Before we get to the obvious catastrophe which this last qualifying campaign turned out to be, let’s go through the positives. Because there were positives, believe it or not.
1) Croatia can still make the World Cup! And when/if that happens and ‘Lijepa Naša’ is being blasted throughout Brazilian stadiums in front of the entire world, we won’t be thinking about any losses to Scotland. I can guarantee you that.
2) We didn’t lose to Serbia. Even tough Croatia had a rough qualifying campaign, at least we didn’t give the Serbs bragging rights. And on top of that, Croatia were the team to officially end Serbia’s World Cup hopes. Two wins would have been nice, but a victory in front of our own fans in Zagreb and a draw on the road gave Croatia the all around W this round.
3) New blood. Something was wrong with the team. Call it chemistry. Call it morale. Call it whatever you want, but something was wrong. Igor Šimac is now out and one of the most respected players in Croatian history, Niko Kovač, takes over the team. It’s a perfect time for a managerial change and should wake the team up going into the playoff round.
4) No casualties going into the playoff round. As I say on a regular basis: “It can always we better and it can always be worse.” Croatia will be entering the playoff round without any major injuries or suspensions. The starting XI will be intact (minus Ognjen Vukojević) and they will be ready to go come November 15th. The playoff draw is set for Monday, October 21st.
1) Thanks Italy. Yes, we have to thank the Italians for even being in this position right now. With all things being equal in qualifying, if Alberto Aquilani did not score in injury time against Denmark on Friday to force a 2-2 draw, Croatia would have been the worst 2nd placed team, hence, missing the playoff altogether. Italy was already qualified for the World Cup and had nothing to gain with the goal. So once again, as much as it pains me to say, thanks Italy.
2) Late game heroics. Croatia needed two ridiculously late goals by Lovren and Eduardo to beat Wales on the road. They pressed and pressed after Bale’s 1st half penalty but couldn’t crack a mediocre Welsh defense.
3) The Rakitić bomb. Remember when Ivan Rakitić attempted a 40-yard free kick against Macedonia, trying to catch the goalie off his line? Well, it didn’t work. Remember when he tried it again in the second half and the ball ended up in the back of the net? That goal was the decider in the 2-1 win. You would think Croatia had the talent and caliber to defeat a side like Macedonia without throwing up Hail Mary’s. Guess not.
CroatianSports.com Farewell to Igor Štimac: You will not be missed
Where to begin? Let’s look at some stats…
1) Where the goals at? In 10 World Cup qualifiers, Croatia only scored 12 goals. That’s an average of 1.2 goals per game. You can’t expect to win many games like that.
2) Pace yourself. Croatia never scored more than 2 goals in ANY match this qualifying cycle. The offense has been inept and Mario Mandžukić is not getting anywhere near the service he’s receiving at Bayern Munich. Give the man the ball in the air and let him do his thing. Ivica Olić tap-in goal or not. Who cares?
3) Scotland? After what we can all call a successful Euro 2012 campaign, if someone were to tell you that Croatia would lose to Scotland, not once, but twice in qualifying, they would have put them in a straight jacket and carried them off to the crazy house. The 1-0 loss in Zagreb ended all hope of finishing 1st in the group. This current Belgium side was not going to slip up and drop points.
4) Scotland, again?! What if I were to tell you that Croatia would not score ONE goal against the Scots in 180 minutes of play? What if I were to say that the Vatreni would not manage their first shot on goal against Scotland until midway through the 2nd half of the first game? “Impossible” you would say! “Kvartuč, stop messing around with me” you would laugh. Well, it happened.
5) Maksimir fortress, no more. The only fortified thing in Croatian football is ziva istina’s basement at the moment. Croatia never lost at Maksimir! It was unheard of. And then they finally slipped up against England in 2010 World Cup qualifying losing 4-1. Okay, it happens, but to lose to Belgium and Scotland in the same qualifying campaign raises questions. The magic of Maksimir is gone. Time for Split, Rijeka and Osijek to showcase some more games.
6) Prozac usage rises 600% in Croatia. I think I can speak for all of us when I say, “This campaign was depressing.” After a Euro 2012 where Croatia went toe-to-toe with tournament finalists Spain and Italy, and then for us to watch them squeak by Wales and Macedonia (I won’t even mention Scotland again), it was just sad. I always treat days Croatia plays like a holiday. I take the day off, wake up early, read what the Croatian media are saying about the game and possible formations. I’m like a kid going to Disneyland for the first time. That feeling wasn’t there this time around. Watching Croatia play without urgency to score killed me. It was almost like The Simpsons parody on soccer came to life. Then I turn the channel at halftime to see teams like Spain, Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands blasting balls on frame with no fear. It bummed me out.
But then again, just like the Turkey playoff two years ago, if Croatia makes it to Brazil- everything will be forgotten. I can guarantee you all that we won’t be talking about any of the above mentioned issues in the summer of 2014, because we’ll be talking about taking down World Cup contenders instead. It’s what we do. It’s in our blood. We aim to be the best.
If we can can get past this playoff hump and cruise into the World Cup with this crop of players, in form and drama free, who knows what can happen when the checkers hit the field in Brazil. But first things first…who draws Croatia on October 21st?
Good post. I agree with everything. Maksimir is not what it used to be. So much to do in Zagreb and on the other hand so many people living check to check and struggling to pay their bills. Why would they spend money to catch this team play? I understand both sides.
We need more games around Croatia.
Alen should have played for Bosna.. nothing against anyone it just seemed like he wanted to!
Sure. If I am fan of one of the other four unseeded nations, Croatia is the team I want to play. Fired coach, playing bad soccer, lost to Scotland twice. Croatia, from the outside, appears to be a wounded team. Perfect time to play us.
Now, that doesn’t mean we lose the playoff round, but you would have to be confident if you are the other team if you draw Cro.
Players and coaches go over everything they can get their hands on to the point of OCD.
All four unseeded teams would love to play against Croatia right now? Really? Not that has anything to do with Maksimir but really?
Any edge is gone. Players/coaches live in the present, not the past. All four of the unseeded teams would love to play Cro right now.
Reasons we were successful at Maksimir: we were good and when opposing teams came into maksimir, saw it and the locker room, they wanted to get out as fast as they could. They were in a dump and wanted no part of it. Now, the team is not as strong and other teams come in thinking Cro can be beat.
“re: Maksimir – The edge is gone. Before, visiting teams would have been happy with a draw. Now they’ll go into Maksimir saying, “If Scotland can beat CRO here, why can’t we?”
Simple as that.”
Even now visiting teams will look at our overall record at Maksimir and will say to themselves, “Wow, this is amazing, they have only lost three game at this stadium in history!” and therefore the edge that you say is now gone will in fact not be gone.
Another person from the visiting team will mention that one of the losses was to Scotland to try and kill the edge. That reference will be quashed with the mention of the other two teams that managed to win in the stadium of England and Belgium. So now the visiting team will understand the Scotland game to be a fluke.
When they dig further they will figure out the circumstances to the Scotland loss and realize who our coach was at the time and the visiting team will be right back to not feeling comfortable about their chances in the game coming up. So much for Maksimir losing its edge as the uneasiness of knowing the Scotland game was a fluke will be enough to replenish any edge that apparently somehow disappeared but never did at all. Simple as that.
Niko and Bilic were the ones who nominated Srna as Niko’s replacement. Doubt he would take the armband away from him now… I agree with your point about Joe being captain, but how many more years does he have left for the NT? One? Maybe two? Not worth naming him captain now and then naming another one in the near future.
This is CLASSIC! new song made for Stimac in his Mare i Kate rythem. TOO FUNNY!
Well, no suprise…….Zagreb is confirmed as the city for the playoff round. We better come back with a good result from the first leg because anything else will be met by the same situation as the Scotland game.
aggessively????? how so. Only times I respond aggressively is when dumb, incoherent comments are made. This is a message baord, so not all of us are going to agree. I get that. But, you have to be able to make a reasonable point. I’m not hot tempered at all. Very laid back.
I don’t keep track of all replies and comments coming in, so I’m bound to miss more than a few if directed at me.
Ziva – I don’t use twitter but I’ve noticed you either respond aggressively when you are challenged or you don’t respond at all…seriously, you remind me of the older generation…hot tempered and dismissive!
@Ante(ZNSD) … keep up the good work, it may take awhile from what you describe 🙂
Agree with IvicA… no reason not to put the kid on the field… especially given that Sammir played.
@Armada… we can’t say for sure that suleijmani would have scored, but Joe definitely put any chance of that to rest… which is why I could see Kovac putting him as captain, that plus his age and experience, plus he played a long time with the Kovac boys… or maybe he goes co-captain style with Joe and Luka, might be a good approach, assuming its allowed.
The edge is gone. Before, visiting teams would have been happy with a draw. Now they’ll go into Maksimir saying, “If Scotland can beat CRO here, why can’t we?”
Simple as that.
where have i ever said half our team is yugos.
Our repka has actually played a number of non 100% hrvati. Not an issue with me.
@Slavonac…..what up? I’ll be away for a bit, if you need to get a hold of me or send me a message you can do so via my twitter account: @ziva_istina
I have yet to fully embrace it, but I do check it.
Ugh. Still. We should have just capped him and been done with it, instead of playing him in three friendlies and pointlessly call him up in countless others. Remember Živa, it’s the smart and logical move. Take the emotion out of it.
According to you, half the guys on our current squad are Yugos anyway. So it shouldn’t matter if he is vocal about being Cro.
Not capping Halilović is another one of Štimac’s failures. A 90th minute substitution, and all the talk and drama surrounding this situation would have ended long ago. Instead, we get Sammir playing significant minutes in two games.
As said earlier,
I fear Halilovic will be our Bojan Krkic. Assuming he does stick with us that is. Bojan is still a fine player. However, during his ascent through the Barcelona academy everyone in the world was in complete agreement that he was a cant miss prospect, possibly one of the greatest players in the world one day.
A Denmark draw got us into the playoffs for France 98,
A Denmark draw got us into the playoffs for Brazil 2014.
Would’ve been a crazy déjà vu if we were able to draw Ukraine in the playoffs again.
why havent you responded to me, you an angry person?
I’m glad more and more people realize Halilovic has no place on the repka…..as of right now. Boy, this just shows how insecure the savez is with this kid. If the savez thinks the kid has doubts about playing for our repka and they feel they need to force him unto the senior side, then we are better off not inviting him and not forcing his hand. So what if he went to BiH. I’ve yet to hear from this kid that he loves to play for Cro. All I have heard is that he is born here and its logical that he should play for Cro. I think he is going to be one of those players who will play better at the club level and underperform for the national side.
continued from yesterdays discussion:
Kome biste prvom rekli zbogom nakon kvalifikacija:
24,42% Alenu Haliloviću
20,02% Ivanu Striniću
16,64% Nikoli Kaliniću
11,68% Ivanu Perišiću
8,62% Josipu Šimuniću
8,02% Dariju Srni
4,78% Šimi Vrsaljku
3,35% Ivici Oliću
2,46% Niki Kranjčaru
Hahaha, I actually have a Roma Aquilani jersey. Back when he was still being touted as the little Prince of Rome and dating Miss Italy.
All you idiots who bashed on Big Joe for that tackle he made in BG … hope you do realize if he didn’t make that tackle on Sulejmani, he more likely than not goes in and scores, we lose 2-1 probably and rather than looking at a playoff tie to get to Brazil, the HNS would now be scheduling a NT vs. HNL All Star team friendly…
What Joe did was ugly… but at this point, it saved our qualfication.
@nije bitno………I agree with those comments for the most part. But, we all know hrvati will bitch and moan as soon as we go down 1-0. If we come back home from the first leg with a positive result everyone will be happy and enthusiastic. But, if we come home with a bad result, the public will turn on the team like they correctly did last week.
The thing I don’t agree is the person who wrote that piece asking the media to be positive. That is wrong.
The last thing I want from the media is for them to be a blind cheerleader. Let them report however they want. The public can decide if they like what they are reading/viewing. Asking the media to get behind someone/something is to communist-era thinking. That is what they did in the Yugo days and that is what Tudjman did as well. And that is what Puppet Suker and Mamic want as well. Hey ignore the fact that none of us are qualified to be in the positions that we are in. Ignore that. We want you to write happy stories. F that. People are smart to figure thing out on their own, we don’t need the media to cover up.
@ziva – agreed that the BiH sense of cohesion and patriotism is rising, and that’s shown in their diaspora and what their team has done over the last 18 months.
For some countries however (probably a minority) the ethnic divisions don’t matter when the team is out on the football pitch. Look at Spain over the last few years – at times half the team were Catalan or Basque but that didn’t stop them pulling together to win the last WC or Euro 2012.
Great post by somebody and i’m with him 100%
“Dodro jutro svima, danas pocinje nova era. Halo narode, probudimo se, dajmo im podrsku, ti igraci neigraju samo za sebe nego igraju i za nas. Zato ujedinimo se svi skupa, dajmo im podrsku, decki su nas toliko puta razveselili i zasluzili su da ich podrzimo i u dobru i u zlu. Ucimo od svaba, engleza, talijana, spanjolaca, prazilaca, ucimo od njih kako se podrzava reprezentacija. Treba im podrska i povjerenje javnosti, dajmo mi 150% van terena pa ce i oni na terenu dat makar toliko. Oni trebaju da osjete podrzku javnosti da bi uspjeli da preskoce zadnju prepreku. Mi se ponasamo gore nego srbi koi su ispali a jos uvjek imamo sanse da se kvalifikujemo. Hoce, bit ce tesko ali bez potpore javnosti bit ce puno teze. Zato zamoljavam novinare da neremete red i mir, da pisu pozitvno a ne samo negativno, trebamo prvo mi i novinari da ih ponesemo a onda ce oni da lete po terenu. Zato NARODE PROBUDI SE “
@marko……..disagree, that is the same argument always said about the former Yugo. Too many ethnic divisions. Just like us, our players from the 96 and 98 team played for the flag. Same with this group from BiH. BiH may be a manufactured country being held together by the outside world, but the guys on that team play for that BiH flag.
Just like the diaspora has been helpful for our repka, the same goes for BiH. They got some young kids throughout Europe who are considered big time prospects, assuming they decide to play for BiH. What our diaspora community was in the early and mid-90s in terms of patriotic feelings towards the motherland is what the BiH diaspora community is now.
@Na Drini Cuprija……..not true. I don’t root for BiH and I don’t root against it. I think the hrvati in BiH are fucked over thanks our own own politicians over the year and the international community. But, that is a politcal isse.
Only national side I root against are Serbia and England. I think BiH is a good side and they have a number of guys who could start for us. They have issue with depth. Yellow cards and injuries will be their achilles heel. But, they do play attractive soccer.They may play some 3-2 and 4-3 games in the World Cup. Their defense is shit outside of their keeper.
Just imagine if we could field a combined team from within the old NDH borders – we’d be almost unbeatable now that BiH are on top form…
so we dropped 8 spots in the ranking great, for the first time in history Bosnia has a better ranking then us and bragging rights, i will knock any Bosnian out that tells me that they are can beat us right now even tho its probably true 🙂
so we are going to have to beat iceland, romania , sweden or france, i so hope its not the latter two
Ziva where are you…I have a comment I’d like to post especially for you…you’re gonna love this one!
Ziva, you’re a closet Bosnian & Herzegovinian. Something ala Zoran Milanovic.
So, i won by bet earlier than expected. I didn’t think BiH would be above us this soon in the FIFA rankings.
We could write a book on Igor Stimac and the horrific job he did with our national team to go along with his brain numbing tactical choices and his arrogant excuses! Calling him a coach is the greatest comedic statement known to man. To call him a good coach would be a flat out lie.
But thankfully that chapter in our history is now closed!
hopefully this is the same fairy tale story like the one in 98 when we barely even made the world cup, im trying to recollect if a win by like denmark or somebody made us go through, please correct me because i dont remember exactly who it was or what, was young and remember it was crazy destiny
So true. We also need to add in the bizarre team excursion to Medjugorje within Stimac’s more lunatic actions. Looking back it was a sure sign of desperation on his part.
Everything that Bilic built for us in 6 years Igor Stimac was able to destroy in 1 year and that will be his legacy.
Igor, good luck getting another coaching gig in the future and welcome back to the world of mediocrity where you belong and fit right in!
Victory shall be ours in the playoff.
Guards…..knights……squires…….prepare for battle
Another addition to “The Bad” category – we’re now ranked at number 18 in the latest FIFA rankings released today. Just below Ivory Coast and BiH. Even the Yanks are now ranked above us, unbelievably – the ultimate humiliation.
he had to return the sherlock holmes cap when he resigned.
you forgot to mention in the good, Stimac’s nbr 1 positive, his excellent fashion sense
Suker’s response – ‘izaci govno’
@ Ante Kvartuc
I can see your point about Maksimir. It seems like it isn’t the fortress it once was. But I really think it has much more to do with Stimac. Calling up Sammir was was done for obvious reasons and started the downward spiral. He played shit in the first half against Scotland and it set the tone. The players slowly lost their edge. His tactics were horrible. I definitely agree with the fact Mandzukic hasn’t had any service…that has more to do with the lack of any talent on our wings. Bring on Rebic, bring on Halilovic. We need some fresh blood to compliment the vets. I really think Rebic is the real deal. He’s about to get his chance at Fiorentina… As for Halilovic, we will see how he does at the Under 17 World Cup.
I hope he is better than stimac lol.
Kovac,brings no experience to the national team.
Well,the flight has landed in Sydney and I was waiting to pick up my new boy,Ziva.First thing I did was to give him a Croatian backhander and then a hug as he sobbed and said “Kakosi Tata”
One thing that shocked me was just how ugly this friggin mutt of a kid actually is.14 yrs of age and badly pubescent.He is actually not Slavic in appearance at all,turns out he is friggin Gypsy blooded.The kid originally grew up around the open drains of Poljud.Hence why he is a big Hajdukovac.The lack of Croat blood actually explains a great deal.As he has always claimed,he actually speaks the language damned well,its just that its with that Gypsy Pakistani type of accent that they have.Its the darndest thing to listen to.
Anyhows,took him home,beat him again(I am firm,but fair)Now the re education begins…………..
i believe it was, ja sam šit……
“5) Maksimir fortress, no more. The only fortified thing in Croatian football is ziva istina’s basement. Croatia never lost at Maksimir! It was unheard of. And then they finally slipped up against England in 2010 World Cup qualifying losing 4-1. Okay, it happens, but to lose to Belgium and Scotland in the same qualifying campaign raises questions. The magic of Maksimir is gone. Time for Split, Rijeka and Osijek to showcase some more games.”
The England loss I can handle as England had something to prove after we knocked them out of Euro 2008 and they were beyond pissed and ready to go. I still think if that red card is not shown to Robert Kovac that we do not lose the game but I guess we will never know.
Now, the Scotland loss, and to some degree the Belgium loss can be blamed on Stimac. Anytime you start Sammir there is something wrong with this picture and I don’t care that we did not have Modric there was no excuse for that loss in Zagreb. Stimac was beyond lucky up until that point and in some ways it was poetic justice as the man is not qualified for the job. Now when a team like Belgium comes to town there is no way in the world you can play three defenders at the back and get away with it and there is no way you can survive without a DM. If that was not bad enough, after Lukaku scored the first goal, he comes back twenty minutes later with a similar type goal. Hey Stimac, have you ever heard of the term or logic of “making adjustments”?? It was not his fault that Perisic thought he was playing for Belgium but even Kevin du Bruyne said after the game that he could not understand the tactics we used! Stimac is going to go down as one horrible coach that lost 3 games in qualification campaign. Something we have never done before. Never wanted him in the first place for the job and now the arrogant loser can go hide somewhere under a rock.
Maksimir is still magic regardless of the damage Stimac has done. With only three loses to its name in its history there is no way to unhinge such an amazing win loss record in that stadium! Wash that down with what happened on May 13, 1990 and you cannot remove the magic from the place and good luck trying. Stimac will not tarnish the magic although he tried.
However, what I do agree with is that we do need to start moving games around! Especially now that Stimac is gone. This definitely should have happened prior, but I do get the sense that the timing is good in this regard and hopefully it would really do some good for our fans and our team.
Something tells me it will be Ukraine, our paths are destined to cross at pivotal and important times during qualifying.
Only this time they (Ukraine) will walk away the victors from the play-offs.
Stimac letter of resignation, “Dragi Davor, ja sam shit, caio”