Croatia’s STACKED Under-21 side crushed Azerbaijan 5-1 in U21 Euro Qualifiers Tuesday night, led by a hat-trick from 18 year-old wunderkind Roko Šimić. Croatia remains perfect in Group A of the qualifying campaign, sitting in 1st place with 12 points from a perfect record of 4-0-0. The Mladi Vatreni also have an outstanding goal differential of +9 in their four matches played.
Roko Šimić opened the scoreline for Croatia in the 9th minute, followed by a second via goalkeeper error in the 13th. Center-back Nikola Soldo scored in the 25th minute to give the Mladi Vatreni a 3-0 lead. In the 44th minute of the match, Šimić converted a penalty to earn himself a hat-trick (all in one half) and give the Vatreni an outstanding 4-0 lead going into halftime. Azerbaijan finally found themselves on the board in the 55th minute, thanks to a penalty converted by Musa Qurbanli. Croatia answered again in the 81st minute, coming from a looping header from defender Josip Šutalo. The final score was 5-1 Croatia.
18 year-old Roko Šimić can’t stop scoring! Salzburg/Liefering’s striker has a total of 13 goals in 15 appearances in the 2021-22 season, and 10 goals in his last six matches. Šimić has scored four goals for Croatia’s U21s this international break, and has proven to be an extreme threat in the final third. Salzburg recently re-signed Šimić until 2025 due to his magnificent form. We’ve got a huge talent in our hands!
The question is: with Andrej Kramarić struggling to convert goals on decent looks in front of the net and Croatia without any real striking option at the moment, when is the right time to bring up 18 year-old Šimić to the senior side? I say give him a look against Malta next month. That should shake things up for Kramarić. 100%!