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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Not much of a break this season as the league already resumes on August 14, if all goes to plan the season will end on May 15. There is already discussion the start of the season will be held without fans. The fixtures came out a few days ago. Obviously this was done before the conclusion of the relegation playoff so we now know that team is Istra



Zoran Mamic is the permanent manager of Dinamo Zagreb and of course they remain heavy favorites to win the title despite the fact they will probably sell off a few players, though the value may not be high this season due to financial difficulties for most clubs and the fact there wasn't a Euro this summer. I would consider Osijek to be the main competitors, if there is one, to Dinamo for the title, though it looks like they will lose their best scorer Maric and not too certain about the quality of their manager. Rijeka will be solid as usual but their best is way behind them. Hajduk are in no-mans land to start the season again, Tudor isn't the man to really improve them imo and it doesn't appear they will make significant signings. Lokomotiva will take a hit this season I feel, even though Tomic is a good manager they already lost four key players and will have Euro fixtures to contend with. They have already brought in some Dinamo youngsters though to bolster the squad. Gorica and Belupo will probably be stable mid-table sides, though Slaven did play decently post-Covid postponement and if they can get some quality signings could compete for a Euro spot. Varazdin were on fire since hiring Toplak but the question is how many of their squad will return (they had a lot of loan players) and often the second season up is just as hard as the first. Istra and Sibenik probably the main candidates for the drop, Istra haven't finished higher than 9th the last three seasons as the Alaves investment into them hasn't paid dividends, the players they bring in are just low quality. Sibenik will have tough time as well, their squad on paper looks incredibly weak and their three signings so far have no HNL experience

Important to note Croatia have already lost their 5th Euro spot after one season, so that will make it even more difficult for anybody outside the 'big 4'

Elsewhere the 2. HNL was expanded to 18 clubs as nobody went down after the season was cancelled due to the Corona virus. This will only be temporary though as the league will be reduced the next two seasons in preparation for the restructuring once the new TV deal kicks in. This season the bottom three go down and by 2022 the league will be reduced to 12 clubs in a hope to increase the quality. Inter Zapresic avoided relegation to the third tier with their financial issues but apparently cannot make any signings yet due to unpaid wages so promotion is not a guarantee for them. The newly promoted sides from the 3.HNL are Opatija and Junak Sinj. Due the license issues the amount of clubs who can go up is limited, my guess is the only clubs which can get a license are the likes of Inter, Orijent Rijeka, Sesvete, Rudes and maybe Dugopolje (though they have been rejected recently). Rudes might get investment from a group of former NT players (Olic/Simunic/Jelavic) but nothing has come of that so far
 

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dinamo67
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Damn it. So it's official Mamic is staying on as head coach? Kind of had a feeling he would. Damn that man lol.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Believe it or not HNL starts today, seems barely anybody is prepared for the season, with the exception of Dinamo and Slaven most teams haven't replaced their losses, team that took the biggest hit was Lokomotiva though they will be getting some Dinamo youth players. The big issue is at Istra, they currently do not have a sporting director, manager and a good portion of their squad (13 players) because their contracts were allowed to expire
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Rijeka came from behind to beat Sibenik who took the lead at Rujevica, Muric with the 90th minute winner. Osijek already drop points, held at home by Slaven though Skoric was sent off in the first half. In the opening game of the season Gorica hammered Varazdin 5:1, though most of the goals came late in the match. Lokomotiva have five positive Covid cases, it seems HNS will still force them to play against Dinamo ( :LOL: ) but their CL qualifier is in question now

Istra officially let go of Prelec just days before the season starts for them. The rumors are they will have a bit of a Hajduk reunion at Istra with Kos being named president and Orescanin the manager
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Tudor officially joins Juventus as part of Pirlo's staff, Hari Vukas is the interim and his first match in charge they go to Gradski Vrt and beat Osijek. Two rounds in and Dinamo, Gorica, Hajduk are still perfect, with Dinamo yet to concede a goal while Gorica won both their matches away from home. Istra and Sibenik still without a point and those two I suspect will be the main contenders for relegation. Osijek in early trouble already, only one point from two matches and their next two games are against Dinamo and Rijeka
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Fausto Budicin is the new Istra manager, he was managing Orijent Rijeka, whom they lost to Istra in the relegation playoff
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Jelavic joins Lokomotiva

Gorica start the season with three wins, yet to play one of the Euro contenders though
 

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dinamo67
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Man this annoys me beyond belief. We let Bijelica go for God knows why and now he's gone to Osijek. Honestly he should be coaching in a better league but fair game by Osijek. Excellent pick up. Fuk Mamic that idiot.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Dinamo beat Hajduk 2:1, fairly easy win despite the scoreline, missed many chances. Bjelica's debut was a successful one, beating 10-man Rijeka 3:0. Gorica remain perfect beating Loko 2:1 thanks to two freekick goals by Lovric. Sibenik got their first point away at Belupo while Istra still without a point

The second division is unbalanced so far due to some teams having positive Corona tests, but the early surprises are Dragovoljac and newly promoted Opatija who both have a 100% record while Inter as expected heavy favorites for promotion but they have dropped points. The "II" clubs not off to a great start, Dinamo/Hajduk/Osijek combined have only two wins

The Croatian Cup started with the preliminary round, the most interesting result was Gaj Mace winning 20:2 over Lika 95. Here is the first round draw, Dinamo going to a 5th division side

Dilj (IV) vs. Rijeka
Ferdinandovac (V) vs. Dinamo Zagreb
Gaj Mace (III) vs. Lokomotiva Zagreb
Granicar Zupanja (III) vs. Hajduk Split
Rudar Mursko Sredisce (III) vs. Slaven Belupo
Crikvenica (III) vs. Osijek
Rudar Labin (III) vs. Inter Zapresic (II)
Polet Sveti Martin na Muri (III) vs. Istra
Croatia Zmijavci (II) vs. Sibenik
Oriolik (III) vs. RNK Split (III)
Kurilovec (III) vs. Vinogradar (V)
*GOSK Dubrovnik (III) vs. Zadar (-), Zadar went bankrupt so not sure this tie will occur, they started a completely new club
Mladost Zdralovi (III) vs. NK Zagreb (IV)
Sesvete (II) vs. Gorica
Novigrad (III) vs. Rudes (II)
Varazdin vs. Cibalia (II)
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Sibenik have been taken over by some Colombian investors (Football Smart International). This same group has some control over America de Cali and they have today announced three signings from that club, but they don't appear to be 'high profile', but that guy Obregon at Varazdin also came from a low level in Colombia and has done decently, but then you have Istra who bring in 3rd tier Spanish players which accomplish nothing for that club so who knows. Sibenik are now the 4th club in HNL with foreign investors/ownership (Osijek, Gorica, Istra, Sibenik), at the moment a mixed bag, Osijek is still too early to tell, I would say they are underachieving on the field but building a new modern stadium, Gorica has done well, Istra have been a disaster

The three players
  • Juan Diego Nieva (21), defensive midfielder, barely played at America de Cali
  • Yeferson Contreras (21), forward, never played for America first team, spent time on loan in Colombian 2nd division and Indy Eleven (USA 2nd division) with little success, though in fairness to him he wasn;t allowed back into the United States since the Covid outbreak so they terminated the loan deal
  • Juan Mesa (22), center back, out of the three he has the most appearances for the first team at America and is a member of the Colombia U23 national team, scored a goal in their most recent friendly
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Sibenik got their first win of the season beating Lokomotiva 3:2; both Dinamo and Gorica surprisingly dropped points at home today, Gorica drew with bottom of thr table Istra while Dinamo drew 3:3 with Slaven (Slaven have taken points from Osijek, Hajduk and Dinamo so far this season but are struggling against the teams at their level). Rijeka-Hajduk has been postponed to a later date due to midweek Euro games
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Will be interesting to see what Dinamo do now with no CL, they will keep Gvardiol on loan for this season but the reports are they could be selling Livakovic, youngster Marin could go, not sure about Petkovic, he seems to be somewhat unprofessional off the field which might turn off potential buyers and I don't think Dinamo will get as much as expected for him (I certainly don't believe 90% of the rumors surrounding him: Barca, Leipzig etc)

Osijek have made two more signings: Slovenian international Damjan Bohar from Lubin (scored double digit goals last two seasons in Poland) and ex-Hajduk midfielder Josip Vukovic who was playing in Portugal. Both their CBs have interest from abroad, Skoric linked with Legia Warsaw while Majstorovic is linked with Anderlecht and Hoffenheim and will probably get a better fee

Rijeka close to signing Jozo Simunovic on a free from Celtic but they seem to be in 'sell anybody with worth' mode this season

Lokomotiva appear to be recreating the NT circa Stimac days (which isn't such a positive :whistle: ), they already have Sammir and Jelavic while their next signing will likely be Josip Pivaric who is a free agent
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Dinamo signed a Danish CB, Rasmus Lauritsen from Norrkoping, a position they needed to strengthen in

Pivaric did sign for Lokomotiva and he made his debut yesterday but they are struggling massively to start the season and they have yet to play the likes of Osijek, Hajduk, Rijeka
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
In a shocking move, Lokomotiva signed former Greek international Kyriakos Papadopoulos on a free transfer


Pretty surprising that he would sign for Loko considering his pedigree but it's important to note due to injuries he has only played four matches since 2018 so very much what you would call low risk, high reward (depending on wages)
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Hajduk completely clean house after a poor start. The new president has let go of advisor Stanic, sporting director Kepcija and manager Vukas. New manager is Boro Primorac, he was a long time assistant under Webber at Arsenal and has spent last few years working in the academy
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Osijek beat Dinamo, another mistake by Livakovic off a corner to give Osijek their second goal. Osijek within three points now, even Gorica is still in the picture with their games in hand if they win those
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Osijek now joint top with Dinamo (Dinamo have a game in hand) and Osijek are yet to lose since hiring Bjelica. Hajduk have won both their matches since sacking Vukas and have moved up to 4th but Rijeka/Gorica also have games in hand on them. Lokomotiva, Varazdin and Istra seem to be the early teams in relegation problems with Toplak reportedly on the heat seat despite his strong start to his tenure at VZ

In the 2nd tier, Osijek II are the leaders and have the best defense in the league, will be interesting to see if any of these youngsters break into the first team, I watched the latest Tribina podcast and thats one knock they have on Bjelica that he doesn't really promote young players. Anyway that league will be tight to see who finishes top with the top 6 separated by five points, not sure how many will get a license though. Dinamo II and Hajduk II both struggling massively, though when the HNS re-structures the leagues when the new TV deal starts they apparently will force all the 2nd teams to drop down to the 3.HNL. Though apparently the current crop of 17-19 year olds in Croatia doesn't seem to be promising minus the obvious names (Gvardiol, Vuskovic)
 
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