Danijel Subašić is the likely replacement for retiring goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa, but the question remains as to who will be taking his spot as the number two.
Subašić, who has been playing for France’s Ligue 1 since 2012, spent five years at NK Zadar and four years at Hajduk Split. His time at Monaco has been a relatively successful time, but his start to the new 2014-15 season has left him looking lackluster, letting in six goals in his first three matches.
Monaco is currently in 17th place in Ligue 1 with one win and two losses.
Candidates for the number two sport range from seasoned veterans to unproven, but potentially talented youngsters. Many will be found playing in the HNL, leaving many people to wonder if they are of high enough quality to represent Croatia at the international level.
These fans may be surprised at the caliber of goalkeepers that are available in the domestic league, and should be pleased to watch them play when it’s their time to be called upon.
HNK Rijeka’s Ivan Vargić is should be the first choice to back Subašić up for the national team. Vargić has spent his career playing in Croatia, but has certainly made a name for himself during his current spell at Rijkea where he helped his team achieve second place in the Prva Liga last season, win the Croatian Cup as well as the Croatian Super Cup, and make it to the Europa League group stages last season and are well on their way to reaching them again.
The veteran 27-year-old goalkeeper is reaching his prime. He was a member of the Croatian U21 team and received his first senior level call up last season.
A draw back to Vargić is he has never competed at the senior level, leaving him an unproven national team player, but given the right circumstances, he should receive his first appearance soon, and will be given the chance to prove he is a viable option.
Hajduk Split boasts bringing up some of Croatia’s best goalkeepers to date. Pletikosa had spent his youth career there followed by eight seasons with them totaling to 170 caps with the club. Vedran Runje was also a product of Hajduk, and now, they are bringing up Lovre Kalinić.
Kalinić spent his youth and much of his professional career at Hajduk and has seven appearances for Croatia’s U21, but has yet to receive an international call up for the the senior side. At the age of 24, and standing at almost 6-foot-8, Kalinić is working towards improvement and hoping for his first chance at national representation.
Youngster, Matej Delač has been hyped since he was signed to Chelsea FC in 2010 at the age of 17, but he has yet to see any first-team time with the English giant, and has been loaned out every season since to clubs such as Vitesse, Dynamo Ceske, Vitoria de Guimaraes, Inter Zaprešić, Vojvodina, and currently, FK Sarajevo.
As a former player of Croatia’s U15-21 sides, will the young goalkeeper ever get his chance to shine with the big boys? Does he deserve a chance? Hope is dwindling for him, but he remains an option
An even younger keeper that is catching attention is NK Zagreb’s Dominik Livaković. Livaković, who is a regular with Croatia’s U20 squad, has been described by his former coach Ciro Blažević as, “The best goalkeeper in the league (HNL).”
The 19-year-old helped gain promotion for his club this season and will soon deserve a chance representing his country.
Dinamo Zagreb recently brought in Antonijo Ježina, who is a former NK Istra player. Ježina was the clear-cut number one for the Croatian club until Portugal’s Eduardo stepped in his place. With proper playing time, Ježina could be a potential call up for Croatia.
The 25-year-old’s first and only appearance for Croatia came last September in a friendly against South Korea. He came on as an injury time substitute and conceded a goal within his first minute of play.
Croatia has never been known to produce world-class goalkeepers, but have certainly made more than the best of what we had. With the combination of young and seasoned goalkeepers, there should be enough talent to protect the net for Croatia leading into the next World Cup.
Dario Krešić – Bayer Leverkusen, age: 30
Oliver Želenika – NK Lokomotiva, age: 21
Ivan Kelava – Udinese, age: 26
Silvio Rodić – Górnik Łęczna, age: 27