If anything the European race is getting interesting, especially now that Osijek is in something of a free fall since winter break. Though Dinamo is breezing this league despite changing their lineup every game due to the Euro fixtures
Lokomotiva have earned 4 straight draws which is dragging them down to possible outside the European places but Osijek are now winless in 3 and not far ahead of the chasing pack either. They have been playing poorly since the winter break when they sold some key players and didn't replace them, apparently they only have 3 first team center backs and in their recent loss to Dinamo were playing a midfielder as a CB. Also the fans are turning on the coach, the club president openly criticized the players through a message on the team's website and of course the Bockaj fiasco where he drove drunk and crashed his car into a gas station store.
Gorica sold one of their better players to Dinamo but they are still performing well, interestingly they are the best away team in the league, even more points on their travels then Dinamo. In fact if their home form was better (only 3 wins at home), they'd probably easily be in 2nd place Hajduk are recovering from their awful first half of the season and my bet is they will finish in the top 4
Looking more long term, not sure whats going on at Rijeka, while they are playing more young Croatian players its down to not having as much money as they used to since Volpi left. With the HNL getting two CL spots starting in 2020 its a chance for Osijek and Hajduk to take advantage of this
If Hajduk make a shrewd signing or two in the offseason and get some good play from their youngsters next season - along with Dinamo and Rijeka having off years - and Hajduk makes a surprise run at the league title I’m sure we would hear a bunch of comments like ‘The HNL is back!!!’ and ‘OMG this is what domestic football needed!!’
If anything the European race is exciting, with only Rijeka being safe and coming off a 7:0 win over Istra. Osijek and Hajduk are joint 3rd (Osijek better H2H) while Gorica with a shot, Lokomotiva probably without many chances. While Gorica are getting praise that they deserve they have dropped a lot of bad points at home as well, if their home form was halfway decent they would probably easily be in 3rd place and one of Hajduk/Osijek would miss out. On paper Hajduk have an easy finish to the season with the exception of going to Maksimir at the end of the season so they should make top 4, Osijek in the next three matchdays play Loko, Rijeka and Gorica so they aren't completely safe
At the bottom Rudes is pretty much down as expected, though under Ivkovic they have been getting some results, almost tripled their points tally from pre-Christmas Istra has been a disaster despite the Alaves funding, they did beat Osijek a few weeks ago but hammered at home to Rijeka and Dinamo and lost to Rudes as well. Whats worse imo they are doing this with a squad full of foreigners. Despite their struggles they should beat the runner-up of the 2.HNL
Speaking of 2.HNL some drama there too, more off the field. Varazdin and Sibenik are fighting for top spot, Sibenik is choking the lead away but Varazdin came out with allegations that the HNS/Dinamo want Sibenik in the HNL instead of them and that they aren't getting fair treatment of the referees (laughable). Their one legit argument is the second teams in the league, notably Dinamo II who in some rounds play mostly young players but on occasions they have used first teamers to play 2.HNL matches, including in a game against Varazdin. Either way the pendulum has swung and Varazdin favorites to promote, especially as they host Sibenik in the final round. Dugopolje have an outside shot of the playoffs but doubt they can get a first division license
Race for the final two EL spots down to three now as Loko's loss to Osijek effectively eliminates them.
Osijek 56 (Rijeka H, Gorica A, Inter H)
Hajduk 56 (Rudes A, Istra H, Dinamo A)
Gorica 53 (Dinamo A, Osijek H, Loko A)
On paper Hajduk have the easier fixtures facing the bottom two in the next two rounds while Gorica-Osijek play next weekend so one if not both will drop points.
Rudes somehow still alive at the bottom after they beat Inter but they must win their three remaining fixtures and hope Istra don't pick up anymore points, unlikely. Istra have been pathetic all season, under Cvitanovic conceding goals like crazy but I doubt the 2.HNL team will beat them in a playoff
In the 2.HNL the championship will come down to the final day (May 18), Varazdin host Sibenik. Varazdin have a two point advantage. Dugopolje have an outside shot at the playoff spot but must win their final two games + hope Sibenik lose
After a round where 4 out of the 5 matches drew less than 1,000 people, including a Dinamo home game, there is going to be a big game in a packed stadium with both sets of supporters represented....in the second division of course. Varazdin-Sibenik today, winner is promoted with VZ only needing a draw
Varazdin promoted to the HNL, good to see, they at least have fan support unlike half the HNL. Sibenik or Dugopolje in the playoffs, though Dugopolje might not get a license. In an ideal world the likes of Rudes, Inter and Loko go down in favor of a trio from Varazdin, Sibenik, Zadar, Cibalia
Hajduk finished 2nd in 2012 last when Krsticevic was manager
Hajduk have secured a EL qualifying spot, they will know if they finish 3rd/4th next week, they go to Maksimir on the final day and a result of any kind will see them 3rd. If they lose and Osijek win then they will finish 4th which means an earlier start to the season
Gorica beat Osijek which keeps both those teams alive for the final EL spot. Osijek host Inter and they only need a point to secure the EL and already Inter's manager says they will play mostly juniors. Gorica go to Loko and need Osijek to lose while they win.
The final decision on licenses today was announced by the HNS and there are no issues in the HNL, everybody got one even Lokomotiva who initially didn’t get a first or second division license :yawn:
The big news is in the 2.HNL where Zadar didn’t receive a license and will be automatically relegated to the third division. They will expand to 16 clubs next season, four of the following teams could go up from the third tier: Cibalia, Dubrava Zagreb, Orijent Rijeka, Trnje and Croatia Zmijavci.
The fixtures came out today and the season starts July 20 and will end May 17 on next year. Most teams will begin preparations by next week with Hajduk already starting theirs because of their early start in Europe. Dinamo are the reigning champions and again are heavy favorites while Rijeka...
So Dinamo had their first preseason game vs Olimpija where we won 2-1. Situm and Cuze were the goalscorers. We're missing a few players as the U21 tournament is on. We are playing the winner of the Sheriff vs Saburtalo Tbsili in the CL 2nd round.
We have not been active in the offseason as far...
The season is over and many players are to change clubs for the new season, lets collect all transfers and romours in this thread...
Niko Kovac joins Hertha
Preparations for the new season begun today with the first training session at Poljud. 24 players participated with 4 more players arriving in a few days along with some youth players
- Goran Blazevic, Tomislav Duka, Marin Ljubic, Davor Matijas; Borja Lopez, Bozo Mikulic, Oleksandr Svatok...