Dinamo are coming off their strongest European run in decades. Osijek are on the verge of having one of their greatest seasons ever and have the chance to finish the season in the highest position they’ve achieved in the Prva Liga. But they have a chance to win it all.
Osijek and Nenad Bjelica welcomed Dinamo Zagreb, current league leaders and reigning champions, to Gradski Vrt Wednesday night in hopes of living up to the match’s enormous storyline. It’s matches like today that show anything in football is possible and anyone can top the league in any given season.
Dinamo Zagreb’s Lovro Majer sucked the wind from Osijek’s sails early in the match with a fifth minute goal. The narrow lead lasted well into the fight, with Dinamo holding on to every breath while Osijek still believed an equalizer was in their reach.
The visitor’s maintained supremacy through the opening 25 minutes, creating several chances and even accepting a penalty opportunity, which was soon dispelled by VAR.
Undiscouraged, Dinamo continued to fight for a second goal, nearly achieving it in the opening half hour. Osijek faced further hardship when Marco Miloš was forced to be subbed off after 33 minutes due to injury.
Osijek would have been satisfied only being down by one goal at the half, but knew more would have to be done in order to avoid defeat. Enter Ante Erceg. Erceg came out at the start of the second half and made a quick impact with an equalizing goal in the 64th minute.
The deadlock held strong through the remaining half hour. Both teams were in search of the advantage, but neither were able to capitalize. Changes were made to the teams as the final whistle approached, but no substitute could find the game winner, despite near goals by Dinamo in the final minutes.
The challengers held off the champions and split the points in a tight race on top. Dinamo still holds the slight two-point lead on the table, but also hold a game in hand and have eight matches left to play. Osijek, with seven to play, have ample opportunity to catch up with Dinamo and have the easier schedule ahead of them. Dinamo have two remaining matches with Hajduk Split, one with Rijeka and a Cup semifinal and potential final still to play. Osijek’s toughest opponents remaining include Rijeka and Gorica and have three matches to play against Lokomotiva, Istra and Varaždin.
No clear winner has emerged and may take until the final day to settle the dust.
Beljo has been tried on the first team the last couple of seasons. He’s still raw and not ready for the first division. Needs some meat on his bones too for strength. That being said, he is talented and should see a future in the first division when he is ready.
Hahaha that’s my bad 😅😅
Did a double take and was like holy shit, did Rijeka sign Beljo today!?!? Heard some good feedback on him, but don’t know enough on him.
Hahaha I know idk why I wrote that… little brainfart there. Beljo’s an Osijek talent 🤣. If there are any Osijek fans here, do you see Beljo getting a spot in the XI anytime soon?
Armada87 is a Rijeka fan!
What do you think of Dion Beljo? Could he get a good look next year with the (potential) departure of Kulenovic? I’ve heard good things and he seems like a solid talent, big boy with some skill too kind of like an Ibrahimovic. I’m hoping he could crack your XI next season, that’d be great for him.
Speaking of Mocinic, just signed with Sibenik
Agreed. Rijeka (along with Osijek) is still a distant 3rd/4th from Dinamo and Hajduk in terms of youth production. Seems like they can produce solid journeymen types (Sluga, Mocinic, Sharbini, Knezevic) but no big contributors to the NT.
Zero clue to what Hajduk is doing. Not sure why it’s such a chore to finish 2nd for them, at the very least.
Yes, the core veteran group fuels that team… But they didn’t fill out the remaining members of the squad with anyone other than their youth and loanees.
They’re going low risk this year, which is understandable and they have a clear strategy.
Hajduk I’m not sure what theirs is. Flying by the seat of their pants it seems.
Meh… Rijeka have given some youth a good look, but a lot of our good youngsters are on loan to us or we have loaned them out. This team still runs through guys from the homeland who are 24+ or are foreigners (Andrijasevic, Muric, Menalo, Tomecak, Loncar, etc.) Curious to see what happens in the off season, once a lot of our young guys on loan go back to their home clubs. We only have a handful of guys, from our academy, who might be ready next year (Braut, Vuk – if he comes back, Lepinjica, Galesic) and will lose/potentially lose Stefulj, Nevisitic, Drmic, Menalo, Andrijasevic, Kulenovic, come the next season… that’s a lot of talent for us, out the door.
Rijeka made the decision this year to just go with their youth, and not try to spend money on filling out their squad with foreign players (especially since the year was unknown with COVID). It is a transition year for them, expectations are lowered… But the positive is that they reduce their cost risk for this unprofitable pandemic year, and they get to give valuable development game time to their youth players.
Hajduk… I’m not sure what they’re doing. They randomly bring in whatever players happen to become available (Fossati, Livaja, etc) just to see what sticks… At the expense of their young (and more valuable) players.
They’re probably spending way more than they should, and have unrealistic expectations for the season too.
I wonder why nobody asks them what their strategy or plans are moving forward.
Just seems like they add whatever half decent foreign veteran is available (throughout the season) and sell whatever youngster they can at the first offered price.
It would be good if Mamić was back to run Hajduk.
Where do you see this? Rijeka had a few years where they were neck and neck with Dinamo at the top (and yes, we won a title) but those days are over. We’ll stick around the top end of the table (2nd-4th), like we always have, but none of us fans think we’re still champions? We’ve had a few decent years in Europa Leauge, something to hang our hat on, thats about it lately…
Slavonac makes a good point!
We’ve been saying a good Hajduk is good for the league but I’m beginning to notice that they’re really not an accountable organization….even worse than I thought. Now that Mamic is gone and has his own problems, they can’t blame him anymore. Maybe it would be better for Hajduk that Mamic was back so at least they can keep blaming him!
Settle the fuck down. Let me tell ya about Rijeka fans, half of those muppets are walking around Croatia like their team is still the Champion of Croatian football lol, it’s fucking pathetic
‘Tortilla’ fan club gave me a good chuckle…
Also, I don’t mean to be a dick or pile it on here, but I’m MYSTIFIED as to how Hajduk will most likely finish 4th-5th here. Neither Rijeka or Gorica had strong (or consistent) year and at the very least Hajduk had the talent (especially with the younger generation) to compete for 3rd, given its been a 2 horse race for 1st/2nd with DZG and Osijek. Is the path to still go with the kids? Or mix it up with foreigners like theyve been doing the last few years?
Not good for them to be out of Europe this coming year, especially now that you’re looking at Europa Conference league if you get 3rd (and potentially get some results) vs. Europa League where they’d get bounced in early qualifying most likely.
Feel like they need *some type* of forward momentum; a deep run in the cup, some decent results in Europe or high finish (3rd or higher?) in the HNL. Something to point to.
A good Hajduk is good for our nogomet and makes the league and cup stuff more fun to follow.
No at all. I’m just telling it like it is.
It kinda sounds like Hajduk is living rent free in your head a bit too
They’re a fucking disgrace.
It is nice of Dinamo to allow Hajduk and there Tortilla fan club to believe that there’s still a rivalry so Hajduk can have their Grand Finals every season, but the fact is, and most people know this, is that Dinamo is living rent free in Hajduk’s stupid head, there is no rivalry, like I’ve said before, nothing but contrived crap on Hajduk’s part, lol without it they’re irrelevant.
How long will Dinamo keep throwing Hajduk a bone is a question worth asking I believe?
Work has been killing me these last weeks and I’ve been unplugged from the HNL but did catch the Rijeka game today. Honestly thought that Rijeka wouldn’t make it back to 3rd, but must say I’m impressed. They has a stretch where they stunk it up but Tomic got the ship back on course and Gorica have been awful the last month or so…
Really hoping Osijek got the 3 points today and it would of put them in the drivers seat for the title. Title is now Dinamo’s to lose.
Methinks you don’t like Hajduk much
Good call, Dinamo is Hajduk’s Grand Final lol!
That may be the case, but you can’t ignore that this is the biggest rivalry in the HNL and (yes) they will always play harder in these derbies.
Hajduk has also been getting the benefit of the referee whistle in their most recent games.
A draw in one of these games could be costly for Dinamo (while Osijek is off playing Varaždin and gaining on them).
Every point counts now. Dinamo winning both games is expected, but a draw (or splitting the two matches with a loss) could definitely happen.
Hajduk can play spoiler lol? Are you serious, Hajduk is fucking shit.
Or do you think that they can get up for Dinamo while disrespecting the rest of the teams they’ve played throughout the year? Who are Hajduk to disrepect anyone?
Listen, Hajduk suck, they’re a fucking shit club. That’s just my opinion.
Osijek had to win today to realistically take the title from Dinamo.
But Dinamo has a harder remaining schedule, having to play Gorica, Rijeka and Hajduk (twice).
Hajduk can play spoiler and do Osijek a big favor.
Osijek plays Gorica and Rijeka…but no Hajduk.
Dinamo should still clinch it, as they have a game in hand. But it will be interesting at least. Good to see a competitive HNL.
Bjelica is going to get a lot of love if he manages to snag the title for Osijek.
Video highlights coming once they’re made available