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Incredible Croatian Year Ends With Loss At Wembley

November 17, 2018




Set pieces. Set pieces. Set pieces.



They were Croatia’s Achilles Heel at the World Cup and they were more of the same Sunday night in London. The Vatreni held a 1-0 lead against England in the 78th minute and were a mere 15 minutes away from not only defeating the Three Lions on home soil, but topping their UEFA Nations League group. But it all came crashing down quickly as Croatia would concede twice with sloppy defense to gift England the victory and top spot in the group. Croatia will now be relegated to League B next Nations Cup tournament.



Although the year ended with a disappointing loss against England; what an amazing 2018 it has been!



We can take so much away from this Croatian team this year. The World Cup Finals appearance came straight out of a Hollywood script. The injury time winner by Tin Jedvaj t beat Spain capped an amazing second half push. Andrej Kramarić’s goal against England tonight was one of the best ever finishes in Croatian history as he danced in the box. And on top of all that, the young guns have all officially arrived. Nikola Vlašić, Josip Brekalo and Tin Jedvaj are the future of Croatian football and all three of them let us know this November that they are here to stay.



2018 was one for the books for Croatian soccer and we should all be thankful that we were apart of it. CroatianSports and LA Vatreni took over an English pub in Santa Monica, CA for the England-Croatia match and it was a perfect way to cap an unforgettable 2018.



“It’s the first time I’ve been outnumbered in my own pub.” -English guy





Ante Kvartuč
Posted By: Ante Kvartuč 87 comments

  1. Bogdanović says:

    Well written, Ante.

    Are you sure that head to head goal differential trumps overall goal differential to see who gets relegated to group B?

  2. Z says:

    @Bogdanovic … yes, it’s head to head goal difference first, then higher number of goals scored in matches among tied teams, then higher number of away goals.

  3. KlopicK HRVATSKI says:

    Tin Jedvaj would have paid like $300 to score two or more goals. Some Englishman told me how England has the best number 9 in the World in Harry Kane. He also said that England should have been up 2:0 at HT in the Semi Final. I told him thats all hypotheticals we out played them in the second half their midfield is nonexistent.

  4. vuki says:

    @KlopicK HRVATSKI
    You should have said, yeah maybe so but we should have scored at least 3 in the second half. Perisic hit the post right after scoring and Kramaric shooting instead of just squaring it to whoever it was (I think Perisic) for a wide open goal.

  5. vuki says:

    It’s on ESPN2 in the US. I will be very upset if we lose this. Barkley, Delph, and Dier in midfield should get absolutely run over. Their attack is admittedly dangerous, but their defense is no better than ours. I would argue it’s slightly worse.

  6. Mr. Black says:

    For the people who can’t watch the game.

    Croatia big chance after 1 minutes after mistake goalkeeper. Rebic missed, didn’t do well at all.

    Then England took control and should have scored at least 2 or 3 times. Kane failed, Kalinic saved us twice, Jedvaj helped the goalie when Kalinic was beaten.

    After 25 minutes Vrsaljko was subbed out (an injury). Milic came in as LB, Jedvaj became RB. I thought this would be the end of Croatia this game but Milic did very well as LB until now.

    And somehow Croatia got better. The game became slower and we took more possession. In the end, we even created some little chances.

    Vlasic did very well. Kramaric helps up a lot. Perisic is very unlucky until now. Rebic plays his worst game for Croatia.

    Goalkeeper Kalinin did two pretty saves but went once under the ball.

    Croatia really showed character the first 45 minutes. Especially the first 25 minutes, England created one chance after the other but the Vatreni didn’t give in, they kept fighting.

    Conclusion: we should be happy with the 0-0 after 45 minutes but it will be very difficult to win this game.

  7. Lovro says:

    Rebic is useless when Croatia can’t counter attack effectively. He can run all day but, when Croatia slowly builds attack, he is a fish up a tree – very little technical ability.

  8. gkhhjfjhdj says:

    Fuck you Croatian sportos.com, I’m glad they lost to the english mongoloids, now you can post about Croatian athletes who actually are winning championships and gold medals, like the World Karate Gold from last week but you were too busy sniffing soccer jockstraps in you pajamas.

  9. Josete says:

    Lovren: how does it feel losing imprtabt matches: te final against France, the Champions league against Real Madrid and the final nations league match against England to be relegated…? Please tell us, hahahahahaha

  10. Mile says:

    I’m more upset that they may fall to a #2 seed for Euro qualifying. This Nations League thing is no big deal for me. Euro 2020 is way more important. Now they need help from Holland and Portugal. And I like Rebic for his hustle, but he can’t finish. He could have scored at least five goals in the World Cup, but his only goal was the gift against Argentina.

  11. Mixed grill says:

    We did not deserve to win and when we luckily went up 1 to 0 we should have just shut down to play defensively and waited to counter. Dalic has not in my view ever adapted mid game effectively.

  12. John says:

    Always fun to watch these guys play, but let’s be honest about what the Nations League is, a chance for WC losers to make up for their national fails in the real competition: UEFA WC losers league.

  13. Mile says:

    Relegation in the Nations League? Who cares? Other than the fact that the quality of opponents will be worse, it means very little. Bottom line – qualify for Euro and World Cups.

  14. CiganJeCigan says:

    vlasic didnt do anything offensively, on top of that he is small and can’t win balls and headers. jedvaj got so fuking lucky last game, but he still cannot even pass the ball, or defend.

    Kalinic is legit and for who we have, milic was decent. next game, rebic and brekalo for wingers. perisic is dead to me

  15. Maminjo says:

    We lost that first half, but we started creating chances in the second half and Krama scored a great goal.

    We didn’t convert on several chances that we created on the counter, and it cost us. You gotta put these games away when the opponent is bleeding. Ironically, they scored on a long throw-in, just like in that stupid Denmark game. We gotta practice defending those. Looks like we didn’t.

    We went from competing in the Nations League semifinal to being relegated to League B (and potentially going unseeded for the Euros)…all in a span of 15 minutes.

    Rakitic needs to stop being a bitch and play for us, even if he’s not at 100%. We really needed to control possession this game, and he was desperately needed in the middle.
    Also, Dalic needs to stop pandering to his players’ club teams. Bilic did the same thing and now he’s in Saudi Arabia. It’s good to be a players’ coach, but you gotta prioritize every competitive game as being high priority. Dalic says he only cares about Euro2020…well, this has a direct impact to Euro2020, and will affect the draw. You can’t be stupid like this.

    This English team is good, but they’re not great. We were missing key players and that pretty much decided how the first half went. We should be fine for the Euros, but qualifications can always be tricky, so you need to take things like FIFA rank and Nations League seriously if you want to be a consistent winner.

  16. Soul Champ says:

    What happened to Kovačić?

    How does Vrsaljko go down again within the first 20 minutes?

    Is Dalić aware of the health of his players?

    Brekalo is the real deal .. he should have shot instead of laying to Brozovic.

    We had our chances in the second half to put this game to bed.

    Rebić was stage fright and tired.

    Vlašić was decent but did not shine.

    Rakitic was missed.

    Big games need big names.

    League B will be a good level for the next generation.

    Still better than away to Estonia.

  17. Mr. Black says:

    I’m not too disappointed. Nations League is hardly more important than friendlies.

    Vlasic will be our future but at this point, Rakitic is still better. We really missed Rakitic today. With him we would have dominated this game.

    Speed will always be a problem for us. We don’t have players as fast as Rashford or Sterling.

    Dalic knows his business. He subbed in Brekalo who was way more defensive than Rebic. Brekalo played close to Jedvaj and so they managed to get English best player in the first half, Rashford, out of the game.

    Only the set pieces cost us the game, once again. We really need to step up at the set pieces. Maybe it’s concentration, I don’t know.

  18. The truth says:

    Well looks like I was right again about Croatia laying an egg in big games. Looks like we will be relegated which I predicted even before the first debacle with Spain. When are you guys gonna see and understand that I am always right? Hopefully we qualify for the euros as I will give my professional prediction in the near future.

  19. Horvat says:

    No need to worry.

    If everyone stays healthy, this team will be significantly stronger at the Euros than we were in Russia!

    I think we played well today but the English came out on fire. I have never seen them play like this before.

  20. Razbijač says:

    I agree we should have put the game away, when we were up 1-0. We didn’t take our chances.

    Subbing in Brekalo was the right move, as he was instrumental in the buildup to the goal.

    And Rebic’s touch was poor at times and his shots way off target. Not his best day for repka, and if he continues to play like this, Brekalo will surely take his RW spot.

    And WTF is up with Vrsajko??? In both games we lost, he was subbed out early. The early subs put Dalic at a disadvantage as he has one less sub to utilize in the second half.

    I’m surprised that Dalic didn’t bring in someone like Bradaric in the 70th minute, to shore up the midfield, make it tight, to hold on to the lead. He’s been playing well for Calgiari.

    And Rog is a great talent, but he’s needs more playing time to develop. He might have to go to another club to get it, Vlasic did it and it worked wonders for his career.

  21. Medo says:

    I posted yesterday stating Jedvaj might go from zero to hero in 3 short days…there is a reason bayer does not play him consistently.

  22. Maminjo says:

    Well at least we know that we should be pretty much starting Brekalo. If there’s anything we learned from this Nations League is to never call up Santini, Livaja and Čop… and that we can rely on Brekalo and Vlašić to step up.

    Most people could have told you this without having to burn four competitive matches to figure it out, but whatever.

    Now, we can begin our Euro qualifying as an unseeded team with teams like France and Serbia in our group, lol.

  23. KING BRONK says:

    Rin Tin Tin was on the take in this one.
    Loveren litterally opens his legs to let the ball throuh to Lingard.
    Tin magically misses heading the ball out of trouble on the first one and incredibly misses the cross clearance on the second goal. I guess he just had a bad game.
    TV ratings were great-everyone watched until the end.
    Fix was in guys sorry.
    Croatia mailed it in.

  24. Mile says:

    For Euro 2020, we are a #1 seed for the December 2 draw if either Germany or Poland don’t win their games in the next two days. We are a #2 seed if both Germany beat Netherlands and Poland beat Portugal. Both are very possible, as Germany is at home and Poland plays Portugal, who has already clinched winning their group.

  25. Poglavnik says:

    That donkey Lovren should’ve shut his mouth after Thursday and saved his voice for set pieces.
    Oh well, still proud of the boys.
    Great goal for Krama!

  26. Pero Pizdolizac says:

    It didn’t look good during the first two games, but it was refreshing to see that our squad still has a lot of potential to make some noise at Euro 2020. Brekalo’s aggressive nature does so much more for us than Kovacic’s lateral and backward passing ever has, and hopefully Jedvaj and Vlasic can iron out a few wrinkles.

    Right now our problem is depth, because as we saw today, when a starter goes down with injury, competent replacements aren’t there. Rog looked gassed and out of place from the moment he got on the field. Lovren neka manje mlati.

  27. Andrej L says:

    Kovacic is injured.

    Decent outing for the young Milic.

    Good to see the young guys Vlasic and Brekalo getting meaningful minutes. Hopefully they’re ready for their U21 tournament next summer.

    Nations League served it’s purpose, more meaningful friendlies. Onto Euro qualifiers.

  28. Maminjo says:

    We have depth. The issue is that we haven’t been using it.

    Vlašić and Brekalo should have been called up for the first two games, but we were saving them for the U21 team. Brekalo is the reason we won the Spain game (not Jedvaj) and he is one of the reasons why we went up in today’s game as well. Vlašić’s positioning is excellent and led to that first chance that Rebić squandered. He also would have scored against Spain (if Krama would pass him the ball on that beautiful run).

    We still have lots of U21 guys that are way more talented than the B level talent we’ve been calling up in these past few games as replacement for our starters. Throwing a guy like Livaja up top is enough to ruin your entire offense, or Rog at RB ruining your defense. Just one or two bad callups is enough to screw everything up. I also don’t buy that Rakitić or Kovačić are injured. We’ll see them play their next Barca and Chelsea matches just fine. Guys need to prioritize National Team over club.

    Hopefully we learned our lesson, but it may have come at a very, very high cost. Going unseeded for Euro 2020 (after finishing second at the World Cup) is a DAMN shame. Also, since we are relegated to League B, it may affect our seeding for World Cup 2022 as well (as our FIFA rank will suffer).

    Four games and we could have maintained our seeding for two tournaments.

  29. NK Susak says:

    Kovacic is a waste of a callup. Brekalo and Vlasic showed more in limited minutes over 2 games than Mateo has shown his whole international career. At this point, Id take Halilovic over him.

  30. Lika Joey says:

    Nk Susak I’m afraid you may be correct in your thoughts on Kovacic. Halilovic? Does not deserve a call up!

  31. Iggy Iggy says:

    No real shame in a 2-1 loss away to eng to not too disappointed there tbh. Nice goal from Krama, good to see hims tarting to perform for us finally!

  32. Anonymous says:

    @ ante kvartuc, you’re a bunch coward faggots suppressing the free speech of their own people. traitor piece of shit.

  33. Anonymous says:

    You’re just such a fucking little pussie. whatever you can’t refute, you just “delete” it and pretend it went away, right asshole? What right do you have to live in a white country when not only do you not fight for it, but you actively suppress your own people who do? I’m telling you , you’re going to pay you little pussy traitor. Jesus Christ, you suppress the free speech of your own people b/c they speak on behalf of our people!

  34. Anonymous says:

    It’s just a matter of time until Perišić knocks out Kramarić.

    Perišić was very upset with Kramarić last game, and didn’t celebrate Kramarić’s goal after he scored today.

  35. Anonymous says:

    Once again I was right. I predicted a “chance” of rain today, and it didn’t rain. I’m always right.

  36. Anonymous says:

    Our effort was great today but unfortunately that doesn’t always get it done.

    But, when you take into account we had Milic, Jedvaj, Vlasic and Brekalo on the field at the same time and still took it right up to England and were topping our group at one point after losing our first match 6 nil, it was pretty impressive, unfortunately someone has to go down to League B, and that’s us, and it sucks.

  37. Anonymous says:

    I think only 2 teams from League A should be relegated, 4 being relegated is wrong and stupid.

    Let’s look at this way, Croatia 4 pts in a group with Spain and England gets relegated to League B.
    Bosnia top a group with Austria and Nth. Ireland go up to League A, this is so stupid and will bring this new competition into disrepute very quickly if they don’t fix this.

  38. Anonymous says:

    Or the top 4 teams from League B play the bottom 4 teams from League A to sort the groups out for the next tournament, even better!

  39. Anonymous says:

    The biggest thing that is strange about this Nations League is that one team from each of the groups will get a chance to qualify directly for the Euros.

    What is to stop an A league caliber team from purposely dropping to the C or D league, and simply qualify via that route?

  40. Bobby V says:

    The Nations League is fundamentally flawed for many reasons.

    You are basically rewarded for finishing last in your group (Croatia) by being sent down one level in order to increase your chance of qualifying next time.

    UEFA realized this and are now offering 5 Million Euro to each confederation whose sides finish first (not much incentive) and decided to use this tournament to seed for the regular qualifying draw in December – again not much incentive for anyone in group A, especially if half of Europe will be qualifying for 2020.

    In group A, you are asking the top 12 teams in Europe to battle it out for one spot.

    The worse thing that can happen is that you win your group, like England, and then lose in the final in June. That country would have played 6 games, including 2 in June where you already have a crammed qualifying schedule, for absolutely nothing.

    And here is the biggest concern that will ultimately cancel this competition. What if, let’s say, England win Champions League group A in June. What is their incentive to continue to send their best players to finish regular qualifying, possibly harming teams that might have played them twice already and helping other sides that have yet to play them?

    This will cause a huge stink.

    Croatia will be better off focusing on our qualifying group and not wasting time and energy on a horribly conceived idea.

  41. Horvat says:

    Kramaric would have been our new Suker by now if they stopped forcing Mandukic for the last four years or so!

    I’m so happy he retired. Not because he is bad, but because I think Kramaric is so much better.

  42. Bobby V says:

    Another issue with the Nations League – what if the 4 teams relegated to group B all make it to the semi-finals at Euro 2020, and then do extremely well at the World Cup, becoming known as among the best sides in Europe.

    You’re going to have them playing in group B? You’re not going to have any of them have a chance to be seeded for the next Euro?

  43. Bobby V says:

    Now I found this, which eliminates the large gap in time for seeding, but, what does the June 2021 Champions get?

    Each season of the UEFA Nations League will be played from September to November of an even-numbered year (pool stage), and June of the following odd-numbered year (Nations League Finals of League A), meaning a UEFA Nations League champion will be crowned every two years.

  44. tomo says:

    Nations league is crap.
    Teams have to invest a lot of energy and injury risk for little gain.
    If it continues it will be played with nations C teams.
    I feel for the players having just finished a world cup campaign and then a couple months later keep playing at high intensity just b4 euro qualifiers are to start. NOT GOOD!. Something has to give eventually.
    Teams are starting to realize this. This tourny is doomed!

  45. Bobby V says:

    @ tomo – Agreed, as a fan, not much time to celebrate being in the final. Erases the memory too quickly.

    Jesus, when is the last time we played a competitive match against a minnow?

  46. Anonymous says:

    Germany needs to lose or draw at home against the Netherlands
    Poland has to win in Portugal against an unmotivated Portugal who already clinched first in their group

    Hopefully, the Netherlands pull it off as a win or draw for them would have them top their group above France… But I can see a lot of calls favoring Germany.

    I really don’t think UEFA want an unseeded Germany for the Euro qualifiers.

  47. Bobby V says:

    Croatia’s U-21 side tied France 2-2 last Thursday in a friendly. Alen Halilovic scored the first goal.

    The U-20 side beat Belarus 2-0 in a friendly on Friday.

    The U-19 side beat Luxembourg 2-1 in Euro qualifying and are currently second in their group behind Czech Republic.

  48. Elcroato says:

    LoN is good because it gives you quality opponents. We know we are at the top given our play, and so does the world. Of course in league B the teams will be less prestigious.

  49. Medo says:

    There are obvious issues with our defending of set pieces.
    Teams with far shorter defenders who are less proficient in the air than lovren or Vida defend far better.
    Kalinic seems to be aggressive at the right moments, and his height obviously helps as well.
    It could be mental at this point as they panic and look scattered at the end of games when a set piece is swung into the box.
    Even us as fans cringe when there is a corner or free kick,and now long throw ins.
    Opposing coaches will make it a focus to continue attacking our major weakness.
    Until this is remedied we shall continue to come up “just short” in many future fixtures.

  50. Vladimir cerin says:

    Sime may be one of our most important players. We dominated Spain until he came off injured and then got trounced. We horrified England until he came off the field. The opposing left back can never venture up field with Vrsaljko in the game as he provides superb crosses. He is also exceptionally fit and. Occasionally he gets beat but is quick enough to recover. I hope his injury is not significant.

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