Croatia’s top flight soccer league has produced numerous world-class footballers over the 12 years it has been in existence.
Nearly every player on the current World Cup roster for Croatia has spent some time developing their skills in their home country.
In fact, every player on Croatia’s World Cup roster except Ivan Rakitić and and Ivan Perišić have payed their dues in the 1.HNL — though Perišić did spend his youth career at Hajduk Split.
But who are the current stars of the HNL that will have the honor of representing their country?
There are currently six players from four different teams that will be representing three different countries on the world’s stage in Brazil.
Croatia of course will be bringing some of their young talent from the HNL to Brazil.
Oliver Zelenika will most likely see no playing time in Brazil, but will get invaluable experience as the third string goalkeeper for the Vatreni.
The 21-year-old Zagreb native is the starting goalkeeper for NK Lokomotiva, and will be enjoying his first senior-team call up with the big boys.
Dinamo’s Marcelo Brozović is a central midfielder that may prove to be an unlikely and important addition to the Vatreni. Brozović has seen the pitch for Dinamo 50 times since 2012, and has scored eight goals.
Ivan Močinić from Rijeka is another newcomer to the national team, but has been rumored to be suffering from an injury. The midfielder has been a solid starter for HNK Rijeka this past season, and has proved vital in their recent success.
Bosnia and Herzegovinia have been called the “new darlings of the World Cup” recently by an article on Yahoo! and they will be using the talents of two players from Hajduk Split.
Teammates Tino-Sven Sušić and Avdija Vrsajević will both enjoy being teammates on their national team in Brazil. Sučić, who is also a citizen of Belgium, has made several appearances for the Belgium U18 and U19 national teams, but chose to honor his homeland and accepted the call from Bosnia.
Dinamo’s El Arabi Hillel Soudani is the only player on the list with national team experience. the 26-year-old striker has scored 11 goals in his 22 appearances for his country, including the pivotal game-winner against Mali to qualify for the World Cup.
Expect to see fans from all over Croatia and supporters of all clubs come together to support the Vatreni.
Fans from Pula and supporters of NK Istra 1961 have safely arrived in Brazil ahead of Thursday’s match.
As members of Demoni, Istra’s ultra group, they will surely be a big part of Croatia’s atmosphere in the stadium.
Croatia kick off the tournament on Thursday when they face the host country, Brazil. Don’t miss your favorite HNL players display their talents to the world!