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The Future Is Near: Croatia In 5 Years

April 1, 2020

Screenshot 2020-04-01 at 7.03.20 PM



Written by Nikola ‘Vuki’ Vukmanić



A lot of people wonder what our national team will look like after our current generation has retired. I have seen a lot of comments debating when the likes of Modrić, Rakitić, and Perišić should retire from the national team and who will replace them. With that being said, let’s take a look five years into the future – just after Euro 2024 – and try to predict what the team might look like.

GOALKEEPER: Dominik Livaković

There are some good young keepers that might fight for this position in the next few years, but I see Livaković as the starting goalkeeper for at least the next five years barring a major breakthrough from a younger talent. Livaković has been in really good form for Dinamo Zagreb this season, conceding only 22 goals in 32 games, while keeping 19 clean sheets. It can be argued that he plays behind the best defense in the HNL, but watching most games, it’s obvious to see that he is a very good keeper and rightfully Croatia’s #1. He has his bad moments, but so does every good goalkeeper.



RIGHT BACK: Šime Vrsaljko
In five years, Šime Vrsaljko will be 33 years old, the same age Darijo Srna was during his last tournament with the Vatreni – Euro 2016. Will Euro 2024 be Šime’s last tournament or will he stick around for one more World Cup? Maybe he’ll be gone even earlier? I don’t know what his goals are with the national team, but I think it will really depend on two things: his physical health and whether or not there is a capable player lined up to replace him. Vrsaljko has been dealing with injuries to his knee since the World Cup Final and is finally getting back to full fitness. If his injuries continue and we cannot rely on Šime, we will have to either hope a young player like Tin Hrvoj develops or use players like Tin Jedvaj and recent Atalanta signee, Boško Šutalo, who can play well at right back, but are more suited for center back. I’m not worried that the situation will be as bad as our previous left back problems, but this position could end up being our weak spot in the relatively near future.

CENTER BACKS: Filip Benković and Joško Gvardiol
This is where things are much more likely to change. Our current partnership of Dejan Lovren and Domagoj Vida will both be 35 years old and way past their prime. I could see them likely being replaced or retiring after the World Cup in 2022. They have both been great servants to our national team, but we have a few players that have the potential to be better than both of them at their best. Out of those few, I have chosen to go with Filip Benković and Joško Gvardiol as the starters. Not only do I think they will be the two best players available in this position, but I think they will be a great fit together. Benković will be 27 years old and in his prime. He is currently in a weird place where injuries have hampered his development at Leicester City, who chose to send him on loan to Bristol City in the Championship this season. He is a tall player, not clumsy, and is quick and precise with the ball at his feet. He would pair nicely with Gvardiol, who will still only be 22 years old. While he may still be young at that time, Gvardiol is one of the gems of the Dinamo Zagreb youth team, playing a key part in their success in the UEFA Youth League. He plays an aggressive style of defense, but does so intelligently, using his speed to get into great positions to stop attacks. He also has a great passing range similar to Vedran Ćorluka. If neither of these two players fulfill their potential, Duje Ćaleta-Car, Dino Perić, Nikola Katić, and Marin Pongračić are just a few of the options that we will have at this position.

LEFT BACK: Domagoj Bradarić
While I do love Borna Barišić and think he will still be good at 32, I just feel that if Domagoj Bradarić reaches his potential, he will overtake him at this position. Bradarić is not bad defensively, but will definitely improve over time. He has good crossing ability racking up three assists in all competitions for Lille this season. But where his real value comes in is his ability to beat opposing defenders with his explosiveness and fantastic dribbling ability. He was a winger at youth level and converted to left back as he got older. He still plays on the wing occasionally, most notably at the recent U21 Euro, where he came on for an injured Brekalo and showcased the previously mentioned speed and dribbling ability by beautifully nutmegging a Romanian defender before sprinting by him and nearly putting in a cross. However, if he does not develop as planned, we still have the likes of Borna Sosa, David Ćolina, and Roko Jurišić to rely on.



CENTRAL MIDFIELDERS: Mateo Kovačić and Nikola Moro
Mateo Kovačić simply feels like a sure bet to replace Modrić in the more creative midfielder position. Kovačić has finally started to hit the potential that most people felt he had as a young player. He was Chelsea’s player of the season according to many fans before the stoppage of play due to the global pandemic. He will likely never hit the heights Modrić did, but I could see him being our captain and best player around this time. I opted for Nikola Moro in the more defensive midfield position, but could easily see Marcelo Brozović sticking around as he will be 32 years old and still have some of his endless running left in the tank. I also debated putting Ante Palaversa in this position as he is more of a defensive midfielder than Moro is, and perhaps he would start in matches where the defense needs to be stronger, but I feel the creativity, technical ability, and goal threat Moro would bring to the team would be invaluable. As always, we have a ton of young talent in midfield so the previously mentioned names will have tons of competition from players like Ivan Šunjić, Toma Bašić, Mario Pašalić, Darko Nejašmić and Marko Bulat.

The attacking midfield position is Nikola Vlašić’s position to lose. We have been waiting awhile for a player like him. His direct play style has already proved to be very valuable in important games as proved by his goals in Euro 2020 qualifying. Not only does he have a great shot, but also the ability to beat a few players and then play a final pass or cross for a chance on goal. The only way I see Vlašić being taken from this position is if he is needed out on the wing. And if that does happen, we have Luka Ivanušec, Lovro Majer, Tomislav Krizmanić and Luka Sučić to replace him.

WINGERS: Josip Brekalo and Ante Rebić
I personally think Ivan Perišić will retire from the national team after the 2022 World Cup. The obvious replacement for him is Josip Brekalo. His position in the lineup seems quite likely. However, I don’t think Rebić’s spot is as much of a lock. He will be 31 years old five years from now and while he will likely still be in his prime, he will probably be on his way out because of how much his playstyle relies on aggressive pressing and forcing mistakes. Still, if he starts to really develop in these next few years like he was at AC Milan before the break, Rebić will be tough to leave out of the lineup. The main threat to Brekalo and Rebić looks to be Dinamo Zagreb’s wonder kid, Antonio Marin. Marin will be 23 years old by this time and if he continues to work hard and keep a firm head on his shoulders, he will likely be starting at a big club by this point. There really aren’t any more standout talents on the wing that I know of. Jakov-Anton Vasilj looks like he will be a good player one day, but it’s not really clear whether he is a winger or an attacking midfielder. Hajduk’s Ivan Dolček looks like a decent player and Pjaca will only be 29 years old at this point so if he can get his career back on track, he might have a shot. Maybe Alen Halilović will finally put his head down and turn into a good player, who knows?



STRIKER: Bruno Petković

I am still of the belief that Andrej Kramarić is Croatia’s best starting striker currently until it is definitively proven that Bruno Petković is either a better player or simply a better fit. However, I did choose Petković as Kramarić will be 33 years old and likely past his best. Petković will be 30 and still in his prime. I think that if Petković continues to develop after his imminent move to a bigger club, he might just be the man for the job. I do really like Sandro Kulenović and think he could be a great player one day, but at this point, I have not seen enough of him to say that he will for sure be better than Petković in five years. Other options include Mario Ćuže, who is not really an out and out striker, and really young players like Jurica Jurčec and Noel Bilić. There is also German-born Igor Matanović should he choose to play for Croatia.



At the end of the day, none of us can know for sure what is going to happen with players in the future. There could be a player that people write off and turns out to be a star or a young superstar that the world has not even heard of yet. That is the magic of sports. It is so unpredictable and is the reason we watch. What do you think our lineup will look like in five years?



Nikola Vukmanić
Posted By: Nikola Vukmanić 44 comments

  1. Maminjo says:

    Tin Hrvoj and Tin Jedvaj.

    Two young guys with a not so common first name, and very uncommon (yet similar sounding) last names who play the same position.

    This is almost as weird as the THREE different Filip Brekalos we have on our U19 and senior squad.

  2. Maminjo says:

    Intrigued by some of the defensive prospects we have in Bradarić, Gvardiol, Benković and Palaversa.

    These guys all seem to be doing pretty well in their careers already, despite the young age.

    Also, you forgot to include Toma Bašić in your midfield. He’s still only 23.

  3. Nikola Vukmanić (vuki) says:

    Yeah I meant to put Basic as one of the options. He’s in the article, just forgot to put him on the picture. What are your thought on him? I personally think he’s a decent player and has some room to grow, but his ceiling is probably not as high as some of the other guys coming up. I have tried to catch some Bordeaux games on BeIN sports every so often. I’m never quite sure what his actual midfield role is though. Sometimes he’s playing as a more attacking mid and others he’s a defensive mid. He’s definitely versatile, but I think most starters have a definitive best role that they tend to play. I do like the look of him though. He tends to put up stats even when he isn’t getting consistent minutes.

    And yeah I’m super excited about that defense. Even if we only produce one ELITE defender our defense will improve dramatically. I just pray some coach somewhere in Hrvatska is teaching proper set piece marking. We concede so many goals where some of the biggest guys on the opposing teams are left completely unmarked.

  4. Nikola Vukmanić (vuki) says:

    Also, I only know of two Filip Brekalos. They are both 17-year-old defenders. One is Josip Brekalo’s younger brother and the other, well I don’t know. All I know is he is apparently not as highly rated as Josip’s brother.

  5. Miloš Hvar says:

    i am mostly anxious about 2026 world cup.. would be amazing for all the North American dijaspora to have Croatia make a run there. They are making the world cup easier and easier to qualify for with more teams in the field so would think we would really have to shit the bed to not make it. Also looks like in 2026 young guys we rate highly now like Brekalo, Vlasic Benkovic will be in the heart of their prime then and the really young guys we rate now like Marin and Gvardiol will be entering their primes

  6. Nikola Vukmanić (vuki) says:

    Yeah Miloš, I’m super excited for that tournament. I hope I’m in the position where I can afford to go to a lot of the matches as well. Maybe even the final.

  7. Slavonac from Canada says:

    Nikola Vukmanic, thanks for writing this, I really enjoyed the entire article.

    I might be nuts but for some reason, I just haven’t “yet” put my trust in Vlasic! I understand this might be a very unpopular comment but I haven’t seen enough from him for me to say he has the quality to be great…I see him right now as a fill in or a sub…and I can’t see that changing unless we just don’t have someone better. I guess I haven’t had the chance to see enough of him. Yes I do know he can score….but I just haven’t seen enough of him to put my faith in him and the little I have seen doesn’t make me crazy about the guy.

    Petkovic is an interesting player and my only real concern about him is his overall work rate and attitude. He is a very talented player than links up extremely well with our midfield and defense but the guy can be lazy…and at this day in modern soccer, it doesn’t really work that well!

    I have seen Petkovic play several times. His skill is incredible. His vision and passing are unbelievably good, better than most. He is really good at several parts of the game and if he isn’t scoring he truly does a lot to create chances. The only negative thing that can hold him back is himself.

    I have never liked Kramaric as a player although I appreciate his knack for scoring goals. I played this game for many years and guys like him have pissed me off far too many times…he is always about himself! Please note, I do know he is a great goal scorer, I just don’t like his selfish style of play.

  8. I’m surprised you’re the first one that picked up on that Poglavnik, lol. Appreciate the continued support.

    Slavonac, thanks for the kind words as always. I do think the Petkovic vs. Kramaric battle is going to be a tough decision for Dalic and I bet he is happy that he has another year to assess it. Kramaric, for me, is definitely better overall right now. But Petkovic is perhaps the better fit. I agree with you that he is lazy with his pressing, as is Kramaric, but that is what makes Vlasic quite valuable and why Vlasic and Petkovic were working well together.

    In the qualifying games that they played together, Petkovic and Vlasic would basically switch positions when the ball was with the opposing defense, Petkovic would drop back and maybe try to intercept a pass or two if it came near him while Vlasic would be pressuring the defense to make quicker passes and cause mistakes. However, that is only part of the reason I think Vlasic is the attacking mid for years to come. Like I said in the article, he plays very direct and is always looking to either get by a defender or two and have a shot or play a killer defense-splitting through ball. Also, while we have other young attacking mids coming up, I think he will still be the best in the end. Could change though of course.

    Bringing it back to Kramaric, I definitely agree that he is selfish and I’ve played with many players like that who refuse to pass if they think they have a chance at a shot on goal. It is very frustrating, but sometimes that determination is just what a team needs when they need a goal. Like I said, it’s definitely a tough call as right now Kramaric is the better overall player, but Petkovic might just be the better fit.

  9. Maminjo says:


    You’re forgetting who Nikola Vlašić’s father is.

    If there is any talent there, his father will squeeze out every last drop of it and ensure that Nikola develops it to its maximum potential.

    I think he’s less talented than guys like Brekalo, Kovačić and even Benković… But he’ll end up better than all of them.

  10. Btw, I made it so you can click my name and it will take you to a test website I made a while back to show Ante what the different young player docs would look like if they were embedded on the site. So if anyone is ever interested in that, click away.

  11. Slavonac from Canada says:

    Maminjo, I don’t know Vlasic’s dads history very well but I do know his entire family are very athletic.

    Vuki, yes Krama is the better option right now and especially when he is HOT and scoring I was just saying from a personal level I can’t stand playing with those guys…if he doesn’t score while he is playing that way, he can mess up the entire chemistry of the team. Being a ball hog and losing are a terrible combination.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Josko Vlasic is the best ever decathlon athlete to come out of the region.

    He’s a coach now, and trained Blanka.

    He’s much smarter than anyone at Hajduk and repeatedly blocked their constant incompetent efforts to sell Nikola for peanuts, allowing Nikola to develop in Croatia.

    He loves to train his kids, and he’s hardcore about it.

    It’s the reason why Nikola Vlasic is always in top shape and is never injured or even mildly out of form.

    We have plenty of guys like Prosinecki in the past, who were super talented but did stupid things like smoke, drink and not take their diet or training too seriously (and it led to worse careers and injuries).

    Nikola Vlasic will max out on his potential for sure.

  13. Dannyj says:

    Very nice read guys
    Not one politically charged comment
    Totally jinxing it

    So euro next year and then what World Cup one year after
    So much footy it’s gonna be awesome

    Is the plan for World Cup qualifying to start this fall with League of Nations still?

    They haven’t even finished up the euro playoff games

    Gonna be a ton of great things to watch soon nuff

    Stay healthy boys and girls

  14. Dannyj says:

    If these guys all pan out close to what u think vuki can they be a contender for a semi final or more?

  15. I think this team, if all of them developed well, would perhaps be a little more talented overall than our current team. Of course there is no Luka Modric, but it’s impossible to replace someone like him.

    So I could absolutely see this team going on another run if they play with heart, determination, and a bit of luck. That’s the recipe for every good tournament run. Especially for teams that aren’t considered the footballing powers of the world. We’ve seen time and time again how we play well in a tournament only to get very unlucky. Whether it be conceding a very late goal against Turkey in the Euros only to lose on PKs, conceding late against Portugal in the Euros or losing games where the referee has a clear agenda, giving the bigger team all of the crucial calls such as our matches against Brazil in 2014 and even the final in 2018. That’s why luck is a part of it. But definitely has more to do with how well you play.

  16. Maminjo says:

    Most importantly, we just need to regularly qualify.

    Anything can happen once you make the knockout rounds.

    These players are EASILY talented enough to qualify AND make the knockout rounds in every tournament moving forward.

    Also, you don’t need a Modrić to do well. It helps, but the biggest myth about our World Cup run is that it wall all because of Modrić.
    Perišić, Mandžo and Rakitić were equally as valuable, and guys like Rebić and Brozović were incredibly impactful as well.

    So long as you have a foursome of offensively star caliber talent (which it looks like we’ll have in the future) along with solid talent at almost every position, we should be able fine to make a deep run.

  17. Slavonac from Canada says:

    Yes I agree with you Maminjo. I don’t think Modric carried Croatia nor do I even think he was the guy that got us to the finals…he’s just a very key part of the team.

  18. Miloš Hvar says:

    Marko Pjaca extends Juve contract until 2023.. do they still see something in him? what do you guys think of that or am i reading too much into it..

  19. Niko says:

    It’s definitely something, we didn’t get to see much of him post recovery this year, but I’m sure juve had to give him a physical and go thru some training with him! Either they see him potentially in their future or it’s a way to drive up his buyout price , either way it means they see something in him! It would be great to get him back in to the repka at a high level next year!!

  20. Yeah, Maminjo and Slavonac, I didn’t mean that Modric carried us at all. The entire team had a good tournament. Like we’ve said many times, even guys like Strinic and Pivaric put in some good performances. I just meant that none of them were likely to be Ballon d’Or worthy players. And yeah qualifying always seems to be a tough time for us. I do think it will start to get easier as we get more depth and don’t have to use average players due to injuries. This team would definitely have more depth than I think we’ve ever had. We have so many youngsters who have the potential to at least be starters on half-decent teams. Maybe not all on the top top teams but teams at like a Wolfsburg or Sevilla level.

  21. Slavonac from Canada says:

    I think it was yesterday that Maminjo mentioned how Perisic was subbed out in several games at the world cup, except during the England game.

    In all honesty, I have made it very clear on at least 50 occasions that I felt “we go as Perisic goes” but I’ve also expressed my frustrations with Perisic and his mental lapses. Prior to his goal in that game I felt he was nowhere to be found….and then BOOM, he woke up and was incredible after the goal.

    He is and was far more capable of changing a game for us that Modric is…they also have totally different roles and affect the game in different ways…but Perisic can turn on the tap and destroy his opponents like almost nobody else we have.

  22. Maminjo says:

    ..and the good news for us is that Brekalo has Perisic-caliber impact.

    He will be great, and we won’t skip a beat when it comes to having star wing players with guys like Brekalo and Rebic carrying the load after Perisic retires.
    (and having some very interesting prospects there from our junior teams on the wing as well, specifically Marin).

    The issues with our team post-France 98 (and right up to World Cup 2006) was the lack of depth and talent due to the lack of development during the Homeland War.

    2010 World Cup qualifying was marred with key injuries, despite having the talent. We were still thin outside our starting eleven.

    We got bounced due to a lack of luck at Euro2012, played dumb and had a stupid coach at World Cup 2014, and again a lack of luck and referreeing in Euro2016…until we finally made that deep run in 2018.

    The threat of our deep run was always there, since Euro 2008. We could have won Euro2008, but lost on a total fluke.

    We were also VERY dangerous at both Euro 2012 and Euro 2016. Could have easily won both those tournaments, but again, things didn’t bounce our way.

    Look at Portugal at the Euros for example…
    They made the QUARTERFINALS in every Euro tournament dating all the way back to the ’80s (I believe).

    They were incredibly unlucky to lose to Greece at Euro2004 at home. That was awful for them. They also lost Euro2012 in the semis to Spain on a penalty shootout. They could have had three Euro titles in these past four tournaments, but that’s how it goes.

    Portugal was always in every Euro, and made those knockout rounds when they were there. It was only a matter of time that they got a lucky bounce their way (Euro 2016) and they won it.

    We’ve been screwed multiple times, but so long as we keep qualifying and make that knockout phase…we’ll win a Euro or World Cup.

    We’re in that small tier of teams that is capable of winning a tournament. There are only probably 8-10 teams in the world capable of winning a World Cup or Euro. We’re one of them.

  23. Maminjo says:


    Good news for Pjaca.

    I haven’t been following how he was doing. I pretty much kinda just wrote him off already.
    He may become decent…but I don’t think he’ll ever become a star, and we have way too much quality at his position.

    My guess is that Juventus wants to recoup some value for him, since they dropped 23 million Euro on him.

    They probably think that he’s worth at least 8 million euro if he can manage to stay healthy. Maybe more, since he’s still relatively young and can improve.

    If his salary is partially covered by Anderlecht in this loan agreement, then it might be worth the investment.

    He probably makes like 2 million per season, and Juventus covers half of it on loan deals.
    Totally worth the investment if you think you can get several millions more back in a transfer deal one year from now.

  24. Gemist says:

    Just my opinion,
    I agree with the GK, RB, LB

    Changes I’d make:
    CB: Benkovic & Peric –
    Gvardiol will be good but I don’t see the coach choosing a less experienced defender and after watching Peric this season I am convinced he has world-class potential if he recovers through his injury.
    CM: Kovacic and Brozovic
    I like Moro as an option however Brozovic is likely to stay on as a leader and probably captain. I would even look at Sunjic who is more defensive and would provide more balance to the midfield. Moro as a backup to Kovacic or when less balance is needed.
    CAM: Vlasic
    Him as main but keep in mind others are capable of playing here such as Kramaric and Rebic. Vlasic could be a good option for the wing.
    Striker: Petkovic
    Rebic is definitely a great option for this position if he continues to progress, he will be our best spearhead. Petkovic could still play behind him as CAM or second striker.

    It all depends on the tactics of the match though.

  25. Suba says:

    The future is bright and it’s Croatia

    I personally would like to see another Mandzukic type striker being developed should kulenovic be a flop other than that all good at this stage

  26. Maminjo says:


    Re: Dino Peric…

    I’m not as crazy about Peric as you are.

    I like his size, but he’s not a natural with the ball. He can’t start an offensive play either, and usually just safely passes it to the nearest midfielder to start a play. Also, I can totally see him botching a backpass, or being too slow to catch a speedy striker while trying to play the offside trap.

    Solid player, and definitely should be on the national team…but not sure what he brings other than excellent size on deadball plays and decent defending.

    Gvardiol, on the other hand, is supposed to be the opposite.
    Not nearly as tall, but that “modern defender” that we usually sorely lack.
    Great passer, dribbler, runs fast, and can quickly spearhead a counterattack like a ‘libero’ defender.

    Brozovic is this type of player, but in the midfield. If Gvardiol can be a CB version of him, that would be incredible.
    Still way too early to tell, but he’s definitely got a much higher ceiling than any of our defenders.

    Re: Brozovic over Moro…

    Yes, this is correct. I think Brozovic is just way too good to ever be on the bench. He’ll start until he retires.

    In five years from now, Brozo will still be 32 and will still be starting. He’s the best defensive midfielder in Europe.

    Moro is good, but he’s kinda like another Kovacic. He will take a lot of time to develop and will only start for us when he’s in the latter half of his 20s (like Kova).

    His development was stagnated by the fact that he blew his ACL at 20, but he looks like he’s still gonna be a great asset.
    But Brozovic is on another level.

    Re: Vlasic, Petko, Krama, and Rebic…

    Vlasic is best suited as CAM, Rebic on the wing, and Petko/Krama up top….but really, these guys will all be rotating around on offence anyway.

    I can’t count how many times I’ve seen Rebic on opposite sides of the field, and sometimes as the furthest player up top (despite largely playing at RW).

    Those four guys (along with Brekalo) are our future up top in five years.

    However, we will definitely have some youngster or two (like Antonio Marin) who will start to break through, and half of us will be arguing about how we need to give them more time.

    Good problem to have.

  27. Soul Champ says:

    Hey Vuki !!

    Big time thread.

    I must admit seeing our beloved Vatreni without Modrić was jarring.

    My man has been bringing the magic for 14+ years.

    Makes me pray he has some more left in his legs for 2021.

    Curious to see out of the above group who will breakthrough to become a world class player?

    Vlašić and Brekalo are the goods.

    Kovačić has it all but does he want to dominate or play a role?

    Rebić was in beast mode to start 2020.

    Vrsaljko before first knee injury was on his way.

    We need a core of world class players to win world tournaments.

  28. Maminjo says:

    Modrić has only been bringing it for us these past six years.

    People forget just how poorly Modrić and Rakitić coexisted in our midfield for years, and how Modrić had a Kovačić-level allergy to scoring goals (or even putting shots on goal) for many years until he finally got one against Israel in qualifying.

    Modrić was awesome at Euro 2008, but wasn’t anywhere near as good for us in that 2009-2014 period as he’s been now.

    He stepped up huge for us after his mediocre World Cup 2014 performance, and he suddenly clicked with Rakitić at Euro 2016.

    Maybe it was a coaching issue with Štimac and Kovač (probably was) but even at club level, he is better in his 30s than in his 20s.

    The Modrić from 2009-2014 is replaceable. The one from 2015 to present is not. But we can come pretty close to it with the talent in our central midfield, which bodes well with the upgrades we’re seeing in on other areas.

  29. CroatianPerson85 says:

    2012 tourney he was ok no (so 3 games really) Other than that yeah I think your post is pretty accurate.

  30. Poglavnik says:

    Modric was pretty good at WC2014.
    He was a fuckin beast in that Euro 2012 match against Spain. One of the best Ive seen him play.

  31. Ok, I let a couple of replies build up so that I wasn’t posting 15 comments on one post.

    Gemist, I like Peric and do think he’ll still be a good player after this injury. I just don’t personally rate him as highly as you do I suppose. With Brozovic, I definitely do think he will have some left in the tank in 5 years, but will he be overtaken? I’m not sure. Also, he and maybe even Vrsaljko, might decide that after the Euros in 2024 that they have already given a lot and retire. I don’t think they will, but who knows. Rebic COULD be a good striker, but his finishing up top has never been consistent enough for me. I prefer him on the wing. He was on fire before the break for the virus, but we’ll have to see.

    Gemist and Maminjo, to continue with Brozovic. I honest to God originally had him as the starter, but decided to take a ‘risk’ and put Moro in there so we could have more discussion about it. That’s why he’s the first person underneath Moro. I agree that Moro isn’t as good defensively, but neither was Brozovic until late 2017. Remember, he used to play attacking mid and even on the wing for us once Olic wasn’t producing anymore and Pjaca was still developing. Perhaps Moro develops into a beast of a defensive mid as well? Just so you guys can get an idea of where my head was at in that decision.

    Soul Champ, yeah I’m going to miss Modric. He and Mandzukic are my two favorite of all time. I wasn’t upset when Mandzo retired because he was leaving his prime and it was better that we started to learn how to play without him sooner rather than later. But I think learning to play without Modric is going to be slightly tougher perhaps. We tend to just play everything through him. It won’t be the end of the world for sure, but it will be a change.

    I agree with Maminjo that Modric really wasn’t at an irreplaceable level during that period, however, here was the main cause of that. Modric and Rakitic can’t play together as the 2 most defensive midfielders unless we’re playing a team that we are miles better than. They both try to play as playmakers. Euro 2016 was the first tournament that we freed them up with a defensive mid. At that time it was Badelj who got the start. Now we have Brozovic in that position who has a better motor than Badelj. He also provides more offensively than Badelj ever did.

  32. Maminjo says:


    Modric was always good.

    When I say mediocre, I mean by Modric standards.

    He just became superhuman from 2015 onward both offensively and defensively, and (not surprisingly) our team became contenders from then on.

    His aggression offensively is what did it, and led to some crazy bombs against Turkey at Euro 2016 and Argentina at 2018. His aggression against Ukraine in that critical WC qualification match was what got us into the tournament.

    We were arguably the best team at both Euro 2016 and WC 2018. We weren’t considered as such in any of the tournaments before that (other than Euro 2008)

    If Euro 2020 happened, I have no doubt we would perform just as well (even probably win the tournament).

    I just hope our players are healthy and don’t drop in form for Euro 2021.

  33. Soul Champ says:

    Say it so Maminjo ..

    Modrić starts in 2006 and we make it out of the group stage.

    So many scrubs for years coaching/playing around him for way too long.

    No if your talking comparing Modrić to himself then your points are somewhat valid.

    But for 5+ years he was the premier central midfielder in the world and 2012 Spain he singled handedly took it to the best midfield on the planet.

    Now Rakitic has had the same issues with scrubs around him but by far was sub his standard for Croatia for years.

    I am happy he played well on our historic 2018 run because I would have felt bad if he would have not tasted success for his courageous choice to play for Croatia.

  34. Maminjo says:

    Rakitić to Atleti would be great.

    I hope he completely screws Barca out of any transfer fee, and says that he will sign there anyway when his contract ends.

  35. Soul Champ says:

    Farca = pederi

    I hope Rakitic slides into that Athleti mid and links up with Joa Felix and crew and bust Barca ass on the regular.

    Rakitic ran his lungs and legs out for Messi and Farca and they take a crap on him.

    Rakitic still has power and I can see him scoring big time goals in big matches during the final chapter in his world class career.

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