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Will The Real Mateo Kovačić Please Stand Up?

November 4, 2019




Mateo Kovačić has been playing some great ball lately.



The Croatian midfielder was praised by Chelsea manager Frank Lampard at the weekend in their 2-1 victory over Watford. For the first time in a very, very long time, Kovačić is finally clicking with his fellow starting XI which includes Christian Pulisic, Tammy Abraham, Willian and Jorginho. Chelsea have had an impressive start to the season and comfortably sit in fourth place – only two points behind second place Manchester City.



Tuesday night at Stamford Bridge, Kovačić and friends will take on Dutch champions Ajax on Day 4 of the Champions League. After a 1-0 win in Amsterdam two weeks ago, Chelsea can take full control over their Champions League group with another win over Ajax. Chelsea are in fantastic form with their “relatively” new signings on the same page after the departure of Eden Hazard to Real Madrid in the summer.



But the question is: Can Kovačić keep this up the entire season?



He has always been slated as the heir to the Croatian midfield when Luka Modrić finally parts ways with the Croatian checkers. If Kovačić can help Chelsea make a run at a top-2 finish in England and a deep run into the CL knockout rounds this season, we may finally be witnessing the Kovačić we have all held our breaths for.



He showed glimpses of greatness while at Inter Milan and then rode the bench at Real Madrid, watching his greatest teacher – Luka Modrić – win Champions League trophy after Champions League trophy for Los Blancos. Now it is Kovačić’s time to shine and another solid performance against Ajax on Tuesday will keep the momentum flowing.



Expect a 2-1 win from Chelsea, but can Kova get his first CL goal with the Blues in the process?



Ante Kvartuč
Posted By: Ante Kvartuč 19 comments

  1. Soul Champ says:

    Last match saw some of his trademark slalom runs.

    His defense and ball hawking has improved tremendously.

    He always could take the initial space with his speed dribble.

    If he reactivates his game in the final third? with aggressive shooting then we may have our #8, which seems to be his natural position.

    I guess the #8 has a different role with varied tactics from different philosophies.

    But a box to box midfielder that can link the attack with a pass or an explosive dribble is a unique talent.

    Hopefully Lampard can train him to shoot and score, which was his forte.

    Credit to Kovačić as he has been healthy and has taken advantage of all the other midfielders being injured at times this season.

    He needs minutes in some form against Slovakia for it will be a 90+ affair that are depth provides the extra advantage.

    At 25 he still as an opportunity to take his game to another level.

    Chelsea are fun to watch and Lampard is good coach.

    18-24 years old seems to be the nogometaš struggle.

    We simply have too many young players in clubs where they cannot develop their natural game and cultivate that next level confidence.

    I understand the need to get paid and get out of HNL.

    But need to find places like Austria, Belgium, Portugal, Holland etc.. where when a club buys your contract they need to play and develop you.

    Bundesliga clubs not named Bayern Munich are great.

    Hazard leaving, plus transfer ban along with injuries to teammates at Chelsea are probably
    the main reasons for the real opportunity for Kovačić to shine.

    But he was finally READY for the opportunity!

    Dalic has to respect his form.

    Kovačić needs to be given minutes to contribute against Slovakia.

  2. vuki says:

    Kovacic definitely will get minutes against Slovakia. There are only like 14-16 players who will realistically get any time. Livakovic, Barisic, Caleta-Car, Mitrovic OR Peric, Jedvaj, Modric, Rakitic, Kovacic, Brozovic, Vlasic, Perisic, Kramaric, Rebic, Brekalo, Petkovic, and maybe Orsic are those players.

    Even though Orsic is in great form, his inexperience at the national team level is going to be his downfall. He hasn’t earned Dalic’s trust yet. Badelj will only play if we’re really hanging onto a lead and Pasalic will only play if we have a big lead.

    Rakitic will probably start unless he doesn’t get playing time this weekend. If not, I personally expect Vlasic to start over Kovacic. I suppose there’s a chance Bartolec starts, but I still think it’s unlikely. Kovacic will probably come off the bench. The main thing we all have to remember when the team is announced is that club form doesn’t matter so much with the national team. It’s just who fits the best together. That’s why even if the likes of Rakitic and Rebic aren’t playing at club level, they still have an impact with the national team and will likely get playing time. Imagine Rakitic scores to put us through to the Euros. This game is his only real chance to showcase himself to clubs for a January move. There will be people who want him regardless, but if he performs, he will have more options.

    Back to Kovacic. I watch a decent amount of Chelsea games and he definitely looks way better than last season. I think he was just kind of feeling out the Premier League last season and is lucky Chelsea got that transfer ban or else the fans would have absolutely hated that transfer. If he continues to perform, that starting role is his and as good as Kante is, they could sell him for big money before he gets too old and isn’t worth anything.

  3. Stipe says:

    I don’t know why this popped up in my head. Dario Srna played midfield for repka before he went to RB right?

  4. Dannyj says:

    Stipe that’s why some people myself included think a guy like Perisic could embrace wing back position

    Interesting on say Oršić vs Kovacic development
    I think both are similar age
    Both had very diff routes on their career and surely Kovacic has the bigger pedigree but like has been mentioned earlier and many times before our guys seem to need to hit the mid 20s before coming into their own for the most part

    Whose to say if it’s a genetic maturity or just the development but does seem to be a thing

    The article i read I believe Lampard said something like Kovacic runs are nightmarish I guess his explosive speed is really something else and that’s in a fast league like England

    But even at Madrid he showed well enough when he played. He just maybe wasn’t Ronaldo’s fave and wasn’t above luka and kroos of course but not too many are

    Let’s hope his experience he got at all these big clubs and paying his dues of not starting has developed his character and now he becomes a bit more rounded off in his skills and we get something from essentially nothing
    Cause really he hasn’t done so much in recent years for us
    Sort of the odd man out

    But If I do remember at inter he scored a couple of decent highlight reel type goals It’s in there
    Let’s hope it comes out for us

  5. Mr. Black says:

    Kovacic is probably Chelsea’s best player right now. I’m pretty sure Dalic will go for the midfield Kovacic-Brozovic-Modric. While Kovacic and Brozovic do the work, Luka can bring the magic.

    Kovacic impressed me in the game against Wales. The goal was obviously a fault on him.

    Pongracic (Salzburg) and Bradaric (Lille) are in the starting 11 for their team in the Champions League today.

  6. Rafael says:

    Kovacic will be world class. Like all croats he will mature into his best form in his late 20s.

    Once Modric and Rakitic retire we will be very happy Kova is leading the midfield.

  7. CroatiaU14 says:

    @DannyJ yeah I’ve been liking Pongračić. He plays a lot at Salzburg, which is not a bad team as shown in the champions league.

    Speaking of Salzburg, our wonder kid Luka Sučić scores again today for their U19s in the youth champions league. The kids a stud.

  8. Stipe says:

    @DannyJ no way putting Perisic can play wing back for Repka. Yes we have good players, but we don’t have the system for him to play that. He is to use to going forward, leave him up front

    All these new players coming up. I hope they do well.

    Pjaca and Rog played phenomenal against Spain in 2016. Pjaca is hurt and idk about Rog.

    I think Broz is underrated for the repka. He is good holding midfielder

    I just hope we don’t get in a player Drought after Luka and Raketa leave.

  9. Stipe says:

    I feel bad for Kovacic. How can you play freely with Luka on the same team. His first instinct must be “ let Luka handle it “ idk

  10. Maminjo says:

    I don’t see Kovač locking down a starting spot in our midfield ahead of Modrić, Rakitić, Brozović or even Vlašić.

    I just don’t think Dalić values him as high as he does those four other dudes. They have all shown way more for the National Team than Kovačić has, and Dalić has given him plenty of minutes to prove otherwise (which Kovačić hasn’t done a good job of proving to us that he should start).

    I think it’s pretty much too late (yet again) for Kovačić to nail down a starting spot in this next tournament. This will be the fourth tournament in a row where he will be on the bench.

    I think Kovačić will establish himself during the next qualification cycle for World Cup 2022, with Nenad Bjelica as his coach.

    If there is a coach who can get the most out of Kovačić, it will be Bjelica.

  11. Maminjo says:

    Don’t worry.

    With the continued development of Kramaric and Petkovic up top…

    along with superstar Brekalo on the wing, paired with Rebic or Orsic on the other side…

    and with the continued improvement in our central midfield of Brozovic, Kovacic, Vlasic (and Modric as that age-defying veteran still capable of coming off the bench as a supersub)…

    and finally a refreshed and much-needed new back four lineup of a healthy Vrsaljko, with the best three from Benkovic, Caleta-Car, Jedvaj, Sosa, Barisic, Katic, Peric, Bradaric, etc.

    …and a better coach in Nenad Bjelica (no offense to Dalic)…

    The World Cup in Qatar will be ours.

  12. Iggy says:

    So Euro champs 2020 and World Cup champs 2022, got it! Barely need to even play the games now we’ve already decided we’re gonna win ‘em both hehe

  13. Dannyj says:

    Is Krama Hurt again or no? Anyone hear anything?

    I know Rog is not as hoped but I heard from an Italian I know says he looks solid from what he has seen

  14. Maminjo says:

    I’m sure Rog is a fine player, like Pasalic, and Badelj…

    But we’re a top team in the World now.

    Fine players no longer cut it.

    These guys maybe make our team as players in the 18-23 range, where they only ever play after we’ve secured a large lead or need to rest players in games that don’t really matter.

  15. Poglavnik says:

    Maybe Lampard will be the coach Kovacic always needed. I didn’t think much of Fat Frank at West Ham but he got his shit together.

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