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Why Does No Club Want The Second Croatian Champions League Spot?

July 3, 2020

HNL Table



For the first time, I think ever, the 1. HNL has two Champions League places up for grabs. Whoever gets these places will still have to go through the qualifying stages to get into the group stage for the 2020-21 European season, but even so, it is a great opportunity for Croatian soccer as a whole. Dinamo Zagreb already has the first spot locked up after recently being crowned champions, but after recent results, it almost seems like the four teams in serious contention, Rijeka and Hajduk in particular, don’t even want the second spot. These teams are: Lokomotiva, Osijek, Hajduk and Rijeka. With just five points separating second and fifth place, let’s take a look at each team, see how they have been doing, and what their chances of getting the coveted second Champions League spot are with just four games remaining.



NK Lokomotiva – Lokomotiva is currently in 2nd place, ahead of third-placed Osijek by just one point. They have been pretty good since the restart with three wins, including a 1-0 win over Dinamo, two draws, and a loss. However, the 1-1 draw with Istra must have been disappointing for them as Istra is currently looking like they will finish in ninth place and have to fight for survival in a playoff. Lokomotiva has also had a couple weak results. For example, the 1-0 loss to Slaven Belupo. But, overall they have had a good season. They SHOULD win their next three games against Inter Zaprešić, Slaven Belupo, and Gorica. However, their final game of the season could end up being a “2nd vs. 3rd” place as they face Osijek, the only team they have lost to since the restart.



Osijek – Osijek and leading goal scorer Mirko Marić, have arguably been the best team since the restart. In this time, they have won four and drawn two. They won two crucial games against Lokomotiva and Rijeka and took home a 0-0 draw with Dinamo. They too have taken a couple bad results this season against bottom half teams. They played out a 0-0 draw with Slaven Belupo in their second game after the restart and have lost and drawn against Istra earlier in the season. Istra could come back to bite them again, which could be devastating if they do not manage to beat Hajduk on Sunday. After those two games, they will face Varaždin and have the aforementioned showdown with Lokomotiva.



Hajduk Split – Hajduk has not done amazingly well since the continuation of the 1. HNL. They started off well enough narrowly defeating Istra and Zaprešić. Then, they disappointingly lost 3-2 to Varaždin and then 3-2 to Lokomotiva. They then squeaked by 2-1 against Slaven Belupo before just recently losing 3-1 to Gorica. Those losses could really hurt them big time as they now have to face Osijek, Dinamo, and Rijeka before finishing off the season against Zaprešić. These are definitely games they can win. Osijek, in my opinion, might just be the toughest match up. Dinamo has been playing some youngsters a bit since the games are meaningless for them and have not been playing that well in general. Zaprešić is a game Hajduk should definitely win and Rijeka is currently looking very beatable.



Rijeka – What is going on with Rijeka? They kicked off their return to 1. HNL play with a 3-1 win over Istra and have not won a game since. They started their slide down the table with two draws against Varaždin and Lokomotiva. Now, they have lost three straight to Slaven Belupo, Gorica, and Osijek, only scoring once in those three games. They are going to have to turn it around very quickly and hope for results elsewhere if they want a chance at 2nd place. They face Dinamo this weekend at home, then play two games on the road against Zaprešić and Hajduk before returning home to finish off the season against Istra.



Who do you think will win the race to 2nd place? I think it will be Lokomotiva because they have the easiest schedule. This weekend will be crucial. If Rijeka lose, they are just about out of contention. Hajduk could even be in 2nd place after this week if they win, Lokomotiva loses, and Osijek drops points. As I like to say on a lot of my posts, only time will tell.



Nikola Vukmanić
Posted By: Nikola Vukmanić 14 comments

  1. Maminjo says:

    Which team embarrasses us the least in Champions League qualifying?

    Rijeka usually steps up their game considerably against European competition, but that was under Matjaž Kek.
    Osijek also does surprisingly well.

    Not sure if Lokomotiva would be able step up, but who knows.

    Hajduk usually does poorly, especially in recent years, and have been losing to random underdogs (like that Maltese team).

    I want Hajduk to grab second, but I’m afraid of them being embarrassed.

  2. Anonymous says:


  3. the truth says:

    the HNS must immediately disassociate itself with Slaven Bilic after some of his racist comments have come to light. the HNS like all european and american institutions is ingrained with system racism, carried out by the institution itself, the staff and the players

    Fivethirtyeight recently wrote an article on racism in soccer broadcasting, that black players are disproportionately praised for phsyical attributes like pace and power and criticized for intelligence and attitude whereas white players are praised for intelligence

  4. Anonymous says:

    We disassociate our selves from Mr truth.

  5. Maminjo says:

    @ truth

    So…Lukaku doesn’t have amazing pace and power which he uses quite often to score his goals?

    So…Nigeria’s Yori-Yori brand of football isn’t known for their (over)reliance on speed with their longball passes to their wingers?

    A black dude and white dude CAN play the exact same way, but there’s nothing racist about a footballing pundit making obvious comments about what he sees on the field.

    For example, Croatia is an extremely creative team with a star studded midfield. We’re always hearing about how creative the Croatian midfield is. Are we supposed to be upset that they’re not praising Rakitic for having pace and power?

    People are just desperate for something racist to write about.

    It draws attention and legitimizes you when your article or comments are shared. Unfortunately, the majority of people can’t cut through the bullshit and it divides the world.

  6. ElviSS says:

    Real Croats stick together . I don’t give a shit about
    what Super Slaven said.

  7. Send me da money My fellow Croats

  8. The truth says:

    After Senegal’s 2018 world cup victory, bilic made atrocious comments

  9. Stipe says:

    @the Truth.

    Go get a box of tissues and cry. I am so sick of this “can’t say single word about another race bullshit “ People are so sensitive. Pull your skirt down and grow a pair.


    If you want to, go back into the previous thread. I asked you two questions that I want to get your take on.

  10. U Boj says:

    @ truth

    Why are you on this site trying to cause trouble? Why are you desperate?

  11. Anonymous says:

    Truth Troll starting to stir again after a period of chilling out

  12. someguy says:

    @ the truth

    Dude….feel free to take your shit to some other site like reddit where I’m sure you’ll strike up a lively debate. This site is for discussing the sports aspect of sports, not your perceived racism in soccer broadcasting or Slaven Bilic’s comments.

  13. […] previously asked last week on this site it appears teams are trying to avoid clinching the newly-awarded second Champions League […]

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