Croatia national football team

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This article is about the men's team. For the women's team, see Croatia women's national football team.
Croatia
Shirt badge/Association crest
Nickname(s) Vatreni (The Fiery Ones)
Association Croatian Football Federation
Confederation UEFA (Europe)
Head coach Niko Kovač
Asst coach Robert Kovač
Goran Lacković
Captain Darijo Srna
Most caps Darijo Srna (116)
Top scorer Davor Šuker (45)
FIFA code CRO[1]
FIFA ranking 16 (14 August 2014)
Highest FIFA ranking 3 (January 1999)
Lowest FIFA ranking 125 (March 1994)
Elo ranking 21 (9 July 2014)
Highest Elo ranking 4 (July 2013)
Lowest Elo ranking 26 (October 2002)
First colours
Second colours
First international
Unofficial
 Croatia 2–1 United States 
(Zagreb, Croatia; 17 October 1990)
Official
 Australia 1–0 Croatia 
(Melbourne, Australia; 5 July 1992)
Biggest win
 Croatia 7–0 Australia 
(Zagreb, Croatia; 6 June 1998)
 Croatia 7–0 Andorra 
(Zagreb, Croatia; 7 October 2006)
Biggest defeat
 England 5–1 Croatia 
(London, England; 9 September 2009)
World Cup
Appearances 4 (First in 1998)
Best result Third place, 1998
European Championship
Appearances 4 (First in 1996)
Best result Quarterfinals, 1996, 2008

The Croatia national football team (Croatian: Hrvatska nogometna reprezentacija) represents Croatia in international football. The team is controlled by the Croatian Football Federation, the governing body for football in the country. A FIFA-recognised national side had previously represented the short-lived Banovina of Croatia and Independent State of Croatia in nineteen friendly matches between 1940 and 1944.[2] This team was dissolved in 1945 as Croatia became a constituent federal republic of SFR Yugoslavia. In the period between 1945 and 1990, Croatia did not field a separate team for competitive matches and Croatian players played for the Yugoslavia national football team.

The modern Croatian team was formed in 1990, shortly before Croatia's independence from Yugoslavia, and by 1993 had gained membership in FIFA and UEFA.[3] The team played their first competitive matches in the successful qualifying campaign for UEFA Euro 1996, leading to their first appearance at a major tournament.[2] In Croatia's FIFA World Cup debut in 1998 the team finished third and provided the tournament's top scorer, Davor Šuker. Since becoming eligible to compete in international tournaments, Croatia have failed to qualify for only one World Cup (in 2010) and one European Championship (in 2000).[4]

Most home matches are played at the Maksimir Stadium in Zagreb, with some fixtures also taking place at the Poljud Stadium in Split or at other, smaller venues, such as Kantrida Stadium in Rijeka or Gradski Vrt in Osijek. The team was undefeated in its first 36 home competitive matches at Maksimir, the run ending with a defeat to England in September 2008.[2][5][6][7] The team's traditional nickname is Vatreni ("The Blazers").[8]

The team was named FIFA's "Best Mover of the Year" in 1994 and 1998, the only team along with Colombia to win the award more than once.[9][10] On admission to FIFA, Croatia was ranked 125th in the world; following the 1998 World Cup campaign, the side rose to third place in the rankings, making it the most volatile team in FIFA Rankings history.[11][12][13]

History[edit]

Pre-independence[edit]

The first recognised Croatian team played against Switzerland in 1940.

Association football was first introduced to Croatia by English expatriates working on industrial projects in Rijeka and Županja in 1873. By 1907 local clubs had been established in Croatia and a modern edition of the sport's laws was translated and published.[14] Before the nation's independence, Croatian footballers played for the national teams of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia (1919–39) and the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (1945–90), though during periods of political upheaval, ethnically Croatian sides occasionally formed to play unofficial matches.[15] A hastily arranged Croatian side, managed by Hugo Kinert, played a few matches in 1918–19.[16][17]

In 1940, Jozo Jakopić led an unofficial national team representing the Banovina of Croatia (part of Kingdom of Yugoslavia) in four friendly matches, against Switzerland and Hungary.[2] Following invasion by the Axis powers, the Croatian Football Federation became briefly active, joining FIFA on 17 July 1941, representing the Independent State of Croatia. The side, led by Rudolf Hitrec, went on to play fifteen friendly matches, fourteen of which as a member of FIFA.[3][18] Croatia's first recorded result as a FIFA member was a 1–1 tie with Slovakia on 8 September in Bratislava.[2] The Independent State of Croatia continued playing matches until 1945 and the end of World War II, when SR Croatia was formed as constituent part of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.[18]

From 1950 to 1956 unofficial Croatian teams were briefly active; they won games against Indonesia and a Yugoslav team playing as "Serbia".[17] The Yugoslavia squad at the 1956 Summer Olympics included Croatian footballers,[19] as did Yugoslavia in World Cup and European Championship tournaments up to 1990.[20][21]

Official formation[edit]

Croatia newly formed team's identity was influenced greatly by the country's coat of arms.

The last Yugoslav team to field a considerable Croatian contingent played against Sweden on 16 May 1991, days before Croatia's independence referendum.[22] However, an unofficial Croatian team was formed shortly before, and played the team's first modern international game, against the United States on 17 October 1990 at Maksimir Stadium. The game, which Croatia won 2–1,[23] was one of three games played under caretaker manager Dražan Jerković. The match against the American side also marked the introduction of Croatia's national jersey, inspired by the chequered design of the country's coat of arms.[24] Although Croatia was still officially part of Yugoslavia until its independence declaration on 8 October 1991, the team already served as a de facto national team.[25][26]

Croatia won two more friendly games more under Jerković (against Romania in December 1990 and against Slovenia in June 1991) before he was replaced by Stanko Poklepović who took the team on a tour to Australia in July 1992 where they played three matches against Australia in Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney. Since Croatia was re-admitted to FIFA (but not yet UEFA) on 3 July 1992, the matches under Poklepović are the first ones recognized as official by FIFA.

In April 1993 Vlatko Marković was appointed as the team's first permanent manager, in anticipation of UEFA membership, which would allow Croatia to compete in Euro and World Cup qualifiers organised by UEFA. In June 1993 Croatia was finally admitted to UEFA, which was too late for the team to enter 1994 World Cup qualifiers as these had started in August 1992. Marković only led the team in one match, a home win against Ukraine in June 1993, before being sacked in February 1994 and replaced by Miroslav Blažević the following month.

The team's performances before Croatia's official independence were not recorded by FIFA, so they entered the World Rankings in 125th place.[4][13] Blažević led the team's qualifying campaign for Euro 1996, beginning with Croatia's first post-independence competitive victory, a 2–0 win over Estonia on 4 September 1994. Their first competitive defeat came on 11 June 1995, with a 1–0 away loss to Ukraine during the same qualifying campaign.[2] They finished on top of their qualifying group[27] and won FIFA's 1994 Best Mover of the Year award as they moved up to 62nd place in December 1994.[28]

Golden Generation (1994–99)[edit]

Davor Šuker

Goran Vlaović scored the team's first goal at a major tournament, a late winner against Turkey at the City Ground in Nottingham in their first group match at Euro 96.[29] After their opening victory, Croatia beat reigning champions Denmark 3–0,[30] but went on to lose 0–3 to Portugal in their final group fixture.[31] Croatia still advanced to the knockout stage, but were beaten in the quarter-finals 1–2 by Germany who went on to win the tournament.[32]

In spite of the quarter-final exit, Blažević continued to lead Croatia in the following 1998 World Cup qualifying campaign, which ended successfully with victory over Ukraine in the two-legged play-off. In the group stage of the World Cup, Croatia beat Jamaica and Japan but lost to Argentina, before defeating Romania to reach a quarter-final tie against Germany, then ranked second in the world.[33] Though regarded as underdogs, Croatia won 3–0, with goals from Robert Jarni, Goran Vlaović and Davor Šuker, all after Christian Wörns had been sent off.

Croatia then faced the host nation, France, in the semi-final: after a goalless first-half, Croatia took the lead, only to concede two goals by opposing defender Lilian Thuram and lose 1–2. In the third-place match Croatia beat the Netherlands 2–1, with Davor Šuker winning the Golden Boot award for tournament's best scorer with six goals in seven games.[34] Croatia's performance in 1998 was among the best debut performances in the World Cup (equalling Portugal's third place at the 1966 World Cup), and as a result Croatia rose to number three in the January 1999 FIFA World Rankings, their highest ranking to date.[13][20] For their achievements the team of the 1990s was dubbed the "Golden Generation".[35][36] The core of the team was made up of players who were part of the Yugoslavia national under-20 football team led by Mirko Jozić which had won the 1987 FIFA World Youth Championship in Chile (Jarni, Štimac, Boban, Prosinečki and Šuker).

Despite the good performances in their first two major competitions, Croatia's third qualifiers proved to be less successful as they finished third in their Euro 2000 qualifying group, behind Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Republic of Ireland, and thus failed to qualify.[37] Both fixtures against archenemies FR Yugoslavia (the rump state later renamed Serbia and Montenegro) ended in draws, which prevented Croatia from qualifying for the tournament.[38]

Jozić and Barić period (2000–04)[edit]

Although Blažević continued his tenure in spite of failure to qualify for Euro 2000, he resigned in October 2000 following draws against Belgium and Scotland in the first two games of the 2002 World Cup qualifiers. His successor at the helm of the national team was Mirko Jozić, an experienced manager who had led Yugoslavia under-20 team to World Cup triumph in 1987. Despite the retirement of many Golden Generation players, Croatia went unbeaten during the rest of the qualifiers. They opened their 2002 World Cup campaign with a narrow loss to Mexico before producing a surprise 2–1 victory over Euro 2000 finalists Italy in the next fixture, giving life to hopes of passing through to the knockout stage.[39][40] However, they lost their final group fixture to Ecuador and were knocked out.[41] Jozić then resigned, and was replaced in July 2002 by Croatian-Austrian Otto Barić, the team's first manager born outside the Balkans.[42][43]

During Barić's tenure, almost all of the remaining Golden Generation players were gradually phased out and replaced by younger players over the course of the Euro 2004 qualifiers, with the team managing to reach the tournament finals with a playoff 2-1 aggregate win against Slovenia, with Dado Pršo's crucial goal in the second leg.[44] At the finals tournament in Portugal, Croatia drew 0–0 with Switzerland and 2–2 with reigning champions France[45] only to lose to England 2–4 and suffer another elimination in the group stage.[46] Barić's two-year contract ended in June 2004 and was not renewed.[47]

Kranjčar and Bilić period (2004–12)[edit]

Croatia vs. Brazil match at World Cup 2006

Former Croatia international Zlatko Kranjčar, appointed to succeed Barić in July 2004, led the team through the 2006 World Cup qualifiers without losing a single match and topping the group in front of Sweden and Bulgaria.[48][49] Nevertheless, some of the media reports accused him of nepotism for peferring to select his son Niko Kranjčar for the national squad instead of the young and talented Luka Modrić.[50] Once at the 2006 FIFA World Cup, Croatia lost their opening game to Brazil and drew 0–0 with Japan, after Darijo Srna had missed a first-half penalty.[51][52] A 2–2 draw with Australia, in which three players were sent off, confirmed Croatia's exit in the group stage.[53] The game was also notable for a mistake by referee Graham Poll, who awarded three yellow cards to Croatia's Josip Šimunić, after mistaking him for an Australian player due to his Australian accent.[note 1] Poll, heavily criticised for losing control of the match, retired from refereeing shortly afterwards.[54]

The CFF then replaced Kranjčar with former Croatia defender and member of Golden Generation, Slaven Bilić, in July 2006.[55] Bilić, who had been manager of Under-21 team from 2004 to 2006, brought a host of younger players to the squad, which proved successful early on, including a 2–0 friendly victory over Italy in his first match.[56][57] Having controversially suspended players Darijo Srna, Ivica Olić and Boško Balaban for missing a curfew after a turbofolk nightclub outing, Bilić led the team through qualifiers for Euro 2008.[58] Croatia topped their group again, losing only one game to Macedonia and beating England twice, who failed to qualify for the first time since 1984.[59][60]

Croatia vs. Austria match at Euro 2008 (Luka Modrić's penalty)

After first-choice striker Eduardo da Silva suffered a compound fracture while playing for Arsenal in the Premier League in February 2008, Bilić was forced to alter his tournament squad significantly and recruited Nikola Kalinić and Nikola Pokrivač, neither of whom had yet played competitive games for the national team.[61][62] The team received criticism after poor attacking performances in warm-up games against Scotland and Moldova, but at the tournament they beat Austria, Germany, and Poland in the group stages to reach the quarter finals with maximum group points for the first time in their tournament history.[63][64][65] Niko Kovač remained team captain at what was expected to be his final international tournament, except in the final group fixture when Dario Šimić temporarily held the captain's armband.[66][67] Croatia's campaign however, ended dramatically when they lost a penalty shoot-out to Turkey, but was still seen as successful as Croatia left the tournament with records for fewest goals conceded (2), fewest games lost (0),[note 2] and earliest goal (in the fourth minute of their opening game against Austria – this was also the all-time earliest successful penalty at the European Championship Finals).[68][69][70][71]

Following the tournament, Bilić renewed his contract, becoming the first manager since Blažević to lead Croatia to successive tournaments.[72] Croatia were again drawn to play England in the qualifying stages for the 2010 World Cup; the tie was voted the most anticipated of the campaign on FIFA.com.[73] After a home win against Kazakhstan Croatia lost at home to England, ending a fourteen-year unbeaten home record.[74][6] The team was eventually weakened due to a number of key players' injuries and went on to suffer their heaviest defeat in history, losing 1-5 to England at Wembley Stadium. Although Croatia defeated Kazakhstan in their final qualifying fixture, they were ultimately eliminated, as Ukraine, who had previously defeated group leaders England, beat Andorra to win second place in the group. Bilić was once again heavily expected to resign as national coach, but instead vowed to renew his contract and remain in charge.

Croatia vs. Italy match at UEFA Euro 2012

Despite heavy loss of form, which also saw the team fall outside the top ten in the FIFA rankings, Croatia were placed in the top tier of teams for the UEFA Euro 2012 qualifying draw; Croatia was previously a candidate to co-host the tournament with Hungary which would have allowed the team to qualify automatically, but lost to co-hosts Poland and Ukraine. Croatia ultimately competed in Group F and, despite being top-seeds, finished second in the group behind Greece, settling for a play-off draw against Euro 2008 rivals Turkey.[75] Croatia proceeded to beat Turkey 3-0 on aggregate, with all three goals coming in the away leg in Istanbul, thereby qualifying for the 2012 European championship at Turkey's expense. In the proceeding group-stage draw for the tournament, Croatia were placed in pot three, the third tier of teams, and were eventually grouped with Ireland, Italy and defending champions Spain.

In the buildup towards the UEFA Euro 2012 tournament, the team's first major competition since their 2008 run at the same event, manager Slaven Bilić formally agreed a deal to manage Russian club Lokomotiv Moscow, thereby announcing his resignation from the national team after the tournament. Croatia opened their tournament campaign with a comfortable 3-1 victory over The Republic of Ireland, with striker Mario Mandžukić scoring twice. Mandžukić continued his run at the tournament with an equaliser in the 1-1 draw against Italy, which was marred by controversial fan reactions and referee decisions from English official Howard Webb. In their last group match Croatia suffered a 0-1 defeat to Spain. The late Spanish goal by Jesus Navas, along with Italy's victory over The Republic of Ireland in the final round, forced Croatia to exit the tournament in the group stage once again. Upon his formal departure, Bilić was also praised for his long-standing service to the national side. Jutarnji List daily labelled him as Croatia's only manager to depart on such positive terms and credited him for his strong revival of the national side during his six-year tenure.[76]

Croatia vs. Brazil at World Cup 2014

Štimac and Kovač period (2012–present)[edit]

Following Euro 2012, CFF elected a new president, with Croatia's all-time top goalscorer Davor Šuker replacing Vlatko Marković after almost 14 years at the held of the CFF, while former Croatia defender and pundit, Igor Štimac, was appointed to replace Bilić.[77][78] Štimac's tenure was unsuccessful, as the team finished runners-up in the 2014 World Cup qualifying group. Only a year after his appointment, Štimac was replaced by former national team captain, Niko Kovač, who had been put in charge of the U21 team shortly before.[79] Kovač took the team to 2014 FIFA World Cup after beating Iceland in the qualifying playoffs. At the World Cup, Croatia lost against Brazil 1–3. Although they easily won their next match 4-0 against ten-men Cameroon, they were unable to advance to the knockout stage as they suffered yet another 1-3 defeat to Mexico.[80]

Colours[edit]

Croatia's initial jersey was designed in 1990 by painter Miroslav Šutej, who also designed the nation's coat of arms. Although slightly altered by manufacturer Lotto (the 1998 jersey was a white jersey with the chequers on the right side, like a flying flag) and Nike since its original release, the chequered motif was adopted as a symbol of national identity and similar designs are used by all Croatian national sports teams.[24]

Kit History[edit]

First Chequered Kit 1990
1996–1997 Home
1998–2000 Home
2002–2004 Home
2004–2006 Home
2006–2008 Home
2008–2010 Home
2010–2012 Home
2012–2014 Home
First Uniform 1940
1996–1997 Away
1998–2000 Away
2002–2004 Away
2004–2006 Away
2006–2008 Away
2008–2010 Away
2010–2012 Away
2012–2014 Away

Stadium[edit]

Main article: Stadion Maksimir

Most home matches take place at the Stadion Maksimir in Zagreb. The venue, built 1912 and refurbished in 1997, is named after the surrounding neighbourhood of Maksimir.[81] The stadium has hosted national games since Croatia's competitive home debut against Lithuania. The football federation and the Croatian government have agreed further improvements (among them an increase in the current forty-thousand seating capacity) that would make Maksimir the most expensive football stadium in the world.[81][82] However, in 2008, UEFA threatened to limit the number of fans allowed to attend home games after crowd discipline problems during the European Championships.[83] Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić declined the final renovation plans in 2008, citing high construction costs; as of December 2008 the renovations are postponed.[84]

Home matches were occasionally played at other venues. The Poljud Stadium in Split hosted several qualifying fixtures for Euro 1996 and the 1998 World Cup. Ever since the first match in 1995 against Italy which ended 1-1, Croatia was unable to win an official FIFA-recognised match at Poljud. That fact was known amongst the Croatian public as "Poljud curse".[85] The unusual curse was finally broken in June 2011 with a 2-1 win against Georgia. The team also played qualifying matches at Stadion Kantrida in Rijeka, which they are unbeaten at, the Gradski vrt stadium in Osijek and the Stadion Anđelko Herjavec stadium in Varaždin.

Home venues record[edit]

Fans at Poljud stadium

Since Croatia's first fixture (17 October 1990, vs. United States) they have played home games at nine stadiums.

Venue City Played Won Drawn Lost GF GA Points per game
Stadion Maksimir Zagreb 54 35 14 5 110 35 2.08
Stadion Kantrida Rijeka 11 10 1 0 19 4 2.81
Stadion Poljud Split 11 1 6 4 11 17 0.82
Stadion Gradski vrt Osijek 8 6 2 0 20 6 2.50
Stadion Anđelko Herjavec Varaždin 6 4 2 0 12 3 2.33
Stadion Aldo Drosina Pula 3 2 0 1 8 4 2.00
Stadion Kranjčevićeva Zagreb 1 1 0 0 3 0 3.00
Stadion Šubićevac Šibenik 1 0 1 0 2 2 1.00
Stadion HNK Cibalia Vinkovci 1 1 0 0 5 0 3.00
Totals 96 60 26 10 190 71 2.14
Last updated: Croatia vs. Mali 31 May 2014. Statistics include official FIFA-recognised matches only.

Supporters[edit]

Football is Croatia's most popular team sport.[86] A large part of the team's support base consists of fans of Hajduk Split and Dinamo Zagreb, the two best-supported clubs in the Croatian domestic league, the Prva HNL.[87] The clubs' ultra-style supporter groups, the Bad Blue Boys of Zagreb and The Torcida from Split, have both been associated with hooliganism,[88][89] though violence between the two is not reported at international games. Major support for Croatia national team also comes from Bosnian Croats, especially from supporters of HŠK Zrinjski Mostar.[90] The official Croatia supporters' club affiliated with CFF is called Uvijek Vjerni (Always Faithful).[91]

A Croatian crowd celebrate with flares following Croatia's victory over Germany in 2008.

Fans' behaviour at international games has led to sanctions against the side in recent history. Croatia was penalised and threatened with expulsion from UEFA for racist behaviour by fans at Euro 2004[92] On other occasions Croatia fans defied security regulations. During the 2006 World Cup a fan evaded security at a German venue and approached Croatian players on the field; he was arrested for trespassing.[93] During a friendly match against Italy in Livorno, a small group of Croatian fans formed a human swastika formation; UEFA penalised the Croatian football federation for the incident.[92][94] Similar events occurred at Euro 2008; UEFA penalised Croatia for a display of racist banners against Turkey[95] and FIFA fined the Croatian football federation for racial abuse of England striker Emile Heskey during a 2010 World Cup qualifier on 10 September 2008.[96]

Croatia supporters at UEFA Euro 2012

Croatia fans often use flares in both domestic league derby matches and in international games,[97][98] The use of flares is banned at most international games and Croatia fans have been reprimanded and had devices confiscated by UEFA and FIFA security staff.[99] Croatia fans also clashed with Turkish Muslims during a Euro 2008 game against Turkey. Security was tightened when Croats and Turks gathered in Vienna shortly before the quarter final game of the tournament; after the match, Croatian fans fought local police and brawled with Turkish fans.[100]

Tensions with fans of sides from other former Yugoslav states have also manifested at Croatia games. Croatia fans in the crowd at a 3 June 1990, game between Yugoslavia and the Netherlands booed the Yugoslav national anthem and cheered for the Dutch side instead.[101] Maksimir Stadium was the scene of a riot between Croat and Serb fans at a Dinamo Zagreb – Red Star Belgrade game following the parliamentary election the same year.[102] During the 2006 World Cup brawls broke out between Bosniaks and Bosnian Croats in Mostar.[103]

Croatia's problems with its supporters continued throughout the opening round of the Euro 2012 competition as the team was cited for fan behaviour that included the display of racist banners and symbols, racist chants, and setting off and throwing fireworks during a match. In addition, the disciplinary case initiated by FIFA after the team's group match versus Spain includes a review of improper conduct by players who received six yellow cards during the contest.[104] Later, during the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, after losing 1-3 to Mexico and offically being kicked out from the group stage, Croatian fans clashed with Mexican fans in the stand of Arena Pernambuco in Recife. Brazilian patrols had caught several Croatian and Mexican hooligans, but marked the first time ever Croatian fans clashed with the fans from outside the UEFA.

The team's games are regularly broadcast live on HRT.[105] Shortly after becoming manager, Slaven Bilić and his rock band released a single, "Vatreno Ludilo" (Fiery Madness), which recalled the team's progress during the 1998 World Cup and praised their present ambitions. The song reached the top position on the Croatian music charts and was widely played during Euro 2008.[106][107] Other Croatian artists such as Dino Dvornik, Connect, Prljavo Kazalište and Baruni have recorded songs in support of the team, among which are "Malo nas je al nas ima" (We are few, but we are many), "Samo je jedno" (There is but one thing [in my life]), "Moj dom je Hrvatska" (My Home is Croatia), "Srce vatreno" (Heart of Fire), and "Hrvatska je prvak svijeta" (Croatia are world champions).

Competitive record[edit]

FIFA World Cup[edit]

Croatia qualified for and competed in three consecutive World Cup finals between 1998 and 2006, but failed to qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa after finishing 3rd in Group 6 of their Qualification Group behind England, and Ukraine. Although they had joined both FIFA and UEFA by 1992, they were unable to enter the 1994 World Cup as qualification had started before the side was officially recognised.[108] The nation's best performance came in their first World Cup where they finished third. In their following two World Cup campaigns they were eliminated after finishing third in their groups.

     Champions       Runners-up       Third Place       Fourth Place  

FIFA World Cup record FIFA World Cup
Qualification record
Year Result Position Pld W D L GF GA Squad Pld W D L GF GA
Uruguay 1930 Part of  Yugoslavia
Italy 1934
France 1938
Brazil 1950
Switzerland 1954
Sweden 1958
Chile 1962
England 1966
Mexico 1970
West Germany 1974
Argentina 1978
Spain 1982
Mexico 1986
Italy 1990
United States 1994 Could not enter
France 1998 Third Place 3rd 7 5 0 2 11 5 Squad 10 5 4 1 20 12
South Korea Japan 2002 Group Stage 23rd 3 1 0 2 2 3 Squad 8 5 3 0 15 2
Germany 2006 22nd 3 0 2 1 2 3 Squad 10 7 3 0 21 5
South Africa 2010 Did Not Qualify 10 6 2 2 19 13
Brazil 2014 Group Stage 19th 3 1 0 2 6 6 Squad 12 6 3 3 14 9
Total Third Place 4/20 16 7 2 7 21 17 50 29 15 6 89 42

UEFA European Championship[edit]

Croatia's best results in UEFA Championships were quarter final finishes on their debut, in 1996, and in 2008. They did not qualify for the 2000 tournament. The HNS raised an unsuccessful joint bid with the Hungarian Football Federation to co-host the 2012 tournament, which was awarded instead to Poland and Ukraine.[109]

UEFA European Championship record
Year Round Position Pld W D L GF GA Squad Pld W D L GF GA
France 1960 Part of  Yugoslavia
Spain 1964
Italy 1968
Belgium 1972
Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia 1976
Italy 1980
France 1984
West Germany 1988
Sweden 1992
England 1996 Quarter-final 7th 4 2 0 2 5 5 Squad 10 7 2 1 22 5
Belgium Netherlands 2000 Did Not Qualify 8 4 3 1 13 9
Portugal 2004 Group Stage 13th 3 0 2 1 4 6 Squad 10 6 2 2 14 5
Austria Switzerland 2008 Quarter-final 5th 4 3 1 0 5 2 Squad 12 9 2 1 28 8
Poland Ukraine 2012 Group Stage 10th 3 1 1 1 4 3 Squad 12 8 2 2 21 7
Total Quarter-final 4/14 14 6 4 4 18 16 52 34 11 7 98 34

Recent results and fixtures[edit]

2014[edit]

Players[edit]

Current squad[edit]

The following is the final list of players for the friendly match vs. Cyprus and UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying match vs. Malta, set to take place on September 4 and 9, 2014.
Caps and goals correct as of 23 June 2014 after the match against Mexico.
Statistics include official FIFA-recognised matches only.

0#0 Pos. Player Date of birth (age) Caps Goals Club
1GK Danijel Subašić (1984-10-27) 27 October 1984 (age 29) 6 0 Monaco Monaco
1GK Lovre Kalinić (1990-04-03) 3 April 1990 (age 24) 0 0 Croatia Hajduk Split
1GK Ivan Vargić (1987-03-15) 15 March 1987 (age 27) 0 0 Croatia Rijeka
2DF Darijo Srna (captain) (1982-05-01) 1 May 1982 (age 32) 116 21 Ukraine Shakhtar Donetsk
2DF Vedran Ćorluka (1986-02-05) 5 February 1986 (age 28) 75 4 Russia Lokomotiv Moscow
2DF Ivan Strinić (1987-07-17) 17 July 1987 (age 27) 32 0 Ukraine Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk
2DF Dejan Lovren (1989-07-05) 5 July 1989 (age 25) 28 2 England Liverpool
2DF Domagoj Vida (1989-04-29) 29 April 1989 (age 25) 23 1 Ukraine Dynamo Kyiv
2DF Šime Vrsaljko (1992-01-10) 10 January 1992 (age 22) 9 0 Italy Sassuolo
2DF Hrvoje Milić (1989-05-10) 10 May 1989 (age 25) 4 0 Russia Rostov
2DF Tin Jedvaj (1995-11-28) 28 November 1995 (age 18) 0 0 Germany Bayer Leverkusen
3MF Luka Modrić (1985-09-09) 9 September 1985 (age 28) 78 8 Spain Real Madrid
3MF Ivan Rakitić (1988-03-10) 10 March 1988 (age 26) 65 9 Spain Barcelona
3MF Danijel Pranjić (1981-12-02) 2 December 1981 (age 32) 52 0 Greece Panathinaikos
3MF Mateo Kovačić (1994-05-06) 6 May 1994 (age 20) 13 0 Italy Internazionale
3MF Alen Halilović (1996-06-18) 18 June 1996 (age 18) 3 0 Spain Barcelona B
3MF Marcelo Brozović (1992-11-16) 16 November 1992 (age 21) 2 0 Croatia Dinamo Zagreb
3MF Mario Pašalić (1995-02-09) 9 February 1995 (age 19) 0 0 Spain Elche
3MF Marko Pjaca (1995-05-06) 6 May 1995 (age 19) 0 0 Croatia Dinamo Zagreb
4FW Ivica Olić (1979-09-14) 14 September 1979 (age 34) 95 19 Germany Wolfsburg
4FW Mario Mandžukić (1986-05-21) 21 May 1986 (age 28) 52 15 Spain Atlético Madrid
4FW Nikica Jelavić (1985-08-27) 27 August 1985 (age 29) 35 6 England Hull City
4FW Duje Čop (1990-02-01) 1 February 1990 (age 24) 0 0 Croatia Dinamo Zagreb
4FW Andrej Kramarić (1991-06-19) 19 June 1991 (age 23) 0 0 Croatia Rijeka

Recent callups[edit]

The following players have also been called up to the Croatia squad in the last 12 months and were not named in the above squad list, but are still eligible for selection.

Pos. Player Date of birth (age) Caps Goals Club Latest call-up
GK Stipe Pletikosa RET (1979-01-08) 8 January 1979 (age 35) 114 0 Russia Rostov 2014 FIFA World Cup
GK Oliver Zelenika (1993-05-14) 14 May 1993 (age 21) 0 0 Croatia Lokomotiva 2014 FIFA World Cup
GK Dario Krešić (1984-01-11) 11 January 1984 (age 30) 1 0 Germany Bayer Leverkusen v.  Scotland, 15 October 2013
GK Antonio Ježina (1989-06-05) 5 June 1989 (age 25) 1 0 Croatia Dinamo Zagreb v.  South Korea, 10 September 2013
DF Gordon Schildenfeld (1985-03-18) 18 March 1985 (age 29) 21 0 Greece Panathinaikos 2014 FIFA World Cup
DF Igor Bubnjić (1992-07-17) 17 July 1992 (age 22) 2 0 Italy Udinese 2014 FIFA World Cup preliminary squad
DF Josip Šimunić (1978-02-18) 18 February 1978 (age 36) 105 3 Croatia Dinamo Zagreb v.  Iceland, 19 November 2013
DF Josip Pivarić (1989-01-30) 30 January 1989 (age 25) 2 0 Croatia Dinamo Zagreb v.  Scotland, 15 October 2013
DF Mario Maloča (1989-05-04) 4 May 1989 (age 25) 1 0 Croatia Hajduk Split v.  Scotland, 15 October 2013
MF Anas Sharbini INJ (1987-02-21) 21 February 1987 (age 27) 1 0 Croatia Rijeka v.  Cyprus, 4 September 2014
MF Ognjen Vukojević RET (1983-12-20) 20 December 1983 (age 30) 55 4 Croatia Dinamo Zagreb 2014 FIFA World Cup
MF Ivan Perišić (1989-02-02) 2 February 1989 (age 25) 32 5 Germany Wolfsburg 2014 FIFA World Cup
MF Milan Badelj (1989-02-25) 25 February 1989 (age 25) 9 1 Italy Fiorentina 2014 FIFA World Cup
MF Sammir (1987-04-23) 23 April 1987 (age 27) 7 0 Spain Getafe 2014 FIFA World Cup
MF Ivan Močinić INJ (1993-04-30) 30 April 1993 (age 21) 0 0 Croatia Rijeka 2014 FIFA World Cup
MF Niko Kranjčar INJ (1984-08-13) 13 August 1984 (age 30) 81 16 England Queens Park Rangers 2014 FIFA World Cup preliminary squad
MF Ivo Iličević INJ (1986-09-14) 14 September 1986 (age 27) 8 1 Germany Hamburg 2014 FIFA World Cup preliminary squad
MF Mate Maleš (1989-03-11) 11 March 1989 (age 25) 1 0 Croatia Rijeka v.  Switzerland, 5 March 2014
MF Marin Tomasov (1987-08-31) 31 August 1987 (age 27) 1 0 Germany 1860 Munich v.  South Korea, 10 September 2013
FW Eduardo RET (1983-02-25) 25 February 1983 (age 31) 64 29 Brazil Flamengo 2014 FIFA World Cup
FW Ante Rebić (1993-09-21) 21 September 1993 (age 20) 8 1 Germany RB Leipzig 2014 FIFA World Cup
FW Leon Benko INJ (1983-11-11) 11 November 1983 (age 30) 4 0 China Dalian Aerbin v.  Switzerland, 5 March 2014
FW Nikola Kalinić (1988-01-05) 5 January 1988 (age 26) 20 6 Ukraine Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk v.  Scotland, 15 October 2013

Notes:

  • (RET) Retired from international football.
  • (INJ) Withdrew due to an injury.

Previous squads[edit]

Statistics[edit]

Managers[edit]

Before Croatia's independence distinct Croatian football federations and teams were occasionally formed separately from the official Yugoslavian organisations. Ivo Kraljević served as the manager of the initial federation, established in 1939, and organised non-sanctioned matches played by unofficial national squads up to 1956.[18] These temporary sides, playing non-competitive fixtures, were led by seven different managers.[note 3]

Statistically, Dražan Jerković and Vlatko Marković are the most successful managers in Croatia's history; they both recorded victories in each of their few games in charge. Miroslav Blažević holds the highest number of competitive victories, having led Croatia to their best performances at major international tournaments.

The following table provides a summary of the complete record of each Croatia manager including their results regarding World Cups and European Championships.

Key: Pld–games played, W–games won, D–games drawn; L–games lost, %–win percentage
Statistics correct as of 23 June 2014 and Croatia 1–3 Mexico. Only official FIFA-recognised matches are included.
Manager Croatia tenure Pld W D L Win % Major competitions
Croatia Jerković, DražanDražan Jerković 1990–1991 3 3 0 0 100.00 &
Croatia Poklepović, StankoStanko Poklepović 1992 4 1 1 2 25.0 &
Croatia Marković, VlatkoVlatko Marković 1993–1994 1 1 0 0 100.00 &
Croatia Blažević, MiroslavMiroslav Blažević 1994–2000 72 33 24 15 45.8 Symbol confirmed.svg 1996 European Championship – Quarter-final
Symbol confirmed.svg 1998 World Cup – Third place
Symbol delete vote.svg 2000 European Championship – Failed to qualify
Croatia Ivić, TomislavTomislav Ivić (c)[note 4] 1994 1 1 0 0 100.00 &
Croatia Jozić, MirkoMirko Jozić 2000–2002 18 9 6 3 50.0 Symbol confirmed.svg 2002 World Cup – Group stage
Croatia Barić, OttoOtto Barić 2002–2004 24 11 8 5 45.8 Symbol confirmed.svg 2004 European Championship – Group stage
Croatia Kranjčar, ZlatkoZlatko Kranjčar 2004–2006 25 11 8 6 44.0 Symbol confirmed.svg 2006 World Cup – Group stage
Croatia Bilić, SlavenSlaven Bilić 2006–2012 65 42 15 8 64.6 Symbol confirmed.svg 2008 European Championship – Quarter-final
Symbol delete vote.svg 2010 World Cup – Failed to qualify
Symbol confirmed.svg 2012 European Championship – Group stage
Croatia Štimac, IgorIgor Štimac 2012–2013 15 8 2 5 53.3 &
Croatia Kovač, NikoNiko Kovač 2013– 8 4 2 2 50.0 Symbol confirmed.svg 2014 World Cup – Group stage
Totals 236 124 66 46 52.5 8 out of 10

Most appearances[edit]

# Name Clubs[note 5] Croatia career Caps Goals
1 Darijo Srna Hajduk Split, Shakhtar Donetsk 2002– 116 21
2 Stipe Pletikosa Hajduk Split, Shakhtar Donetsk, Spartak Moscow
Tottenham Hotspur, Rostov
1999–2014 114 0
3 Josip Šimunić Hertha Berlin, Hoffenheim, Dinamo Zagreb 2001– 105 3
4 Dario Šimić Dinamo Zagreb, Internazionale, Milan, AS Monaco 1996–2008 100 3
5 Ivica Olić NK Zagreb, Dinamo Zagreb, CSKA Moscow,
Hamburger SV, Bayern Munich, Wolfsburg
2002– 95 19
6 Robert Kovač Bayer Leverkusen, Bayern Munich,
Juventus, Borussia Dortmund, Dinamo Zagreb
1999–2009 84 0
7 Niko Kovač Bayer Leverkusen, HSV, Bayern Munich,
Hertha Berlin, Red Bull Salzburg
1996–2008 83 14
8 Robert Jarni Hajduk Split, Bari, Torino, Juventus, Real Betis,
Real Madrid, Las Palmas, Panathinaikos
1991–2002 81 1
Niko Kranjčar Dinamo Zagreb, Hajduk Split, Portsmouth,
Tottenham Hotspur, Dynamo Kyiv, Queens Park Rangers
2004– 81 16
10 Luka Modrić Dinamo Zagreb, Tottenham Hotspur, Real Madrid 2006– 78 8
Last updated: Mexico vs. Croatia 23 June 2014. Statistics include official FIFA-recognised matches only.

Top goalscorers[edit]

# Name Croatia career Goals Caps
1 Davor Šuker[38] 1991–2002 45 69
2 Eduardo da Silva 2004–2014 29 65
3 Darijo Srna 2002– 21 116
4 Ivica Olić 2002– 19 95
5 Niko Kranjčar 2004– 16 81
6 Goran Vlaović 1992–2002 15 52
Mario Mandžukić 2007– 15 52
8 Niko Kovač 1996–2008 14 83
9 Mladen Petrić 2001–2013 13 45
10 Zvonimir Boban 1991–1999 12 51
Ivan Klasnić 2004–2011 12 41
Last updated: Mexico vs. Croatia 23 June 2014. Statistics include official FIFA-recognised matches only.

1940s participants[edit]

From 1940 to 1944 FIFA affiliated national teams played under the banner of the "Independent State of Croatia" nineteen friendly matches, of which it won nine, drew four and lost six. Twelve players scored for the team during this period.

# Name Croatia career Goals Caps Average
1 Franjo Wölfl 1940–1944 13 18 0.72
2 Zvonimir Cimermančić 1940–1944 8 17 0.47
3 August Lešnik 1940–1944 6 9 0.66
=4 Milan Antolković 1940–1943 3 9 0.33
=4 Branko Pleše 1941–1944 3 13 0.23
=6 Slavko Pavletić 1941–1942 2 4 0.50
=6 Mirko Kokotović 1940–1944 2 15 0.13
=8 Slavko Beda 1941 1 1 1.00
=8 Antun Lokošek 1944 1 1 1.00
=8 Zvonko Jazbec 1940 1 3 0.33
=8 Florijan Matekalo 1940 1 4 0.25
=8 Ratko Kacijan 1940–1943 1 10 0.10

Records[edit]

Darijo Srna, current captain (2008–present) and all-time most capped player.

Dario Šimić was Croatia's first player to reach 100 appearances, doing so before his retirement in 2008. This allowed him to surpass Robert Jarni's previous record of 81 appearances.[110][111][112] On 6 February 2013, Darijo Srna, Josip Šimunić and Stipe Pletikosa each also played their 100th cap for Croatia in the 4-0 friendly victory over South Korea in London. The trio went on to set a new join-record of 101 appearances for the national team on 22 March 2013 in a World Cup qualifying victory against Serbia.

With 45 goals scored, Davor Šuker is Croatia's highest-scoring player. He was named Croatia's "Golden Player" at the UEFA jubilee celebration in 2004 in recognition of this achievement.[38] Eduardo da Silva is in a distant second position with 29 goals (as of October 2013).[113] Mladen Petrić holds the national team record for goals in a single match, having scored four times during Croatia's 7–0 home victory over Andorra on 7 October 2006.[114]

The national team's joint record for highest-scoring victory comes from two 7–0 results, over Andorra in 2006 and Australia in 1998. Croatia's worst defeat is also a joint record, the Independent State of Croatia side having twice lost 5–1 defeats to Germany in the 1940s. In the modern era Croatia lost 4–1 to Slovakia in a 1994 friendly and 3–0 to Portugal at Euro 96. The worst defeat in the modern period was the 5–1 loss to England in the 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign.[2]

All-time team record[edit]

The following tables show Croatia's all-time international record, correct as of 18 June 2014.[115][116]

*Draws include knockout matches decided on penalty kicks.

Modern Croatian team (1990–present)[edit]

Pre-independence team (1940–1944, 1956)[edit]

For explanation see: Croatia national football team games – 1940s, Croatia v Indonesia (1956), Pre-independence period (above), Croatia – List of international matches.

All fixtures were friendly.

Opponents Pld W D L GF GA GD
 Bulgaria 1 1 0 0 6 0 +6
 Germany 3 0 0 3 2 12 −10
 Hungary 3 0 2 1 2 3 −1
 Indonesia 1 1 0 0 5 2 +3
 Italy 1 0 0 1 0 4 −4
 Romania 1 0 1 0 2 2 0
 Slovakia 7 6 1 0 25 9 +16
 Switzerland 3 2 0 1 5 1 +4
Total 20 10 4 6 47 33 +14

Honours[edit]

Friendly titles[edit]

Other awards[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ The rules of Association football state that on receiving a second yellow card in a single match a player must be given a red card and be removed for the rest of the match. Laws of the game
  2. ^ Under the rules of Association football and the official European Championship tournament regulations, a loss inflicted via a penalty shootout does not count as a defeat, but rather a tie which needed a final process to determine the team which advances. Laws of the game
  3. ^ The following organisers led the national team as 'managers':
  4. ^ In September 1994, national team manager Miroslav Blažević, who was also coaching Croatia Zagreb at the time, was dismissed on a 1994–95 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup match against Auxerre. Blažević was suspended by UEFA for one game and Ivić was appointed as his replacement for the UEFA Euro 1996 qualifying match against Italy in November 1994.
  5. ^ Only clubs played for while receiving caps are listed.

Books[edit]

  • Ramet. P, Sabrina (2005). Thinking about Yugoslavia. Cambridge University. ISBN 0-521-85151-3. 
  • Klemenčić, Mladen (2004). Nogometni leksikon. Miroslav Krleža lexicographic institute. ISBN 953-6036-84-3. 
  • Foster, Jane (2004). Footprint Croatia. Footprint Travel Guides. ISBN 1-903471-79-6. 
  • Bellamy. J, Alex (2003). The Formation of Croatian National Identity. Manchester University Press. ISBN 0-7190-6502-X. 
  • Giulianotti, Richard (1997). Entering the Field: New Perspectives on World Football. Berg Publishers. ISBN 1-85973-198-8. 

External links[edit]