FOUR Croatian internationals feature in the Guardian’s annual top 100 male footballers list. That’s more than Spain (3) and Italy (3) have featured.
#5- Luka Modrić
Modrić is rightfully ranked the fifth best footballer in the world, behind Messi, Mbappe, Benzema, and Haaland. Modrić is the oldest player in the top 50 (Ronaldo at #51), and is even ahead of world-class players like De Bruyne, Lewandowski and Neymar.
#31- Joško Gvardiol
Gvardiol is a new addition to the top 100 and has imposed himself as one of the best defenders in world football… at only 21 years of age. There are only TWO defenders ranked higher than him (Hakimi and Van Dijk), and deservedly so after his world-class performance at the World Cup. A big money move is imminent for the young defender from Zagreb.
#68- Marcelo Brozović
Although it is refreshing to see Brozović receive praise for his crucial role in Croatia and Inter’s lineups, having him below some of these names is puzzling. Brozović could definitely be a little higher up in this list, perhaps ahead of the likes of Mac Allister, de Paul or Amrabat.
#71- Dominik Livaković
A surprise addition to the list is 28 year old Dinamo Zagreb keeper Dominik Livaković. After his stellar, and frankly golden glove deserving, performance at the World Cup, Liva has earned his place on this list amongst world football’s very best. Liva is the sixth highest rated keeper, behind Courtois, Martinez, Alisson, Bono and Ederson. Liva is ranked above Maignan, Lloris, and Neuer. Martinez at the 20th position and Bono at the 43rd is a bit puzzling, considering Livaković statistically outperformed both in the World Cup, and having them ranked that much higher than him is a little suspect.
Notable omissions: Mateo Kovačić and Ivan Perišić
Croats have a lot to be proud of in 2022 as the National Team has now medaled in three out of six World Cups since independence.
Musa with a tidy finish.
Navas is going on loan to Nottingham Forest. Another door closed for Livakovic.
We have Perisic and Juranovic getting an assist every other game off corners. Why is Modric still taking ours?
haaland seems to have an excellent record of scoring goals for the national team from what I see, which makes me believe he is a true talent.
21 goals in 23 games for norway.
In juniors practically a goal a game.
I think looking at that high of goal production and saying that it doesn’t lead to winning is inaccurate. We often see this in sports like basketball where you have a player producing really good efficient numbers like Devin Booker and his team not winning and people saying he’s not a winning player. Turns out once he gets some supporting cast, his team goes to the finals.
Haalands production is plenty good for winning.
In terms of world cup qualifying, and remember he was 20 years old at the time, he had 6 goals in 6 games and then he missed the last 4 qualifiers because of muscle injuries.
I have no doubt that if Norway has any decent squad around him it will lead to winning.
Although perhaps you captured the true essence of my trade. And that is that most of Croatia’s players are good, but replaceable. Even if Croatia were to get rid of this whole starting 11 – gvardiol, and add haaland in its place, I would like there future more cause over the next 10 years they would produce a bunch of similar level replacements.
Your Devin Booker comparison is a good one to prove my point.
The moment the Suns got Chris Paul on the team, they almost win a title. The moment Chris Paul goes down with an injury, they are out of the playoffs completely. Then, Chris Paul comes back from injury and suddenly they’re back in it.
I think you’re exactly right that Haaland is the Devin Booker of Norway. He will put up amazing scoring stats…but, so far, he hasn’t made much difference (if any) in terms of actually winning.
Zlatan has the same effect with Sweden, who have done more without him than with him.
I agree that Haaland is a super talent, but he’s not scoring goals in games that matter for Norway.
I could care less if Haaland is scoring hat-tricks against Gibraltar.
You would be the first to criticize Gvardiol if he only showed up against weak teams, but he’s doing the opposite of Haaland right now. He’s showing up on the big stage and in critical qualifiers. Games that matter.
In all critical games, Haaland has scored zero goals. The two deciding games against Serbia for Euro2020 and UNL, and their home game against Turkey for WC2022 qualifying…he’s scored in none. That’s next level choking, especially since they were all home games and Norway were healthy.
Haaland is already turning 23 years old, meaning that he will be playing in his FIRST World Cup at age 26. Ronaldo already played in a Euro2024 Final, and WC semifinal at that age. He ended up with a Euro2016 trophy and a UNL trophy. If Haaland can’t deliver, he won’t even come close to deliver anything close to this for Norway.
Gvardiol already has Euro tournament experience and a World Cup medal by age 20. He may end up with a Nations League trophy at age 21.
He will probably continue to play in two more World Cups and Euro tournaments, before Haaland gets to even play in one.
To assume that Gvardiol can be easily replaced, and Haaland cannot…I’m not so sure anymore. Gvardiol has proven himself at international level. Haaland has not. Norway actually has a decent squad, and Scandanavians usually play disciplined football and generally punch above their talent level.
I think if you proposed a Gvardiol trade a couple of years ago, I would totally jump on it (and I was a huge advocate for Gvardiol starting for our national team two years ago)….but I wouldn’t be so quick to swap them out right now.
Gvardiol, at a younger age, has been more impactful for his team than Haaland. This is especially impressive considering Croatia has better players than Norway, yet Gvardiol stands out from the bunch.
I fully expect Haaland to recover from this losing of his…but it’s hard to ignore the fact that Gvardiol is younger and more impactful thus far. It may just continue this way, and Haaland may just end up being like Zlatan.
as it seems haaland may become the greatest striker ever, would you do these trades?
gvardiol + majer for haaland? truth says yes
majer + sucic + vidovic +kovacic + sosa + sutalo for haaland? truth says yes
simic + ljubicic + vidovic + belo + young vusivic + biuk + majer for haaland? truth says yes
for long term prospects, I would trade croatia’s entire starting 11 – gvardiol for haaland
Greatest striker ever?
Can someone be considered the greatest striker ever, if they cannot score goals for their National Team? What’s the point in trading for him, if he’s just going to continue to score for Man City, but not your country?
Haaland is a superstar talent, but the jury is still out on whether or not he can lead his team into a tournament and go far in it.
He actually has a very good #10 (Martin Odegaard) feeding him the ball, and a set of high-discipline Scandanavian players who play in Serie A, Bundesliga and EPL…yet they got eliminated by Serbia in Euro2020 qualifying (in Norway) and they were eliminated by Turkey for the last World Cup qualifiers. Neither of these two B-rated teams even qualified for these tournaments themselves after they took out Norway.
Norway even failed to progress from League B in the most recent Nations League, losing their final game (again) to Serbia with Haaland playing the entire game and failing to score. This game was ALSO played in Norway, and they somehow lost again.
Is he just going to be another Ibrahimovic?
Awesome striker who can score in bunches…but does he actually impact winning? Does he score the goals that will put his National Team through?
What Gvardiol did at World Cup 2022 was amazing and he kept us in games where we should have conceded (Belgium, Brazil, etc.). He directly impacted our progression in the tournament.
We haven’t seen this yet from Haaland for Norway yet. The guys scores goals for them…but none in the games that actually would have put them through…and he’s two years OLDER than Gvardiol.
Haaland is still more valuable than Gvardiol simply due to the value a world class striker has…but some of these trade are dangerous.
Some of these trades make sense because of how good Croatia is at producing a lot of depth in midfield to dominate possession and a lot of role players who could fill in and play their roles really well…but if you give away too much, you’ll just end up being like what Norway currently is…a team that cannot even qualify for a tournament against B caliber teams (let alone actually medal at a tournament).
The amount of jock sniffing happening on this post is impressive.
Despite our loss to Argentina, we made remarkable history.
-Beat Brazil on penalties. First penalty loss for Brazil since 1986.
-Livakovic made a save in the shootout and 11 in the game.
-Beat Japan on penalties. Livakovic made three saves.
-Beat Morocco and only second team to score a goal on them.
-Livakovic, Gvardiol, Modric all played exceptionally well against Belgium.
We knocked out Belgium, Japan, Brazil and beat Morocco.
I just hope we don’t turn into the Netherlands. Make three finals and lots of semis but never capture a trophy.
Not related but teams that use they’re own players unlike the west will get stronger. Us, Hungary, Czech, Poland and Albania. Don’t think the east is in dire need of help. Well, maybe Serbia. Can’t even beat an African side.
I’ve also heard rumours Brozovic could be transferred. Can anyone confirm? He won’t return for a bit. Without Sosa out tomorrow. Let’s hope Jurnaovic shows up.
livakovic in the top 100 is just great humor. croatia would likely swap him for the next 20 goal keepers to possibly come on the ranking list
modric number 5? … give me 30 year old neymar over 38 year old modric any day. should we call brazil up? they were interested in dalic right? perhaps package deal? modric and dalic for neymar… no draft picks required
kovacic will never be ranked in the top 100, but he can certainly play like a top 100 player and one of the best midfielders in the world…even though his final 3rd game will be forever without bite
it sounds like vidovic and sucic going to be the ones to watch here on the young kid side for croatia this season. what does it mean that two of the biggest talents were born abroad
croatia’s big tournament success at least has the positive of alluring diaspora hrvati to make the switch back to croatia
I’d say it would be long overdue.
We have tons of diaspora footballers who played key roles for National Teams of Australia, Germany, USA, Canada, Austria, Switzerland, Sweden, Belgium…and that’s not even mentioning the impact our diaspora had in other sports.
It was only a matter of time until we finally got a big talent coming back the other way, and we did that with Rakitić.
All the other diaspora outside of Raketa were role players at best. We probably should have had alot more diaspora impacting our success.
Western World nations rely heavily on first generation immigrants for their football talent, and the countries with lots of emigrants (like Morocco, Algeria, Turkey, etc) rely almost entirely on their diaspora.
We’re one of the few successful nations that rely on neither.
THIS is even more astonishing considering our small population size AND our old population.
We have no population, no immigrants, and no kids…yet we are medaling at World Cups AND supplying dozens of other nations with top athletes.
Don’t forget Eduardo!! His son Matheus, guess who he wants to play for? Lol. He scores a lot too! We can’t wait Matheus. Looking forward to your arrival.
I didn’t forget him. Eduardo would have been the first real outside talent that we brought in…but it never panned out due to that injury, and he only ever played 20 minutes for us in a tournament (off the bench against Cameroon).
In terms of outside players who were actual real talents beyond being good role players (like the Kovač bros) it’s only ever been Rakitić.
We’re due for a couple of really good diaspora players.
His wife is cro right??
Dudu jr will exact revenge for his fathers injury on the epl
I think the list of our players is pretty bang on except Brozović like you said Markus.
Brozović should be at least in the 30 or 40’s. He is an unsung hero and is totally indispensable in my opinion. Fantastic footballer.
Fully agree Z, lots of people on this site really overlook Brozovic way too much because he is a defensive mid.
Yeah, exactly Mate1. That’s what I mean. Brozovic usually doesn’t show up on a stat sheet much other than he runs 87.6 miles or something. Seriously though, I think he’s invaluable to club and country.
The list was heavily influenced by World Cup performance, which is why Livakovic is even on the list.
Broz is arguably the best midfielder in Italy, but he was injured at the World Cup and wasn’t able to perform at 100 percent. It’s the only reason why he was ranked in the middle of that top-100 list.
Liva is benefiting a great deal from recency bias I’m sorry….he won’t even make the Fortune 500 list next year!
Time will tell buddy, his.performance.in the World Cup was exceptional. People need to give Liva a bit of a break.