Croatia National Football Team
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Croatia National Football Team

Croatia
Nickname(s)Vatreni (The Blazers)
Kockasti (The Checkered Ones)
AssociationCroatian Football Federation (HNS)
ConfederationUEFA (Europe)
Head coachZlatko Dali?
CaptainLuka Modri?
Most capsLuka Modri? (144)
Top scorerDavor ?uker (45)
Home stadiumVarious
FIFA codeCRO
FIFA ranking
Current 17 Increase 1 (16 September 2021)[1]
Highest3 (January 1999)
Lowest125 (March 1994)
First international
 Croatia 4-0 Switzerland  
(Zagreb, Yugoslavia; 2 April 1940)
as FIFA member
 Slovakia 1-1 Croatia 
(Bratislava, Slovakia; 8 September 1941)
as modern Croatia
 Croatia 2-1 United States 
(Zagreb, Yugoslavia; 17 October 1990)
as FIFA member
 Australia 3-1 Croatia 
(Adelaide, Australia; 8 July 1992)
Biggest win
 Croatia 10-0 San Marino 
(Rijeka, Croatia; 4 June 2016)
Biggest defeat
 Spain 6-0 Croatia 
(Elche, Spain; 11 September 2018)
World Cup
Appearances5 (first in 1998)
Best resultRunners-up (2018)
European Championship
Appearances6 (first in 1996)
Best resultQuarter-finals (1996, 2008)
Medal record
Websitehns-cff.hr/en

The Croatia national football team (Croatian: Hrvatska nogometna reprezentacija) represents Croatia in men's international football matches and is controlled by the Croatian Football Federation (HNS). The team was recognised by both FIFA and UEFA following dissolution of Yugoslavia. Sides were active during periods of political upheaval, representing sovereign states such as the Banovina of Croatia from 1939 to 1941 or the Independent State of Croatia from 1941 to 1944.

The modern-day team has played competitive matches since 1994 starting with the qualifying campaign for the 1996 European Championship. In 1998, they competed in their first FIFA World Cup, finishing third and providing the tournament's top scorer, Davor ?uker. Twenty years later, Croatia reached the 2018 World Cup Final, providing the tournament's best player, Luka Modri?. They are one of the youngest national teams (since formation) to reach the knockout stage of a major tournament as well as the youngest team to occupy the top 10 in the FIFA World Rankings.

Among other nicknames, the team is colloquially referred to as the Vatreni (Blazers) or the Kockasti (The Checkered Ones). In the Italian-speaking counties the team is known as Il furioso incendio (The Blazing Fire). Since becoming eligible to compete, Croatia has only failed to qualify for two major tournaments: the UEFA Euro 2000 and the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Their biggest defeat came in the 2018-19 Nations League with a 6-0 loss to Spain, while their highest-scoring victory was a 10-0 friendly win over San Marino in 2016. The team have developed several rivalries such as the Derby Adriatico with Italy or the politically charged rivalry with Serbia, both of which have led to disruptive matches.

The team represents the second-smallest country by population and land mass to reach a World Cup final, behind Uruguay and Netherlands respectively. At major tournaments, Croatia holds joint-records for longest period between one goal and another of a player (2002-2014), most penalty shoot-outs played (2), most extra time periods played (3) and most penalties saved in a match (3). They are also one of three teams--along with Colombia and France--to be named FIFA's Best Mover of the Year more than once, winning the award in 1994 and 1998.[3][4] Upon 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.

History

Pre-independence

Croatian footballers played for the national teams of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia (1919-39) and the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (1945-92), though during periods of political upheaval, ethnically Croatian sides occasionally formed to play unofficial matches.[5] A more hastily arranged Croatian side, managed by Hugo Kinert, played some matches in 1918-19.[6][7]

In 1940, Jozo Jakopi? led an unofficial national team representing the Banovina of Croatia (part of Kingdom of Yugoslavia) in four friendly matches against Switzerland and Hungary.[8] Following invasion by the Axis powers, the Croatian Football Federation became active, joining FIFA on 17 July 1941, representing the Independent State of Croatia. The side, led by Rudolf Hitrec, went on to play 15 friendly matches, 14 of those as a member of FIFA.[9][10] Croatia's first recorded result as a FIFA member was a 1-1 draw with Slovakia on 8 September in Bratislava.[8] The Independent State of Croatia continued playing matches until 1945 and the end of World War II when People's Republic of Croatia was formed as constituent part of the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia.[10] From 1945 to 1956, unofficial Croatian teams were active once again. In September 1945, the state authorities organised the Yugoslav Football Tournament to commemorate the end of World War II. All republics had their national teams with Croatia finishing third behind the team representing the Yugoslav People's Army and Serbia.[11] Croatia also played games against Indonesia and a Yugoslav team playing as Serbia.[7] The Yugoslavia squad at the 1956 Summer Olympics included Croatian footballers[12] as did Yugoslavia at the FIFA World Cup and the UEFA European Championship tournaments up to 1990.[13][14]

Official formation

A Yugoslav team to field a Croatian contingent played against Faroe Islands on 16 May 1991, days before the Croatian independence referendum.[15] An unofficial Croatian team was formed 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,[16] was one of three games played under caretaker manager Dra?an Jerkovi?. 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.[17] Although Croatia was still officially part of Yugoslavia until its independence declaration on 8 October 1991, this team already served as a de facto national side.[18][19] Croatia went on to win two more friendly games under Jerkovi?, against Romania in December 1990 and Slovenia in June 1991.

On 3 July 1992, Croatia was re-admitted to FIFA, playing its first official matches in the modern era against Australia in Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney. This team was led by Stanko Poklepovi? as part of an international exhibition tour; in April 1993, Vlatko Markovi? was appointed as manager. Croatia finally gained admission into UEFA in June 1993 which was too late for the national team to enter the 1994 FIFA World Cup qualification as these already commenced the year before. Markovi? only led the team in one match, a home win against Ukraine in June 1993, before being dismissed in February 1994 and replaced by Miroslav Bla?evi? 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.[20][21] Bla?evi? led Croatia's Euro 1996 qualifying campaign, beginning with the nation'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 in a 1-0 away loss to Ukraine during the same qualifying campaign.[8] They eventually finished first in their qualifying group[22] and won FIFA's 1994 Best Mover of the Year award as they moved up to 62nd in the rankings by the end of the year.[23]

Bla?evi? period (1994-1999)

The 1998 Third Place Certificate for Croatia.

Goran Vlaovi? 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 the Euro 1996.[24] After their opening victory, Croatia beat reigning champions Denmark 3-0[25] then went on to lose against Portugal by the same scoreline in their final group fixture.[26] Croatia advanced to the knockout stage and were beaten in the quarter-finals 1-2 by Germany.[27]

Bla?evi? continued to lead Croatia in the 1998 World Cup qualification campaign which ended after an aggregate victory against Ukraine in the two-legged play-off. In the group stage of the World Cup, Croatia beat Jamaica, Japan and lost to Argentina before defeating Romania to reach a quarter-final tie against Germany.[28] Croatia won 3-0 with goals from Robert Jarni, Goran Vlaovi? and Davor ?uker, all after Christian Wörns had been sent off. Croatia then faced the host 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 ?uker winning the Golden Boot award for scoring the most goals of the tournament with six goals in seven games.[29] Croatia's debut performance in 1998 equals Portugal's third place debut finish 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.[21][13] The team of the 1990s was dubbed the "golden generation."[30][31] A portion of this squad (Jarni, ?timac, Boban, Prosine?ki and ?uker) previously won the 1987 FIFA World Youth Championship with the Yugoslavia under-20 team.

Croatia's qualifying campaign for Euro 2000 ended as they finished third in their qualifying group behind FR Yugoslavia and the Republic of Ireland.[32] Both fixtures against archrivals FR Yugoslavia (the rump state which was later renamed Serbia and Montenegro) ended in draws which prevented Croatia from qualifying for the tournament.[33]

Jozi?, Bari? and Kranj?ar periods (2000-2006)

Fans during the Euro 2004 in Portugal

Bla?evi? 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 team was Mirko Jozi?. 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 2-1 victory over Italy in the next fixture.[34][35] They lost their final group fixture to Ecuador and were eliminated.[36] Jozi? then resigned and was replaced in July 2002 by Otto Bari?, the team's first manager born outside of the Balkans.[37][38]

The 2002 Croatia's home jersey.

During Bari?'s tenure, most of the remaining players from the "golden generation" squad were gradually replaced by younger players over the course of the Euro 2004 qualifiers. Croatia went on to qualify for the tournament with a play-off victory against Slovenia, winning 2-1 on aggregate after Dado Pr?o's decisive late goal in the second leg.[39] At the finals tournament in Portugal, Croatia drew 0-0 with Switzerland and 2-2 with France[40] only to lose to England 2-4 and undergo another elimination in the group stage.[41] Bari?'s two-year contract ended in June 2004 and was not renewed.[42] Former Croatia international Zlatko Kranj?ar, appointed to succeed Bari? in July 2004, led the team through the 2006 World Cup qualifiers without losing a single match and topping the group ahead of Sweden and Bulgaria.[43][44] Local media outlets accused him of nepotism for selecting his son Niko Kranj?ar for the squad.[45] At the 2006 World Cup, Croatia lost their opening game to Brazil and drew 0-0 with Japan after Darijo Srna missed a first-half penalty.[46][47] A 2-2 draw with Australia in which three players were sent off confirmed Croatia's exit in the group stage.[48] The game included a mistake by referee Graham Poll who gave three yellow cards to Croatian defender Josip ?imuni?, failing to send him off after his second offense. He later stated that he mistook ?imuni? for an Australian player due to his Australian accent.[a] Poll was criticised for losing control of the match and retired from refereeing afterwards.[49]

Bili? period (2006-2012)

In July 2006, the Croatian Football Federation replaced Kranj?ar with Slaven Bili?.[50] Bili? who previously managed the under-21 team between 2004 and 2006 introduced a host of players into the squad. His first game was a friendly away victory against Italy.[51][52] After suspending Darijo Srna, Ivica Oli? and Bo?ko Balaban for missing a curfew after a nightclub outing, Bili? led the team through the Euro 2008 qualifying.[53] Croatia topped their group, losing one game to Macedonia and beating England twice, who as a result failed to qualify for the first time since 1984.[54][55]

Croatia vs. Brazil at the 2006 FIFA World Cup

Before the European Championships, Eduardo-who was the team's top goalscorer during qualifying-underwent a compound fracture while playing for Arsenal in the Premier League. Bili? was forced to alter his final Euro 2008 squad and recruited Nikola Kalini? and Nikola Pokriva?, neither of whom had yet played competitive games for the national team.[56] The team received some criticism after "poor attacking" performances in warm-up games against Scotland and Moldova. 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.[57][58][59] Niko Kova? remained team captain at what was expected to be his final international tournament, except in the final group fixture when Dario ?imi? temporarily held the captain's armband.[60][61] Croatia's campaign ended when they lost a penalty shoot-out to Turkey, with Luka Modri?, Mladen Petri? and Ivan Rakiti? all missing their penalties. Croatia left the tournament with records for fewest goals conceded (2), fewest games lost (0),[b] 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).[62][63][64][65]

Following the tournament, Bili? renewed his contract, becoming the first manager since Bla?evi? to lead Croatia to successive tournaments.[66] 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.[67] After a home win against Kazakhstan, Croatia lost at home to England, ending a 14-year unbeaten home record.[68][69] The team then had a number of players' injuries and went on to lose 5-1 to England at the 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. Bili? vowed to renew his contract and remain in charge.

Croatia vs. Italy match at UEFA Euro 2012

Despite falling outside the top ten in the FIFA World 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 UEFA eventually chose Poland and Ukraine as hosts instead. Being top-seeds in their qualifying group, Croatia finished second behind Greece, settling for a play-off against Euro 2008 rivals Turkey.[70] Croatia proceeded to beat Turkey 3-0 on aggregate with all three goals coming in the away leg in Istanbul, thereby qualifying for the Euro 2012. In the proceeding group stage draw for the tournament, Croatia were placed in the third tier of teams and were eventually grouped with the Republic of 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 Bili? formally agreed a deal to manage Russian club Lokomotiv Moscow, thereby announcing he would resign from the national team when the tournament ended. Croatia opened their campaign with a 3-1 victory over the Republic of Ireland, with striker Mario Mand?uki? scoring twice. Mand?uki? continued his run at the tournament with an equaliser in the 1-1 draw against Italy which was marred by fan reactions and referee decisions from English official Howard Webb. Croatia exit the tournament in the group stage once again after losing 0-1 to Spain. Upon Bili?'s formal departure, 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.[71]

?timac, Kova? and ?a?i? periods (2012-2017)

Croatia vs. Brazil at 2014 World Cup

Following Bili?, former player and pundit Igor ?timac was appointed manager of the national team. Croatia's all-time top goalscorer Davor ?uker also took over as president of the Croatian Football Federation after the death of Vlatko Markovi? ended a 14-year tenure.[72][73] After a year of his appointment, ?timac was replaced by former captain Niko Kova? who previously managed the under-21 youth side.[74] Kova? led the team to a 2-0 aggregate victory over Iceland in the qualifying playoffs for the 2014 World Cup with both goals coming in the home leg in Zagreb.[75] At the World Cup, Croatia were drawn with host-nation Brazil, Mexico and Cameroon. In the opening match of the tournament, Croatia lost 3-1 to Brazil. The match garnered media attention and controversy as referee Yuichi Nishimura was scrutinized for a number of decisions.[76] In their second match, Croatia won 4-0 against Cameroon[77] then did not progress from the group as they lost 3-1 to Mexico in their final fixture.[78][79]

In the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign, Croatia were drawn against Italy, Bulgaria, Norway, Azerbaijan and Malta.[80] Following a goalless away draw against Azerbaijan and an away defeat to Norway,[81] in September 2015, the executive committee of the Croatian Football Federation unanimously decided to terminate Kova?'s contract.[82] On 21 September 2015, Ante ?a?i? was named head coach of the Croatian team.[83] On 13 October 2015, Croatia qualified for the finals by finishing as runners-up in Group H.[84] Under ?a?i?, Croatia broke the record for most goals scored in one match after defeating San Marino 10-0 in a friendly.[85]

Croatia's team at the Euro 2016.

At Euro 2016, Croatia were drawn in Group D alongside Turkey, Czech Republic and defending champions Spain. Croatia began their campaign with a 1-0 win over Turkey; following a volley kick from Luka Modri?.[86] The next match was against Czech Republic. With Croatia taking the lead through Ivan Peri?i? and doubling it through Ivan Rakiti? before goals from Milan ?koda and a last-minute penalty from Tomá? Necid; there was crowd trouble in the last minutes of the match with flares being thrown on the pitch and a steward being hurt by a firework during stoppage time.[87][88] Croatia's final match was against Spain; conceding a goal from Álvaro Morata before goals from Nikola Kalini? and a winning goal from Peri?i? securing Croatia a historic win as they topped the group, meanwhile for Spain it was their first defeat at a Euro finals match for the first time since 2004.[89][90] After the match, Croatia were tipped as one of the tournament favourites[91][92] and drew Portugal in the round of 16 who finished third in the group advancing only as the third-best third-placed team.[93] The match was described by BBC Sport as "abysmal", with Ricardo Quaresma's winning goal in the 117th minute after Ivan Peri?i? hit the post with a header in the previous attack, knocking Croatia out of the tournament.[94] After the Euro 2016 campaign, Darijo Srna announced his retirement from international football, amassing a record 134 appearances for the national side. Luka Modri? was announced as his successor for team captain.[95][96]

Dali?'s period (2017-)

The squad lining up for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Final.

Croatia was undefeated for the first round of 2018 World Cup qualification matches. The following consecutive defeats against Iceland and Turkey as well as a draw against Finland caused a public outcry against manager ?a?i?.[97][98] He was replaced by Zlatko Dali? who led the team to a 2-0 win against Ukraine in Kyiv,[99] securing a spot in the play-off round against Greece. Croatia went on to qualify for the 2018 World Cup after beating Greece 4-1 on aggregate with all goals coming in the first leg in Zagreb.[100][101]

In the buildup to the World Cup, The Guardian among other news outlets labelled the 2017-18 squad as Croatia's second "golden generation".[102][103] Players drew comparisons to their 1998 counterparts.[104][105][106] Croatia started their World Cup campaign with a 2-0 victory over Nigeria.[107][108] The following 3-0 victory over Argentina marked Vedran ?orluka earning his 100th cap for Croatia.[109][110][111] Croatia then defeated Iceland to top the group, marking their best ever performance in the group stages of the World Cup.[112][113]

The 2017-18 squad posing with Vladimir Putin and Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovi? after the 2018 World Cup Final against France.

Playing Denmark in the round of 16, Croatia prevailed in a penalty shoot-out after goalkeeper Danijel Suba?i? saved three penalties, equalling the record for most penalties saved in a match. This was the team's first ever successful penalty shoot-out.[114][115][116] In the quarter-finals, Croatia drew 2-2 with hosts Russia and advanced after another penalty shoot-out. This made them the first team since 1990 to win two consecutive penalty shoot-outs at the World Cup.[117][118][119] Playing England in the semi-finals, Croatia equalized once more to force their third consecutive extra time, equalling another record for most extra time matches at the tournament.[120][121] Mario Mand?uki? eventually scored as Croatia won 2-1 making them the second-smallest country by population to reach a World Cup final (after Uruguay in 1930).[122][123] Croatia lost the final 4-2 to France where a free kick was awarded to France for a possible dive by Antoine Griezmann as well as penalty later in the game awarded by the video assistant referee (VAR) for a handball by Ivan Peri?i?.[124] After the match, Luka Modri? became the first Croatian to win the Golden Ball award for best player of the tournament. The Croatian players were welcomed by an estimated half a million people at their homecoming in the capital of Zagreb.[125]

On 23 January 2018, Croatia were drawn to play against England and Spain in the League A of inaugural edition of the UEFA Nations League.[126][127] On 11 September 2018, Croatia lost 6-0 away to Spain in their first Nations League game, with the result becoming Croatia's record loss in the process.[128] Croatia drew 0-0 home with England.[129] The match was played behind closed doors due to UEFA punishment.[130] In the next match against Spain, Croatia won 3-2 home due to a goal in stoppage time.[131] Due to a 2-1 away defeat to England, Croatia placed last in the group and were relegated to League B of the next edition of the tournament.[132]

On 2 December 2018, the draw for the Euro 2020 qualifiers was held in Dublin, Ireland. Croatia was the seeded team of the Group E and was grouped with Wales, Slovakia, Hungary and Azerbaijan.[133] Croatia started their qualifying campaign narrowly winning on 21 March against Azerbaijan and narrowly losing on 24 March to Hungary.[134][135][136] Although they dropped points by drawing with Azerbaijan and Wales away, Croatia managed to top their qualifying group for the first time since Euro 2008 qualifying.[137] Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Euro 2020 was postponed for a year.[138]

Due to a rule change in the Nations League, Croatia avoided relegation and remained in League A where they were drawn in the same group with Portugal, France and Sweden.[139][140] Croatia lost all games apart from Sweden at home, conceding more goals than any other team in the Nations League (apart from Iceland),[141][142][143] but once again avoided relegation to League B due to achieving better goal difference than last-placed Sweden.[144] Winning only two out of eight games in 2020, Croatia achieved their worst annual result in their history.[145]

Croatia lost their opening World Cup qualifier to Slovenia 1-0 and scraped past Cyprus and Malta 1-0 and 3-0, respectively.[146][147] Dali? afterwards made a statement about the lack of team spirit among the players and vowed to restore it ahead of the beginning of Euro 2020.[148] Croatia failed to win in any of their pre-tournament friendlies against Armenia and Belgium, drawing 1-1 and losing 1-0, respectively.[149][150] At the Euro 2020, Croatia were drawn in Group D with England, Czech Republic and the play-off winner C (which later turned out to be Scotland).[151] Croatia finished second in their group, with a 1-0 loss to England, a 1-1 tie with the Czech Republic and a 3-1 win over Scotland. They advanced to the round of 16, where they lost to Spain 5-3 after extra time.[152] Following poor performances before and during the tournament, Dali?-alongside a number of players-was severely criticized by the Croatian public and called upon to resign.[153][154][155][156]

Notes
  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 per the 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 per the Laws of the Game.

Kits

Croatia's modern-day jersey was designed in 1990 by Miroslav ?utej who also designed the nation's flag, coat of arms and banknotes. The red and white motif is based on the Croatian checkerboard (?ahovnica) which has been used to represent Croats since the Middle Ages.[157][158][159] Although there have been variations made by the kit manufacturers since the original release, the jersey design has remained consistent throughout the years and has served as a blueprint for some other Croatian national sports teams and entities.[17] The typical combination has featured red-and-white chequred shirts, white shorts and blue socks, mirroring the tricolour of the country's flag.

Away kits used by the team have for a period been all-blue, incorporating the red-and-white chequers as a trim. Croatia has moved to using darker away kits such as the dark navy-and-black chequered design that featured prominently in the 2018 World Cup campaign. The Vatreni have often been required to use their away kits even when playing at home or when being listed as the designated "home" team at neutral venues as teams also using a red-and-white colour scheme often use a red home kit and white away kit or vice versa. Since both kits clash with the chequers of Croatia, frequent use of the away kit has been necessitated.

Kit supplier Period
Germany Uhlsport 1990-1991
Italy Lotto 1992-1994
Italy Kappa 1994
Italy Lotto 1994-2000
United States Nike 2000-present

Supporters

Croatia supporters at UEFA Euro 2012

The team has developed an extensive fan base since its formation in 1991.[160] Following their run at the 1998 FIFA World Cup, there was a rise in domestic and global attention for the side. Balkan Insight commented that the national team became a symbol of Croatian independence from Yugoslavia.[161] After the death of former President Franjo Tu?man, local political ties with the national team have loosened. All matches are followed and televised throughout the country, particularly during tournaments.[162]

A 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.[163] Both sets of fans Bad Blue Boys of Zagreb and Torcida from Split--have been associated with hooliganism due to their ultra-style support,[164][165] though violence between them does not occur at international matches. Other ultras groups are Armada Rijeka, Kohorta Osijek, Ultras Vinkovci, Tornado Zadar, Funcuti ?ibenik and Demoni Pula. Support for the team also comes from Croats of Bosnia and Herzegovina, particularly from fans of Zrinjski Mostar and ?iroki Brijeg.[166] There are also Croatian communities in Australia, North America and South America that follow the team.[167][168]

Among supporters, it is customary to include an inscription of their city of origin onto the Croatian flag to indicate where they are from. They are also notable for their vocal support and orchestrated chants during matches. One section may shout "U boj, u boj" (To Battle, to Battle) with another responding "Za narod svoj" (For Our People) which is a Croatian patriotic song. When the team wins, supporters might chant "Bje?ite ljudi, bje?ite iz grada" (Run Away People, Run Away From the City) which is a song praising the presence of euphoric Croatian fans.[169] The Croatian Football Federation endorses an official fan club for the team, known as Uvijek Vjerni (Always Faithful).[170]

The team receives support from various local musicians, who release tracks dedicated to them. Former manager Slaven Bili? and his rock band released a single, "Vatreno ludilo" (Fiery Madness), which reached the top position on the Croatian music charts during Euro 2008.[171][172] Other Croatian artists such as Baruni, Connect, Dino Dvornik, Gibonni, Prljavo Kazali?te, Colonia, Stoka, Nered and Thompson have also recorded songs mentioning the team. Some of those having been used among supporters are "Moja domovina" (My Homeland), "Srce vatreno" (Fiery Heart), "Hrvatska je prvak svijeta" (Croatia Are World Champions) and "Malo nas je, al' nas ima" (We Are Few, But We Exist). Most popular among the fans and played at every home match is "Lijepa li si" (How Beautiful You Are) by Thompson and fans sing it themselves during the match. Bad Blue Boys supporters from Zapre?i? made their band Zapre?i? Boys and made some songs for each tournament like "Samo je jedno" (Only One Thing), "U pobjedi i porazu" (In Victory and Defeat) "Neopisivo" (Undescribable), "Igraj moja Hrvatska" (Play, My Croatia), with the latter being an unofficial anthem for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The players and fans adopt other patriotic songs to celebrate victories as well.

Croatian supporters have used flares to celebrate the team's victories, though the use of pyrotechnics has become increasingly controversial due to sanctions imposed by FIFA and UEFA.

Fans' behaviour at international games has led to various sanctions against the national side, despite due efforts by the HNS, Croatian government and players to prevent unwanted incidents. The team has been penalized for multiple acts of racist behaviour by its fans including racial abuse towards English striker Emile Heskey in 2010, racial chants at a home game against Norway in 2015 and the carving of a swastika into the pitch at a Euro 2016 qualifier against Italy that same year (to which no fans were allowed, as penalty for the infraction against Norway).[173] The 12 October 2018 UEFA Nations League game against England was played in Croatia, also without fans.[174] (This penalty is referred to as a "ghost game" which is played by the teams but which has no audience.)[175][176] There have also been reports of clashes involving Croatian fans at various tournaments, leading to further sanctions imposed by FIFA and UEFA.[177][178]

There are fears of particular violence during matches against Serbia, such as the politically fuelled football riot following the 1990 parliamentary election.[179] This has led to extra security measures being imposed for these matches and general restrictions on traveling fans. There have also been multiple acts of protest against the national team, in response to allegations of corruption within the Croatian Football Federation, and other fan disturbances.[180] Croatia's Euro 2016 qualifying fixture against Italy in Milan was interrupted due to flares being thrown onto the field by a section of attendants, which also occurred at a European Championship match against Czech Republic.[181][182]

Stadiums

The majority of Croatia's home matches take place at the Stadion Maksimir in Zagreb, which is also the home-ground of local football club Dinamo. The venue, built in 1912 and refurbished in 1997, is named after the surrounding neighbourhood of Maksimir. It was one of two venues for UEFA Euro 1976, hosted by Yugoslavia, alongside Red Star Stadium in Belgrade. It has been hosting national team games since Croatia's competitive home debut against Lithuania.[183] The Croatian Football Federation (HNS) previously agreed on extensive plans with the government to renovate the stadium and increase its forty-thousand seating capacity, however the proposal was eventually rejected by Mayor of Zagreb Milan Bandi? in 2008 due to construction costs.[183][184][185]

Some home matches are occasionally played at other, smaller venues around the country. The Stadion Poljud in Split has hosted some qualifying fixtures since 1995, the first being a 1-1 draw with Italy. In the period between 1995 and 2011, Croatia never won a competitive match at Poljud, which the local media dubbed "Poljudsko prokletsvo" ("the Poljud curse"). The run was finally ended after the team came from behind to beat Georgia on 3 June 2011.[186] Qualifying fixtures have also been played at the Stadion Kantrida in Rijeka along with Stadion Gradski vrt in Osijek and the Stadion Varteks in Vara?din. These venues are less used due to their more remote locations and smaller seating capacity, despite objections from local residents and some players.[187]

The following table provides a summary Croatia results at various venues used for home games. Since Croatia's first match in October 1990, they played home games at eleven stadiums around the country. The following table provides a summary of Croatia's results at home venues.

Stadium City / town Pld W D L Win % Last match hosted Map of the host cities
Stadion Maksimir  Zagreb 67 46 15 6 068.7 2020
Stadion Poljud Split-Dalmatia County Split 15 3 7 5 020.0 2021
Stadion Gradski vrt Osijek-Baranja County Osijek 13 10 3 0 076.9 2021
Stadion Kantrida Primorje-Gorski Kotar County Rijeka 11 10 1 0 090.9 2011
Stadion Varteks Vara?din County Vara?din 8 5 2 1 062.5 2019
Stadion Rujevica Primorje-Gorski Kotar County Rijeka 7 5 2 0 071.4 2021
Stadion A. Drosina Istria County Pula 5 4 0 1 080.0 2019
Stadion Koprivnica Koprivnica-Kri?evci County Koprivnica 1 1 0 0 100.0 2016
Stadion Cibalia Vukovar-Syrmia County Vinkovci 1 1 0 0 100.0 2009
Stadion Kranj?evi?eva  Zagreb 1 1 0 0 100.0 1996
Stadion ?ubi?evac ?ibenik-Knin County ?ibenik 1 0 1 0 000.0 2003
Stadion Radnik Zagreb County Velika Gorica 1 0 1 0 000.0 2021
Totals 131 86 32 13 65.6% -- --

Last updated: Croatia vs. Slovakia, 11 October 2021
Statistics include only official matches recognized by HNS[188]

Rivalries

Croatia and Serbia, belligerents during the Croatian War of Independence, have developed a rivalry.
  • Croatia v. Italy: Matches between Croatia and Italy are known as the Derby Adriatico or Adriatic Derby named after the Adriatic Sea which separates the two nations.[189][190][191] This rivalry can be confused with the similarly named Adriatic derby between Croatian clubs Hajduk and Rijeka. Croatia has not lost against Italy since 1942, with most of the fixtures played in qualifications and at tournaments.[192][193] During the Euro 2016 qualifying phase, Croatia and Italy played each other twice, drawing both times.[194] Both matches were marred by crowd trouble due to flares being thrown onto the pitch, which also occurred when the two teams met at the 2012 European Championships. At the 2002 FIFA World Cup, Croatia came from behind to beat Italy 2-1 in another game, after two Italian goals were disallowed.[195] As of July 2018, the two countries have played nine times: Croatia has won three times, Italy has won once, and drawn five times.[196]
  • Croatia v. Serbia: Stemming from the Croatian War of Independence, Croatia and Serbia have developed a politically charged football rivalry described by one as one of the "fiercest rivalries in the world".[197][198] Supporters of both national teams clashed for the first time at the Dinamo-Red Star riot as both clubs were seen as symbols of national identity at the time. Since the breakup of Yugoslavia, both countries have continued to use their national teams to assert their national identities.[199] Croatia and Serbia played each other for the first time during qualifying for Euro 2000, with both matches ending in a draw and sparking violence among supporters and players.[200] Since then, the two teams have met twice in World Cup Qualifying, with Croatia winning 2-0 in Zagreb and the away leg ending in a draw after Josip ?imuni? and Nemanja Mati? were sent off. These matches were played without away supporters and with added security to avoid crowd trouble.[201][199][202]

Results and fixtures

The following matches have been played within the past 12 months.

Times are CET/CEST, in accordance with Croatian local time (local times if different, are in parentheses).

2020

11 November International friendly Turkey  3-3  Croatia Istanbul, Turkey
18:45 CET(20:45 FET)
Report
Stadium: Vodafone Park
Attendance: 0
Referee: Slavko Vin?i? (Slovenia)
Assistant referees: Grega Korde? (Slovenia)
Assistant referees: Andra? Kova?i? (Slovenia)
Fourth official: Matej Jug (Slovenia)
Note: Played behind closed doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[203]
14 November 2020-21 UEFA Nations League Sweden  2-1  Croatia Solna, Sweden
20:45 CET
Report
Stadium: Friends Arena
Attendance: 0
Referee: Daniel Siebert (Germany)
Assistant referees: Jan Seidel (Germany)
Assistant referees: Rafael Foltyn (Germany)
Fourth official: Robert Schröder (Germany)
Note: Played behind closed doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[203]
17 November 2020-21 UEFA Nations League Croatia  2-3  Portugal Split, Croatia
20:45 CET
Report
Stadium: Stadion Poljud
Attendance: 0
Referee: Michael Oliver (England)
Assistant referees: Stuart Burt (England)
Assistant referees: Simon Bennett (England)
Fourth official: Paul Tierney (England)
Note: Played behind closed doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[204]

2021

24 March 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification Slovenia  1-0  Croatia Ljubljana, Slovenia
20:45 CET
Report (FIFA)
Report (UEFA)
Stadium: Stadion Sto?ice
Attendance: 0
Referee: Antonio Mateu Lahoz (Spain)
Assistant referees: Roberto del Palomar (Spain)
Assistant referees: Eduard Beitinger (Germany)
Fourth official: Harm Osmers (Germany)
Note: Played behind closed doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[205]
27 March 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification Croatia  1-0  Cyprus Rijeka, Croatia
18:00 CET
Report (FIFA)
Report (UEFA)
Stadium: Stadion Rujevica
Attendance: 0
Referee: Kristo Tohver (Estonia)
Assistant referees: Silver Koiv (Estonia)
Assistant referees: Sten Klaasen (Estonia)
Fourth official: Juri Frischer (Estonia)
Note: Played behind closed doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
30 March 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification Croatia  3-0  Malta Rijeka, Croatia
20:45 CEST
Report (FIFA)
Report (UEFA)
Stadium: Stadion Rujevica
Attendance: 0
Referee: Lionel Tschudi (Switzerland)
Assistant referees: Sladan Josipovi? (Switzerland)
Assistant referees: Matthias Sbrissa (Switzerland)
Fourth official: Lukas Fähndrich (Switzerland)
Note: Played behind closed doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
1 June International friendly Croatia  1-1  Armenia Velika Gorica, Croatia
18:00 CEST
Report
Stadium: Gradski stadion
Attendance: 0
Referee: Luka Bilbija (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Assistant referees: Amer Maci? (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Assistant referees: Davor Beljo (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Fourth official: Igor Paja? (Croatia)
Note: Played behind closed doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
6 June International friendly Belgium  1-0  Croatia Brussels, Belgium
20:45 CEST
Report Stadium: King Baudouin Stadium
Attendance: 50[206]
Referee: Deniz Aytekin (Germany)
Assistant referees: Eduard Beitinger (Germany)
Assistant referees: Dominik Schaal (Germany)
Fourth official: Harm Osmers (Germany)
Note: Played in front of limited number of spectators due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
13 June UEFA Euro 2020 England  1-0  Croatia London, England
15:00 CEST(14:00 BST)
Report Stadium: Wembley Stadium
Attendance: 18,497
Referee: Daniele Orsato (Italy)
Assistant referees: Alessandro Giallatini (Italy)
Assistant referees: Fabiano Preti (Italy)
Fourth official: Björn Kuipers (Netherlands)
Man of the Match: Raheem Sterling (England)
Note: Played in front of limited number of spectators due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
18 June UEFA Euro 2020 Croatia  1-1  Czech Republic Glasgow, Scotland
18:00 CEST(17:00 BST)
Report
Stadium: Hampden Park
Attendance: 5,607
Referee: Carlos del Cerro Grande (Spain)
Assistant referees: Juan Carlos Yuste (Spain)
Assistant referees: Roberto Alonso Fernandez (Spain)
Fourth official: Sandro Schärer (Switzerland)
Man of the Match: Luka Modri? (Croatia)
Note: Played in front of limited number of spectators due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
22 June UEFA Euro 2020 Croatia  3-1  Scotland Glasgow, Scotland
21:00 CEST(20:00 BST)
Report
Stadium: Hampden Park
Attendance: 9,896
Referee: Fernando Rapallini (Argentina)
Assistant referees: Juan Pablo Belatti (Argentina)
Assistant referees: Diego Yamil Bonfa (Argentina)
Fourth official: Bartosz Frankowski (Poland)
Man of the Match: Nikola Vla?i? (Croatia)
Note: Played in front of limited number of spectators due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
28 June UEFA Euro 2020 Croatia  3-5 (a.e.t.)  Spain Copenhagen, Denmark
18:00 CEST
Report
Stadium: Parken Stadium
Attendance: 22,771
Referee: Cüneyt Çak?r (Turkey)
Assistant referees: Bahattin Duran (Turkey)
Assistant referees: Tarik Ongun (Turkey)
Fourth official: Andreas Ekberg (Sweden)
Man of the Match: Sergio Busquets (Spain)
Note: Played in front of limited number of spectators due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
1 September 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification Russia  0-0  Croatia Moscow, Russia
20:45 CEST(21:45 MSK) Report (FIFA)
Report (UEFA)
Stadium: Luzhniki Stadium
Attendance: 18,708
Referee: Roi Reinshreiber (Israel)
Assistant referees: Roy Hassan (Israel)
Assistant referees: Idan Yarkoni (Israel)
Fourth official: Eitan Shmuelevitz (Israel)
4 September 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification Slovakia  0-1  Croatia Bratislava, Slovakia
20:45 CEST Report (FIFA)
Report (UEFA)
Stadium: Tehelné pole
Attendance: 9,047
Referee: Bartosz Frankowski (Poland)
Assistant referees: Marcin Boniek (Poland)
Assistant referees: Jakub Winkler (Poland)
Fourth official: Krzysztof Jakubik (Poland)
7 September 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification Croatia  3-0  Slovenia Split, Croatia
20:45 CEST
Report (FIFA)
Report (UEFA)
Stadium: Stadion Poljud
Attendance: 16,237
Referee: Clément Turpin (France)
Assistant referees: Nicolas Danos (France)
Assistant referees: Cyril Gringore (France)
Fourth official: Jérémie Pignard (France)
8 October 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification Cyprus  0-3  Croatia Larnaca, Cyprus
20:45 CEST(21:45 EEST) Report (FIFA)
Report (UEFA)
Stadium: AEK Arena - Georgios Karapatakis
Attendance: 2,333[207]
Referee: Michael Oliver (England)
Assistant referees: Stuart Burt (England)
Assistant referees: Simon Bennett (England)
Fourth official: David Coote (England)
11 October 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification Croatia  2-2  Slovakia Osijek, Croatia
20:45 CEST
Report (FIFA)
Report (UEFA)
Stadium: Stadion Gradski vrt
Attendance: 9,926
Referee: Ovidiu Ha?egan (Romania)
Assistant referees: Radu Ghinguleac (Romania)
Assistant referees: Mircea Mihail Grigoriu (Romania)
Fourth official: Radu Petrescu (Romania)

Coaching staff

Zlatko Dali?, the current manager of the Croatia national team
Position Name[208]
Head coach Croatia Zlatko Dali?
Assistant coaches Croatia Ivica Oli?
Croatia Dra?en Ladi?
Croatia Vedran ?orluka
Goalkeeping coach Croatia Marjan Mrmi?
Fitness coach Croatia Luka Milanovi?
Video analyst Scotland Marc Rochon
Scouts Croatia Nikola Jerkan
Croatia Ognjen Vukojevi?
Physiotherapists Croatia Nenad Kro?njar
Kosovo Nderim Red?aj
Croatia Goran Beloglavec
Croatia Miroslav Jamni?
Doctors Croatia Sa?a Jankovi?
Croatia Eduard Rod
Team manager Croatia Iva Olivari
Security officer Croatia Miroslav Markovi?
Media officer Croatia Tomislav Pacak
Chef Croatia Tomica ?uki?
Kit men Croatia Mladen Pil?i?
Croatia Goran Vincek
Croatia Dennis Lukan?i?

Players

Current squad

The following is the squad for World Cup qualification fixtures against Cyprus on 8 October and Slovakia on 11 October.[209][210][211]

No. Pos. Player Date of birth (age) Caps Goals Club
1 1GK Dominik Livakovi? (1995-01-09) 9 January 1995 (age 26) 28 0 Croatia Dinamo Zagreb
12 1GK Ivo Grbi? (1996-01-18) 18 January 1996 (age 25) 0 0 France Lille
23 1GK Simon Sluga (1993-03-17) 17 March 1993 (age 28) 3 0 England Luton Town

2 2DF Filip Uremovi? (1997-02-11) 11 February 1997 (age 24) 6 0 Russia Rubin Kazan
3 2DF Borna Bari?i? (1992-11-10) 10 November 1992 (age 28) 23 1 Scotland Rangers
5 2DF Duje ?aleta-Car (1996-09-17) 17 September 1996 (age 25) 19 0 France Marseille
6 2DF Josip Stani?i? (2000-04-02) 2 April 2000 (age 21) 2 0 Germany Bayern Munich
16 2DF Mile ?kori? (1991-06-19) 19 June 1991 (age 30) 6 0 Croatia Osijek
19 2DF Borna Sosa (1998-01-21) 21 January 1998 (age 23) 3 0 Germany VfB Stuttgart
20 2DF Jo?ko Gvardiol (2002-01-23) 23 January 2002 (age 19) 7 1 Germany RB Leipzig
21 2DF Domagoj Vida (vice-captain) (1989-04-29) 29 April 1989 (age 32) 95 4 Turkey Be?ikta?
22 2DF Marin Pongra?i? (1997-09-11) 11 September 1997 (age 24) 2 0 Germany Borussia Dortmund

8 3MF Luka Su?i? (2002-09-08) 8 September 2002 (age 19) 1 0 Austria Red Bull Salzburg
10 3MF Luka Modri? (captain) (1985-09-09) 9 September 1985 (age 36) 144 19 Spain Real Madrid
11 3MF Marcelo Brozovi? (1992-11-16) 16 November 1992 (age 28) 68 7 Italy Internazionale
13 3MF Nikola Vla?i? (1997-10-04) 4 October 1997 (age 24) 31 7 England West Ham United
15 3MF Mario Pa?ali? (1995-02-09) 9 February 1995 (age 26) 32 5 Italy Atalanta
17 3MF Luka Ivanu?ec (1998-11-26) 26 November 1998 (age 22) 10 1 Croatia Dinamo Zagreb
18 3MF Kristijan Jaki? (1997-05-14) 14 May 1997 (age 24) 1 0 Germany Eintracht Frankfurt

4 4FW Ivan Peri?i? (3rd captain) (1989-02-02) 2 February 1989 (age 32) 109 31 Italy Internazionale
7 4FW Josip Brekalo (1998-06-23) 23 June 1998 (age 23) 29 4 Italy Torino
9 4FW Andrej Kramari? (1991-06-19) 19 June 1991 (age 30) 63 15 Germany 1899 Hoffenheim
14 4FW Marko Livaja (1993-08-26) 26 August 1993 (age 28) 9 2 Croatia Hajduk Split

Recent call-ups

The following players have also been called up to the squad in the last 12 months and are still eligible for selection.

Pos. Player Date of birth (age) Caps Goals Club Latest call-up
GK Ivica Ivu?i? INJ (1995-02-01) 1 February 1995 (age 26) 2 0 Croatia Osijek v.  Cyprus, 8 October 2021
GK Lovre Kalini? (1990-04-03) 3 April 1990 (age 31) 19 0 Croatia Hajduk Split UEFA Euro 2020

DF Dejan Lovren INJ (4th captain) (1989-07-05) 5 July 1989 (age 32) 69 4 Russia Zenit Saint Petersburg v.  Cyprus, 8 October 2021
DF Josip Juranovi? INJ (1995-08-16) 16 August 1995 (age 26) 13 0 Scotland Celtic v.  Cyprus, 8 October 2021
DF ?ime Vrsaljko (1992-01-10) 10 January 1992 (age 29) 51 0 Spain Atlético Madrid UEFA Euro 2020
DF Domagoj Bradari? (1999-12-10) 10 December 1999 (age 21) 4 0 France Lille UEFA Euro 2020
DF Dario Melnjak (1992-10-31) 31 October 1992 (age 28) 8 0 Croatia Hajduk Split v.  Malta, 30 March 2021

MF Mateo Kova?i? SUS (1994-05-06) 6 May 1994 (age 27) 75 3 England Chelsea v.  Slovakia, 11 October 2021
MF Lovro Majer INJ (1998-01-17) 17 January 1998 (age 23) 2 0 France Rennes v.  Slovenia, 7 September 2021
MF Nikola Moro (1998-03-12) 12 March 1998 (age 23) 0 0 Russia Dynamo Moscow v.  Slovenia, 7 September 2021
MF Milan Badelj (1989-02-25) 25 February 1989 (age 32) 55 2 Italy Genoa UEFA Euro 2020
MF Toma Ba?i? (1996-11-25) 25 November 1996 (age 24) 2 0 Italy Lazio UEFA Euro 2020 PRE
MF Marko Rog INJ (1995-07-19) 19 July 1995 (age 26) 21 0 Italy Cagliari v.  Portugal, 17 November 2020

FW Mislav Or?i? INJ (1992-12-29) 29 December 1992 (age 28) 13 1 Croatia Dinamo Zagreb v.  Cyprus, 8 October 2021
FW Antonio ?olak (1993-09-17) 17 September 1993 (age 28) 3 0 Sweden Malmö v.  Slovenia, 7 September 2021
FW Ante Budimir INJ (1991-07-22) 22 July 1991 (age 30) 8 1 Spain Osasuna v.  Russia, 1 September 2021
FW Ante Rebi? (1993-09-21) 21 September 1993 (age 28) 42 3 Italy Milan UEFA Euro 2020
FW Bruno Petkovi? (1994-09-16) 16 September 1994 (age 27) 19 6 Croatia Dinamo Zagreb UEFA Euro 2020
FW Kristijan Lovri? (1995-12-01) 1 December 1995 (age 25) 1 0 Croatia Gorica UEFA Euro 2020 PRE

  • INJ = Injured or ill.
  • WD = Withdrew.
  • SUS = Suspended from participating.
  • RET = Retired after latest call-up.
  • U21 = Joined the Croatia U21 team instead.
  • PRE = Preliminary squad.

Individual statistics

As of 11 October 2021[212]
Players in bold are still active with Croatia.

Most capped players

Luka Modri?, the captain and most capped player.
Rank Player Caps Goals Career
1 Luka Modri? 144 19
2 Darijo Srna 134 22 2002-2016
3 Stipe Pletikosa 114 0 1999-2014
4 Ivan Peri?i? 109 31 2011-
5 Ivan Rakiti? 106 15 2007-2019
6 Josip ?imuni? 105 3 2001-2013
7 Ivica Oli? 104 20 2002-2015
8 Vedran ?orluka 103 4 2006-2018
9 Dario ?imi? 100 3 1996-2008
10 Domagoj Vida 95 4 2010-

Dario ?imi? 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.[213][214][215] On 6 February 2013, captain Darijo Srna, Josip ?imuni? and Stipe Pletikosa each also played their 100th cap for Croatia in a 4-0 friendly victory over South Korea in London. The trio went on to set a new joint-record of 101 appearances for the national team in March 2013 in a World Cup qualifying victory against Serbia in Zagreb. Srna eventually surpassed his teammates and accrued a record total of 134 international caps for Croatia before retiring in 2016. He was surpassed by Luka Modri? in 2021. Alen Halilovi? is the youngest player to represent the team, making his senior debut in June 2013 aged 16 years, 11 months and 22 days.[216] The team's oldest player is Dra?en Ladi? who played his last match in May 2000 aged 37 years, 4 months and 27 days.[217]

Top goalscorers

Davor ?uker, Croatia's top scorer.
Rank Player Goals Caps Ratio Career
1 Davor ?uker[33] 45 69 0.65
2 Mario Mand?uki? 33 89 0.37 2007-2018
3 Ivan Peri?i? 31 109 0.28
4 Eduardo da Silva 29 64 0.45 2004-2014
5 Darijo Srna 22 134 0.16 2002-2016
6 Ivica Oli? 20 104 0.19 2002-2015
7 Luka Modri? 19 144 0.13 2006-
8 Niko Kranj?ar 16 81 0.2 2004-2013
9 Nikola Kalini? 15 42 0.36 2008-2018
Goran Vlaovi? 51 0.29 1992-2002
Andrej Kramari? 63 0.24 2014-
Ivan Rakiti? 106 0.14 2007-2019

The team's youngest goalscorer is Luka Ivanu?ec who scored his debut goal on 14 January 2017 aged 18 years, one month and 19 days.[218]

With 45 goals scored, Davor ?uker is the team's highest-scoring player.[33]

Most clean sheets

Stipe Pletikosa, Croatia's record holder in clean sheets.
Rank Player Clean sheets Caps Ratio Career
1 Stipe Pletikosa 54 114 0.47
2 Dra?en Ladi? 26 59 0.44 1990-2000
3 Danijel Suba?i? 24 44 0.55 2009-2018
4 Tomislav Butina 15 28 0.54 2001-2006
5 Vedran Runje 9 22 0.41 2006-2011
6 Dominik Livakovi? 7 28 0.25 2017-
7 Ton?i Gabri? 5 9 0.56 1990-1997
Marjan Mrmi? 13 0.38 1995-1999
9 Lovre Kalini? 4 19 0.21 2014-
10 Ivan Vargi? 3 3 1 2014-2016
Joey Didulica 4 0.75 2004-2006

Managers

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

Manager Period Pld W D L Win % Major competitions
Kingdom of Yugoslavia Jozo Jakopi? 4 2 1 1 050.00
Independent State of Croatia Rudolf Hitrec 1941 1 0 0 1 000.00
Independent State of Croatia Bogdan Cuvaj 1941-1943 13 6 3 4 046.15
Independent State of Croatia Bernard Hügl 1943-1945 1 1 0 0 100.00
Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Bogdan Cuvaj 1956 1 1 0 0 100.00
Croatia Dra?an Jerkovi? 1990-1991 3 3 0 0 100.00
Croatia Stanko Poklepovi? 1992 4 1 1 2 025.00
Croatia Vlatko Markovi? 1993-1994 1 1 0 0 100.00
Croatia Miroslav Bla?evi? 1994-2000 72 33 24 15 045.83 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 Tomislav Ivi? (c)[a] 1994 1 1 0 0 100.00
Croatia Mirko Jozi? 2000-2002 18 9 6 3 050.00 Symbol confirmed.svg 2002 World Cup - Group stage
Croatia Otto Bari? 2002-2004 24 11 8 5 045.83 Symbol confirmed.svg 2004 European Championship - Group stage
Croatia Zlatko Kranj?ar 2004-2006 25 11 8 6 044.00 Symbol confirmed.svg 2006 World Cup - Group stage
Croatia Slaven Bili? 2006-2012 65 42 15 8 064.62 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 Igor ?timac 2012-2013 15 8 2 5 053.33
Croatia Niko Kova? 2013-2015 19 10 5 4 052.63 Symbol confirmed.svg 2014 World Cup - Group stage
Croatia Ante ?a?i? 2015-2017 25 15 6 4 060.00 Symbol confirmed.svg 2016 European Championship - Round of 16
Croatia Zlatko Dali? 2017- 52 24 12 16 046.15 Symbol confirmed.svg 2018 World Cup - Runners-up
Symbol confirmed.svg 2020 European Championship - Round of 16
Totals 344 179 91 74 52.03% 11 out of 13

Last updated: Croatia vs. Slovakia, 11 October 2021.

Source: Croatian Football Federation

  1. ^ In September 1994, national team manager Miroslav Bla?evi?, who was also coaching Croatia Zagreb at the time, was dismissed in a 1994-95 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup match against Auxerre. Bla?evi? was suspended by UEFA for one game and Ivi? was appointed as his replacement for the UEFA Euro 1996 qualifying match against Italy in November 1994.


Competitive record


FIFA World Cup

Finals Qualification
Year Result Position Pld W D L GF GA Squad Pos Pld W D L GF GA
Uruguay 1930 Part of  Kingdom of Yugoslavia
Kingdom of Italy 1934
French Third Republic 1938
Fourth Brazilian Republic 1950 Part of  SFR Yugoslavia
Switzerland 1954
Sweden 1958
Chile 1962
England 1966
Mexico 1970
West Germany 1974
Argentina 1978
Spain 1982
Mexico 1986
Italy 1990
United States 1994 Not a FIFA member
France 1998 Third place 3rd 7 5 0 2 11 5 Squad 2nd 10 5 4 1 20 13
South Korea Japan 2002 Group stage 23rd 3 1 0 2 2 3 Squad 1st 8 5 3 0 15 2
Germany 2006 Group stage 22nd 3 0 2 1 2 3 Squad 2nd 10 7 3 0 21 5
South Africa 2010 Did not qualify 3rd 10 6 2 2 19 13
Brazil 2014 Group stage 19th 3 1 0 2 6 6 Squad 2nd 12 6 3 3 14 9
Russia 2018 Runners-up 2nd 7 4 2 1 14 9 Squad 2nd 12 7 3 2 19 5
Qatar 2022 To be determined 2nd 8 5 2 1 13 3
Canada Mexico United States 2026 To be determined
2030
2034
Total Runners-up 2nd 23 11 4 8 35 26 -- 5/6 70 41 20 9 121 50

Draws include knockout matches decided on penalty kicks; correct as of 11 October 2021 after the match against  Slovakia.

World Cup record
First Match  Jamaica 1-3 Croatia 
(Lens, France; 14 June 1998)
Biggest Win  Cameroon 0-4 Croatia 
(Manaus, Brazil; 18 June 2014)
Biggest Defeat  Brazil 3-1 Croatia 
(São Paulo, Brazil; 12 June 2014)
 Croatia 1-3 Mexico 
(Recife, Brazil; 23 June 2014)
 France 4-2 Croatia 
(Moscow, Russia; 15 July 2018)
Best Result Runners-up in 2018
Worst Result Group stage in 2002, 2006 and 2014


UEFA European Championship

Finals Qualifying
Year Round Position Pld W D L GF GA Squad Pos Pld W D L GF GA
France 1960 Part of  SFR Yugoslavia
Francoist 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 1st 10 7 2 1 22 5
Belgium Netherlands 2000 Did not qualify 3rd 8 4 3 1 13 9
Portugal 2004 Group stage 13th 3 0 2 1 4 6 Squad 2nd 10 6 2 2 14 5
Austria Switzerland 2008 Quarter-final 5th 4 3 1 0 5 2 Squad 1st 12 9 2 1 28 8
Poland Ukraine 2012 Group stage 10th 3 1 1 1 4 3 Squad 2nd 12 8 2 2 21 7
France 2016 Round of 16 9th 4 2 1 1 5 4 Squad 2nd 10 6 3 1 20 5
Europe 2020 Round of 16 14th 4 1 1 2 7 8 Squad 1st 8 5 2 1 17 7
Germany 2024 To be determined To be determined
2028
Total Quarter-final (2) 5th 22 9 6 7 30 28 -- 6/7 70 45 16 9 135 46

Draws include knockout matches decided on penalty kicks; correct as of 28 June 2021 after the match against  Spain.

European Championship record
First Match  Turkey 0-1 Croatia 
(Nottingham, England; 11 June 1996)
Biggest Win  Croatia 3-0 Denmark 
(Sheffield, England; 16 June 1996)
Biggest Defeat  Croatia 0-3 Portugal 
(Nottingham, England; 19 June 1996)
Best Result Quarter-final in 1996 and 2008
Worst Result Group stage in 2004 and 2012


UEFA Nations League

UEFA Nations League
Season Division Group Pld W D L GF GA P/R Rank
Portugal 2018-19 A 4 4 1 1 2 4 10 Same position 9th
Italy 2020-21 A 3 6 1 0 5 9 16 Same position 12th
2022-23 A To be determined
Total 10 2 1 7 13 26 9th

Draws include knockout matches decided on penalty kicks; correct as of 17 November 2020 after the match against  Portugal.

Nations League record
First Match  Spain 6-0 Croatia 
(Elche, Spain; 11 September 2018)
Biggest Win  Croatia 3-2 Spain 
(Zagreb, Croatia; 15 November 2018)
 Croatia 2-1 Sweden 
(Zagreb, Croatia; 11 October 2020)
Biggest Defeat  Spain 6-0 Croatia 
(Elche, Spain; 11 September 2018)
Best Result 9th place in 2018-19
Worst Result 12th place in 2020-21


Minor tournaments

Year Round Position GP W D L GF GA
Morocco 1996 Hassan II Trophy Winners 1st 2 0 2 0 3 3
Japan 1997 Kirin Cup Runners-up 2nd 2 0 1 1 4 5
South Korea 1999 Korea Cup Winners 1st 3 1 2 0 5 4
Hong Kong 2006 Carlsberg Cup Third place 3rd 2 1 0 1 4 2
China 2017 China Cup Fourth place 4th 2 0 2 0 2 2
Total Winners (2) 11 2 7 2 18 16

Draws include knockout matches decided on penalty kicks; correct as of 14 January 2017 after the match against  China PR.

Head-to-head record

Key
  Positive balance (more wins than losses)
  Neutral balance (as many wins as losses)
  Negative balance (more losses than wins)

Correct as of 11 October 2021, after the match against  Slovakia.

Opponent Pld W D L GF GA GD Win %
Pre-independence
 Bulgaria 1 1 0 0 6 0 +6 100.00
 Germany 3 0 0 3 2 12 -10 000.00
 Hungary 3 0 2 1 2 3 -1 000.00
 Indonesia 1 1 0 0 5 2 +3 100.00
 Italy 1 0 0 1 0 4 -4 000.00
 Romania 1 0 1 0 2 2 +0 000.00
 Slovakia 7 6 1 0 25 9 +16 085.71
  Switzerland 3 2 0 1 5 1 +4 066.67
Total: 8 teams played 20 10 4 6 47 33 +14 050.00
Post-independence[188]
 Andorra 6 6 0 0 24 0 +24 100.00
 Argentina 5 2 1 2 7 5 +2 040.00
 Armenia 1 0 1 0 1 1 +0 000.00
 Australia 6 2 2 2 11 6 +5 033.33
 Austria 5 5 0 0 9 2 +7 100.00
 Azerbaijan 4 2 2 0 9 2 +7 050.00
 Belarus 2 2 0 0 4 1 +3 100.00
 Belgium 8 3 2 3 9 6 +3 037.50
 Bosnia and Herzegovina 4 4 0 0 14 6 +8 100.00
 Brazil 4 0 1 3 2 7 -5 000.00
 Bulgaria 7 4 2 1 10 5 +5 057.14
 Cameroon 1 1 0 0 4 0 +4 100.00
 Chile 1 0 1 0 1 1 +0 000.00
 China PR 1 0 1 0 1 1 +0 000.00
 Cyprus 3 3 0 0 6 0 +6 100.00
 Czech Republic 4 1 3 0 8 6 +2 025.00
 Denmark 6 2 2 2 8 7 +1 033.33
 Ecuador 1 0 0 1 0 1 -1 000.00
 Egypt 1 0 1 0 2 2 +0 000.00
 England 11 3 2 6 13 22 -9 027.27
 Estonia 9 6 2 1 16 5 +11 066.67
 Finland 2 1 1 0 2 1 +1 050.00
 FR Yugoslavia 2 0 2 0 2 2 +0 000.00
 France 8 0 2 6 8 19 -11 000.00
 Georgia 3 2 0 1 4 3 +1 066.67
 Germany 5 2 1 2 8 6 +2 040.00
 Gibraltar 1 1 0 0 4 0 +4 100.00
 Greece 8 2 4 2 10 9 +1 025.00
 Hong Kong 1 1 0 0 4 0 +4 100.00
 Hungary 9 4 4 1 17 7 +10 044.44
 Iceland 7 5 1 1 13 3 +10 071.43
 Iran 2 1 1 0 4 2 +2 050.00
 Israel 9 8 1 0 22 8 +14 088.89
 Italy 8 3 5 0 10 6 +4 037.50
 Jamaica 1 1 0 0 3 1 +2 100.00
 Japan 3 1 1 1 4 4 +0 033.33
 Jordan 1 1 0 0 2 1 +1 100.00
 Kazakhstan 2 2 0 0 5 1 +4 100.00
 Kosovo 2 2 0 0 7 0 +7 100.00
 Latvia 4 4 0 0 10 1 +9 100.00
 Liechtenstein 2 2 0 0 8 2 +6 100.00
 Lithuania 2 1 1 0 2 0 +2 050.00
 Macedonia 8 5 2 1 12 9 +3 062.50
 Mali 1 1 0 0 2 1 +1 100.00
 Malta 9 8 1 0 22 4 +18 088.89
 Mexico 6 4 0 2 9 6 +3 066.67
 Moldova 2 2 0 0 2 0 +2 100.00
 Morocco 1 0 1 0 2 2 +0 000.00
 Netherlands 2 1 0 1 2 4 -2 050.00
 Nigeria 1 1 0 0 2 0 +2 100.00
 Northern Ireland 1 1 0 0 3 0 +3 100.00
 Norway 5 3 1 1 10 6 +4 060.00
 Peru 1 0 0 1 0 2 -2 000.00
 Poland 5 3 1 1 7 3 +4 060.00
 Portugal 7 0 1 6 4 15 -11 000.00
 Qatar 1 1 0 0 3 2 +1 100.00
 Republic of Ireland 7 2 3 2 8 8 +0 028.57
 Romania 4 4 0 0 6 1 +5 100.00
 Russia 5 1 4 0 5 3 +2 020.00
 San Marino 3 3 0 0 18 0 +18 100.00
 Scotland 6 1 3 2 5 6 -1 016.67
 Senegal 1 1 0 0 2 1 +1 100.00
 Serbia 2 1 1 0 3 1 +2 050.00
 Slovakia 10 5 3 2 18 11 +7 050.00
 Slovenia 11 7 3 1 19 9 +10 063.64
 South Korea 7 3 2 2 11 7 +4 042.86
 Spain 9 3 1 5 12 20 -8 033.33
 Sweden 6 4 0 2 8 7 +1 066.67
  Switzerland 4 1 2 1 6 7 -1 025.00
 Tunisia 1 0 0 1 1 2 -1 000.00
 Turkey 10 3 6 1 13 9 +4 030.00
 Ukraine 9 5 3 1 15 5 +10 055.56
 United States 1 1 0 0 2 1 +1 100.00
 Wales 6 4 2 0 10 4 +6 066.67
Total: 74 teams played 324 169 87 68 550 317 +233 052.16
 Croatia total
Total: 75 teams played 344 179 91 74 597 351 +246 052.03


FIFA ranking history

The following is a chart of yearly averages of Croatia's FIFA ranking.[219] Upon admission to FIFA, Croatia was ranked 125th in the world. The 1998 World Cup propelled Croatia to third place after the tournament, making it the most volatile team in FIFA Rankings history. It held that rank until February 1999.[220][221]

Titles

Major tournaments

Minor tournaments

Other awards

Charity

In 2010, manager Slaven Bili? established a foundation Vatreno Srce (Fiery Heart), starting a string of charity work by the national team.[222] The primary cause of the foundation is helping children in various forms.[223] As of 2012, the foundation made fifty donations of 1,200,000 HRK to various children's organizations.[224]

On 16 December 2012, the foundation made 500,000 HRK on an auction of Niko Kranj?ar's shirt and Lionel Messi's shirt that was signed by all FC Barcelona players. The auction was organized in Esplanade Zagreb Hotel and even attended by President of Croatia Ivo Josipovi?.[224]

On 13 November 2018, the players gathered in hotel The Westin Zagreb to answer the fans' phonecalls, the proceeds of which were donated to the Vatreno Srce foundation. In 2018, the foundation chose to finance Children's Hospital Zagreb and Korak u ?ivot (A Step Into Life), a charity that helps youngsters raised in orphanages to make the transition into the higher education system.[222][225]

On 11 November 2019, more than 500,000 HRK were collected in another call event that were then directed to Children's Hospital Kantrida.[226]

On 24 March 2020, the national team players donated 4,200,000 HRK for fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and for repair of damage caused by 2020 Zagreb earthquake.[227]

See also

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Footnotes

Books

  • Ramet. P, Sabrina (2005). Thinking about Yugoslavia. Cambridge University. ISBN 0-521-85151-3.
  • Klemen?i?, Mladen (2004). Nogometni leksikon. Miroslav Krle?a 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


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