Friday, 27 May 2022

Croatia and Saudi Arabia Friendly Scheduled Ahead of 2022 World Cup

May 27, 2022 - Croatia and Saudi Arabia will play a friendly match on November 16 in Riyadh ahead of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

The Croatia national football team will play a friendly match against Saudi Arabia in Riyadh on November 16, 2022, reports HNS.

This will be the last test for Croatia before the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Saudi Arabia is the 49th national team in the world based on the FIFA rankings, and will also play at the World Cup, in Group C with Argentina, Mexico, and Poland.

"We are pleased about this agreement with Saudi Arabia, which will be a good last test for the Vatreni before the World Cup. Thus, we fulfilled the wish of the coach and our staff to play a match near Qatar for acclimatization. From the organizational point of view, HNS will, as always, provide maximum support to the national team before and during the World Cup, which the 2018 World Cup finalists deserve. I believe that with the quality and togetherness, which the Croatia national team certainly has, we will once again have reason to rejoice with the Vatreni," said the President of the Croatian Football Federation, Marijan Kustić.

"Given the unusually short preparations for the World Cup, we wanted to be in the Middle East from the first day of the gathering to acclimatize as soon as possible to the conditions that await us in Qatar and therefore see this meeting in Riyadh as an ideal stop for the final test before the World Cup. Saudi Arabia is a regular participant in the World Cup, one of the best teams in Asia, and we will be tested against a non-European team, which we rarely play against, and which will certainly be motivated against the World Cup finalists," said Croatia coach Zlatko Dalić.

"We are thrilled that we will play the last preparatory match before the World Cup against the current World Cup finalists. We want to get the most out of this game in technical and tactical terms. It will be a big test for our players before the first game at the World Cup in Qatar," said the coach of Saudi Arabia, Herve Renard.

The national team will gather on November 14, and after the match against Saudi Arabia on November 18, they will stay at their camp in Doha.

As a reminder, Croatia will open the World Cup in Qatar on November 23 at 11 am at the Al Bayt Stadium against Morocco. The second match will be played on November 27 at 5 pm at the Khalifa International Stadium against Canada. The third is on December 1 at 4 pm at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium against Belgium.

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

Tuesday, 5 April 2022

HNS Chooses New Croatia World Cup Camp in Doha

April 5, 2022 - The Croatia World Cup camp in Doha has been changed from the Dusit Hotel to the Hilton Doha Hotel. The final contract should be signed by April 30.

The Croatian Football Federation used the opportunity to change its priority option for the Croatia national team base camp during this year's World Cup in Qatar. Thus, the Vatreni will stay at the Hilton Doha during the tournament, announced HNS.

After the right to book the Hilton Doha hotel was lost by one of the national teams that failed to qualify for the final tournament, HNS reacted quickly and changed its priority from the Dusit Hotel to the Hilton Doha Hotel.

Attached to the Hilton Hotel is the Al Ersal 3 training center, identical to the Al Ersal 2 training center where the national team trained during its stay at the friendly tournament in Doha. Superior conditions in the training center compared to the Dusit Hotel's Al Gharafa center are crucial factors for changing the camp. In addition, Hilton Doha is one of only five hotels among the 40 offered in the Fifa catalog, which has its own beach and a pleasant outdoor environment. 

"Dusit is an excellent hotel that met all our conditions, but when the opportunity arose to book this camp, we reacted quickly, made an inspection visit, and quickly agreed on everything with the coach and captain who supported the change. The main advantage is a training center that is much closer to the hotel and has better conditions for players. That was our priority in the selection," said the president of HNS, Marijan Kustić.

"The Federation reacted brilliantly in less than 24 hours, as soon as the chance arose to enter the Hilton. Dusit is a great hotel, but here we have an objectively much better training center, which we met during this tournament and will provide us with perfect working conditions. In addition, players will be much more comfortable when they can drink coffee and socialize in the fresh air during the day, which is much more difficult in classic city hotels like Dusit. As FIFA has provided only five hotels for this profile, we are very pleased to have booked one. This is a great victory for the Croatian delegation, and I congratulate the management and the team from the HNS administration on the work done," said coach Zlatko Dalic.

HNS thus now has a secured priority option at the Hilton Doha / Al Ersal 3 camp, and the final contract should be signed by April 30, the deadline for all national teams to change their base camp.

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

Wednesday, 2 February 2022

Croatia to Play in Doha Friendly Tournament this March as 2022 World Cup Prep

February 2, 2022 - The Croatia national team will participate in a Doha friendly tournament next month as preparation for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar this December. 

The Croatian Football Federation management has agreed that the Croatia national team will play a friendly tournament in Qatar in March. Croatia will play two matches in Doha, reports HNS.

Croatia will face Slovenia on March 26 and will play Bulgaria three days later. The national team of Qatar will also play in the tournament, against Bulgaria (March 26) and Slovenia (March 29). The matches will be played at the stadiums in Doha where the FIFA World Cup matches will be played. The exact timetables and stadiums will be defined later, and HNS will inform fans in a timely manner about the possibilities of buying tickets.

"We wanted to play in Doha in March, so I thank the leadership of the Federation for agreeing to participate in this tournament - it will be a great opportunity to get to know Qatar and feel the conditions that await us - climate, infrastructure, culture.

I think the opponents are tailor-made, two quality teams that will be a good test for what awaits us next. First of all, we are looking forward to the gathering, to continue to build a community that will be key to success in the competitions that await us later in the year," said the Croatia national team coach, Zlatko Dalić.

"We are glad that we have reached an agreement on participating in this tournament in Doha, given the desire of the coach Dalić and the national team to play in Qatar, so that we can acclimatize to everything that awaits us at the end of the year. The most important thing is that our direct placement in Qatar has enabled us a peaceful year in which we can prepare well for the World Cup, and participating in this tournament will be an important step in that direction," said HNS President Marijan Kustić.

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

Monday, 8 November 2021

"First Malta, then Russia at Poljud": Dalić Readies for Croatia's Final 2022 World Cup Qualifiers

November 8, 2021 - Croatia national team coach Zlatko Dalić is maximally focused on the upcoming decisive matches for a spot at the World Cup in Qatar next year. Croatia plays Malta first away (November 11), then Russia at Poljud (November 14),

Dalić points out that the first game is the most important, reports HNS.

"We have two games ahead of us; two victories separate us from our goal. Given the state we have been in the last five games, I am optimistic. The first game that comes is always the most important. Malta is very important because, with a victory, we open the fight for first place in Split against Russia. Of course, Malta is an opponent who cannot match us, but we must be serious, patient, and responsible. Malta has been training for seven days, they want to oppose us, but if we are good, we will win. At no point do I want, nor will I talk about Russia until Split. There is no talk about Russia," says Dalić, who referred to the team's current condition. 

"Kovačić dropped out before, and we will miss him very much. Brekalo will come to the gathering, we will do an examination, and if something suspicious comes about and he is not ready, he will return to his club. Thanks to Ivan Jurić and Turin for allowing us to do that; if he is not one hundred percent ready, he will continue to recover at his club. Sučić suffered an unpleasant blow, so he will also have a check-up, and captain Modrić is much better, and we will see what will happen with him in the next two or three days. Luka had a fever; he had a virus, and couldn't compete in Real's last game. Of course, this is not an ideal situation, we will try to train him for Malta, but if he is not one hundred percent, we will not force him because we need the readiest players for Malta. However, I hope that Luka will be OK."

The day before the national team gathering, the coach subsequently sent invitations to Bruno Petković and Lovro Majer.

"We have two games ahead of us, during which we can only win. So we have nothing to defend and calculate; we need to be at a high level in the attack. Majer left a very good impression in September, then, unfortunately, he got injured, but now he is healthy and brings us more quality in that segment of the game. And Petković's quality was not disputable; it just didn't have continuity. He has raised his form in the last games, and he can help us with his qualities. We will have an exceptional 25 players; we must not allow any surprises so as not to get stuck at the last minute. Petković and Majer are in very good shape, and there were no doubts. Petković's position? In the position he plays at Dinamo. We have the best players in the world - Brozović and Modrić; he must finish for the national team, and a goal is important to us against Malta and Russia. So, Bruno will be used as a striker."

As a coach, Dalić has already led decisive matches on several occasions, so the current situation is not unusual.

"The pressure is always there, but I don't feel it. These are important matches for us because we want to avoid tough additional qualifications, but there is always pressure and desire without which you cannot work properly. We have to be ready for everything, expectations are high, but we are going step by step."

Given the frequent injuries, the coach has rotated a lot of players in the defense. But now, everyone is ready.

"And my wish is to have a standard team. In Russia, there were always eleven players who started matches, but now, I was forced to rotate due to the circumstances. We changed, we tried, it took seven days to distribute the forces. The players play from Wednesday - Sunday, viruses happen, immunity drops, fatigue occurs, and I have to take care of all that. Croatia has not been so powerful in stopper positions for a long time; we have great players in big clubs. The best ones will play, while Gvardiol has the advantage over everyone. He is left-footed and plays well at his club. And we finally have a left-footer in the position of the left stopper. We will see who will play on the right side."

Before the match against Russia, Dalić does not want to leave anything to chance.

"In Malta, for the first time in my term, we will stay there to sleep after the game. The match in Split is played at 3 pm, so we need to try to make sure that we get a good rest before Russia. We have to beat Malta, and after that, we will see what condition we are in. I really don't mean to worry about whether we will keep a player for Russia. Of course, we will rest some players in case of a favorable result, but let's not talk about Russia. I know that the focus is on that game, but for me, Russia is not a topic until we beat Malta," concluded the coach.

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

Monday, 25 October 2021

Dalić Announces 30-man Roster to Face Malta and Russia in November

October 25, 2021 - The latest news on the Croatian national football team, as Zlatko Dalić announces a list of 24 players called up and another 6 players on stand-by for the matches against Malta and Russia in November, the last two to define the qualification for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

The Croatian national football team will face their Maltese counterparts in Ta 'Qali on November 11 at 8:45 p.m. And on November 14, at 3:00 p.m., Croatia will host the Russian national team at the Poljud to define the winner of Group H. Dalić and his players beat Cyprus 3-0 and drew 2-2 against Slovakia in Osijek in the previous round of matches. Now, in their last two group matches, they hope to take all six points to seal their direct qualification to the Qatar World Cup in 2022 and avoid the playoffs. It will not be easy since, in addition to visiting Malta, they will face their direct rival for qualification, Russia.

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(Croatian Football Federation on Facebook)

For the matches against Malta and Russia, Dalić has presented a roster of 24 players and another six on stand-by. Compared to their last list to face Cyprus and Slovakia, it is worth highlighting that Dalić announces the return of Simon Sluga (Luton Town) in goal, and Duje Ćaleta-Car (Marseille) and Marin Pongračić (Dortmund) in defense, thus leaving Filip Uremović (Rubin Kazan) and Mile Škorić (Osijek) on the stand-by list, and Ivica Ivušić of Osijek is no longer among the 30 named by Dalić. Those would be the only changes to the 24-player roster, while goalkeeper Lovre Kalinić (Hajduk) is new to the stand-by roster. Nikola Moro (Dinamo Moscow), Antonio-Mirko Čolak (Malmo), and Kristijan Lovrić (Gorica) reappear on the provisional list.

The tickets for the match against Russia at Poljud are already on sale, and according to the Federation, more than 10,000 have already been sold.

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

To learn more about sport in Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Monday, 25 October 2021

Croatian Footballers Around Europe: TCN's Weekly Review

October 25, 2021 - In less than three weeks we will know if Vatreni will qualify directly for the next World Cup in Qatar. For the decisive matches against Malta and Russia, Zlatko Dalic counts on his players to arrive in good form. We review the activity of Croatian footballers in their respective clubs.

The coach of the Croatian national team, Zlatko Dalić, released today the list of Croatian footballers who will face Malta and Russia in the last two group matches, to define the qualification for the Qatar World Cup in 2022. With less than three weeks to go, we review the performance of Croatian footballers in their respective clubs this week which, overall, has been very good. The vast majority played matches in European tournaments and, over the weekend, in their respective domestic leagues. So, how did Croatian footballers perform this week with their clubs?

IN CROATIA

Dinamo Zagreb - Three Croatian footballers called up by Dalić played in Sunday's draw between Dinamo Zagreb and NK Istra. Dominik Livaković, the national team's starting goalkeeper, and Mislav Oršić were part of the starting line-up, while Luka Ivanušec entered for Marko Bulat in the 60th minute. Istra found the first goal of the match in the 79th minute, after a great team effort that was well defined by Croatian striker Dion Drena Beljo in a 1v1 game against Livaković. Soon after, however, Dinamo tied the game in the 84th minute. Luka Ivanušec's free-kick found Dino Perić's head and the defender beat the Istra goalkeeper to equalize. The final result was 1-1. Dinamo are in third place in the table in the Croatian First League, three points behind Rijeka and Osijek, but the team from the capital have two games less. On Thursday, Dinamo Zagreb faced Rapid Wien in Austria. The three players called up by Dalić were part of the starting eleven. The hosts took the lead with a goal from Gruell in the 9th minute, but Oršić scored the equalizer in the 24th minute with an assist from Ivanušec. Ten minutes later, Livaković would concede a goal again, for Rapid Wien's 1-2. In the second half the score did not move, and the final result was 1-2 for the home team. Dinamo Zagreb are second in Group H of the Europa League, six behind the leader, Nikola Vlašić's West Ham, and tied with 3 points with Rapid Wien and Genk.

NK Osijek - On Saturday, Osijek faced NK Hrvatski Dragovoljac at home, and a Croatian player called up by Zlatko Dalić, Mile Škorić, played the match. The 30-year-old defender born in Vinkovci played the entire 90 minutes, and his team prevailed thanks to a goal scored by Croatian midfielder Žaper in the 71st minute, following a corner play. The final result was 1-0 for the home team, and Osijek are in second place in the table, tied on points with the leader, Rijeka.

Hajduk Split & Gorica - In the goalless draw between Hajduk Split and Gorica, played at Poljud, three Croatian footballers called up to be part of the national team played the entire match. For Hajduk, goalkeeper Lovre Kalinić and forward Marko Livaja, and for Gorica, left-winger Kristijan Lovrić. Neither could take all three points, and they had to settle for a draw. In this way, Hajduk is in fourth place in the table with 21 points in 12 games played, and Gorica with 18.

IN GERMANY

Josip Stanišić - On Wednesday, Stanišić entered in the 77th minute for Thomas Müller and then provided an assist for Sane's goal that sealed Bayern München's 4-0 win over Benfica in Group E in the Champions League. He was left on the bench on Saturday in the 4-0 win against Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga. Bayern München are first in their Champions League group and in the Bundesliga table.

Borna Sosa - In Stuttgart's second consecutive draw in the Bundesliga, this time at home, Borna Sosa played the 90 minutes against Union Berlin on Sunday. The left-back could not reverse the 1-1 result, where Borna's team managed to save a valuable point in the 93rd minute, with an agonizing goal from Faghir. Stuttgart are 13th in the Bundesliga with 10 points in 9 games played. 

Andrej Kramarić - The Croatian striker and historical top scorer for Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga, who also scored in Croatia's last draw against Slovakia in Osijek, played the entire game against Bundesliga leaders Bayern München, but could do little to prevent the defeat by 0-4 of his team. Hoffenheim are in the eleventh position on the table.

Joško Gvardiol - The 19-year-old defender started the game on the bench, where RB Leipzig visited Paris Saint-Germain for the third round of Group A of the Champions League on Tuesday. The German team managed to turn the result around, after an early goal from Kylian Mbappé. However, in the second half, two goals from Lionel Messi would put PSG ahead on the scoreboard again. In the 70th minute, after Messi's first goal and PSG's second to equalize, Gvardiol came in for Lukas Klostermann. In injury time, with the result favorable for the hosts, the Croatian defender fouled Achraf Hakimi in the Leipzig area, and the referee signaled a penalty. Kylian Mbappé missed it, but even so, the French team took all three points. In the Bundesliga, Gvardiol played the entire match in Leipzig's home win against Greuther Fuerth, 4-1. Leipzig are last in their Champions League group with zero points, and in the Bundesliga, they are in the sixth position in the table, three points from the Champions League zone.

Kristijan Jakić - The midfielder who plays for Frankfurt played the entire game against Greek team Olympiacos on Thursday, for the third round of Group D of the UEFA Europa League, where his team took a 3-1 victory at home. On Sunday, however, he couldn't do much to prevent his team's defeat against Bochum 0-2. The Croatian was part of the starting eleven but was changed at halftime when his team was losing 0-1. Eintracht Frankfurt are first in their group in the Europa League after a valuable victory over Olympiacos, who are behind by one point. In the Bundesliga, things are not going very well, since they are fifteenth in the table and only three points from relegation. Interestingly, the only game they have won this season was against Bayern München at the Allianz Arena, on October 3.

Marin Pongračić - The Croatian defender was part of Borussia Dortmund's starting eleven that played away against Arminia Bielefeld. The 24-year-old German-born defender played the entire match, as Dortmund prevailed 3 goals to 1. A mistake by Pongračić almost gave the hosts the lead, but his team reacted quickly on defense. The goals were scored by Emre Can in the 31st minute from the penalty spot, Mats Hummels made it 0-2 in the 45th minute with a spectacular volley, and England's Jude Bellingham scored an unforgettable goal to seal it 0-3 in the 72nd minute. At the end of the game, in the 87th minute, the home team would find the discount through a penalty converted by Klos, after a foul by Hummels. Borussia Dortmund, with this result, is in second place in the Bundesliga, just one point behind the powerful Bayern München.

IN FRANCE

Ivo Grbić - The 25-year-old Split-born goalkeeper played both games for his team, Lille, this week. On Wednesday, for the UEFA Champions League, his team hosted Sevilla of Spain. The Croatian goalkeeper did not concede goals, but his team was unable to score against Sevilla. The final result was 0-0. Croatian left-back Domagoj Bradarić was not on the list to face the Spanish. On Saturday, Grbić's team again drew back, but this time against Brest for France's Ligue 1, and with a 1-1 result. The Croatian defended his goal for 90 minutes, and despite the fact that Lille gained the advantage in the 19th minute thanks to a goal from David, Brest managed to get the equalizer in the 32nd minute, where Faivre beat the Croatian goalkeeper. Bradarić did not play the match and stayed on the bench. Lille are third in Group G of the Champions League, five points behind leaders FC Salzburg and one point behind second, Sevilla. In Ligue 1, they are in tenth place, four points behind the zone to qualify for the Champions League.

Duje Ćaleta-Car - The Croatian center-back was another of the Croatian footballers who played both games for his club this week, both in European competition and in his respective league. On Thursday, for the third round of Group E of the UEFA Europa League, his team, Olympique Marseille, faced Lazio in Rome. And on Sunday, Marseille hosted Paris Saint-Germain at the Stade Vélodrome. Ćaleta-Car helped his team in both games to keep a clean sheet, but the Marseille forwards were unable to score against both Lazio and PSG. Thus, the Croatian central defender had to settle for two goalless draws this week. In the UEFA Europa League, Marseille are third in their group, one point behind Lazio and four behind the leaders, Galatasaray. In France's Ligue 1, the Ćaleta-Car team are fourth in the table with 18 points, one point behind Nice and three behind Lens. PSG leads the French tournament with 28 points.

Lovro Majer - Despite not being called by Dalić for the upcoming games against Malta and Russia, the Croatian footballer is making sure to be noticed for the World Cup. The former Dinamo Zagreb midfielder did not start in either of his team's two games this week. However, he knew how to take advantage of the minutes they gave him in both games. On Thursday, Rennes faced NŠ Mura in Slovenia for the third round of Group G of the UEFA Conference League. The French team took all three points after winning 1-2. Lovro Majer came in in the 63rd minute to replace Flavien Tait. The French team leads their group with 7 points, followed by Vitesse from the Netherlands with 6 points, and Tottenham from England with 4 points. His rivals this week are last with zero points. For France's Ligue 1, Rennes hosted Strasbourg on Sunday. In a match that seemed to find no winner, it was Rennes defender Aguerd who broke the tie in the 82nd minute with a great assist from Croatian footballer Lovro Majer, who had entered just four minutes earlier. Now his team is in fifth place in the table, tied on points with Marseille, but with one more game.

IN ITALY

Marcelo Brozović & Ivan Perišić - On Tuesday, for the Champions League, the two Croatian footballers from Internazionale were chosen in the starting eleven, where they played the third match of Group D against the leaders, Sheriff FC. The team from Milan took all three points, after winning 3-1. In the 85th minute, with the result already sentenced, Simone Inzaghi gave rest to the two Croats. Brozović came out for Sensi, and Perišić for Kolarov. On Sunday, the "neroazurri" would face one of their greatest rivals, Juventus. Once again, Brozović and Perišić would be part of the starting eleven to face the "bianconeri" at the Giuseppe Meazza stadium. Inter took the lead in '17 with a goal from Edin Džeko. In the 72nd minute, shortly after receiving a yellow card, Perišić was replaced by Denzel Dumfries, who in the 86th minute caused a penalty after a foul on Alex Sandro. Paulo Dybala scored from twelve steps in '89 and saved a point for Juventus. Brozović played the entire match. Inter are third in their group in the Champions League with 4 points, and third in the Italian Serie A, with 18 points.

Mario Pašalić - Despite not winning his matches, both for the Champions League and Serie A, the Croatian midfielder did not have a bad week with Atalanta. In the third match of Group F in the Champions League, the Italian team faced Manchester United at Old Trafford. Surprisingly, the Bergamo team took the lead in the first half with a goal from Pašalić in the 15th minute. Demiral added another in the 29th minute to put Atalanta 0-2. Rashford put the discount on for the Red Devils shortly after starting the second half. In 57 ', Pašalić received a yellow card and was replaced in 68'. Shortly after, Maguire would score the equalizer and in the final minutes, Cristiano Ronaldo sealed the comeback. For Serie A, on Sunday, Atalanta hosted Udinese at the Gewiss Stadium. The end result was a 1-1 draw. The local team began winning in the 56th minute, with a goal from Malinovsky after an assist from Croatian Mario Pašalić, who was replaced again, this time in the 74th minute. Interestingly, Udinese's goal to tie the game would come almost to the end of the match, with the Croatian on the bench.

Josip Brekalo - Torino FC, coached by Croatian Ivan Jurić, faced Genoa on Sunday at the Stadio Olimpico Grande Torino. Croatian midfielder Josip Brekalo played the entire match and performed well. His team led comfortably 2-0 after halftime, but a Mattia Destro goal put Genoa in search of an equalizer in the 70th minute. Seven minutes later, Brekalo scored the third for Torino to give the home side some tranquility. Despite Genoa scoring another goal in the 81st minute through Caicedo, it was not enough to equalize. Brekalo's team took all three points and is in 12th place in the table with 11 points.

IN ENGLAND

Mateo Kovačić - On Wednesday, the reigning Champions League winners faced Sweden's Malmo in their third Group H match. In the London side's landslide 4-0 win, the Croatian midfielder had to watch the match from the bench. However, in Chelsea's game against Norwich City on Saturday, German coach Thomas Tuchel let Mateo play all 90 minutes of the game, and the Croatian did not disappoint. Chelsea swept Norwich in a bulky 7-0 victory. Kovačić was the owner of the midfield, in a great display of his level, assisting two of the seven goals. The Croatian has five assists and one goal in nine games played so far. Despite having a lot of competition in the midfield with players like Jorginho, Kanté or Saúl, the Croatian magician has all the confidence of his coach. Chelsea are second in their Champions League group, with 6 points, 3 behind Juventus. In the Premier League, they are the leaders with 22 points, followed by Liverpool and Manchester City, with 21 and 20 points respectively.

Nikola Vlašić - Vlašić played 83 minutes in West Ham's 3-0 win over Genk for the third round of Group H in the Europa League, played in London. However, the Croatian midfielder did not play a minute in the ''Hammers'' win against Tottenham on Sunday. Moyes's team took all three points after beating their rivals in the city 1-0, with a goal from Michail Antonio in the 72nd minute. It has not been a good start for Nikola after joining the English team in the summer from CSKA Moscow, playing just 3 Premier League games, and so far he has been unable to score a goal or provide an assist. His team has won all their matches so far and ranks first in their group in the Europa League, and in the Premier League they are in the Champions League zone, in fourth place.

Simon Sluga - The 28-year-old Poreč-born goalkeeper played the entire game in the victory of his team, Luton Town, against Hull City for the Championship, the second division of English football. The goalkeeper did not concede a goal, and Luton Town won 1-0 at his stadium, Kenilworth Road. Sluga's team is in 5th place in the table, in the play-off zone, and 8 points away from the direct classification to the Premier League.

IN SPAIN

Luka Modrić - The captain of the Croatian team played both games this week for Real Madrid, both in the Champions League against Shakhtar, and in the long-awaited El Clásico on Sunday against his eternal rivals, Barcelona. By the third round of Group D, the ''whites'' crushed the Ukrainians in Kyiv, with a score of 0-5. Modrić was part of the starting eleven, and in the 51st minute, he assisted Vinicius Jr. for Real Madrid's 0-2. In the 78th minute, he was replaced by Eduardo Camavinga. On Sunday at the Camp Nou in Barcelona, the undisputed starter at Real Madrid for several seasons started in midfield alongside Toni Kroos and Casemiro. Real Madrid took the lead in the 32nd minute with a great shot from David Alaba at Ter Stegen's far post. In a match where both teams had their chances, both Real Madrid to extend their advantage and Barcelona to tie, it was the visitors who found the 0-2 thanks to a counterattack in which Lucas Vásquez calmly defined. Later, Sergio Agüero would find the discount for the Blaugranas, but there was no more time to save a point for the home team. Luka played the entire game and now his team is second in their Champions League group, tied with six points with the leaders, and second in La Liga, just one point behind the leaders, Real Sociedad, and with one less match.

IN SCOTLAND

Borna Barišić - The Glasgow Rangers left-back played both games for his team this week in the Europa League on Thursday, and for the Scottish Premiership on Sunday. Both matches resulted in victory for the Scottish team led by the legendary Steven Gerrard. Barišić played all 90 minutes in Rangers' 2-0 win against Danish team Brøndby. On Sunday they faced St. Mirren, and Barišić again played the entire match. Despite the fact that Rangers began losing very early with a goal 4 minutes into the game, the Croatian team needed only two minutes to turn the scoreboard. At the end of the first half, Roofe scored a penalty in 42 'and Morelos scored in 43'. There were no more goals, but it was enough to take all three points at the end of the match. In the Europa League, Rangers are in third place in Group A with 3 points, six points behind Lyon and one point behind Sparta Prague. In the Scottish Premiership, they are the leaders with 23 points.

Josip Juranović - Like Barišić, the former Dinamo Zagreb defender also enjoyed victories for his team in the Europa League and the Scottish Premiership, but with Borna's rival team Celtic. On Tuesday 19 they faced Ferencvaros, and despite the fact that Josip Juranović was not on the squad list, Celtic managed to take all three points with a comfortable 2-0 victory. On Saturday, however, Juranović played the entire game as a left-back, scoring his team's second and last goal from the penalty spot, against St. Johnstone. Celtic have 3 points in Group G of the Europa League, 4 points behind Leverkusen and Betis. In the Scottish Premiership, they are in fourth place but behind their eternal rivals, Rangers, 4 points apart.

IN SWEDEN

Antonio-Mirko Čolak - Croatian forward Antonio-Mirko Čolak did play all 90 minutes for Malmö FF on this week's UEFA Champions League match but was unable to change the outcome of the match, in which his team was crushed 0-4 by Chelsea of England. On Sunday, for the Allsvenskan, his team visited Varbergs and managed to salvage a point in a 1-1 draw. Čolak played from the start until the 82nd minute, but couldn't put his name on the scoreboard. His team is last in their group in the Champions League, with zero points. In the Swedish league, Malmö is third, just one point behind the leader, Djurgaarden.

IN RUSSIA

Dejan Lovren - The Croatian defender played all 90 minutes for his team, Zenit St. Petersburg, both in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday against Juventus and against Spartak Moscow in the Russian Premier League on Sunday. Against the Italian giants, Lovren's team could not avoid a goal in the 86th minute scored by Dejan Kulusevski, and they were defeated 0-1 in Russia. That leaves them in third place in Group H, with 3 points, 6 behind Juventus and 3 behind Kovačić's Chelsea. But Lovren and his teammates turned the page of the Champions League, seeking revenge against Spartak Moscow, and crushed their rivals with a resounding 7-1 result. Lovren played the entire match, but could not contain the Quincy Promes discount for the visitors in the 53rd minute. The result places Zenit at the top of the Russian Premier League, with 26 points from 12 games played. They are followed by the other two teams from the Russian capital: Dinamo Moscow and CSKA Moscow, both with 3 points less.

Filip Uremović - The defender and captain of Rubin Kazan played the entire match between his team and FC Ufa, the hosts. The end result was a 1-1 draw. In the first half, defender Abildgaard fouled Golubev inside Rubin Kazan's box, and the referee signaled a penalty later scored by Ufa striker Golubev. But Uremović's team would find the equalizer in the second half, through an own goal scored by Zhuravlev, after a dangerous cross from Rubin Kazan midfielder Kvaratskhelia. With this tie, the Croatian defender's team is in ninth place in the table with 16 points from 12 games and 10 behind the leader, Dejan Lovren's Zenit.

Nikola Moro - The Dinamo Moscow midfielder scored in his team's 4-1 win over Khimki. Croatian footballer Nikola Moro opened the scoring in the 12th minute with a header, after a corner play in which he beat two defenders in the jump. His teammate Grulev scored twice (26 'and 60'), and Tyukavin scored the other in the 52nd minute. The game was played in the capital, and the locals were close to taking the three points with a great result and a clean sheet, but in the last minutes, the visitors scored the discount goal through their striker, Ademi. With this result, Dinamo Moscow stalks the leader, Zenit, with 23 points in 12 games played. They are separated by 3 points.

IN TURKEY

Domagoj Vida - The Croatian defender and Besiktas captain played the entire match against Sporting Lisbon at Vodafone Park in Turkey for the third round of Group C of the UEFA Champions League. Vida couldn't avoid a painful 1-4 loss. The visiting team's center-back, Coates, scored the first goal of the game in the 15th minute on a corner play. Larin leveled things for Besiktas in the 24th minute also on a corner play, and it looked like the home side could regain hope of scoring their first Champions League points. However, the weight of the Portuguese team was felt and they scored two more goals in the first half, once again with a goal from their captain Coates in the 27th minute, very similar to the first, and after a hand from the Croatian in the area of ​​the Besiktas defending a corner, Sarabia converted the 1-3 from the penalty spot. For that play, the Croatian defender received a yellow card. Shortly after, Besiktas found the 2-3 through Teixeira with a magnificent volley at the end of the first half, but it would be annulled by VAR, who found it offside. Besiktas could not find a way to get closer on the scoreboard and even with Sporting, and in the 89th minute, the Portuguese scored the fourth and final goal. The Turkish team is last in their group with zero points in 3 games, losing all against Ajax, Borussia Dortmund, and on Tuesday against Sporting. Today he will play against Galatasaray in an intense duel for the Turkish SüperLig, where they are sixth with 17 points, 7 behind the leader Trabzonspor but with one game less (which they will play today).

The Croatian national team will face their Maltese counterparts in Ta 'Qali on November 11 at 8:45 p.m. And on November 14, at 3:00 p.m., Croatia will host the Russian national team at the Poljud to define the winner of Group H.

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

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Tuesday, 18 May 2021

Ivica Olić Returns to Croatia National Team Bench for EURO 2020

May 18, 2021 - Ivica Olić returns to Croatia as an assistant to coach Zlatko Dalić for EURO 2020! 

"Ivica was allowed to join the national team. He wanted it himself, considering that he now has free time. He decided that he did not want to rest," agent Dejan Joksimović told Russian RIA Sport, as reported by Index.hr and 24 Sata.

Although Vedran Ćorluka joined the national team as a replacement for Olić, Olić managed to get CSKA to allow him to work with the Croatia national team this summer.

Olić took over CSKA in April this year, when he was fifth, but failed to get them out of trouble. He finished sixth, which is the worst placement of the Moscow club in the Russian championship since 2001.

Former CSKA player Zoran Tošić stated that Olić's decision is not clear to him because he could miss part of the club's preparations.

"I thought Ivica needed time to solve the problems at CSKA; it would probably be better if he stayed. I hope the coach and the professional staff know what they are doing. I will always support CSKA because I spent a lot of time there," Tošić said.

Olić thus joins Vedran Ćorluka and Dražen Ladić as part of Zlatko Dalić's coaching staff at EURO 2020. 

The Croatia national football team will gather on May 25 at the beginning of preparations for the Euro, which will traditionally be held in Rovinj. After the friendly against Armenia, the national teal will have a final check on June 6 against Belgium in Brussels, from where they will travel to the base camp in St. Andrews on June 8. 

The UEFA EURO 2020 will take place between June 11 and July 11, 2021. Croatia plays in Group D (London/Glasgow) with England (hosts), Scotland (hosts), and the Czech Republic.

Croatia opens its EURO campaign on Sunday, June 13, against England (15:00, London). On Friday, June. 18, Croatia plays. The Czech Republic in Glasgow, Scotland (18:00). Croatia's final group stage match is against Scotland on June 22 in Glasgow (21:00). 

The top two in each group plus the four best third-placed teams go through to the knockout phase. The round of 16 is scheduled from June 26 to 29. The quarterfinals are held on July 2 and 3, the semifinals on July 6 and 7. The final will be played on July 11 at Wembley Stadium in London. 

We will have more on this soon!

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Tuesday, 18 May 2021

New Croatia Assistant Coach Vedran Ćorluka On His New Role

May 18, 2021 - The new Croatia national team assistant coach Vedran Ćorluka was officially presented by coach Zlatko Dalić at a press conference in Zagreb ahead of EURO 2020.

Although there was a lot of speculation, Croatian football player Vedran Ćorluka officially announced the end of his playing career and was confirmed as the new Croatia assistant coach on Monday. 

"I did not plan it, but the moment has come," said Ćorluka at the press conference at which coach Zlatko Dalić presented the list of players for the upcoming European Championship.

Dalić introduced Corluka as a new member of the coaching staff.

"I am extremely honored that the coach invited me to help him. Two months ago, I got a call from the coach, he mentioned the idea to me, and we quickly agreed. I also talked to my teammates, and I hope I can help as I helped when I was a player," said Ćorluka while Dalić explained his decision.

"I advocate the vision that the national team must have former players who went through the national team. I did not have that honor, but Dražen (Ladić), Vedran (Ćorluka) and Ivica (Olić) did. Their experience is important to me. I expect Vedran to point out some things to me, to think in his own way. I expect quality advice, criticism, things I don't see," the coach pointed out.

Ćorluka pointed out that the EURO is now in the foreground, and he also revealed his plans.

"Now the EURO is in focus, and after that, we will see. Now I see myself in that; I will enroll in a coaching academy. My former club has expressed a desire to join their staff, and that is the path I want to take," said Ćorluka.

Ćorluka has played for Lokomotiv Moscow since 2012, and on Sunday, he played his last game.

"The last couple of weeks have been quite emotional. We won the Cup, and yesterday I played the last game for Lokomotiv and the last game of my career. It was hard yesterday, but today it was easier," he admitted.

He also revealed when he decided to retire.

"At one point, one realizes that's it. I didn’t plan it, but there came a moment when I decided on my own. I still enjoy football, but I think it's time to come home, to find myself in a new role, in some new joys of life."

When asked what grade he would give himself for his career, he was clear.

"I have never regretted some missed opportunities, so I give myself a rating of 10 out of 10," he said with a smile.

During his career, Ćorluka played for Dinamo, Inter Zaprešić, Manchester City, Tottenham, Bayer Leverkusen, and CSKA Moscow.

He won a total of ten trophies. He was the champion with Dinamo in 2006 and 2007, and he also won the Super Cup in 2006 and the Cup in 2007. In the Lokomotiv jersey, he won six trophies - the Russian Championship, four Cups, and the Russian Super Cup.

He scored four goals for Croatia in 103 games, and he had the crown of his career in 2018 in Russia, where he won world silver in the Vatreni jersey.

Source: HNS, HRT

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Thursday, 14 January 2021

Croatia National Team in 2021: Player Analysis for Demanding Year Ahead

January 2021 - A look at what we can expect from the Croatia national team in 2021.

Gol.hr reports that 2020 was a challenging year for all European national teams, including Croatia. Namely, our 'Vatreni' played six games in the Nations League in two months alone, and that's not to mention the friendly matches. Overall, Croatia recorded two wins, one draw, and five defeats.

Because of these results, it is only logical to expect that Croatia would experience a drop in the official FIFA rankings. At about this time last year, Croatia was the 6th national team in the world, and little by little, they finished 2020 outside the top 10, in 11th.

However, it should be emphasized again that Croatia played in the most challenging group of the Nations League, which included the world champions France, the European champion Portugal, the 5th team in the world in terms of value, and the quality Sweden.

Croatia introduced many new and promising players last year, which we should expect to make a difference in 2021.

Filip Uremović confirmed himself in a short time as a good solution on the right back and an even better future opportunity - in the stopper position.

Duje Ćaleta-Car is not a new name, but in 2020 he confirmed himself as the central defender of the future and the present.

Many had been waiting for Domagoj Bradarić to be seen in the A national team. When he finally got his chance, he showed massive potential in the attack, and when he plays in the left-back position, there is no doubt he will confirm how well he does defensively. 

In the offense, Ante Budimir certainly stands out and should continue in the national team.

It should be clearly emphasized that the leaders of the young talents, Nikola Vlašić, Josip Brekalo, and Mario Pašalić, have additionally confirmed their quality this year.

Nikola Vlašić, after a fantastic job in the Euro qualifiers, was brilliant this year. A new step forward was made by the great dribbler Josip Brekalo. Mario Pašalić, with goals in friendly matches against Switzerland and Turkey, also strengthened his national team status.

We can only hope that the goals and excellent overall game of Mate Kovačić in the last match against Portugal are a precursor to what we can expect this year. 

In addition to these young stars, the seniors of the national team were also quality. This refers primarily to the inimitable captain Modrić, who plays for both Real and Croatia at 35 years old.

Next to him is Marcelo Brozović, whose physical and playing qualities are almost as crucial for the national team as Modrić's.

Furthermore, Dejan Lovren is in much better form, thanks to his move to Zenit, where he has maximum minutes.

In the end, Ivan Perišić should be singled out, who, despite his minutes at Inter, is again playing well for the national team. The fourth-best scorer in the national team's history may not always be in top form, but when Croatia needs him the most, he always comes through. 

Croatia's biggest problem was... injuries. Kramarić was off the pitch for much of 2020, and we can only hope he stays healthy in 2021. The situation was even worse with the nation's favorite Šime Vrsaljko. 

Dinamo's Bruno Petković is a footballer whose physical readiness, or rather unpreparedness, was negatively commented on by coach Zlatko Dalić this year. In eight games, he collected only 18 minutes and scored one goal.

Let's not forget that in 2020, national team legend Ivan Rakitic said goodbye to Croatia. With his departure, Croatia was left without a real alternative in the delicate position of the last midfielder when there is no Marcelo Brozović. Perhaps Toma Basic is the solution?

In 2021, Croatia is expected to play their World Cup qualifiers, which begin already in March. They will also try to get a good result at the European Championships this summer. 

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

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Female American Footballer Talks Coffee Culture, Beauty, and 'Đir' in Split

"Croatia is even more beautiful than I thought, and it fascinates me that you have so many cafes and know how to enjoy yourselves," said the 24-year-old from New Jersey about Split. 

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