed to be with us for the first time today.

Many have had good seasons, but it's six months until the World Cup. Our quality is unquestionable because we have the backbone of the older players. The younger ones are also coming. For Musa, this was supposed to be a good test. I hope that during the summer, those who have problems in their clubs will solve them to be even better. I don’t have any bad insights about last year. A lot of good things have been done."

Dalić says he wants to test all the players in four Nations League matches but that the result is very much the priority.

"We want to be good, competitive. Try all the players we invited, but the result is important. It will be a problem that the boys have been on vacation for seven or eight days, but everyone is like that. We will play in our system 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1. We are going for the victory in every match," said Dalić.

And what about Modrić?

"Luka Modrić is coming tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. After everything he has done, he will compete in Osijek and Paris, i.e., all four matches. We need him to be in good health. We will see how much and how he will play in Osijek. After training, we'll see whether we need to call anyone else."

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated sports section

Saturday, 29 January 2022

Croatia and France at Poljud: June 2022 UEFA Nations League Host Cities Announced

January 29, 2022 - It'll be a replay of the 2018 World Cup final, with the Croatian Football Federation announcing the 2022 Nations League match between Croatia and France will be played at Poljud on June 6, 2022. 

The Croatian Football Federation Executive Board has decided on the venues for the Croatia national team matches in the UEFA Nations League, opening in June this year, reports HNS

The 2018 World Cup finalist will host Austria on June 3 at City Garden Stadium in Osijek (20:45), and three days later a replay of the 2018 World Cup final between Croatia and France at Poljud in Split. The long-awaited spectacle against the 2018 world champions will also be played in the evening (20:45).

In this June mini-cycle, the Croatia national team will also face Denmark (June 10) and France (June 13), both away. Croatia completes the Nations League in September with Denmark at home (September 22) and Austria away on September 25 (stadium to be determined). 

Thus, four Nations League rounds will be played from June 2 to 14, and the remaining two in the second half of September (from 22 to 27).

The Croatian Football Federation will announce ticket sale information in due time, but if the final 2022 World Cup qualifying match against Russia last November tells us anything, we can expect a sellout at Poljud Stadium in June - with hopefully much nicer weather. 

Croatia will not rest at the end of March, either. While the remaining second-placed European national teams will play additional World Cup qualifications, Croatia could play up to three friendly matches as part of their World Cup preparations.

Furthermore, the World Cup group draw will be held on April 1, 2022, in Doha. On that day, coach Dalić and the players will learn the three national teams they will compete against in the group stage of the World Cup. The 2022 World Cup will be hosted by Qatar from November 21 to December 18 this year. 

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

Friday, 17 December 2021

UEFA Nation's League Group 1 Schedule: Croatia Opens against Austria and France at Home

December 17, 2021 - The UEFA Nation's League Group 1 schedule has been announced. Croatia will open the competition with home games against Austria and France next June. 

The European Football Federation (UEFA) has announced the Nations League Group 1 schedule, which features the national teams of Croatia, France, Denmark, and Austria.

"We are in the elite group and every opponent is tough, but I can say that the draw was not bad. It seems to me that it will be easier than the first two years and I expect, of course, good results. I was expecting Italy, but we got France from the strongest hat. There is no way we can avoid them and I guess we have to play until we beat them. Austria and Denmark are national teams we can play with," was how Croatia coach Zlatko Dalić reacted to the draw held on Friday. 

"The Nations League is always important, but it has caused me problems in the past because we were not successful. Now I expect better games and to present ourselves properly. There will be good matches, the group is great and everything will be great preparation for the World Cup in Qatar," concluded Dalić.

Croatia will open the competition in June next year with home games against Austria (June 3) and France (June 6). This will be followed by away matches against Denmark (June 10) and France (June 13). Croatia will play at home against Denmark on September 22 and visit Austria on September 25 to close out the group stage. 

The cities hosting the group matches will be announced at a late date.

SCHEDULE

June 3, 2022: Croatia - Austria

June 6, 2022: Croatia - France

June 10, 2022: Denmark - Croatia

June 13, 2022: France - Croatia

September 22, 2022: Croatia - Denmark

September 25, 2022: Austria - Croatia

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

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.

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