Andrej Kramarić (30)
Kramarić is one of the Bundesliga’s best strikers… but he’s never produced for Croatia. Is it due to him being out of position as a natural striker? Or is he simply an international underperformer?
Regardless, Kramarić has enough talent to have a spot in our 23 man roster… or does he? If Kramarić can’t find his rhythm or be useful anywhere in our squad, there may be no upside to calling him up. This is drastic, I agree, but over the course of the next year or so, if no solution is resolved regarding Andrej Kramarić, he might as well just be dropped.
On the bright side, Kramarić does have 2 goals and 2 assists in his last three matches with the Vatreni. Despite missing a few big chances as well, these are the kind of numbers we like to see. It is, however, worth noting that three of these G/A were against Malta.
Does Dalić sacrifice the formation and change things so drastically JUST to suit Kramarić, or is he not worth making such major changes to accomodate?
Mario Pašalić (26)
Pašalić is taking the Serie A by storm this season. According to SofaScore, he is the 17th best player in the entire league. In 15 starts, Mario Pašalić has 8 goals and 5 assists, putting him at almost 1 goal contribution per 90 minutes. Pašalić is tied 7th in most G/A in the entire Serie A. All this while being deployed as a midfielder AND having much less minutes than the rest of the players on the list.
Vlahović= 19 G/A in 1861 minutes (1 G/A per 97.95 minutes)
Immobile= 19 G/A in 1636 minutes (1 G/A per 86.10 minutes)
Berardi= 19 G/A in 1750 minutes (1 G/A per 92.11 minutes)
Simeone= 15 G/A in 1507 minutes (1 G/A per 100.47 minutes)
Milinković-Savić= 15 G/A in 1772 minutes (1 G/A per 118.13 minutes)
Pedro= 14 G/A in 2068 minutes (1 G/A per 147.71 minutes)
Martinez= 13 G/A in 1228 minutes (1 G/A per 94.46 minutes)
Pašalić= 13 G/A in 1118 minutes (1 G/A per 86.00 minutes)
Pašalić has the best scoring rate per minutes played in the entire Serie A.
Although he’s an attacking midfielder, trying him out as a CF or false nine in some of our March friendlies or Nations League matches would be worth a shot. He’s such a prolific scorer both for club and country that it would be a crime not to try and work a formation including Pašalić as the leading forward.
Ante Budimir (30)
Two goals in 12 games. Although he brings a target man play-style, his production is just simply not good enough. Budimir deserves a chance, but let’s not rely on him as the solution to our problem. Maybe he can become a solid National Team player or backup, but Croatia will not win the 2022 World Cup with him as a starter.
Bruno Petković (27)
Following an amazing Euro qualification campaign, Petković has been, to say the least, quite disappointing in the red and white checkers. In 15 games this season he has 5 goals and 3 assists, which are pretty low numbers for the HNL, considering his skill level.
We know Petković is extremely talented, but he is lazy and lacks drive. He doesn’t have much ambition in his footballing career. A player with this sort of attitude should not have a place on a team like Croatia, who prides itself in hard working and creative nogomet.
Unless he starts performing again for Dinamo, we may have seen the last of Bruno Petković for the National Team, ladies and gentlemen.
Marko Livaja (28)
Livaja’s performances for Hajduk Split this season have been extraordinary. In 18 appearances, Livaja has recorded 13 goals and 4 assists.
Although he is in excellent form in the 1. HNL, is he really a striker? And does he have the quality to perform against international football’s juggernauts like France, Germany or Brazil? I’m not sure. We need to see him some more with the National Team as I think he’s proven himself worthy to, at the very least, be on the squad.
Antonio Čolak (28)
Čolak has 14 goals and 3 assists in 26 appearances in the Swedish League. He should be considered as a potential candidate, but let’s be real here, he’s no solution to our problem moving forward.
Petar Musa (23)
If we ignore his small 5 game slump, Petar Musa has scored 6 goals in 11 games for Portuguese club Boavista. He’s still young (23) and has a good frame at 6’3 and 180lbs. Definitely an asset for the NT in the future, and potentially even for the March qualifiers or Nations League. I’d love to see him get capped, and who knows, maybe he’ll be a very strong striker for us. Probably a better asset than Budimir or Colak at the moment.
Marko Pjaca (26)
Although mostly being a sub for overachieving Italian club Torino, Pjaca has really impressed whenever being on the pitch. He’s excellent at bringing the ball forward and dribbling past opponents. In 7 starts, he has recorded 3 goals. Pjaca can be deployed as a CF or RW, two positions in which we lack players at the moment.
Roko Šimić (18)
Roko Šimić is probably our most talented young striker, and although he’s cooled off a bit recently, he’s still recorded 11 goals and 1 assist in 18 matches for Liefering. He has 6 goals in 6 matches for Croatia U21, proving himself on the international stage for his country.
He has a big frame, is a powerful runner, and is absolutely clinical in the box. What more could we want out of a striker? At the moment, he seems to be a young and enhanced Mario Mandžukić. Šimić is the solution to our striker problems, but we will have to wait potentially a few more years for him. Will he be ready to lead the line by the 2022 World Cup? Only if he provides a strong season for Salzburg next year, will he be considered.
Marin Ljubičić (19)
Hajduk are looking to offload one of their brightest talents, and only good striker talent, in Marin Ljubičić. This all seems very puzzling. Ljubičić is a talented CF/RW and definitely has the potential to become an excellent player for the Vatreni.
Ljubičić has 8 goals and 2 assists in 13 calculated matches for Hajduk. This is very impressive for a young striker playing for Hajduk, considering the pressure put on youngsters in Split.
Gabriel Vidović (18)
Vidović is the brightest talent in the entire Bayern academy. Although not primarily a striker, Vidović can be deployed as a center-forward, second striker or false nine. Vidović is now training with Bayern’s first team after being out with a few injuries, and is expected to make his official debut against RB Leipzig in Bayern’s next league match. The young forward is incredibly skilled, intelligent and has that goal scoring touch. He knows how to create space for himself and find openings in the net to score. His strongest attribute, the one that separates him from other young Bayern talents, is his dribbling and ability to make something out of nothing with the ball at his feet. He will pull off the wildest skill moves in tight spaces and, most importantly, ALWAYS get a shot off or distribute the ball to a teammate. He never loses the ball. He will either shoot (and get it on target every time), pass or get fouled. Bayern fans are calling Vidović as big a talent as Jamal Musiala, and Lewandowski’s eventual replacement.
Vidović has 13 goals and 7 assists in 17.5 calculated matches.
Please view the highlight tape I’ve put together of Gabriel Vidović linked below.
Dion Drena Beljo (19)
Beljo, the 19 year old giant, shows glimpses of Zlatan Ibrahimović in his game. Despite being 6’5, he displays incredible dribbling and ball control. This season, Beljo has been Istra’s best player and one of the best strikers in the entire league. He will undoubtedly get a chance with Osijek’s senior team next season.
Beljo has 11 goals and 4 assists in 17.6 calculated matches.
I see Dusan Vlahovic signed a huge contract with Juventus. Vlahovic is a Croatian suname I wonder what his routes are. He is born in Belgrade.
It can also be a Montenegrin surname
Crnogorci generally have last names that align with Dalmatinci.
A perfect example is another footballer who plays for Crna Gora named Adam Marušić.
Why would you care what his routes are? He literally plays for the Serbian team, kisses their badge and follows their gypsy culture. Even if he had some sort of Croatian roots, can we really claim him as one of ours? Besides, I have never heard of a Croatian have the name Dušan, only Serbs have it.
It doesn’t matter, but it’s kinda funny to note that all of Serbia’s top athletes have a Croatian connection lol.
…And Vlahović is an extremely Croatian last name
What about Sosa, that’s not Croatian at all?
sosa is a last name from posusje in hercegovina
I know no one really cares about this but we did get a win in the mixed doubles final of the Aus Open, Dodig winning with Mladenovic in straight sets over an aussie pair so we got something at least!
Our Bayern young guys (Stanisic and Vidovic) are training with the senior squad today!
I think Vrsaljko has a lot of game especially when healthy. So there’s a chance he’s back with the national team. He’s played a bit of RCB in a back three too. All depends if Modric and Dalic allow him to come back. Not sure if it’s been mentioned much but I remember during the end of the Czech game, Sime was walking to get a ball out of bounds while we were tied and Modric was losing it on him for not running to get the ball. He was benched for the next two games.
Would be nice to have a vet like him if he can regain WC 2018 form. But I also don’t want Stanisic to lose out on the experience of the WC. Where did all this depth come from!?! Dalic is doomed to make some people unhappy but I think guys like Luka and Corluka have a lot of influence as well.
Prime Vrsaljko has Juranovic’s offensive ability, but Stanisic’s defensive ability.
I would go with Vrsaljko if he could get back to his 2018 form, but he would have to prove it first. He was bad at the Euros, and I don’t want him to play at all if he is out of form.
I’m fine with Stanisic or Juranovic otherwise.
Are we still in a higher pot for World Cup? I know it depends how the playoffs go as well but I thought we were supposed to be
Yep we’re 15th in the world right now. So no matter what happens, as long as we’re top 16 we will be in the top 2 pots. Technically, we’d need to be top 15 since Qatar is in pot 1 but one of Portugal or Italy won’t qualify (both ahead of us) so top 16 will do.
That was very fortunate to see them both go to playoff
A delightful playoff it will be for us to enjoy
Still not very excited about our friendlies but we have lots of time to prep(so do others but still lots of time to work some of the kinks out, find a keeper and forward formation)
Pots don’t matter!!!
To be da best, ya gotta beat da best!
Durrrrr…I want a path where we have to face every single contender.
Like other finalists have done in the past like Germany in 2002 (Ireland, Saudi, Cameroon, Paraguay, USA, South Korea) and Italy in 2006 (Australia, Ukraine, etc).
Wow that path in 02 is well not what one considers exactly difficult by tradition
And people were harping on us having easy games
Denmark has proven they ain’t no joke
Russia in mother Russia
And our group wasn’t exactly a push over by tradition
Ya you can say Iceland
But they were in for sure their golden generation
Our path to the Finals in the last World Cup was actually harder than most teams in history.
We were in the Group of Death with the former runners up (Argentina) and the two highest ranked teams in Pot C (Iceland) and Pot D (Nigeria).
Denmark and Russia were considered weak, yes, but that was our reward for topping the Group of Death.
Also, it’s not our fault Spain couldn’t beat Russia…and let’s face it, Russia’s players were using PEDs (and were playing at home too).
Denmark was on a multi-year unbeaten run too, so they were (and still are) underrated. They could have won these past Euros and are a dark horse for this World Cup (especially how they swept their qualifying group).
Almost every team who made the Finals in previous years had at least one completely bum team or two in their path.
The Germany 2002 path was hilarious (which is why I posted it)…but every other team had at least one completely bum team.
Not us. Our bum team was Iceland (who were quarterfinalists in the Euros two years earlier) and we beat them with most of our starters resting.
Look at Me Livaja will start at FW and lead us to the promised land in Qatar.
Kramaric is just ok. A bunch of his Bundesliga goals are a result of penalties. He’ll have to do until we have someone more proven. Pasalic has some real potential though as a striker. He can do those runs in behind the defenders and has a great header. They do a lot of rotating at Atalanta with their players but this guy PRODUCES with the opportunities he is given.
*** Croatia playing Slovenia 🇸🇮 and Bulgaria 🇧🇬 in Qatar
March 2022 Friendly’s ***
Slovenia again? I don’t like these games. We should’ve gotten one top team and one middle of the road.
Like a Belgium and Greece or something.
Yeah or maybe even an African team …
Different styles , tactics than our usual European Teams we see
Are there no South American teams to play?or will that be closer to tourney time
We get good euro teams during nations league
We should go for African/South American IMO
Still thankful to play Slovenia for fun then battle in playoffs
All CONMEBOL South American Teams will be in qualifiers in March that I know of …
Re CAF teams Theirs a bunch of African teams (except the 10 still in WC contention) available to play.
Watching the Africa Cup of Nations gives me confidence that Croatia can beat any of those teams, even on a bad day. Slovenia and Bulgaria both bunker, so the HNS did well to give the team more practice at breaking the bunker (and finding the player combination to do it), as Croatia even ended the campaign struggling against a bunker… UNL will be the chance to get practice in open play against other quality teams.
They’re playing these two March friendlies in Qatar?
8 months before the tournament in Qatar?
Pasalic and Budimir- top 2 – Krama God love him but man that guy puts on the greatest jersey of HNS and the lights get too bright and the guy all of sudden can’t play- he’s good when he’s loose but when he plays for us – he can’t do it. Sorry , Krama. Love ya but you’ll have to show some major change to help us in Qatar.
Krama has been excellent for us in these past several qualifiers.
Could be that turning point.
True , but I can’t put my finger on it- we had Mario and that is a hard act to follow – i get it- love to see Krama be the guy – it would make it far easier heading to Qatar- maybe he pulls it off
Fairness to Kramaric he played great that final week of qualifying. The same way he played great in 2017 playoff.
Speaking of Ukraine.
Russian western advance may spark Serbian boneheadedness.
We need to be vigilant these days.
Marko Pjaca has been through the crucible.
He has brought back his body from two career ending injuries.
We owe him a look after away to Estonia.
He is the only player that has the combination of speed, presence and dribbling ability.
He is also entering his prime.
Pjaca has sacrificed a lot, seems to have a good attitude. Still has skill and obvious fortitude coming back from two major injuries
Let’s hope someone can answer the call
I don’t believe Italy had much of a proper striker during euros? Correct me if wrong
More of a collected forward type system
If we’re not going to call up Rebic anymore, we may as well call up Pjaca.
Pjaca has done well for Torino this season off the bench. He’d be a joker for us off the bench too. I wouldn’t rely on him as a starter, but he’d be useful off the bench.
It’s not a big role for us, as there is a ton of competition. But he’s worth a callup.
Italy had Ciro Immobile, who Is short but definitely a striker
My choices for who gets called up would be Pasalić, Kramaric, Budimir, and Livaja. I don’t think we would have qualified without Kramaric. He did a lot to wear out the opposing defenses with the two-footed dribbling and quick changes of direction. His passing has become excellent too. He and Perisić finally started combining well. Budimir was off the bench recovering from injury and having to re-integrate into the lineup at Osasuna for a number of games. The number provided here doesn’t tell the whole story. His scoring rate has been better since he returned to the starting lineup, and the intensity he brings to the attacking third is a valuable asset. Consider him a strategic piece. Livaja is clearly the backup for Kramaric. Pasalić should be the starting CF based on all of the information available, plus we put three goals past Portugal when Pasalić started in that position. The guy is a great player who has had to distinguish himself with his play rather than any hype. His scoring rate seems to indicate that he would be the solution. And it’s never too late to develop a new dimension of his game.
Nice write up Markus. Seems like there is plenty of young guys who have some good potential. Let’s hope they’re more Mandzukic types than Stipe Perica types.
I agree with Suba below, Perisic played some CF for Inter over the last year but it’s not his natural position. If Rebic can dig that concrete out of his shoes and learns how to control and pass, and score like pre Euros, he obviously played a lot of CF but I won’t hold my breath with him.
To me Pasalic has played higher up the field than a AM and more of LW that cuts into the middle and pushes up to the defensive line. He’s got the size for hold up play, is an excellent playmaker too, and obviously can finish with his head and feet.
Shame Petkovic can’t put it together because he has the most natural talent to be a CF.
PS: appreciate the shout out to my boy Pjaca. Still got hope for the guy. Has all the tools; mental, physical, and technical. Just needs to stop over dribbling and start making the right plays on and off the ball.
Most intrigued by Vidovic.
He looks like Marko Pjaca pre-injury. Not as physically built, but with better dribbling.
Based on the euros you would have to pave a way from pasalic to play some role up front as a target man and with budimir and orsic on the wings
They were the 3 most effective upfront along with perisic
How realistically can we compare overall quality with bundesliga 2 vs hnl?
Like is it more impressive to light up Germany or Croatia in this regard
HNL is tougher. But Vidovic is also on a far weaker team than a Dinamo, Rijeka, Hajduk or Osijek. So it probably balances out.
Yes great right up
I agree vidovic looks great
Kind of reminds me of an potentially more talented young krama
Maybe one of these guys really steps up over the year
Course krama can be that guy but he hasn’t consistently done it for us till now so I have my doubts… but let’s see
We know dalic won’t go with a young kid
Perisic is always interesting suggestion…not sure tho you take him out of his best spot
He could be used on the RW maybe more importantly
We have some options
If we have a prime mandzo we are champs
Vidovic i’m liking what i’m seeing. Short term it’s so hard to choose between the options, they all have qualities but all have issues too. I’d actually give perisic a go up top. LW is our deepest position and Perisic has all the attributes to play as a striker
nice work Markus. big respect
Thank you, I appreciate the kind words.
What are the chances the square heads try to poach vidovic from us?
I’m guessing rather good if vidovic is the goods.
Read something about Barca being interested in him as well.
Oh they’ll definitely try if they haven’t already. I’m pretty sure Vidovic has stated that he wishes to represent Croatia, however. So we’re good for now. Let’s just cap him quick.