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HNL Matchweek 27

June 8, 2020





Has anyone ever been so happy to see the return of the Prva Liga?



After a miserably wet and quarantined weekend, I was on edge waiting for the kickoff between NK Lokomotiva and NK Osijek on Sunday afternoon. Popped a beer and turned on a surprisingly-HD stream of the match at an empty Kranjčevićeva between two sides dukeing it out in hopes of clinching second place.



But face it, A Lokomotiva match at Kranjčevićeva? It would have been played without fans even on the sunniest and healthiest of days.



Despite the (usual) lack of fans, the match symbolized a slight return to normalcy. Two weeks of watching Bundasliga matches in cavernous empty stadiums only furthered the notion in my mind that something wasn’t right and these games maybe shouldn’t be played, but after 90 minutes of a nearly silent match with only players and a commentator to fill the void on my TV speakers, it felt like things were back the way they should be. By the way, Croatia reported one new COVID case on June 4. No new cases in the subsequent days leading to this write up.



The match had little of anything to note; Peter Bočkaj scored the games only goal in 22nd minute, giving Osijek the 1-0 that they would hold onto until the end. VAR was implemented in a second-half penalty decision that eventually went the other way, leaving Osijek without the chance to double the lead.



Lokomotiva are currently in fourth place with Osijek trailing by one point in fifth.



Dinamo Zagreb furthered their efforts to clinch the title with a 3-1 win over Varaždin. Arian Ademi scored early, followed by a Bruno Petković penalty, all inside 20 minutes. Jorge Obregon gave the home side a glimmer of hope when he cut the deficit in half in the 79th minute, but Antonio Marin sealed the deal with a 90th minute goal for Dinamo.



The win marked the first victory and first official league match for manager Igor Jovičević, who took over after the dismissal of Nenad Bjelica over the pandemic break. Bjelica and his coaching staff were dismissed after refusing to take pay cuts during the cease in play caused by COVID 19. Jovičević was most recently the manager of Dinamo Zagreb II and the Dinamo U-19 squad.



Hajduk Split won in controversial fashion against struggling Inter Zaprešić on Friday. Ivan Mamut put Inter in the lead at Poljud in the 37th minute due to a goalkeeping blunder from Hajduk’s Josip Posavec, but a 60th minute penalty tied the match after Mijo Caktaš converted the kick. VAR was called upon to verify if a handball in the penalty area should have lead to a penalty, but it was also used to verify if the ball was still in play prior the penalty call. View from the naked eye saw the ball go out of bounds, but VAR disagreed and the penalty was awarded. Mladen Matković saved the initial penalty from Caktaš, but the referee ruled he left his line too early and the kick was retaken, resulting in a goal.






Kristian Dimitrov scored in the 97th minute to give Hajduk the win.



Hajduk manager Igor Tudor commented after the match that he enjoys the new rule implemented after the extended break for players that each team is allowed to use five substitutes.



“With five substitutions, it’s a completely different story. It’s a fantastic thing for the coach. I’ve said before that it should have been introduced it ten years ago because there is a huge number of games, and three substitutions is too few for me. I hope that this will be the future because in the end it gives you a chance, from a coaching point of view,” Tudor said.



Tudor also stated that he partially blames the lack of fans for Hajduk’s weak performance against Inter.



“With the arrival of the audience, it will be a completely different story, especially here for us. We all know how much the fans mean to us,” Tudor said.



HNK Rijeka hold on to second place after a 3-1 victory over regional rivals, NK Istra 1961. Stipe Lončar and Antonio Čolak gave Rijeka a two-goal lead through nearly 90 minutes but Robert Perić-Komčić gave Istra a ray of hope that was quickly dashed two minutes later by Robert Murić.



Slaven Belupo and HNK Gorica failed to find any goals in 90 minutes and split the points from the scoreless draw.







Colin O'Haravić
Posted By: Colin O'Haravić 58 comments

  1. Slavonac from Canada says:

    I’m not commenting on the Hajduk penalty, Suba might call me anti-Hajduk and I just don’t wanna open up that can today ;)

    I’m sorry but Tudor sounds as dumb as a door-knob!

    This re-start might be similair to these guys starting up the season again so who knows what type of form many of the players and their clubs are in?

    With regards to the Mandzukic articles…we shouldn’t talk about him on here, some people get offended with it and I’m not gonna comment on his greatness anymore.

    I’m curious to see how many OR if the HNL will sell some of their players in the upcoming transfer window? I know guys like Petkovic want to leave Dinamo, there’s a few at the club that really want out so its gonna be interesting.

  2. Stipe says:

    @Eric & Milos Hvar

    Thank God that we had Mandzo. He was a fearless striker. I forgot how many important goals he scored for all the clubs he played for.

    If you go on YouTube and search “Greatest UCL comebacks” Remember when Juve lost the first game to RM 3-0 or 3-1???? It was obviously over for Juve going to the Santiago Bernabeu. Mandzo scores in the 6th minute. Doesn’t celebrate. Then he scored the second goal.

    Then obviously we know Real Madrid received a PK in the 96th minute. Buffon got the red card for arguing with the red and it was over for Juve.

    But Mandzo scores a goal in UCL Final in 2013. The bicycle kick against RM in the final. (Everyone forget that because Bale’s bicycle kick looked nicer and RM won) He scored in every team that he played for. And on top of that he played defense. What more can we ask of him?

    Imagine if Eduardo never got hurt? Who knows if Mandzo would of played a lot of mins for the Repka.

    This is my last point, a lot of people forget going into Euro 2012, everything was about Nikica Jelavić. He was suppose to be our “second coming”cause he killed it at Rangers and Everton. Mandzo didn’t care, he still played thru it. He is just as important as Modrić and Raketa. I really am grateful for how he played and most importantly how he conducted himself on and off the pitch.

  3. Stipe says:

    @Slavonac from Canada

    Do you really think Petković can really play against the “Big Boys” when he plays for the Repka? I know he scored some nice goals in qualifying for Euro. He is calm in the box and has good foot work. But I don’t know. He hasn’t really done anything. I know he hasn’t has that many opportunities. But I don’t know. I don’t have to much trust in him.

  4. Eric says:

    Mandzo was a beast. He would go to battle for his team and repka. I love the quote in that article:

    “That man would fight 10 bears on his own and look for 10 more after that.”

  5. Slavonac from Canada says:

    Stipe, from the little I have seen from him he is a fantastic play-making forward but he’s not the goal scorer that we have been looking for. Its a tough call because he makes everyone around him better but he himself isn’t like Kramaric that can score a lot of goals.

    It really depends what the coaches see in him and expect from him. If they are ok with him scoring every 3 games but setting up goals every game then it might be a good trade-off.

    In my opinion, his downfall is his shitty pressing. He really sucked at it when I saw him with Dinamo…lazy as hell!

  6. Stipe says:

    @slavonac from Canada

    What worries me about Krama is that if there is a two on one situation, he never passes. He rather shoot.

    During this quarantine cause I am From NJ. I rewatched Croatia vs England Semi final. When we were up 2-1 in extra time and England was down a man (trippier injured). We were on a counter, two on a one. Kramaric and Perišić. Krama was flying down the right and had Perišić as wide open as any professional player can be, he shoots instead of passing. Perišić slammed his hands on the ground out frustration. Krama didn’t even look at him after wards. That’s is was worries me about Krama

  7. Maminjo says:


    Krama is definitely our most lethal striker, but yea, his biggest issue is that he is extremely selfish.

    He did that to Perišić against England (not only at the World Cup) but in the Nations League as well.

    Krama was surrounded by three defenders, and dribbled through a couple of them and scored into the top corner… With Perišić standing there, open, with his arms out wide in disbelief. Perišić didn’t even celebrate the goal.

    Krama just has that mentality of the striker having to be the one who scores all the goals.
    He doesn’t seem like he even has an ego, nor has he ever been a problem in the locker room (despite never being given a consistent starting role with us).

    He’s an amazing finisher though.
    His penalty on Schmeichel in our World Cup match against Denmark was BEAUTIFUL.
    Modrić and Kovačić need to take notes.

    Krama is better than Bruno, but Bruno is really good with our midfield. Big striker who doesn’t get pushed around easy, and loves to dribble in tight spaces.

    It’s a good problem to have. One of them has to start.. But never both at the same time.
    They’re only effective in that špica role.

  8. Slavonac from Canada says:

    Hey Stipe, I remember that incident well and in that situation he was totally wrong but I’ll tell you something I learned over the years. Many coaches want their goal scorers to finish…score goals and take every opportunity. It starts at practices where they demand each shot on goal has to end up in the goal…they even scream or the instructions “zavrsi akciju”, finish the play.

    Kramaric can take it a step too far if you ask me and the okay you’re talking about he should have passed the ball, but I think I know his mentality and I believe he thought he should have scored. It’s like practicing how to score goals…if you keep scoring, you become less nervous around the goal and it becomes second nature. I’m not condoning what he did but I do think that’s his frame of mind.

    I hope that made sense.

  9. Slavonac from Canada says:

    My bigger concern about Kramarić isn’t around the goal, it’s 40 yards out and going towards the goal. I feel he doesn’t connect out play very well. He tries to do too much on his own and that creates an issue because everyone else around him gets man marked and they’re all fucked. If he was greedy inside the box alone, I could handle it but he’s like that all over the field!

  10. Poglavnik says:

    Good point.
    Around the net it’s somewhat excusable. But the old I’m a striker excuse is a bit of a copout when you’re 40 yards out and your vision for a pass is obviously lacking.

  11. Bobby V says:

    Colin – How did you watch the Osijek game in HD? Are you in the States? A particular website?

  12. Colin O'Haravić Colin O'Haravić says:

    @Bobby – Youtube. It’s always a 50/50 shot, but someone is often streaming the games live and in HD.

  13. Maminjo says:

    Yea, sometimes if you just type “Hajduk Dinamo Uzivo” (or whatever two teams you are looking for), someone has a live HD stream going.

  14. CroatianPerson85 says:

    @Slavonac – spot on. He was selfish with Argentina and England. Kova did it once vs Nigeria and laid it off for Raketa for the Argentina goal whereas Krama still hasn’t learned.

  15. CroatianPerson85 says:

    @ Slavonac – and like you said nothing would piss me off more when playing when a guy is covered, has you open, tries to dribble and sees he can’t do something on his own and then passes when you’re marked. Pet peeve.

  16. Maminjo says:

    I’m surprised nobody brought up Kramarić trying to take credit for Mandžo’s opening goal against Nigeria.

  17. Stipe says:

    @ Slavonac from Canada and Maminjo

    I get both your points and agree with both of you.

    And thank you for both for your words.

    @ Maminjo. Lmaoooo That was funny when Kramarić tried to take credit for Mandzo goal against Nigeria. Your on point for bringing that up.

    That was a beautiful goal Kramarić scored against England at The Nations League. I was screaming “‘pass the fuckin ball” and it was a laser into the top corner.

    Your guys are both right. He seems like a humble dude. It’s not an ego thing, he’s a scorer at heart.

    Like the Late Great Biggie Said “ Shoot first / Asks questions last “

    The penalty against Denmark was a work of Beauty. He did it with such coolness. Even Vida took a more confident penalty then Modrić. I’m from Zadar, I would always love Modrić.

  18. Stipe says:

    @ ANYONE

    I forced my self to re-watch the Final against France. I would love to know what Vida was screaming about. It wasn’t that they lost the final.

    I don’t know if Vida was pissed at Lovren or Mandzo. Because you can see Mandzo pointing his finger at Vida’s chest. I can tell they were cursing. But who knows

  19. Stipe says:

    @ Slavanoc from Canada

    That’s situation I ask you about with the passing from Kramaric in the semi final. Does that thing get brought up in the locker room after the game even tho they won?

    I could see Perišić confront Krama after the game. If Kramarić passed the ball, Perišić had enough time to take a shit, wipe his ass, smoke a cig, take a shot of rakija, and still tap the ball in to score.

  20. Suba says:

    I think it may have been Mandzo telling off vida there stipe

    Mandzo would have blamed vida for the loss especially him being involved in the own goal and what happened in the second half

    It’s all about blame shifting that’s why Vrsaljko and Dalic quickly broke it off and unfortunate why Mandzo eventually retired too

  21. Suba says:

    Stipe I didn’t know you were a dalmatinac

    Your stocks have just raised up in my eyes

    Especially from Zadar beautiful part of Croatia and true defenders of Croatia bravo

  22. Slavonac from Canada says:

    Stipe, it gets brought up but it’s a sensitive topic. I can only speak from my experience from listening to a few coaches I’ve greatly respected.

    A coach has to always try to get the best/most out of each of his players. With that said, each player has a different psyche or state of mind. They want production without negatively affecting their players. Some guys are mentally tougher and others are fragile and then many in between.

    My guess is that Dalic would talk to Kramaric but not in an open environment. If he does, he most likely doesn’t want him to stop making attempts at scoring and he’d probably talk about who had the better percent chance of scoring.

    Players talk to each other as well. That also depends on their relationships with each other and approach. Some guys are really direct and can cause some friction and others will ask their buddy to try and keep their head up and make the better decisions.

    Overall, these guys all know the mindset of a goal scorer. I can’t imagine Suarez telling Messi to pass. I think it’s the same with Boksic and Suker…they know it’s not an easy topic so they probably approach these things lightly or even as a joke to reduce the stress of the topic.

    Just my opinion. I’m sure others have theirs but I can say I’ve seen this happen several time’s.

  23. Stipe says:


    My fathers side is from a cela less than 15 mins away from Zadar. All my 17 first cousins. I love it lol

    My mother and uncle and my Majka and Dida are from a cela 30 mins from Rijeka

    I Eat Gosti Kotar Food. But I’m an Dalmatinac at heart.

  24. Stipe says:

    @ Slavonac from Canada

    You made great points.

    My biggest worry is that our expectations our to high for Euro 2021. The teams in our groups, whoever they are and I really hope it’s on Serbia are going to be gunning to pay against us. What country wouldn’t be excited to beat the team that made to World Cup final ???? Mandzukic left a huge whole. Nobodyon our roster can replace what he did.

    I would not want to play against Serbia. Because if you have to play them in a game that takes us into the next round. They are at an advantage because they can play like they have nothing to lose. I would never want to play them in a knock out round match. All then pressure will be on us. The media everything.

  25. Stipe says:


    What were Mandzukic and Vida arguing about as soon as the Final whistle at the final?

    Vida played amazing against England. He played the best I’ve ever seen him play for repka in the World Cup.

    Lovren played extremely well against England as well.

  26. Suba says:

    That’s cool Stipe you have real strong genes there

    I would call it a post-mortem Croatian style

    It was our chance to win a World Cup and probably won’t come again

    The boys were obviously so disappointed they gave everyone and for the way it ended it was so heartbreaking

    We all felt it for me it felt like a death in the family I was so stunned and completely numb

    But on the bright making our first World Cup final will always remembered even if it does not happen again

    I wish a was a lip reader but I reckon Mandzo would have told vida a home truth or two don’t worry

  27. Maminjo says:

    The 24-team expanded Euro format has pretty much washed away the importance of the group stage.

    If you win one game, you’re likely to go through anyway.

    As exciting as that opening game against England in Wembley will be (as a World Cup rematch), the game is almost meaningless.

  28. Poglavnik says:

    I think Vida was pissed at himself and Mandzo was trying to tell him chin up, quit acting like an idiot. It was Vida that conceded the corner that led to the Perisic handball. A corner that was pretty easily avoidable.

  29. Elviss says:

    A sad part of the final is that our best guys were involved in some bullshit plays.


  30. Maminjo says:


    It’s a shame Euro 2020 couldn’t take place.

    Perišić came back from his injury and is in form. We probably would have made some noise.

    Hopefully everyone is healthy next year, and Modrić doesn’t decline over the next year.

  31. Niko says:

    I know most countries have developing talent, but this extra year might be just what Croatia needs, we have some young players/ injured players and some role players all kinda fining their stride.. if things go well “big if” we will be stronger on defense( pongracic, Caletacar) healthier/ deeper on the wings( brekalo, pjaca, perisic), midfield about the same and maybe deeper up top… next year could be a great mix of experience, talent and youth … just need a hot keeper

  32. Soul Champ says:

    Perišić looked lively today.

    He is a strong athlete who will age well.

    He will be viable for us over the next three years and two major tournaments.

    He is a two footed player that has under rated passing abilities.

  33. Stipe says:

    @ Poglavnik

    That’s a good point. Mandzo telling Suba “ shuttup, the whole entire world is watching us “

  34. Stipe says:

    My uncle died on June 20 2018 from cancer. He was 57. Broke my heart. He raised me as his own.

    He died the day before Croatia played Argentina.

    I believe my uncle truly helped me cope with Croatia doing well in the World Cup.

    Croatia losing a World Cup final is NOTHING compared to a death of a family member. Not even close.

    I am just proud we made a final and third place in 20 years. (5 tournaments)

    We made the final !!!!!!!! That’s amazing in itself

  35. Stipe says:

    Croatia should take a Knee next time they play France. During the French national anthem. The whole Croatian team should just knee it.

  36. Suba says:

    Sorry for your loss stipe

    My mum passed away also from cancer moments after srna banging in a goal against Germany at euro 08

    She had enough energy to open up her eyes so see the celebrations and she smiled

    She loved Croatia so much and had endured much especially being without a father at 6 months at the end of ww2 and her mother being left to raise 8 children

    I feel your pain

  37. Stipe says:


    That must’ve have been horrible for you. Such a big win for Croatia and your mom passes. My condolences.

    Yea I don’t remember the summer of 2018. Only thing I remember is the games Croatia played. The day after my uncle died, Croatia vs Argentina. Rebić scored. I screamed “ Thank you Drazen!!!” Watching Argentina play with 5 forwards and 5 defenders down 1-0. I was laughing and screaming “thank you Drazen” then the Modrić goal. Then the Raketa goal.

    I truly believe my uncle wanted me to stop crying and enjoy the World Cup.

  38. Stipe says:

    @ Suba

    I think our expectations are to high. The World Cup hangover effect

    1998, first game of euro qualifying we lose to Ireland.

    2002 France didn’t make it out the group stage. ( they did win Euro 2000 tho )

    Italy wins in 2006. Loses their first game to Croatia. A young Luka Modrić scores.

    Italy doesnt make it out the group in 2010

    Croatia does well in Euro 2008 (fuckin Turks) We don’t qualify for 2010.

    We are not a big country. We are fortunate of what we accomplished.

  39. Stipe says:

    I do not want to play Serbia. They will play like they have nothing to lose. That’s scary. And say what you want. Serbia do have talented players. They haven’t played well collectively. But that’s a team i rather not face in a last game of a group.

    Imagine playing them and we need a win and they need a tie ? Fuckin nightmare of October 2000.

  40. Suba says:

    You raise very good points stipe we must be cautious but try to build on this success

    We face those real complications however our pipeline this time is very good and we have decent depth too so I am somewhat optimistic that we could back up good tournaments

    I hope complacency does not set in but to reach another final would be tremendous but difficult

  41. Stipe says:

    @ Suba

    As long as Croatia plays well. Even if we lose in the round of 16 or the quarters. Whatever. As long as we play well. That’s the most important. I don’t get upset when we play well and lose. I do get upset when we’re “favorites” and we think we have an automatic wins. There is no such thing as automatic wins for us.

    As fans of the Repka, We don’t have automatic wins. History has showed us that plenty of times. We switch coaches like socks.

    As long as we continue to play well and grow as a team. That’s all I can hope for.

  42. Suba says:

    Agreed and with Dalic I believe we will continue to play well

    He had been such a positive influence considering the problems with coaches we had before him

  43. Stipe says:


    I don’t want us to lose 1-0 to let’s say Albania or Bulgaria (Team like that). And then they sack him. I don’t want to say one of legendary players coach. Bilic was the only one that could of pulled it off.

    Remember when Bilic benched Srna and Robby Kovac for in 2006 for staying out to late before the qualifying game against Russia? That is some gangsta shit.

    If I see Modrić coach Croatia in 15 years I’ll beat someone up lol

  44. Suba says:

    My only problem with Dalic is that for some reason does not see himself doing the job for much longer

    Maybe he’s doing reverse psychology haha

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