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. 

Friday, 16 November 2018

UEFA Nations League: Incredible Croatia Stun Spain at Sold Out Maksimir!

November 15, 2018 - Croatia still has a shot in the UEFA Nations League after an incredible last minute win against Spain in Zagreb. 

Monday, 12 November 2018

Zlatko Dalić Wants Full Maksimir, Reveals Good and Bad News Ahead of Spain

Zlatko Dalić announced the game between Croatia and Spain for the UEFA Nations League in Zagreb on Thursday. 

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

UEFA Rejects Part of Maksimir Stadium for Upcoming Nations League Game?

Did UEFA reject the upper West stands of Maksimir stadium for Croatia's upcoming Nations League match against Spain?

Friday, 27 July 2018

Nations League: World Cup Finalists Kick Off Against Spain in September

Croatia will fight in the new UEFA Nations League against Spain and England. 

Monday, 16 April 2018

UEFA Nations League Prep: HNS Announces Friendly Matches Against Portugal and Jordan

More friendly matches have been announced for the Croatia national football team, and this time in preparation for the new Nations League. 

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