Croatian talents Marin Ljubičić and Martin Baturina could not have asked for better starts to the 2022-23 season. The two have already combined for 10 goals and two assists through the first two weeks of the young season. With Sučić, Gvardiol, and Stanišić joining the Croatian A-team, Igor Bišćan’s U-21s might’ve just found their newest superstars…
Let’s start with 20 year-old striker Marin Ljubičić.
Since joining Austrian side LASK on loan from Hajduk Split, Ljubičić has scored 9 goals in only four matches – let that stat line sink in. He leads the Austrian Bundesliga in goals scored (6) and total goal contributions, and is averaging an incredible 8.23 SofaScore match rating through three league matches. In his first match for LASK, Ljubičić scored a hat trick vs. Schwaz in the Austrian Cup while playing only 61 minutes. Only a few weeks later, he knocked four goals past Wolfsberger in a 5-1 victory in league play. Keep in mind that Wolfsberger are a Europa League caliber squad.
Ljubičić hasn’t played more than 75 minutes in a single match this season. However, he’s made each minute count for his new team, scoring 64% of his shots and finding himself involved in a goal every 25 minutes. Hajduk is receiving lots of criticism for letting Ljubičić leave on a loan after showing many promising signs during the 2021-22 season. But let’s be honest – with Livaja and Kalinić in the lineup, how much time would the 20 year-old see in his natural position? Through only four matches, Ljubičić has already caught the eyes of scouts and football fans across the world. If he continues to find the back of the net at a consistent rate, a huge offer will come knocking on his door.
Sučić, Šimić, and now Ljubičić. The Austrian league will be a treat to watch for Croatians this season!
Now, let’s talk about 19 year-old midfielder Martin Baturina.
It’s safe to say that Baturina has been Dinamo Zagreb’s most impactful player this season. Baturina has scored and assisted once through three league matches this season, and put on a midfield masterclass against Ludogorets in Champions League qualifying. Despite having Mišić, Ademi, and Ivanušec as midfield options, most of Dinamo’s attack has flown through Baturina this season. His poise, agility, and phenomenal dribbling technique sets him apart from pretty much every other player on the pitch.
Baturina is truly a joy to watch on the field. When he receives the ball, it’s evident that he already has his next move all sorted out in his head. Almost like a quarterback, Baturina often drops within Dinamo’s backline to spark an attack from the defensive third. He can play the 6, 8, and 10 positions all at once.
Hmm, another short, Croatian midfielder from Dinamo Zagreb that can orchestrate, defend, and impress any crowd in front of him. Wonder who he watched growing up…