Croatia national football team


Croatia
Nickname(s)Vatreni (The Blazers)
Kockasti (The Checkered Ones)
AssociationCroatian Football Federation (HNS)
ConfederationUEFA (Europe)
Head coachZlatko Dalić
CaptainLuka Modrić
Most capsLuka Modrić (142)
Top scorerDavor Šuker (45)
Home stadiumVarious
FIFA codeCRO
First colours
Second colours
FIFA ranking
Current 14 (27 May 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)
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). Most home matches are played at the Stadion Maksimir in Zagreb while other smaller venues are also used. 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 Šuker. Twenty years later, Croatia reached the 2018 World Cup Final, providing the tournament's best player, Luka Modrić. 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.[2][3] 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.[4] A more hastily arranged Croatian side, managed by Hugo Kinert, played some matches in 1918–19.[5][6]

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.[7] 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.[8][9] Croatia's first recorded result as a FIFA member was a 1–1 draw with Slovakia on 8 September in Bratislava.[7] 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.[9] 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.[10] Croatia also played games against Indonesia and a Yugoslav team playing as Serbia.[6] The Yugoslavia squad at the 1956 Summer Olympics included Croatian footballers[11] as did Yugoslavia at the FIFA World Cup and the UEFA European Championship tournaments up to 1990.[12][13]

Official formation

A Yugoslav team to field a Croatian contingent played against Faroe Islands on 16 May 1991, days before the Croatian independence referendum.[14] 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,[15] 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.[16] 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.[17][18] Croatia went on to win two more friendly games under Jerković, 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 Poklepović as part of an international exhibition tour; in April 1993, Vlatko Marković 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. Marković 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 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.[19][20] Blažević 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.[7] They eventually finished first in their qualifying group[21] 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.[22]

Blažević period (1994–1999)

The 1998 Third Place Certificate for Croatia.

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 the Euro 1996.[23] After their opening victory, Croatia beat reigning champions Denmark 3–0[24] then went on to lose against Portugal by the same scoreline in their final group fixture.[25] Croatia advanced to the knockout stage and were beaten in the quarter-finals 1–2 by Germany.[26]

Blažević 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.[27] 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 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 scoring the most goals of the tournament with six goals in seven games.[28] 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.[20][12] The team of the 1990s was dubbed the "golden generation."[29][30] A portion of this squad (Jarni, Štimac, Boban, Prosinečki and Šuker) 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.[31] 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.[32]

Jozić, Barić and Kranjčar periods (2000–2006)

Fans during the Euro 2004 in Portugal

Blažević 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 Jozić. 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.[33][34] They lost their final group fixture to Ecuador and were eliminated.[35] Jozić then resigned and was replaced in July 2002 by Otto Barić, the team's first manager born outside of the Balkans.[36][37]

The 2002 Croatia's home jersey.

During Barić'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 Pršo's decisive late goal in the second leg.[38] At the finals tournament in Portugal, Croatia drew 0–0 with Switzerland and 2–2 with France[39] only to lose to England 2–4 and undergo another elimination in the group stage.[40] Barić's two-year contract ended in June 2004 and was not renewed.[41] 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 ahead of Sweden and Bulgaria.[42][43] Local media outlets accused him of nepotism for selecting his son Niko Kranjčar for the squad.[44] 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.[45][46] A 2–2 draw with Australia in which three players were sent off confirmed Croatia's exit in the group stage.[47] The game included a mistake by referee Graham Poll who gave three yellow cards to Croatian defender Josip Šimunić, failing to send him off after his second offense. He later stated that he mistook Šimunić for an Australian player due to his Australian accent.[lower-alpha 1] Poll was criticised for losing control of the match and retired from refereeing afterwards.[48]

Bilić period (2006–2012)

In July 2006, the Croatian Football Federation replaced Kranjčar with Slaven Bilić.[49] Bilić 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.[50][51] After suspending Darijo Srna, Ivica Olić and Boško Balaban for missing a curfew after a nightclub outing, Bilić led the team through the Euro 2008 qualifying.[52] 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.[53][54]

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. Bilić was forced to alter his final Euro 2008 squad and recruited Nikola Kalinić and Nikola Pokrivač, neither of whom had yet played competitive games for the national team.[55] 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.[56][57][58] 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.[59][60] Croatia's campaign ended when they lost a penalty shoot-out to Turkey, with Luka Modrić, Mladen Petrić and Ivan Rakitić all missing their penalties. Croatia left the tournament with records for fewest goals conceded (2), fewest games lost (0),[lower-alpha 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).[61][62][63][64]

Following the tournament, Bilić renewed his contract, becoming the first manager since Blažević to lead Croatia to successive tournaments.[65] 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.[66] After a home win against Kazakhstan, Croatia lost at home to England, ending a 14-year unbeaten home record.[67][68] 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. Bilić 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.[69] 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 Bilić 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 Mandžukić scoring twice. Mandžukić 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 Bilić'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.[70]

Štimac, Kovač and Čačić periods (2012–2017)

Croatia vs. Brazil at 2014 World Cup

Following Bilić, former player and pundit Igor Štimac was appointed manager of the national team. Croatia's all-time top goalscorer Davor Šuker also took over as president of the Croatian Football Federation after the death of Vlatko Marković ended a 14-year tenure.[71][72] After a year of his appointment, Štimac was replaced by former captain Niko Kovač who previously managed the under-21 youth side.[73] Kovač 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.[74] 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.[75] In their second match, Croatia won 4–0 against Cameroon[76] then did not progress from the group as they lost 3–1 to Mexico in their final fixture.[77][78]

In the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign, Croatia were drawn against Italy, Bulgaria, Norway, Azerbaijan and Malta.[79] Following a goalless away draw against Azerbaijan and an away defeat to Norway,[80] in September 2015, the Executive Committee of the Croatian Football Federation unanimously decided to terminate Kovač's contract.[81] On 21 September 2015, Ante Čačić was named head coach of the Croatian team.[82] On 13 October 2015, Croatia qualified for the finals by finishing as runners-up in Group H.[83] Under Čačić, Croatia broke the record for most goals scored in one match after defeating San Marino 10–0 in a friendly.[84]

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 Modrić.[85] The next match was against Czech Republic. With Croatia taking the lead through Ivan Perišić and doubling it through Ivan Rakitić before goals from Milan Škoda and a last-minute penalty from Tomáš 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.[86][87] Croatia's final match was against Spain; conceding a goal from Álvaro Morata before goals from Nikola Kalinić and a winning goal from Perišić 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.[88][89] After the match, Croatia were tipped as one of the tournament favourites[90][91] and drew Portugal in the round of 16 who finished third in the group advancing only as the third-best third-placed team.[92] The match was described by BBC Sport as "abysmal", with Ricardo Quaresma's winning goal in the 117th minute after Ivan Perišić hit the post with a header in the previous attack, knocking Croatia out of the tournament.[93] After the Euro 2016 campaign, Darijo Srna announced his retirement from international football, amassing a record 134 appearances for the national side. Luka Modrić was announced as his successor for team captain.[94][95]

Dalić'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 Čačić.[96][97] He was replaced by Zlatko Dalić who led the team to a 2–0 win against Ukraine in Kyiv,[98] 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.[99][100]

In the buildup to the World Cup, The Guardian among other news outlets labelled the 2017–18 squad as Croatia's second "golden generation".[101][102] Players drew comparisons to their 1998 counterparts.[103][104][105] Croatia started their World Cup campaign with a 2–0 victory over Nigeria.[106][107] The following 3–0 victory over Argentina marked Vedran Ćorluka earning his 100th cap for Croatia.[108][109][110] Croatia then defeated Iceland to top the group, marking their best ever performance in the group stages of the World Cup.[111][112]

The 2017–18 squad posing with Vladimir Putin and Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović 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 Subašić saved three penalties, equalling the record for most penalties saved in a match. This was the team's first ever successful penalty shoot-out.[113][114][115] 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.[116][117][118] 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.[119][120] Mario Mandžukić 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).[121][122] 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 Perišić.[123] After the match, Luka Modrić 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.[124]

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.[125][126] 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.[127] Croatia drew 0–0 home with England.[128] The match was played behind closed doors due to UEFA punishment.[129] In the next match against Spain, Croatia won 3–2 home due to a goal in stoppage time.[130] 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.[131]

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.[132] Croatia started their qualifying campaign narrowly winning on 21 March against Azerbaijan and narrowly losing on 24 March to Hungary.[133][134][135] 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.[136] Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Euro 2020 was postponed for a year.[137]

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.[138][139] Croatia lost all games apart from Sweden at home, conceding more goals than any other team in the Nations League (apart from Iceland),[140][141][142] but once again avoided relegation to League B due to achieving better goal difference than last-placed Sweden.[143] Winning only two out of eight games in 2020, Croatia achieved their worst annual result in their history.[144]

Croatia lost their opening World Cup qualifier to Slovenia 1–0 and scraped past Cyprus and Malta 1–0 and 3–0, respectively.[145][146] Dalić 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.[147] Croatia failed to win in any of their pre-tournament friendlies against Armenia and Belgium, drawing 1–1 and losing 1–0, respectively.[148][149] 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).[150] 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.[151] Following poor performances before and during the tournament, Dalić–alongside a number of players–was severely criticized by the Croatian public and called upon to resign.[152][153][154][155]

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


The Croatian chequy.

Croatia's modern-day jersey was designed in 1990 by Miroslav Šutej who also designed the nation's flag, coat of arms and banknotes. The red and white motif is based on the Croatian checkerboard (šahovnica) which has been used to represent Croats since the Middle Ages.[156][157][158] 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.[16] 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
Uhlsport 1990–1991
Lotto 1992–1994
Kappa 1994
Lotto 1994–2000
Nike 2000–present

Supporters


Croatia supporters at UEFA Euro 2012

The team has developed an extensive fan base since its formation in 1991.[159] 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.[160] After the death of former President Franjo Tuđman, local political ties with the national team have loosened. All matches are followed and televised throughout the country, particularly during tournaments.[161]

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

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 "Bježite ljudi, bježite iz grada" (Run Away People, Run Away From the City) which is a song praising the presence of euphoric Croatian fans.[168] The Croatian Football Federation endorses an official fan club for the team, known as Uvijek Vjerni (Always Faithful).[169]

The team receives support from various local musicians, who release tracks dedicated to them. Former manager Slaven Bilić and his rock band released a single, "Vatreno ludilo" (Fiery Madness), which reached the top position on the Croatian music charts during Euro 2008.[170][171] Other Croatian artists such as Baruni, Connect, Dino Dvornik, Gibonni, Prljavo Kazalište, 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 Zaprešić made their band Zaprešić 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).[172] The 12 October 2018 UEFA Nations League game against England was played in Croatia, also without fans.[173] (This penalty is referred to as a "ghost game" which is played by the teams but which has no audience.)[174][175] There have also been reports of clashes involving Croatian fans at various tournaments, leading to further sanctions imposed by FIFA and UEFA.[176][177]

There are fears of particular violence during matches against Serbia, such as the politically fuelled football riot following the 1990 parliamentary election.[178] 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.[179] 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.[180][181]

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.[182] 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 Bandić in 2008 due to construction costs.[182][183][184]

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.[185] Qualifying fixtures have also been played at the Stadion Kantrida in Rijeka along with Stadion Gradski vrt in Osijek and the Stadion Varteks in Varaždin. These venues are less used due to their more remote locations and smaller seating capacity, despite objections from local residents and some players.[186] 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 14 2 7 5 014.3 2020
Stadion Gradski vrt Osijek 12 10 2 0 083.3 2019
Stadion Kantrida Rijeka 11 10 1 0 090.9 2011
Stadion Varteks Varaždin 8 5 2 1 062.5 2019
Stadion Rujevica Rijeka 7 5 2 0 071.4 2021
Stadion A. Drosina Pula 5 4 0 1 080.0 2019
Stadion Koprivnica Koprivnica 1 1 0 0 100.0 2016
Stadion Cibalia Vinkovci 1 1 0 0 100.0 2009
Stadion Kranjčevićeva  Zagreb 1 1 0 0 100.0 1996
Stadion Šubićevac Šibenik 1 0 1 0 000.0 2003
Stadion Radnik Velika Gorica 1 0 1 0 000.0 2021
Totals12985311365.9%
! 

Last updated: Croatia vs. Armenia, 1 June 2021
Statistics include only official matches recognized by HNS[187]

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.[188][189][190] 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.[191][192] During the Euro 2016 qualifying phase, Croatia and Italy played each other twice, drawing both times.[193] 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.[194] As of July 2018, the two countries have played nine times: Croatia has won three times, Italy has won once, and drawn five times.[195]
  • 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".[196][197] 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.[198] 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.[199] 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 Šimunić and Nemanja Matić were sent off. These matches were played without away supporters and with added security to avoid crowd trouble.[200][198][201]

Competitive record


FIFA World Cup

Finals Qualification
Year Result Position Pld W D L GF GA Squad Pos Pld W D L GF GA
1930 Part of  Kingdom of Yugoslavia
1934
1938
1950 Part of  SFR Yugoslavia
1954
1958
1962
1966
1970
1974
1978
1982
1986
1990
1994 Not a FIFA member
1998 Third place 3rd 7 5 0 2 11 5 Squad 2nd 10 5 4 1 20 13
2002 Group stage 23rd 3 1 0 2 2 3 Squad 1st 8 5 3 0 15 2
2006 Group stage 22nd 3 0 2 1 2 3 Squad 2nd 10 7 3 0 21 5
2010 Did not qualify 3rd 10 6 2 2 19 13
2014 Group stage 19th 3 1 0 2 6 6 Squad 2nd 12 6 3 3 14 9
2018 Runners-up 2nd 7 4 2 1 14 9 Squad 2nd 12 7 3 2 19 5
2022 To be determined 1st 3 2 0 1 4 1
2026 To be determined
2030
2034
Total Runners-up 2nd 23 11 4 8 35 26 5/6 65 38 18 9 112 48

Draws include knockout matches decided on penalty kicks; correct as of 30 March 2021 after the match against  Malta.

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
1960 Part of  SFR Yugoslavia
1964
1968
1972
1976
1980
1984
1988
1992
1996 Quarter-final 7th 4 2 0 2 5 5 Squad 1st 10 7 2 1 22 5
2000 Did not qualify 3rd 8 4 3 1 13 9
2004 Group stage 13th 3 0 2 1 4 6 Squad 2nd 10 6 2 2 14 5
2008 Quarter-final 5th 4 3 1 0 5 2 Squad 1st 12 9 2 1 28 8
2012 Group stage 10th 3 1 1 1 4 3 Squad 2nd 12 8 2 2 21 7
2016 Round of 16 9th 4 2 1 1 5 4 Squad 2nd 10 6 3 1 20 5
2020 Round of 16 14th 4 1 1 2 7 8 Squad 1st 8 5 2 1 17 7
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
2018–19 A 4 41124109th
2020–21 A 3 610591612th
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
1996 Hassan II TrophyWinners1st202033
1997 Kirin CupRunners-up2nd201145
1999 Korea CupWinners1st312054
2006 Carlsberg CupThird place3rd210142
2017 China CupFourth place4th202022
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.

FIFA ranking history

The following is a chart of yearly averages of Croatia's FIFA ranking.[202] 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.[203][204]

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

5 September 2020–21 UEFA Nations League Portugal  4–1  Croatia Porto, Portugal
20:45 CEST
(19:45 WEST)
Report
Stadium: Estádio do Dragão
Attendance: 0
Referee: Davide Massa (Italy)
Assistant referees: Filippo Meli (Italy)
Assistant referees: Stefano Alassio (Italy)
Fourth official: Paolo Valeri (Italy)
Note: Played behind closed doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[205]
8 September 2020–21 UEFA Nations League France  4–2  Croatia Saint-Denis, France
20:45 CEST
Report
Stadium: Stade de France
Attendance: 0
Referee: Ovidiu Haţegan (Romania)
Assistant referees: Octavian Șovre (Romania)
Assistant referees: Sebastian Gheorghe (Romania)
Fourth official: Sebastian Colţescu (Romania)
Note: Played behind closed doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[205]
7 October International friendly Switzerland   1–2  Croatia St. Gallen, Switzerland
20:45 CEST Report
Stadium: Kybunpark
Attendance: 4,500
Referee: Tiago Martins (Portugal)
Assistant referees: Luis Campos (Portugal)
Assistant referees: Pedro Almeida (Portugal)
Fourth official: Urs Schnyder (Switzerland)
Note: Played in front of limited number of spectators due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[206]
11 October 2020–21 UEFA Nations League Croatia  2–1  Sweden Zagreb, Croatia
18:00 CEST
Report
Stadium: Stadion Maksimir
Attendance: 2,020
Referee: John Beaton (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Douglas Potter (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Daniel McFarlane (Scotland)
Fourth official: Steven McLean (Scotland)
Note: Played in front of limited number of spectators due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[207]
14 October 2020–21 UEFA Nations League Croatia  1–2  France Zagreb, Croatia
20:45 CEST
Report
Stadium: Stadion Maksimir
Attendance: 7,000
Referee: Björn Kuipers (Netherlands)
Assistant referees: Sander van Roekel (Netherlands)
Assistant referees: Erwin Zeinstra (Netherlands)
Fourth official: Serdar Gözübüyük (Netherlands)
Note: Played in front of limited number of spectators due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[207]
11 November International friendly Turkey  3–3  Croatia Istanbul, Turkey
18:45 CET
(20:45 FET)
Report
Stadium: Vodafone Park
Attendance: 0
Referee: Slavko Vinčić (Slovenia)
Assistant referees: Grega Kordež (Slovenia)
Assistant referees: Andraž Kovačič (Slovenia)
Fourth official: Matej Jug (Slovenia)
Note: Played behind closed doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[208]
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.[208]
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.[209]

2021

24 March 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification Slovenia  1–0  Croatia Ljubljana, Slovenia
20:45 CET
Report (FIFA)
Report (UEFA)
Stadium: Stadion Stožice
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.[210]
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 Josipović (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 Macić (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Assistant referees: Davor Beljo (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Fourth official: Igor Pajač (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[211]
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 Modrić (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 Vlašić (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 Çakır (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.

All-time results

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

Correct as of 28 June 2021, after the match against  Spain.

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[187]
 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 2 2 0 0 3 0 +3 100.00
 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 4 1 3 0 5 3 +2 025.00
 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 8 4 2 2 15 9 +6 050.00
 Slovenia 10 6 3 1 16 9 +7 060.00
 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 319 166 85 68 541 316 +225 052.04
 Croatia total
Total: 75 teams played 339 176 89 74 588 349 +239 051.92

Players


Current squad

The following is the 26-man squad for UEFA Euro 2020 and for the pre-tournament friendly matches against Armenia and Belgium.[212]

No. Pos. Player Date of birth (age) Caps Goals Club
1 1GK Dominik Livaković (1995-01-09) 9 January 1995 (age 26) 25 0 Dinamo Zagreb
12 1GK Lovre Kalinić (1990-04-03) 3 April 1990 (age 31) 19 0 Hajduk Split
23 1GK Simon Sluga (1993-03-17) 17 March 1993 (age 28) 3 0 Luton Town

2 2DF Šime Vrsaljko (1992-01-10) 10 January 1992 (age 29) 51 0 Atlético Madrid
3 2DF Borna Barišić (1992-11-10) 10 November 1992 (age 28) 21 1 Rangers
5 2DF Duje Ćaleta-Car (1996-09-17) 17 September 1996 (age 24) 16 0 Marseille
6 2DF Dejan Lovren (4th captain) (1989-07-05) 5 July 1989 (age 32) 66 4 Zenit Saint Petersburg
16 2DF Mile Škorić (1991-06-19) 19 June 1991 (age 30) 5 0 Osijek
21 2DF Domagoj Vida (vice-captain) (1989-04-29) 29 April 1989 (age 32) 92 4 Beşiktaş
22 2DF Josip Juranović (1995-08-16) 16 August 1995 (age 25) 10 0 Legia Warsaw
24 2DF Domagoj Bradarić (1999-12-10) 10 December 1999 (age 21) 4 0 Lille
25 2DF Joško Gvardiol (2002-01-23) 23 January 2002 (age 19) 5 0 RB Leipzig

8 3MF Mateo Kovačić (1994-05-06) 6 May 1994 (age 27) 71 3 Chelsea
10 3MF Luka Modrić (captain) (1985-09-09) 9 September 1985 (age 35) 142 18 Real Madrid
11 3MF Marcelo Brozović (1992-11-16) 16 November 1992 (age 28) 63 6 Internazionale
13 3MF Nikola Vlašić (1997-10-04) 4 October 1997 (age 23) 26 6 CSKA Moscow
15 3MF Mario Pašalić (1995-02-09) 9 February 1995 (age 26) 27 4 Atalanta
19 3MF Milan Badelj (1989-02-25) 25 February 1989 (age 32) 55 2 Genoa
26 3MF Luka Ivanušec (1998-11-26) 26 November 1998 (age 22) 5 1 Dinamo Zagreb

4 4FW Ivan Perišić (3rd captain) (1989-02-02) 2 February 1989 (age 32) 104 30 Internazionale
7 4FW Josip Brekalo (1998-06-23) 23 June 1998 (age 23) 27 4 VfL Wolfsburg
9 4FW Andrej Kramarić (1991-06-19) 19 June 1991 (age 30) 58 14 1899 Hoffenheim
14 4FW Ante Budimir (1991-07-22) 22 July 1991 (age 30) 8 1 Osasuna
17 4FW Ante Rebić (1993-09-21) 21 September 1993 (age 27) 42 3 Milan
18 4FW Mislav Oršić (1992-12-29) 29 December 1992 (age 28) 10 1 Dinamo Zagreb
20 4FW Bruno Petković (1994-09-16) 16 September 1994 (age 26) 19 6 Dinamo Zagreb

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 Ivušić (1995-02-01) 1 February 1995 (age 26) 0 0 Osijek UEFA Euro 2020 PRE
GK Ivo Grbić (1996-01-18) 18 January 1996 (age 25) 0 0 Atlético Madrid v.  Portugal, 17 November 2020

DF Filip Uremović INJ (1997-02-11) 11 February 1997 (age 24) 6 0 Rubin Kazan UEFA Euro 2020 PRE
DF Marin Pongračić (1997-09-11) 11 September 1997 (age 23) 2 0 VfL Wolfsburg UEFA Euro 2020 PRE
DF Dario Melnjak (1992-10-31) 31 October 1992 (age 28) 8 0 Çaykur Rizespor v.  Malta, 30 March 2021
DF Tin Jedvaj (1995-11-28) 28 November 1995 (age 25) 26 2 Lokomotiv Moscow v.  France, 14 October 2020

MF Toma Bašić (1996-11-25) 25 November 1996 (age 24) 2 0 Bordeaux UEFA Euro 2020 PRE
MF Lovro Majer (1998-01-17) 17 January 1998 (age 23) 1 0 Dinamo Zagreb UEFA Euro 2020 PRE
MF Nikola Moro (1998-03-12) 12 March 1998 (age 23) 0 0 Dynamo Moscow UEFA Euro 2020 PRE
MF Marko Rog INJ (1995-07-19) 19 July 1995 (age 26) 21 0 Cagliari v.  Portugal, 17 November 2020
MF Ivan Rakitić RET (1988-03-10) 10 March 1988 (age 33) 106 15 Sevilla v.  Portugal, 5 September 2020

FW Marko Livaja (1993-08-26) 26 August 1993 (age 27) 4 0 Hajduk Split UEFA Euro 2020 PRE
FW Kristijan Lovrić (1995-12-01) 1 December 1995 (age 25) 1 0 Gorica UEFA Euro 2020 PRE
FW Antonio Čolak (1993-09-17) 17 September 1993 (age 27) 1 0 Malmö v.  Portugal, 17 November 2020

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

Previous squads

Coaching staff


Zlatko Dalić, the current manager of the Croatia national team
Position Name[213]
Head coach Zlatko Dalić
Assistant coaches Ivica Olić
Dražen Ladić
Vedran Ćorluka
Goalkeeping coach Marjan Mrmić
Fitness coach Luka Milanović
Video analyst Marc Rochon
Scouts Nikola Jerkan
Ognjen Vukojević
Physiotherapists Nenad Krošnjar
Nderim Redžaj
Goran Beloglavec
Miroslav Jamnić
Doctors Saša Janković
Eduard Rod
Team manager Iva Olivari
Security officer Miroslav Marković
Media officer Tomislav Pacak
Chef Tomica Đukić
Kit men Mladen Pilčić
Goran Vincek
Dennis Lukančić

Individual statistics


As of 28 June 2021[214]
Players in bold are still active with Croatia.

Most capped players

Luka Modrić, the captain and most capped player.
Rank Player Caps Goals Career
1 Luka Modrić 142 18 2006–
2 Darijo Srna 134 22 2002–2016
3 Stipe Pletikosa 114 0 1999–2014
4 Ivan Rakitić 106 15 2007–2021
5 Josip Šimunić 105 3 2001–2013
6 Ivan Perišić 104 30 2011–
Ivica Olić 20 2002–2015
8 Vedran Ćorluka 103 4 2006–2018
9 Dario Šimić 100 3 1996–2008
10 Domagoj Vida 92 4 2010–

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.[215][216][217] On 6 February 2013, captain Darijo Srna, Josip Šimunić 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 Modrić in 2021. Alen Halilović is the youngest player to represent the team, making his senior debut in June 2013 aged 16 years, 11 months and 22 days.[218] The team's oldest player is Dražen Ladić who played his last match in May 2000 aged 37 years, 4 months and 27 days.[219]

Top goalscorers

Davor Šuker, Croatia's top scorer.
Rank Player Goals Caps Ratio Career
1 Davor Šuker[32] 45 69 0.65 1991–2002
2 Mario Mandžukić 33 89 0.37 2007–2018
3 Ivan Perišić 30 104 0.29 2011–
4 Eduardo da Silva 29 64 0.45 2004–2014
5 Darijo Srna 22 134 0.16 2002–2016
6 Ivica Olić 20 104 0.19 2002–2015
7 Luka Modrić 18 142 0.13 2006–
8 Niko Kranjčar 16 81 0.2 2004–2013
9 Nikola Kalinić 15 42 0.36 2008–2018
Goran Vlaović 51 0.29 1992–2002
Ivan Rakitić 106 0.14 2007–2021

The team's youngest goalscorer is Luka Ivanušec who scored his debut goal on 14 January 2017 aged 18 years, one month and 19 days.[220]

With 45 goals scored, Davor Šuker is the team's highest-scoring player.[32]

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 1999–2014
2 Dražen Ladić 26 59 0.44 1990–2000
3 Danijel Subašić 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 Tonči Gabrić 5 9 0.56 1990–1997
Marjan Mrmić 13 0.38 1995–1999
Dominik Livaković 25 0.2 2017–
9 Lovre Kalinić 4 19 0.21 2014–
10 Ivan Vargić 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
Jozo Jakopić 1939–1941 4 2 1 1 050.00
Rudolf Hitrec 1941 1 0 0 1 000.00
Bogdan Cuvaj 1941–1943 13 6 3 4 046.15
Bernard Hügl 1943–1945 1 1 0 0 100.00
Bogdan Cuvaj 1956 1 1 0 0 100.00
Dražan Jerković 1990–1991 3 3 0 0 100.00
Stanko Poklepović 1992 4 1 1 2 025.00
Vlatko Marković 1993–1994 1 1 0 0 100.00
Miroslav Blažević 1994–2000 72 33 24 15 045.83 1996 European Championship – Quarter-final
1998 World Cup – Third place
2000 European Championship – Failed to qualify
Tomislav Ivić (c)[lower-alpha 1] 1994 1 1 0 0 100.00
Mirko Jozić 2000–2002 18 9 6 3 050.00 2002 World Cup – Group stage
Otto Barić 2002–2004 24 11 8 5 045.83 2004 European Championship – Group stage
Zlatko Kranjčar 2004–2006 25 11 8 6 044.00 2006 World Cup – Group stage
Slaven Bilić 2006–2012 65 42 15 8 064.62 2008 European Championship – Quarter-final
2010 World Cup – Failed to qualify
2012 European Championship – Group stage
Igor Štimac 2012–2013 15 8 2 5 053.33
Niko Kovač 2013–2015 19 10 5 4 052.63 2014 World Cup – Group stage
Ante Čačić 2015–2017 25 15 6 4 060.00 2016 European Championship – Round of 16
Zlatko Dalić 2017– 47 21 10 16 044.68 2018 World Cup – Runners-up
2020 European Championship – Round of 16
Totals339176897451.92%11 out of 13

Last updated: Croatia vs. Spain, 28 June 2021.

Source: Croatian Football Federation

  1. In September 1994, national team manager Miroslav Blažević, who was also coaching Croatia Zagreb at the time, was dismissed in 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.

Titles


Major tournaments

Minor tournaments

Other awards

Charity


In 2010, manager Slaven Bilić established a foundation Vatreno Srce (Fiery Heart), starting a string of charity work by the national team.[221] The primary cause of the foundation is helping children in various forms.[222] As of 2012, the foundation made fifty donations of 1,200,000 HRK to various children's organizations.[223]

On 16 December 2012, the foundation made 500,000 HRK on an auction of Niko Kranjčar'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 Josipović.[223]

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 Život (A Step Into Life), a charity that helps youngsters raised in orphanages to make the transition into the higher education system.[221][224]

On 11 November 2019, more than 500,000 HRK were collected in another call event that were then directed to Children's Hospital Kantrida.[225]

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.[226]

See also


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Footnotes


Books

  • 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.