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CroatianSports.com’s All-Time Croatia Starting XI

April 22, 2020

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The All-Croatia Starting XI

 

 

The Croatian national team has been around for nearly 30 years. But who are the best of the best? And who deserves to be mentioned in the All-Time Starting XI?

 

 

The CroatianSports.com team – consisting of Ante Zorić, Matt Lebo, Peter Novaković, and myself – went back and forth dozens of times to name the ALL-CROATIA team from the past three decades. We used a 3-5-2 formation and were forced to leave many Croatian legends off the list.

 

 

GOALKEEPER:

 

 

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Danijel Subšić

 

 

The Croatian national side has never had a world-class goalkeeper. Ladić got the job done in the 90s and Pletikosa carried the mantle for 114 games after the turn of the century. Although none of these keepers were better than the other two on their best days – Subašić did the impossible. Although Suba was only capped by Croatia 44 times before retiring in 2018, he stood on his head for the Vatreni during the World Cup in Russia. Subašić tallied two clean sheet victories against Nigeria and Argentina in the group stage before becoming only the second goalkeeper in World Cup history to win two penalty kick shoot-outs in the same tournament. The only other goalie to do it was Argentina’s Sergio Goycochea in 1990.

 

 

Subašić is also tied for two other World Cup shoot-out records: most total penalties saved (4) with Goycochea and Germany’s Harald Schumacher; and most penalties saved in a single shoot-out (3) vs. Denmark, alongside Portugal’s Ricardo. Ladić did a fine good job to get Croatia to the semifinals in 1998, but at the end of the day, Subašić got the Vatreni to the Final and won two shootouts along the way.
 

 

Subašić 2018 World Cup Saves

 

 

LEFT BACK:

 

 

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Robert Jarni

 

 
Robert Jarni played 80 times for Croatia and was a pivotal piece getting the team to the semifinals of the 1998 World Cup in France. Jarni was one of the best left-backs of the 90s. He had speed, skill, and a wonderful cross. Jarni only scored one goal for Croatia in his 12 years of service; but what a goal it was! Jarni blasted home a shot from 24 yards out to break the deadlock against Germany in the quarterfinals of the ’98 World Cup. The rest is history.
 

 

Jarni’s Only Goal For Croatia

 

 

CENTER BACK:

 

 

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Robert Kovač

 

 

Robert Kovač, alongside his brother and captain Niko, was a beast on the backline. He was fierce, vocal, and gave every drop of blood and sweat for his Vatreni teammates. Kovač was capped by Croatia 84 times from 1999-2009. Unfortunately, this was Croatia’s weakest decade following the Golden Generation leading up to the disastrous quarterfinal loss to Turkey at EURO 2008. The Vatreni underperformed in 2002 – unable to defeat Ecuador at the World Cup, had a tough draw with England and France at EURO 2004, and couldn’t get past a mediocre Australia side at the 2006 World Cup. Kovač had tons of experience playing in the Bundesliga and brought that leadership to the Croatian national side.

 

 

RIGHT BACK:

 

 

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Darijo Srna

 

 
Darijo Srna was a Croatian journeyman for 14 years; from 2002-2016. He captained the team after the Kovač brothers left and is still the most capped player in Vatreni history; playing in 134 games. He scored 22 times in a Croatian shirt and was most dangerous coming up the right side and swinging in lethal crosses. Srna was also fantastic from set pieces and scored a free kick against Australia at the 2006 World Cup. Srna scored against Germany at EURO 2008 on a team that could have contested for the trophy that year. During EURO 2016, Srna’s father passed away during the group stage. Srna flew home to Metković for the funeral and rejoined the team immediately after. His commitment to the team was second to none.
 

 


Srna free kick vs. Australia at 2006 World Cup

 

 

CENTER MIDFIELDERS: 

 

 

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Luka Modrić

 

 
If there is one player you don’t have to spend more than half a second to put on this list, it’s Luka Modrić. The man turned it up in 2018 to levels we did not think were possible and there’s not enough time in our lives to discuss what he did at the World Cup in Russia. Modrić runs the Croatian midfield like a fine tuned Ferrari. He controls pace of play, tempo, and puts the ball right on his teammates’ laces, whether it’s a 5-yard pass or 40-yard cross. Modrić makes everyone around him incredibly better. He won every imaginable individual award in 2018, which included the Golden Ball (Best Player at World Cup) and the almighty Ballon d’Or (Best Player in the World). Modrić has scored 16 goals for Croatia in 127 appearances and is on pace to pass Darijo Srna as Croatia’s most-capped player when football returns in 2021. I can write pages on Luka Modrić – and maybe I will one day – but he is undoubtedly a first ballot All-Croatia pick.
 

 

Modrić 2018 World Cup Highlights 

 

 

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Robert Prosinečki

 

 
Robert Prosinečki was a gangster. A gangster with skill and knowledge of how the game should be played. Žuti, as he was called, only scored 10 goals in 49 games for Croatia from 1994-2002, but he brought so much swagger and attitude to the game; even if he was on the bench. Prosinečki was a Jedi. He knew what had passed and what was coming. He was a master of the midfield as he crafted pinpoint passes which carved through the seams of play. Žuti could also finish which was a lethal 1-2 punch for such a talented midfielder. There’s also rumors that he would open up a pack of cigarettes on the bench at the 1998 World Cup as soon as he was subbed out. How can a Croatian with that much charisma not make this list?

 

 


Prosinečki Croatia Highlights

 

 

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Zvonimir Boban

 

 

Before Luka Modrić and Niko Kovač wore the #10 shirt for Croatia, it was Zvonimir Boban’s. Boban was a Croatian legend both on and off the field as many say it was his “Kick Heard Around the Balkans” that unofficially started the war in 1990. Boban was a leader and an AC Milan legend. He played from 1992-1999 for Croatia; scoring 12 goals in only 49 games. Boban could play any midfield position with his vision and playmaking abilities his greatest strength. Boban’s biggest Croatia goal was against Denmark at EURO 1996 to make it 2-0 before Davor Šuker’s “chip” closed the door on any Danish comeback.
 

 


Boban Goal vs. Denmark at EURO 1996

 

 

LEFT WING:

 

 

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Ivan Perišić

 

 

Ivan Perišić has been an absolute stud for Croatia since first being capped in 2011. Perišić has scored 26 goals in 88 appearances for the Vatreni and arguably three of the most important goals in Croatian history. In only the past four years, Perišić scored the late winner against Spain at EURO 2016, the equalizer against England in the 2018 World Cup semifinals, and the equalizer against France in the World Cup Final. In recent years, you could say that the team goes as Perišić does on the left wing. His blazing speed, precision crosses, and left-footed rockets are something no defenses want to deal with. At age 31, Perišić needs only 12 games to reach 100. Only eight players have played 100+ games for Croatia. He’s also three goals behind Eduardo da Silva for third place in all-time goals for the Vatreni.

 

 


Perišić winner vs. Spain at EURO 2016

 

 


Perišić equalizer vs. England

 

 


Perišić goal vs. France in World Cup Final

 

 

RIGHT WING:

 

 

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Ivan Rakitić

 

 

Ivan Rakitić has been the glue in the Croatian midfield since first being capped in 2007. He has been the Scottie Pippen to Luka Modrić’s Michael Jordan for over a decade. The two have been inseparable and it shows through their chemistry on the field. Raketa has scored 15 goals in 106 appearances for the Vatreni. Surprisingly, Rakitić has only scored two goals for Croatia at a tournament: vs. Czech Republic at EURO 2016 and vs. Argentina at the 2018 World Cup. But it’s his crisp passing and rocket right foot that has to be feared. Rakitić could have easily been Croatia’s ‘Best Player’ at the 2018 World Cup, however, with Modrić, Subašić, Perišić, Mandžukić all playing out of their minds, Rakitić’s performance was a bit overshadowed. However, two things that cannot be overshadowed are Rakitić’s ice cold penalty kicks in the 2018 shoot-outs against Denmark and Russia. Ivan Rakitić is the only person in the world who has two World Cup shoot-out winning goals to his name. In the history of the World Cup, no one person has sealed two separate penalty kick shoot-outs. Call him Captain Clutch!

 

 


Ivan The Ice Cold

 

 

STRIKERS: 

 

 

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Davor Šuker

 

 
Davor Šuker singlehandedly put Croatia on the map in 1998. He scored six goals at the World Cup that summer on his way to the Golden Boot and a 3rd Place finish for Croatia. The man was possessed when he had the ball at his feet. He could rip it, he could chip it, and he could cooly roll the ball right around you for an easy tap-in. Šuker was a versatile striker and no defender knew what his next move was going to be. That’s what made him so hard to defend. Šuker played for Croatia from 1991-2002 and scored an Earth-shattering 45 goals in only 69 matches played. That’s an incredible .65 goals per game during his international career. To put these numbers in perspective, Mario Mandžukić is second on Croatia’s all-time scoring list with 33 goals in 89 appearances. That means Šuker scored 12 more goals than Mario in 20 less games. Incredible!
 

 


All 6 Šuker Goals at 1998 World Cup

 

 


Šuker chip vs. Denmark at EURO 1996

 

 

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Mario Mandžukić

 

 

And to wrap up our ALL-CROATIA XI, it’s none other than ‘Super’ Mario Mandžukić, who scored the most important goal in Croatian history: extra time vs. England to send Croatia to the World Cup Final!

 

 

Since first coming aboard for the Vatreni in 2007, Mandžukić was always hot or cold. You never knew which Mario you were going to get. He is currently Croatia’s second all-time leading scoring with 33 goals in 89 appearances. Every Croatian fan in the world will remember him for his 109th minute left-footed shot past England’s Jordan Pickford to win it for Croatia and send them to their first ever Final. However, Mandžukić was an aerial beast his entire career. He won every ball in the air, made defenses exert extra energy simply to mark him correctly, and was lethal with his head inside the box. When he was on, he was on. You could simply chip a ball into the box and let Mario do his thing. During EURO 2012, Mandžukić was tied with five other players with the most goals at the tournament (3). The other five were Cristiano Ronaldo, Mario Gomez, Mario Balotelli, Fernando Torres, and Alan Dzagoev. And he scored another three goals at the 2018 World Cup.

 

 


Mandžukić Winner vs. England


 

 

Mandžukić scores vs. Italy at EURO 2012

 

 

SUBSTITUTES:

 

 

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Slaven Bilić

 

 

Slaven Bilić is our first defensive substitute for the ALL-COATIA XI. Bilić was a smart defender and poised at the back. You could trust him against the world’s finest in big games. Bilić played for Croatia from 1992-1999; scoring three qualifier goals in 44 total matches played. They just played fewer games back in the 90s. Honorable mentions go to Vedran Ćorluka, Josip Šimunic and Šime Vrsaljko.

 

 

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Niko Kovač

 

 

Niko Kovač is our midfield substitute, and arguably, the best on-field captain Croatia has ever had. He was the most vocal and led by example. He was the ‘little engine that could’ at only 5’9″ but had a heart bigger than anyone else on the field. Kovač played for Croatia from 1996-2008; scoring 14 goals in 83 appearances. It was gut wrenching to see Kovač go out after the EURO 2008 penalty kick loss to Turkey after playing so well against Germany that tournament. Honorable mention to Aljoša Asanović.

 

 

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Ivica Olić

 

 

And last but not least off the bench as our substitute striker, Mr. Ivica Olić. The man would not stop running for the entire match and would tire out opposing defenses before himself. He was dubbed “Mr. Right Place, Right Time” by CroatianSports for his relentless tap-in goals. But hey, if it gets the job done, don’t complain. Olić was silly and a fan favorite. He played from 2002-2015 and scored 20 goals for Croatia in 104 matches. He first came onto the scene at the 2002 World Cup when he scored the equalizer against Italy, took his jersey off, and then couldn’t put it back on correctly. Good ‘ol Olić! Honorable mentions go to Alen Bokšić and Eduardo. We never saw their full potential due to injuries.

 

 


Olić equalizer vs. Italy at 2002 World Cup

 

 

And who could forget this goal against Turkey?

 

 

COACH:

 

 

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Zlatko Dalić

 

 

Zlatko Dalić only has a 45% win percentage in 30 matches managed since taking over for Ante Čačić in October of 2017. But you know what? You get Croatia to the World Cup Final, you’re the best coach in history. End of story!

 

 

Honorable mention purely based on personality: Ćiro!

 

 


 

 

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Ante Kvartuč
Posted By: Ante Kvartuč 89 comments





  1. Elviss says:

    Zlatko has a sub.500 win % because he threw matches on purpose. Remember the Nations League? We were savings ourselves for the Euro that isn’t happening now. Still would have been nice to take out Eng and Portugal in the final.



  2. Miloš Hvar says:

    such a crazy squad. imagine Serbia’s all time team.. wouldnt hold a candle to our guys. will be cool to see how this looks in 20 years. maybe guys like vlasic brekalo or marin are on it. all i know is it is only going to get harder to make this



  3. BZ says:

    Unpopular opinion but, Bilic is banned from my team.

    Had we come back to tie and win v France, our World Cup would have been forever tainted by his dive on Blanc.

    Fact!



  4. Slavonac from Canada says:

    Bilic and Stimac were both good defenders, I believe they need some consideration. Tomislav Ivic was a very good coach…Asanovic was a great midfielder, so was Mario Stanic, Boksic was a great forward, Olic was a very good asset as well…



  5. Maminjo says:

    We should do a WORST all-time starting 11.

    But, excluding any of those one-time caps for the purposes of selling a player (like Neretljak or Bosnjak).

    An all-time worst starting 11, who actually played regular minutes, especially in a tournament.

    Guys like Anthony Seric, Krunoslav Jurcic, Danijel Saric, Ivica Mornar, Mario Tokic, Stjepan Tomas, Marijan Mrmic, Sammir, Nikola Jerkan, etc.

    Anyway, maybe we should just focus on the best all time right now, and do the worst all time in a separate post.



  6. Maminjo says:

    No love for Tudor? ;)

    He was our biggest name CB I think, and had a better skillset than Robert Kovac.

    But Tudor suffered from the same mental lapses that plagued Dejan Lovren earlier in his career.

    Without those mental gaffes, he would have easily been our best ever defender.



  7. Slavonac from Canada says:

    Maminjo…apparently Tudor is a nasty person that had many issues with many players throughout his career.

    you can best the best player and not get far because of your attitude!



  8. Maminjo says:

    How about an All-time list of players that we’ve gifted to other countries?

    Mark Bosnic, Ned Zelic, Nick Dasovic, Mile Jedinak, Christian Pusilic, Josip Skoko, Branko Strupar, Fredi Bobic, Maradona, Ante Razov, Thomas Brdaric, Ivica Vastic, Mark Viduka, Zlatan Ibrahimovic



  9. Maminjo says:

    @Slavonac

    Tudor seems emotionally unstable.

    I think he’s a somewhat talented coach, but he just can’t handle people or any sort of politics (that goes with any job).

    He loses his shit, and just quits.
    He did this at Hajduk, Udinese, and in Turkey.



  10. Slavonac from Canada says:

    Nick was a very average player bro. He played on my youth team and was an average player on Vancouver, Croatia…he had good work ethics and a good physique. Not much talent or skill!



  11. Maminjo says:

    Miloš,

    If his grandfather didn’t migrate to Argentina and bang the local Mexicans there, then you have no Maradona.

    You’re welcome.



  12. NK Susak says:

    Off topic, but NBCSports is showing the replay of USA (dream team) and Croatia gold medal game from 92 at 9pm eastern time.



  13. Soul Champ says:

    Now we are talking pandemic posts!

    Full respect to all perspectives and all the world class players who have represented our beloved Croatia on the global stage.

    However ..

    Alen Bokšić
    Josip Skoblar

    Both Marseille majstori have to start.

    Mandžukić and Rakitic off the bench with Niko Kovač.

    Robert Kovač ?? A little small to pair with Jarni and Srna whose talents still haven’t been replaced.

    May have to slide Bilić in or Big Joe for his heart.

    Alen Bokšić put us into the World Cup against Ukraine.

    If he is healthy we take it all in ‘98.

    Josip Skoblar was unparalleled as a dynamic attack dribbling and free scoring forward. He was decades before his time.

    Messi just broke his single season scoring record.

    Miki Rapaić honorable mention!!

    We are so blessed to have these debates as our boys have been transcendent.

    I wonder who his our next young superstar in training?

    The standard is so high.

    Brekalo has the foot skills like a classic Croatian baller.

    Vlašić is an attacking game changer.

    Rebić was getting mentored by Boban himself before pandemic and Eliot group treachery.

    Kovačić has been trending in the right direction.

    Thanks for that at Estonia friendly to ruin Marko Pjaca’s explosiveness.

    Maybe we finally can produce an actual teenage phenom?

    I’ll take a Haaland type dude.



  14. Z says:

    I feel da Silva was too good in his prime not to be put in front of Olic.

    Boksic and Stanic are other really good ones.

    We should have more sports on the bench!



  15. Suba says:

    Inclusion of Robert Kovac is questionable in my view

    Vida gets a nod before him including Bilic

    Bilic would have tempered Vidas exuberance

    Tudor frankly was overrated and don’t know why people dump on Jerkan he was solid but not enough to make croatia best ever11

    Also Mandzukic would not have made it if it wasn’t his wc performance better late than never I say
    I would replace Olic with Boksic otherwise our dream team is golden

    No mention of Dario simic a very quiet operator maybe on the bench

    Who was Croatia’s right back before Srna I can’t even remember was it mladenovic or jurcevic or turkovic but they weren’t at France 98



  16. Suba says:

    Don’t worry it was simic so it goes to srna although in time Vrsaljko might surpass him especially if he keeps producing like he did at the wc



  17. Maminjo says:

    Vrsaljko needs to work on his flopping game, if he wants to be on par with Srna.

    Honestly, I’m glad he’s gone (and a part of me is happy Mandžo is gone for the same reason).

    I cannot stand flopping, and Srna infuriated me with his over the top flopping antics with minimal contact.

    Mandžo flops too, but he’s actually physical and doesn’t do a full scream when he goes down.

    Nice to see the younger guys like Vlašić, Rebić, not adopt these antics.



  18. Londonac says:

    It depends on how you’re assessing the dream team – are we rating players in their prime or focussing just on a single tournament. If the latter then yes, Mandzukic would start based on what he did for us in the last WC. If it’s the former then Boksic over Mandzukic any day – the man was pure talent and we’d have gone all the way in 1998 if he’d been healthy.



  19. Slavonac from Canada says:

    Eduardo Da Silva could have easily been our #1 or #2 striker of all time if that injury never occurred to him. He’s one guy I never felt bad to watch him represent us, knowing he is from Brasil…the guy was a proud player and was incredibly awesome. I could never imagine he would have had much success if he were to remain in Brasil or even make it in Italy when he tried out there. He came to the right club at the right time and his career was a story that should one day be told…what a journey he had!

    I like it when people somewhat de-value or can’t appreciate a certain type of player ie Suba with his comment “Also Mandzukic would not have made it if it wasn’t his wc performance better late than never I say”!

    Funny thing is that his WC performance had nothing to do with how great he actually was!

    Did you ever watch Boksic play Suba? I’ve seen several people in the past comment on him. He was a great player but I’m curious if any of you remember his gaffe’s? Sometimes he would miss a tap-in and send it to the corner flag. He was fast and also had challenges making simple plays. Watching his hi-lite reel isn’t the same as watching him play every week. The guy was really good but NOT anywhere near superb….so why the assumption that Boksic was a better fit for the team than Olic was? Overall, Olic had better stats in almost every category…and Boksic sometimes had a bad case of tunnel vision, like a horse with blinders!



  20. Miloš Hvar says:

    rating players based off what they did in the checkers. of course Mandzukic is in there based off what he did last world cup.. cuz he actually did it! you go based off what is real not what could have been. injuries happen and they change legacies that’s just the way it is.



  21. Miloš Hvar says:

    more in response to @ Londonac about how we are assessing but i agree with everything you said in your post. The fact of the matter is Mandzukic is on the list 100% because of what he did in the last world cup. and thats ok because what he did was real. and it’s not like he was a fringe guy who had one spectacular tournament. he has been a staple since 2007 and the ’18 world cup cemented him as an all-timer. we cant assess a dream team on what they could have done just because they were more talented.



  22. Miloš Hvar says:

    i dont think he’d be on without the last world cup performance but that plus totality of his career is why he is on it



  23. Slavonac from Canada says:

    sure…I guess my eyebrow’s raised at this “Mandzukic would not have made it if it wasn’t his wc performance better late than never I say”….

    just curious if some here don’t realize that Mandzukic stole the starting position from players that were valued soo much higher than he was. Also, his goals, kept his teams in competitions when it mattered most…ie Dinamo, Bayern Munich, Juventus…and helping Wolsfburg move up from relegation spot. Those are very key and important details many people miss…his timely goals that change the course for a club…and he has done it several times!



  24. BZ says:

    @Slavonac- saved me some typing.

    Why anyone would have MDS (Mandzukic Derangement Syndrome) is beyond me.



  25. Slavonac from Canada says:

    weird eh BZ?

    and to think Boksic was mentioned over Olic or Mandzukic….when both of them had a better goal scoring per game average than Boksic did.

    what is the criteria for that choice? so weird? popularity contest?



  26. Suba says:

    Well done sticking up for your fellow Slavonci bravo

    I understand your comments about Mandzo and Olic but geez calm down with your comments about Alen

    He was brilliant and so elegant just watch his high roll reel

    Ok Mandzo sneaks in because Boksic was really a no show for us but was that because of sukers presence or his real desire to partner up with vlaovic

    But I pick Boksic any time over ola was my real motivation with my original comments and what’s yours is it because Alen was a hajdukovac



  27. Maminjo says:

    Come on.

    Boksic is better than Olic.

    Both Olic and Boksic have missed sitters, but Bokic was a MASTER of the chip. He still had incredible finesse and skill that Olic could only dream of having. He made goalkeepers look stupid.

    Boksic also had the physical skillset that Rebic has today…he would turn every opposing defender into minced meat.

    Olic’s greatest asset is his tireless running and physical ability to run at defenders…but Boksic also does this…and he’s bigger and stronger than Olic.

    Their goalscoring efficiency was about the same.

    Olic had a better career, but that was largely due to Boksic’s injuries.

    I take a prime Boksic/Suker pairing over a prime Olic/Suker pairing.

    Suker, Dudu, Boksic or Mandzo, Prso, Olic in that order (if you exclude injuries and the impact on their careers)

    Suker, Mandzo, Boksic, Olic, Prso, and Dudu (if you factor in the injuries – Dudu became completely useless post-injury)



  28. Maminjo says:

    I feel sorry for Balaban.

    The guy was pretty good for Dinamo and the National Team.

    Then Aston Villa gave him 8 games to be their savior, and he’s gone, lol.

    He did very well at Club Bruges after that, and Dinamo again.

    It’s funny how he’s considered the biggest bust of all time in the EPL, but he didn’t even get a chance to play.



  29. Slavonac from Canada says:

    Talent-wise, Boksic was way more talented than Olic 100% agree. The issue I have with Boksic was that he could dribble past 62 players…3 times in a row and then miss the goal from the goal line. Boksic was fast, strong and really good balance for a guy his height and build. He could really do some damage but he could also make himself look like such a horrible finisher…I can’t even count how many times Boksic would make me cry and swear I was never gonna cheer for him again!

    Also, Boksic took a lot of heat for missing so many easy chances and for constantly being injured.

    Yes, we all wanna live and watch superb moments where he looks fabulous but there were twice or three times as many gaffe’s in front of the net!

    Olic’s clumsy style used to piss me off but man, he made up for his poor skills with his massive heart and work ethic and being at the right place at the right time.

    in my opinion…Suker and Dudu were the best goalscorers we’ve ever had (until Dudu broke his leg). Mandzukic was somewhat talented, he was smart and he is very tough…he had fantastic positional play. Boksic and Prso were both very talented players but neither of them we great or even very timely goal-scorers…and to me, that makes a difference. Olic was all work, good timing, decent basic skills. a typical example of finding a way to be successful!



  30. Maminjo says:

    Also… Kramarić is in the same mold as Šuker and pre-injury Dudu.

    Just lethal finishing.

    Unfortunately, in today’s football, you can’t be a guy who just sits up top and contributes nothing on the defensive end.

    He should have easily been our starting striker these past couple of years, but he still hasn’t solidified his position in our starting eleven.



  31. Maminjo says:

    @Slavonac

    I’ve watched more Olić than I have Bokšić, so his gaffes have had more of an impact on me than Bokšić’s have.

    For example, I still can’t get Olić’s horrible misses against Turkey at Euro 2008 out of my head.

    His gaffes have hurt us more than Bokšić’s have.



  32. Maminjo says:

    Speaking of which…

    Who has the highest “gaffe count” on the National Team?

    Is it Tudor?

    His own goal against Yugo was unforgivable. Plus he had one against France at Euro 2004. He also got red carded in the playoff game against Slovenia which almost cost us qualification.



  33. Soul Champ says:

    https://youtu.be/Kd1J5MkQ5As

    Boksic was the most complete striker in the history of Croatian football.

    Big goal after big goal.

    Everybody misses??

    I’ll take that goal at Ukraine to fire us into our first World Cup.

    He doesn’t injure his knee then we win the whole thing in ‘98.

    From Hajduk at its peak, to Marseille, to Lazio, he was the goods.

    We haven’t even come close to producing a striker of his caliber.

    It’s like where is the explosive lead guard and striker in Croatia?

    I love Olic, but comparing him to Alen Boksic is like saying Canadian bacon is better than Dalmatinski pršut.



  34. Crotown says:

    Josip Simunic – has to be on the team- that tackle against that Serbian guy was a classic – I love the reaction he had right after like “ yes, I killed that guy” and I’m good with it- it was super



  35. Ante Kvartuč Ante Kvartuč says:

    We went back on Boksic and Eduardo many times. I actually wanted Dudu in the Starting XI based on pure attacking skill – but at the end of the day – they never got their chance at a major tournament. Boksic got hurt just before the 98 WC and Dudu broke is leg right before EURO 2008 after being on complete fire in the qualifying campaign. Then Croatia didn’t qualify for the 2010 World Cup.

    Mandzukic has scored the second most goals for Croatia in our history and has arguably scored the most important single goal ever for Croatia against England.

    How can you put Boksic or Dudu in front of him? You just can’t.

    As far as the others, the only players on this list that are absolute locks are Jarni, Modric, Perisic, Suker.

    You can argue the other 7 spots.



  36. Anonymous says:

    Subasic

    Simunic Bilic Stimac

    Rebic Boban Asanovic Jarni

    Suker Boksic

    Subs: Ladic, Pletikosa, Simic, R. Kovac, Soldo, N. Kovac, Vugrinec, Rapajic, Perisic, Olic, Vlaovic, Da Silva

    Why not just do a 23 man squad?

    If I don’t like ya you can’t make my team.



  37. Suba says:

    Ante with everyone dumping on Boksic for reasons stated above why is Prosinecki in the starting 11 and Boksic not even in the squad

    Prosinecki basically underperformed for us as much as Alen

    Surely you can’t put ola before Alen

    Boksic je makarski i dalmalski krajl

    Why do you think ola ran up to him specifically after scoring against the Cetniks he knew first hand what a fuckin champion he is



  38. Suba says:

    Also the fact that Rakitic is before asanavic another Pravi hajdukovac is not agreed with

    Expert panel my left testi



  39. Ante Kvartuč Ante Kvartuč says:

    Boksic is a striker. Zuti is a midfielder. We went with a 3-5-2. That’s why.

    I feel a lot of you are using a “full potential” metric. Dudu, Boksic never had the ability to reach their full potential due to injury. For that reason, they did not make the squad.

    As for Zuti, he was a much more complete player than Asanovic. Zuti has to be in front. Can you put Asanovic in front of Rakitic? Sure. But Ice cold penalty taking Rakitic got our vote.



  40. Soul Champ says:

    Alen Boksic goal @ Ukraine play off puts us in our first ever World Cup!

    How is that nothing?

    At his peak in today’s game he would win the Balon D’or.

    Actually he leads us in 1998, we win the whole thing and Suker never becomes president of HNS!

    I say Boksic starts and bring on Mandzukic on for Suker when tires.

    Anybody who watched a healthy Boksic knows he could run all match and then some.

    Actually if Boksic doesn’t hurt his head in 1996, in the first Euro match, then we probably go farther.

    I am just waiting for the next Alen Boksic!!



  41. Suba says:

    Rakitic could never pull off the through balls to the strikers like aljosa did not even close hey were baggio like

    Just watch all of the goals for euro 96 and France 98 all the final passes were from Zagora king aljosa baby

    It was Rakitics general duties was to put away those penalties it was the least he could do and now he makes the top 11 uh



  42. Anonymous says:

    Suba knows what he’s talking about.

    How about Asanovic’s pass to Suker against France in ’98, still one of my favourite Croatia goals!



  43. CroatianPerson85 says:

    How about a list of the all time duds for us or flops to keep us entertained during this whole Covid 19 business? That would be interesting.



  44. Poglavnik says:

    Suker’s performance against Denmark in 96 would get my vote for single greatest performance. 2 goals, an assist, and a gorgeous through ball that set up the penalty he converted. Theres never been a silkier player for us.



  45. CroatianPerson85 says:

    @ Poglavnik – Agreed re Suker. Best natural striker I think we’ve ever had, haven’t had anyone close to him since.



  46. Maminjo says:

    Suba,

    Did you forget about Rakitić’s one time bouncing cross-goal area pass to Kramarić, to seal our 2-0 win in Ukraine?

    He’s got the skills. I would not say Asanović is better than him.

    When Rakitić was transferred to Barca, we all thought he would probably struggle for first team football… Yet he became one of Europe’s leading players in terms of minutes and matches played…and he did it for five years despite all of the talented competition.



  47. Suba says:

    Don’t get me wrong I don’t dislike raketa although that cross you are referring was bit of a fluke

    For me there’s too much side way movements and not enough penetration with the passing although I can’t critise his control and possession

    Look he’s been involved with a very successful midfield makeup of Croatia and I am extremely proud of him as a fan



  48. Maminjo says:

    Yes I agree with you that he is a pussy (much like Kovačić) when it comes to playing aggressively in the opponent’s third.



  49. BZ says:

    Dudu woulda coulda shoulda, Mandzukic dida.

    Mandzukic so much better than Dudu overall.

    Dudu was never the best aerial player in the world.

    Dudu’s defense was basically non-existant. No heart. Sure he could score for a short moment in time, but Mandzukic played for Wolfsburg, Bayern, Atletico, and Juve. The who’s who of club football, meaning he produced for multiple coaches with multiple styles of play. Why? cause he is a complete soccer player, who hustles.



  50. BZ says:

    @Maminjo-somebody said Asanovic better than Rakitic?
    Rakitic Derangement Syndrome was prevalent before that Ukraine game, but from Ukraine to France we saw the Rakitic we knew we had, and the one we needed.

    Honestly, Rakitic still has it in him to lead us if Modric goes down to injury. Rakitic dishing to Rebic, Perisic, Petko, and Vlasic would be like dishing to his Barcelona forwards.

    Sadly, he may be our biggest dilemma going into Euro 21.



  51. LAknat says:

    LAknat always gives the best line up_
    with this absolute winning 11, behold :

    …………..Boban ……..D Suker…….. Boksic …………….
    …R Jarni……..Prosinecki…..Lk Modric………D Srna…
    ………………Bilic …… R Kovac …… Corluka……………..
    ………………………. Drazen Ladic ………………………….

    . . . . LAknat for . . . .
    Croatia Manager 2023_



  52. Slavonac from Canada says:

    I wasn’t trying to slam Boksic, I was simply saying that with all the skill he had combined with his speed, he would do some incredible things on the field. I watched him play almost every week when he was in Italy. The guy could do what soo many others could only do in their dream…but dammit man, he had some type of phobia for finishing the play.

    Yes Maminjo, Olic was nowhere near as gifted at Boksic, I even said he was somewhat clumsy…but he usually got the results, even if the goals were a tap-in…he was efficient and either created scoring chance that ended up in the net or scored off his ass!

    You guys ever play with someone that you initially think “hole shit, this guy has speed, an amazing touch, fantastic shot….” and then come game time he disappoints on the final play? Thats Boksic for you! Yes, he dribbled the entire team but stats don’t lie.

    His best performances were at Marseille:
    58 games played 33 goals scored: .57/goals per game

    Lazio:
    67 games played 17 goals scored: .25/goals per game

    Juventus:
    22 games played 3 goals scored; .14/goals per game

    Lazio again:
    48 games played 14 goals scored: .29/goals per game

    This doesn’t necessarily tell the entire story but he was a forward and between his several injuries and low goal scoring average, I can’t imagine we would put him as one of our all-time best unless we used him only when he was at his absolute best!



  53. Slavonac from Canada says:

    OMG, Asanovic over Rakitic…what the hell you smoking Suba?

    you compare Rakitic to Asanovic and basically choose Asanovic because he had a better through ball pass? are you insane man? we are talking about two different level players here! I loved Asanovic as a player but he was nowhere near Rakitic’s calibre…what the hell are you on?

    get off the YouTube videos and watch entire games of both these guys and you’ll see a MASSIVE difference. Rakitic is a brilliant player man, you don’t give him the credit he deserves while on the other hand you completely ignore that Asanovic was slow, couldn’t use right foot very well and really didn’t have a stellar career but you want to put him in front of someone that has achieved far better results with his club, his country and as an individual!



  54. Maminjo says:

    @BZ

    Yes, you are right about Dudu.

    I also hate those strikers that are 5’8″ and weigh 150 lbs and can’t hold their own physically…but man, his finishing for us was LETHAL.

    He was scoring a goal per game for us in qualifying, and he was exactly what we needed as a finisher that compliments a highly creative midfield.

    Most of these small, frail strikers can only play if they are absolutely lethal finishers…any dropoff in their ability, and they are useless.

    A guy like Gabriel Jesus is in the same mold.

    If their form drops (even just a little) then they become obsolete.

    I was against Eduardo playing for us after his brutal injury. He provided nothing after, and we were desperate to try him in different positions because we were still rating him based on what he was before, and that he could still be a useful player. He wasn’t. We needed to move on from him asap.

    That one year period where he played for us was awesome though. Our Euro 2008 qualifying group was incredibly strong, and we had bias against us too…and we still eliminated England, just for fun. Only Suker was better as a striker if you just look at that ‘prime Dudu’ period.
    Those upcoming Euros were ours to lose.



  55. Slavonac from Canada says:

    pre injury, Eduardo Da Silva was on his way to become one of our best ever…maybe even our best goalscorer…who knows? He went from Dinamo ZG to Arsenal and within 4-5 months he became a starter at Arsenal scoring 12 goals in 31 games and breaking into a team with a stacked line-up! Arsenal finished 3rd that year and he just turned 25 years old when that fucker broke his leg!

    People can say what they want about him not playing defensive enough or whatever they want! Dudu was an incredible player that could score goals…every coach on earth wants their attackers to score and he really did that very well! I believe he would have been as close to Suker or maybe even better, but unfortunately for him his career went downhill after that broken leg!



  56. Soul Champ says:

    @ Slavonac

    Sneaky stat reference as that was a different era in football and Serie A was the most dominant defensive/tactical league in the world.

    Stats without historic context is meaningless.

    So James Harden is on the same level as Jordan?

    You paint Bokšić as some unfocused inconsistent bust?

    I love Olić but him and Bokšić are not in the same category.

    The reality of Prosinečki and Bokšić is they both had untimely injuries that thwarted their super stardom.

    Both are safely in the top 5 of modern Croatian football along with Modrić, Šuker and Boban.

    Now my main man Rakitic has to reclaim his Croatian balls and transfer back to Sevilla or some place else and show us that field Marshall game that led Sevilla to the Europa league cup.



  57. Suba says:

    Agreed soul champ serie a was the toughest league in the 90s and with Boksic it was not just the goals stats it was his ability to terrorise defenses even with time with juve was special

    Boksic along with Jarni and Asanovic are my personal favourites

    Slavonac you need to respect other people’s opinions that’s what makes football such a great game we all see things differently and dont be so passive aggressive and no I don’t smoke it’s a dirty habit



  58. Crotown says:

    Come on guys – not enough love for Simunic- you have to love The “Croatia first” he played with it- his love for country was something you don’t see in Canada or the US for that matter of fact – I thought he would have mentioned more but hey it’s great to see our parents homeland produce players like all the ones mentioned- great topic

    all the best to the readers from Canada



  59. Maminjo says:

    You guys are splitting hairs.

    Rakitić vs Prosinečki is close, and hard to measure head to head due to different eras.

    I put Bokšić ahead of Olić, but I can see why someone sees the reverse.

    Same goes for all these guys like Boban, Žuti, Rakitić, Šuker, pre-injury Dudu… They’re all in that elite category.

    But Modrić is the best. Way better than any one of these bums. I’ll fight that to the death.



  60. Soul Champ says:

    @ Suba

    Well said.

    Full respect to all who share their perspective over the years.

    For decades we had no one who could compare to our 90’s crew.

    Then along came Modrić.

    I was just amazed that he was so good that you could say he would have been able to play with the original elite crew.

    But to go beyond them and take us to a new place is legend.

    I pray he could be in a good place for the next 14 months and be able to offer his service at 35 years old at Euro 2021.

    @‘Crotown

    Simunic has a spot at CB in my book .. but VAR would have him giving up a penalty once every other game!



  61. CroatianPerson85 says:

    @Maminjo – yes Modric is the best. He makes everyone’s job around him easier and makes them play and look better. I think that’s a big sign of a high level player. Suker was great, silk, technical etc most skilled striker we’ve ever had but without the ball not so much where as Mandza is the anti-Suker as a comparison.

    Often you see that. Skilled not so much or a hustler or hard worker or opposite (Olic). My old coach used to say, “You have guys that play the piano and guys that carry the piano, when you can do both you’re a professional player.” Modric is our most complete and best player ever in my opinion.



  62. Slavonac from Canada says:

    I loved Boksic man, I watched him often and he definitely could make you on the edge of your seat. Yes Italian League was tough to score in but in those days many players tore it up. Signori, Simone, Batistuta, Baggio….soo many.

    Boksic was a majestic player but as a striker I expect more goals, that’s just my opinion. Otherwise we shouldn’t be calling him one of our all time greats!



  63. Suba says:

    Sadly big Aussie joe does not make it even though as a youngster at Melbourne knights he was Australia’s best player he for some reason in the bundesliga did not take that step up

    Seemed the move changed the way he played he was like the old sweeper Libero in Aussie land

    I guess he never really adjusted to the requirements of modern football but boy did he love playing for Croatia would have been a dream come true for a Croatian kid growing up in Melbourne

    Sad that his reputation was ruined with the fake news that he was a fascist by the media real shame he just loved hrvatska



  64. Soul Champ says:

    @ Slavonac

    All good.

    As always your points are well articulated.

    But if he was healthy and was able to more consistent to your standard, then we are talking about him being the best ever not just better than Olić.

    I also remember that goal at Ukraine playoff match to fire us into the World Cup.

    That has to count.

    That goal doesn’t go in November’97 then there is no July ‘98.

    I pray we can produce a Bokšić type striker again!



  65. Slavonac from Canada says:

    Bokšić at his absolute best was a dream! He was a pretty big guy and yet he had excellent technique and wasn’t only fast, he was quick too. If he was not injured as often and had consistent good performances, I think he would have been a legend.



  66. Slavonac from Canada says:

    The Olić comment was a comparison in career goals and effectiveness. They weren’t in the same talent level man, Boksic was far more talented.



  67. Soul Champ says:

    Agreed.

    Bokšić reminded of Jordan.

    So agile as well as powerful and explosive.

    You can see Rebić lacks that agility. It’s like he should do some Tai chi to move better in the box.

    To your point Olić to be so fast as young player and then come back after knee injury to bang in so many goals for Croatia and clubs is special in its own right.

    I just remember watching Bokšić at his peak and being blown away.

    As a basketball guy I appreciate the depth of your soccer experience.

    I also respect how you big up your Slavonci homies because they have blessed Croatia on many levels.



  68. Slavonac from Canada says:

    I’ll be honest Soul Champ, I was a pretty skilled player with good technique and passing/crossing abilities BUT as I got older I began to realize that if I had even 10% of an Olić or Mandzukic did as players, I would have been soo much better. I never used to think about where a guy was from before I decided to be a fan. Prior to a few months ago I didn’t know Rakitic is a Slavonac…I look more at how much they’re willing to work for their teammates, especially if they aren’t gifted.

    Growing up I was more interested in Hajduk players than I was a Dinamo players.

    If you might have noticed, I’ve said repeatedly that “we go as Perisic goes”! He’s an ex Hajduk player and I say that knowing Modrić is on the field because I always feel like Perisic can change any game in a heartbeat!

    We are all Croatia bro!



  69. Suba says:

    O practice what you preach slavonac you have a real inferiority complex with Hajduk and Dalmatia I don’t believe your shit for a second you two faced prick



  70. Poglavnik says:

    Look at our fans after that one! We were hungry after the successes 96 of 98 and failing to qualify in 2000.
    I remember leaving the Croatian Centre fuckin buzzing after that one and it wasn’t the booze I’m talking about.
    BTW, Balaban with 5 goals is the answer above. I’m gonna stop making fun of Balaban. He was a big part of us getting there and Dinamo made a pretty penny on him. Mamic at his finest!



  71. Slavonac from Canada says:

    Man I’ve totally forgotten about him and his time with our National Team!

    I just had a flashback of Milan Rapaić!! Damn, he was another talented player that really didn’t do as well as he could have.



  72. Soul Champ says:

    @ Poglavnik

    Big time video!!

    Žuti extra little touch to create space and drop the dime.

    Actually remember Šuker being dead weight in 2002.

    Šteta as Bokšić needed some support to come off in 2002 as he was robbed by injury in previous tournaments.



  73. Jarac says:

    Poor rakitic living in modric’s shadow, I think he is highly underrated. He was huge in the WC. You can see the diffidence of the game when he left the pitch.

    What was with Milan rapaic, feel like he had a small window with us but he was always fun to watch with the ball.





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