Following a shaky qualifying campaign, several questions surrounded Croatia’s squad. Left back, holding midfielder, and an attacking winger opposite Ivan Perisic have been problematic positions over the past two years. Relying on declining players such as Ivica Olic and Danijel Pranjic proved to be detrimental. A lack of development at those positions is another reason behind their issues. Every team has their weaknesses, but these flaws have been prevalent since 2014 World Cup.
The coaching staff recalled Ivan Strinic, who shouldn’t be a liability like Pranjic was for the past two years. Strinic’s lack of playing time at Napoli is a slight concern. That being said, he is the only natural left back on the roster and played extremely well during Euro 2012. His ability to cross and maintain his defensive positioning will hopefully provide much needed stability. Although he is naturally right-footed, Sime Vrsaljko is capable of playing as a makeshift left back as well.
After trotting out Olic for several games, Marko Pjaca was finally given an opportunity to start in the latter stages of qualification. His speed, control, and willingness to take on defenders were refreshing to watch from a Croatian winger. Many people including myself saw Ante Rebic as the potential replacement for Olic. That failed to transpire from failing to make an impact at multiple different clubs.
Pjaca is relatively untested as a player. He is still an upgrade over Olic, who would only add running and relentless pressure at this point. Pjaca isn’t a guaranteed starter yet. Despite starting last Saturday, reports have indicated that Marcelo Brozovic could start over him. Roberto Mancini used him as a right attacking midfielder this season at Inter Milan. It’s not his ideal position, but Brozovic adapted well from cutting inside and tracking back on a consistent basis.
Many fans anticipated Brozovic to continue playing alongside Luka Modric, while Ivan Rakitic plays a more advanced role. Those expectations changed from Croatia’s 10-0 demolishment of San Marino. Ante Cacic played most of his starters that will play in Sunday’s clash against Turkey. The one semi surprise featured Milan Badelj starting over Brozovic. Considering Badelj’s forgettable national team performances, it was partially unexpected to see him as a starter.
There have been glowing reviews about Badelj at Fiorentina. The central midfielder was their highest rated player, according to Who Scored. His positional discipline allows more attack-minded players to play more fearless. Although he isn’t the prototypical holding midfielder, this appears to be Croatia’s best option. There is no denying this position was a problem at the 2014 World Cup.
In the opening game against Brazil, Niko Kovac decided to play Modric and Rakitic together, as Mateo Kovacic played in a more advanced role. That failed to materialize into anything substantial. The largely forgotten Sammir replaced Kovacic against Cameroon in a bizarre game. Finally, Kovac decided to play Rakitic as a number ten, yet used Pranjic as a holding midfielder against Mexico. None of these lineups provided any sort of genuine balance.
During the qualifying stage, competition is mostly light and teams can experiment with players out of position. Brozovic played in a holding midfielder role without any issues over the initial three games. When the opponent went from Bulgaria to Italy, problems ensued. Brozovic failed to close down Antonio Candreva for Italy’s opening goal in a 1-1 draw. He didn’t show much effort either. Vedran Corluka confronted him shortly afterwards. Despite being known as a box-to-box midfielder, Brozovic isn’t a natural ball winner or great tackler. According to Who Scored, the Inter Milan midfielder was dribbled past fifty times this season. That statistic alone reveals Brozovic’s inability as a defensive midfielder against Serie A opponents, let alone against Europe’s top international teams.
The hiring of Cacic hasn’t generated much optimism, but utilizing Badelj as a true defensive midfielder could enhance their chances of a successful tournament. Analysts constantly rave about Croatia’s midfield talent featuring several big names. How will those big names fit together? Brian McBride emphasized the importance of Modric and Rakitic fitting together. We haven’t seen them excel together in big games. The presence of Badelj could allow them to play more as playmakers rather than complete box-to-box midfielders.
In certain situations, sacrifices are needed for players to flourish and defenses to remain organized. Brozovic is a better overall player than Badelj based on his contributions for the national team and overall technical ability. His upside is higher with clubs such as Chelsea and Roma reportedly showing interest. That being said, Badelj has evolved into a solid defensive midfielder for a top five Italian club. Modric and Rakitic can’t be reduced to handling primary defensive responsibilities like they were in 2014 World Cup. Although he was reportedly suffering from a foot injury, it didn’t help that Modric constantly had to track back and couldn’t afford to make runs near the box.
As mentioned above, Brozovic will likely play at some point during the tournament. He may start on Sunday or against Spain. It’s highly unlikely that Pjaca would start against Spain, when the coaching staff should play a more defensive formation. Nobody knows how Cacic will manage his tactics. By implementing Strinic and Badelj into starting positions, he is making positive decisions towards making them into an organized unit.
One of Dinamo Zagreb’s better prospects took quite some to develop. By establishing himself as a defensive midfielder, he is now favored to start on Sunday. His passing was an issue from the limited appearances multiple qualifying campaigns. Igor Stimac’s consistent tactical changes affected him. Niko Kovac never bothered to use him. Cacic appears to value him more than any past Croatian manager. They’ve needed a true defensive midfielder since Kovac’s retirement back in 2008.
Despite the expanded format, where only eight teams are eliminated in the group stage, stakes are high for the opening match against Turkey. How will Srna and Strinic fair against Turkey’s playmakers? Is Corluka going to be completely fit? These are key defensive questions, but none aren’t more important than Badelj’s presence. With Arda Turan and Hakan Calhanoglu, Turkey won’t be afraid to shoot outside the box. Badelj will need to close them down, along with freeing up Modric to be a playmaker like he was at Euro 2012. The once-forgotten man, who hasn’t played in a major international tournament game, now plays a critical role for the national team. After a forgettable start to his international career, Badelj can emerge as one of Croatia’s unsung heroes.
Well, I wasn’t paying too much attention since Mexico to be honest…part my fault, part the national team’s. Thing is though, just because someone is acting like a bitch doesn’t mean you drop him. Show composure…you are a coach…discipline him, but keep him on the roster. He is quick, can shoot from distance, and definitely deserves a seat. What he should have said: “Okay, you dont want to be there if you dont start…well think about what does to your upcoming career asshole if you are not there…its my way or the highway, being on the bench and listening to me is better for your career ya little prick. Now go home and think about that.” Cico was right on HR television on this shit.
Honestly, is Vida, Strinic or Gordon much better than “Ok” anyhow. And that Coric prick looks like he is 13…shit, I was embarrassed just to see his ass on the field celebrating the game…looked like he should have been at the Paris disneyland celebrating the toon-town parade, not at the Euro!!
Damn the last two comments are definitely from someone that doesn’t pay attention. Lovren is OK at best and he was being a little bitch, I love the fact that Cacic left him out, I’ll bet money that Lovren did some shit at WC that none of us know about other than the stupid naked shit. And then he’s demanding to play? Fuck that guy good call.
Regarding the strikers, we do not have a natural striker, but we have talent, guys that understand the game. Do people really think Juventus could have won the title without Mario? He does things that most attackers don’t do, defend, and run like a horse to disrupt any flow. We got this shit. If we win tomorrow by a good margin, we’ll make finals for sure.
little revisiion…to tell you the truth, I do like Kalinic and always thought he had promise. And just say his goal highlights from San Marino…has technique.
I do like Strinic, Vida and Schildenfeld, but still dont understand why Cacic left out Lovren. Discipline the guy, put him in his place, threaten pulling him out of the Euro completely, but dont actually do it!
I would say that with Lovren, we could have some extra depth in back…even on the bench in case some shit happens. Thing is, outside of Super Mario, and Kramaric (and MAYBE Kalinic, on a good day circa 2011), I dont trust any of the strikers we have. Cop, and these other B-list aholes shouldn’t be taking spots on the bus of Premier League players. Just my thoughts. Go Croatia!
Lazio I have to agree pound for pound they are the best two countries in the world.
Impressions so far : we didn’t travel well ….hope to be shocked and wrong
@Anonymous, this place has had the best links in the past 6 months, well at least for me.
Dumb Turks, “one goal means so much” they say, all it meant was they got to the semis and lost to the Germans whom we beat in the same tournament!
I always felt our disappointment was more to do with the fact we missed a chance to make the final than it was that we lost to Turkey.
Turkey on the other hand weren’t even disappointed when they lost to Germany because they still beat mighty Croatia and that’s massive for them.
I don’t see this as a revenge match, we already did that when we scored 3 goals against them in their own backyard.
And of course Croatia is a country of 5 million people and Turkey a country of 80 million, so the odds makers are correct, Croatia are the favourites!
Uruguay and Croatia, pound for pound best teams in the world.
It’s Saturday night, and, so far, Ihavent seen any team that would give us trouble.
Some beautiful videos being posted.
Loved the Excalibur!
anyone have any links please?
Fucken Russian Chetniks scum. Remember they were fighting with the Serbs in Bosnia during the war. If the English do not regroup we might have to save them.
This coaching staff is clearly levels beyond the previous ones. I’ve never seen Strinic make mistakes or stupid plays. He’s the real deal. I called this out here a while ago.
Prepare for battle bitches.
Za Dom Spremni Poglavniće!
Lets stomp some dirty “there’s nothing European about us” Turks tomorrow.
I’m 100% confident this Croatia vs Turkey match could go either way!
We trashed them last time out of anger. We need that rage here and now!
Last WC was the bottom pit for me especially getting screwed by FIFA against Brazil and on top of that a 50 year old Marquez beating Corluka to the ball twice. Losing tmw is like kicking someone when there down. It’s up to these mental midgets if they want to get out of the shadows of the ’98 team. Except a lot of crosses if Corluka starts at CB and expect a lot of goals against. If Cacic puts the right guys on the field we might have a fighting chance.
We’re fookin rockin ’em tomorrow!
Standing by my 3-1 prediction.
So long as the punch ups are in the streets that should be fine, UEFA can’t punish teams for that.
The state of Israel is not Israel.
beating turkey tomorrow is unlikely. turkey has not lost in their last 16 matches and have beat the likes of the czechs and netherlands during that spell
there…it has been assessed
There will be punch ups tomorrow was well against
Turkos gauranteed and I love it!!!
Just heard that myself, the Russian fans charged the English fans after Russia equalised!
Just gotta keep the violence in the streets, you can’t do that sort of stuff in the ground, can’t wait to see what their punishments will be!
Amy Wombat has a lot for men’s soccer respect. As far as the Ottomans tomorrow fuck them Bosnia is Croatia!!!
It is Russian savages who are provoking the violence, not the English. Like many former communist turds they take pride in martial arts and other goonish pastimes.
Marseille will probably burn tonight.
England are setting the bar pretty high in the hooligan stakes!
i suggest csr run another one of their usual polls for this tournament featuring the question
what will croatia’s punishment for saying za dom be from the euros 2016?
a) no penalty
b) additional home crowd bans
c) point deduction in world cup qualifying
d) removal from group and simply replaced with kosovo
Of course there’s nothing wrong with it. Za Dom, SPREMNI. This is bigger than football. Who gives a fuck if they ban us? This is what makes us, this is what we are!
Don’t let them cuck you!
I will never feel ashamed, or guilty of what made us great, or what kept us alive!
ZA DOM, SPREMNI!!
Even this Serb I know sees nothing wrong with chanting it
Hmm maybe they actually succeeding in killing our pride
This is sad
walked by a a group of dudes in cro gear today my friend said za dom after we passed them and none of them yelled back, maybe because we looked local maybe idk
I bet the dirty Turks could join the chant lol
What do u guys expect to happen
Some may start a zds chant and others just shut up??
Legit question is u boj banned from the Jews as well?
I know it hurts to read but at least it gets my blood boiling for the match.
Za Dom, SPREMNI!
Let’s have at it!
Yep, you’re right. If it was us, we’d be heavily fined and banned from attending matches.
“Za Dom” chants will have us plastered on the printed pages and the Web with Nazi comparisons, and probably docked points for the next campaign.
Croatia are the uefa/Fifa scapegoats.
Sit back and watch it unfold.
I agree Perisic is more direct, a combination of Power, Pace, and Technique. He’s kinda like a midnight freight train commin’ straight at-chya!
The other day, a wise čoban told me that a Talisman shall cometh to deliver the Vatreni to glory…Will Perisic be the chosen one???
Subasic has been in great form this season, commandeering one of the meanest defenses in France. And collecting as many clean sheets as a 5-Star hotel.
So if you Sandwich our suspect back-line between Subasic and Badelj, well, now THAT’S a defense we can swallow!!!
I can’t watch the commentary with Abby Wambach she looks and sounds like a fricken man, it’s pathetic.
i wonder how Uefa will handle the situation with the English fans pretty much destroying the city of Marseille. If that was us, youd already be hearing about more matches behind closed doors and heavy fines. They’d probably even ban us from entering stadiums in France altogether. I guarantee you there will be a full Wembley come qualifying in September, but we get banned for chanting words that most the world has no clue of the meaning. Jebi ga, im expecting “Za Dom” chants pretty much all day tomorrow.
IPoor Albanians – their turn to go through getting rid of Balkan mental midget syndrome- and that’s their captain.
Holy shit, anyone see the Albanian captain handball and then red carded. WOW, that was some creative cheating right there.
One thing we haven’t discussed is Subasic. He’s been in form and will make a big difference for us. Yesterday the Romanian goalie was at fault for the first goal and I’m watching Albania vs Switzerland and the Albanian goalie was at fault for the goal that was just scored.
If a goalie comes out for the ball he better own it and I don’t expect Subasic to make any stupid mistakes.
Kad se sjetim, suza krene….
F&ck what people think! I am pijan writing this as we speak. If you weren’t the devil’s advocat, I would be! We all need a prospective from another side of the coin to keep people in check from getting ahead of themselves. I am a firm believer that often we beat teams like drkadrkastan and narnia and then claim we are world champions so keep it coming. We need it Ziva!
I’d take Perisic over Payet any day of the week, but I am biased. Bilic knows he has a good one in Payet, but wait til Europe sees the new Perisic.
Different type of “playmaker”, need both types to have a top top team usually. And Lazio you know full well it was an inside job…..
How does Payet compare to Modric then, are they both playmakers?
@ Poglavnik, very true. At the end of the day France won 2-1 to Romania, with a weak ass goal keeper. As along as we control the ball and jebeno pucati loptu, we’ll make the quarter finals. We NEVER shoot enough. I have this feeling that we’re going to see a Croatian team we’ve always wanted to see.
Gotta hand it to Romania. Their manager got the most out of a bunch of guys who no one even mentioned as a dark horse, yet it took 89 minutes for the pre-tournament favorites to beat them… plus a moment of brilliance from Payet.
We have many players capable of making a game changing touch, but I hope we don’t leave it to the last minute.
Id say Payets more of a playmaker. Created 8 chances today, 3rd most in a Euro game ever. Also had a ton of assists when he was at Marseille a year ago. Payets free kicks are world class too. They both have nice shots and can score from almost anywhere within 30 yards.
Perisic is faster and more powerful and more direct. He reminds me of Gareth Bale a bit. Hopefully he just keeps getting better.
With so many teams evenly matched today, often times a Talisman is required to provide that spark to win. And France had theirs in Payet today.
Question for all you pundits out there, how does Perisic compare to Payet?
My kurac melts hearts
Jet fuel can melt steel beams, it’s happend before!
I was trying to make a point, it doesn’t matter if you’re black or white.
A Catholic that is black is my brother.
Religion is a structured method for spirituality and morality. It’s not a badge of honour. Nor is it a farce. It is corrupt as hell though…..seriously guys not now. It’s Ramadan, I’m fasting, I’m not allowed to be negative or confrontational. Salaam lazio, salaam Rocky Mountain yeti. Xxx
@mishko, lol. “Spooks” haven’t heard that in a while. Yah
Religion is a farce. Proud and Religion is an oxymoron.
Keep it about the football. No need to mention fairytales.
New ZG80 trailer aka Metastaze II the prequel
DI STE RETARDELIJE
Jet fuel can’t melt steel beams. Can it iggy?
Nice goal by Chile!
I honestly think this current crop of players has what it takes to make the quarter finals. We have the right mix of experience and talent to really make an impact. Bring on the muslimani!!
Ziva is still a turd. Predicting sports results is for idiots.
But their nationality is French, their ethnicity African, nothing wrong with that.
My concern with the nation of France is that a once proud Catholic country has so many Muslims in it.
BTW just watching the France game and 70% of the players are spooks, I’d be embarrassed to be French and call them French.
I hope some Zadrani beat the crap out of you and we see it on the news.
Is Ziva going to France?
Ziva, big hug brother. You take care and sing loud.
yes!!! Ziva for president
Well done Bilic on France’s win today!
Ziva you prick. Run you pussy.
You got called out in another thread and no response from you. Lol
You keep spinning your bs.
This is a good team with a good coach and savez. They will go deep in this tourney. Enjoy as I am sure it will be killing you.
Holy fuck! I just removed my gun from Zivas head….I’m stunned with his post. Have a safe trip you prick..lol
Beautifully said Ziva!
All the other CSR boys out there France, cuvaj se momci.
Behave yourselves and represent us well.
Damn, Ziva with a legit post.
My last post for a while………..
I know a lot of you feel I am too negative (I’m not; I’m accurate and rational). So, as I look at how we will do in this tourney I keep looking at having a third-rate coach and people (Suker, Mamic, etc..) we wouldn’t even let into our homes who are currently running the savez. Those signs point to disappointment.
However, those of you who have been on this site for a long time know that I always refer to talent as being the deciding factor. In most cases talent wins out. Yes, I wish our savez would have placed a coach in there to get more out of this team. I think these guys – guys playing at high levels and the most esteemed of clubs – will somehow find a way to make it happen. So, we will get out of the group with ease. We will win our knockout stage game and make it to the QFs where anything is possible at that point. I can see even see a semifinal run.
Lets enjoy the next week and half for sure; and hopefully a longer run as we live the “za dom…spremni” lifestyle.
Halilovic should’ve been in the squad, even Rakitic was surprised he wasn’t picked.
So much for Halilovic saying it wouldn’t be a tragedy if he wasn’t picked.
good article on two brothers playing against each other in the euros (one from albania, one from switzlerland)….soon perhaps they join forces for kosovo against croatia in WC qualifying
^ don’t be so quick you never know januzaj shaqiri whoever from Albania and whoever else might jump ship
If he plays for Kosovo then he’ll never be in an international tournament, so no.
I think people put way too much emphasis on how our players have performed at NT level vs. club. It’s a much smaller sample size and its up to the manager to get the same output from them at the int’l level. If we base everything on NT performance we would just have a bunch of past their prime players and we would be terrible. It’s a risk using players who have not performed at the int’l level before, but a risk we have to take.
with kosovo apparently being added to our wc qualify group… do you guys think halilovic would actually make an attempt to try to get on kosovo??
@crnkovic I appreciate your unabated support for Pjaca. Like Jm, I hope you are right, but I am not seeing a player that will even score 1/4 as many goals as Henry did. He might score a few this tournament, but so might Kramaric/Brozo/Kalinic with all the service from Perisic/Mandzo/Modric/Rakitic (yes Mandzo with his underrated headers back into the box.)
You can watch “marko pjaca . Dinamo zagreb . Best moments” on youtube. See the goal at 2.10, and the one at 2.46. Both of those goals shout top class at me. There are others there too. Of course, he may not end up being a truly world class player, we won’t know until it happens. There are some weaknesses he has. From a technique perspective, his back lift before he shoots is overly pronounced, which probably indicates that he is not using his hips enough when shooting. This can be a problem when you are tightly marked are there is less space and time. Tactically he tends to drift in and out of games, he hasn’t learnt how to be effective enough without the ball, and when receiving the ball in areas where he can’t be direct and attack. But for a 20 year old, you’d like to think these aspects can be improved massively. As will his confidence and consistency. For me he is already a better player than say theo Walcott. He just needs to take that step up a gear. Maybe he will on Sunday?
i hope your right! i would gladly take an henry on croatia for the next 10 years…but i’m cautious on the superlative comparisons…… rebic scored 10 goals for a weak split team as a 19 year old….pjaca scored 8 goals for the best team in the league as a 21 year old…. rebic is stumbling (although still VERY young!)….hopefully pjaca will not …but i’m not sure what in pjaca’s body of work shows henry like talent…. hopefully im’ wrong though!
Henry played 5 seasons for Monaco, then transferred to juventus where he flopped, then transferred to arsenal. Only after that did he become a prolific goalscorer playing as a central striker. Before that he played on the wing. Like pjaca does today. They have similar attributes, a similar physique. Pjaca scores the type of goals today, that Henry only started to score in his second season at arsenal…look beyond statistics my friend…..
Hold up on the sent home talk.
According to him ^^^ (very credible source for all Spain related matters) he’s still there
“[Pjaca] Reminds me of a young Thierry Henry. Perhaps better”
henry scored 174 goals in 254 appearances in the premier league…. i don’t think pjaca would score that many goals if he plays out his days in the HNL
Pjaca is a talent guys. Pjaca was young then, still is, and he was coming into a team that was rapidly falling apart. Is that how you judge a player? Croatia lose the plot and you blame the youngest most inexperienced player on the pitch? That’s truly vindictive and short sighted. When you see pjaca’s hat trick against Celtic and some of the quality of his goals this season. When you know football you know what you are looking at. Olic, mandzukic, kalinic, klasnic…..even kramaric, even dudu…..they could play football for 100 years and never score a goal like 4 or 5 of the gems he already has to his name. And it doesn’t matter the standard of the league, it’s still football. If you can drop your shoulder, one way then the other, ping the ball from one foot to the other, before bending the ball with power into the top corner….if you can do that…then it will be a goal against anyone. That’s why he’s in the team, not because mamic needs to sell him. Get a grip. Honestly. He’s a very good player. Reminds me of a young Thierry Henry. Perhaps better
I try to watch every Croatia game (couldn’t watch Moldova friendly cause my college graduation was going on that day). Even the friendlies I watch. Also got to see a few Serie A games this year. Big reason why I’m so down on Kalinic’s so called “emergence”. Badelj was solid for Fiorentina. His NT performances have been pretty terrible over the years. I remember a WC qualifier against Wales, where he was constantly losing possession.
Not sure about Pjaca, but he looks like a good prospect. Obviously hasn’t played much against great competition. Can’t use YouTube highlights to evaluate a player. I’m not that naive.
Kramaric started over Olic in the 6-0 win over Azerbiajan and yes it was very refreshing. Let’s not base results off one player being replaced.
“After trotting out Olic for several games, Marko Pjaca was finally given an opportunity to start in the latter stages of qualification. His speed, control, and willingness to take on defenders were refreshing to watch from a Croatian winger. ”
was it “refreshing” to watch croatia tie azerbiajian and lose 2-0 to norway with pjaca after beating those teams 6-0 and 5-1 with olic?
Dejan wanna catch the game tomight
De gea sent home
Not to be a dick, but have you actually watched footage of guys like Badelj, Pjaca and Strinic? Or are we just talking YouTube highlights?
Nice piece though.
Nothing but why do I get the feeling that this kid’s future is being mishandled by his father and the HNS?
@elvis, who cares what halilovic agent thinks?