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THE VATRENI ARE BACK! Dalić Names Squad For Portugal/France Matches

August 18, 2020




It’s been nearly a year since we saw our beloved Vatreni hit the field, but on September 5th in Porto, the World Cup finalists will face Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal in their UEFA Nations League opener. Three days later, we will see a World Cup Final rematch between Croatia and France in Paris. These will be two action-packed games we’re not going to want to miss.






Even though it’s only Nations League, many of our Croatian internationals have been tearing it up this summer with their clubs. Ante Rebić has been on absolute fire at AC Milan. Luka Modrić played maestro in Real Madrid’s La Liga title run. Andrej Kramarić scored four goals against Borussia Dortmund on the last day of the Bundesliga season. Ivan Perišić could be scoring goals for Bayern Munich this Saturday in the Champions League Final.



But was is going to happen against Portugal and France when you put all that talent together?



The usual suspects have been called up with no surprise. It’s good to see Šime Vrsaljko in the squad as he was infected by COVID-19 last week. Also, Wolfsburg defender Marin Pongrančić has been called up to the national side for the very first time.



Sweden is the fourth team in this group. Two matches will be played in September, October, and November. First place goes to the semifinals while last place is relegated to the ‘B’ League.



Ante Kvartuč
Posted By: Ante Kvartuč 15 comments

  1. Suba says:

    Feels like it has been forever since we have seen our beloved Vatreni play

    Have been playing reruns to cope

  2. Maminjo says:

    Lovre Kalinic reduced to fourth goalkeeper. Ouch.

    It’s amazing how his form dropped from the way he was playing prior to (and during) the World Cup…to what it is today.

    Adrian Semper from Chievo will probably surpass him shortly.

    Good to see the Dalic Varazdin bias in selecting Dario Melnjak onto the squad lol. Easily our worst player there. At least Skoric and Bartolec aren’t there.

    I would assume Bradaric would have been selected instead of Melnjak. Maybe he’s injured.

    Note: Napoli want Bradaric too (these guys are after all of our U21 players)

  3. Maminjo says:

    Meljnak is garbage. He runs hard and puts in a lot of effort, yet still doesn’t really track back and defend nor are his offensive skills good enough to mesh with the players on our squad (can’t send in a decent cross or make a skilled pass). He’s kind of like a chicken with his head cut off out there. He’s only on the National Team because he’s cousins with Marko Rog, comes from Varazdin (just like Dalic), and they played a friendly in Varazdin (where Dalic called up and started Melnjak to satisfy the home crowd).

    Colak is actually a very underrated and skilled striker. But, he doesn’t really provide anything that Bruno Petkovic doesn’t already provide. He’s turning 27 soon, so I don’t see him as anything more than a bench player (but he has the skills to get a callup).

    Uremovic, I’ve never really watched…but he gets a lot of good reviews from news sites. He was an U21 player and plays in the Russian League. Is probably worth a callup to see what he can do. Still young, so he will likely improve.

    Skoric is probably one of the worst callups we’ve made in the past few years.

    Dalic is a strong believer in trying to unite the Croatian fans and his strategy includes playing games across Croatia and calling up local fan favorites (i.e. Skoric).

    Skoric was just called up to satisfy the Osijek crowd when we played a game there…but Skoric brings nothing to the team. He was actually awful in the few minutes he played, and even made a big mistake that almost cost us the game against Wales.

    Dalic can’t simply cut Skoric from the team one day after the callup. It would be too obvious that he called him up as a novetly to the local fans. He will slowly phase him out, by keeping him on standy forever.

    Melnjak and Skoric will (hopefully) both never be called up again.

    Uremovic and Colak may get a few minutes in Nations League to see what they can bring.

  4. BZ says:

    Let’s not forget Badelj’s spot should also be given to a young guy.

    Let’s say Rakitic starts over Vlasic, even in the highly unlikely event all 3 starters get injured, I see no scenario Badelj plays in an important game.

    1st team:Rakitic/Modric/Brozo
    2nd team: Vlasic/Pasalic/Kovacic

    Badelj not even playing so well at club level.

    Looking forward to the official decisions regarding:
    Petkovic vs Kramaric
    Rakitic vs Vlasic

    If Brozo is not mentally all there, I can see Dalic going
    Vlasic/Modric/Rakitic which would be amazing to watch as well.

  5. Like I said on the other post. Domagoj Bradaric is suspended I’m pretty sure because of his red card in his last U21 qualifier. That’s why he hasn’t been called up for them either but was on the senior team stand-by call ups for the friendly tournament that was supposed to be played in March.

    Melnjak, for me, isn’t really deserving of a call up. He played in that one friendly. I can’t remember who it was against, but it wasn’t a good team. He just looked really bad to me. Apparently he’s decent in the Turkish league, but I’d rather just use Jedvaj there if we really needed to.

    Uremovic is supposed to be one of the best defenders in the Russian league. He had the best tackle stats in the league in the past season. His main position is CB, but can play RB. Played RB for the U21s in the Euros last summer and I thought he was one of the few players who did a good job. I’d call him up instead of Melnjak.

    Skoric isn’t great and is not deserving of a call up. I agree with Maminjo there. I think Benkovic should have gotten that spot after performing well on his loan to Bristol City.

    I think Colak is decent as well. There’s a reason he used to play for Hoffenheim’s youth setup. But I’d say Kramaric > Petkovic > Budimir > Colak. So he doesn’t have much of a chance unless he somehow significantly improves.

  6. BZ says:

    Borna Barisic is the blessing in disguise.

    1)He knows he isn’t needed to help the attack, so he solidifies the defense. The days of Strinic screwing the pooch trying to be Marcelo are over.

    2) Barisic staying back more saves Rebic from dispensing too much energy covering for him.

  7. Maminjo says:

    I agree with you on Badelj.

    There’s nothing he provides that cannot already be provided by someone else. He’s 31 and on a downward trajectory. I’d rather grab someone younger like Basic or whoever, to give them a look. However, it’s not a big deal as our midfield is so stacked that whoever takes that last spot will get zero playing time. Maybe Badelj is a good locker room presence, so they keep calling him up.

    Re: Borna Barisic…
    He’s way better than Strinic and Pivaric, but he’s still not perfect.

    His late tackle against Bale was a clear penalty. It was not called because Bale did not go down and flop. If Bale was a flopper, that would have been a penalty and Wales would have won that game 2-1.

    Despite that gaffe, Barisic is steady and rarely makes mistakes. He’s similar to Vida in that he ensures that he is focused on his role as a defender…however, I always dream of us actually having capable defenders who can start a play, make a long pass, join in (occasionally) on the attack…like how Vrsaljko does.

    Guys like Bradaric and Pongracic are bigger talents than Vida and Barisic…and I think it would be a bad move if we don’t investigate this further by giving them minutes (or full games) in the Nations League.

  8. Andrej L says:

    The senior team call up should be posted in conjunction with the U21s. Several players are absent from the senior team because they get playing time for the U21s, this would obviously change closer to Euros. Guys like Semper, Sutalo, Sosa, and even Gvardiol are all senior level players depending on who’s picking the squad.

    Considering this is Nations League and not qualifiers why not experiment a little bit. Badelj is solid and dependable for the repka but has barely played in the last couple seasons. Rog has been consistently playing Calgari AND at the holding midfield position. But as I write this, I realize that he was hurt in his second last game so maybe he’s not fit.

    Here’s hoping Pjaca can stay healthy and find a new club. Too much talent to not be playing on a consistent basis. Hopefully, Benkovic can get some minutes too. Too bad Bradaric is suspended.

    Glad to see Pongracic on the list. Well deserved!

  9. Maminjo says:

    Yea, we’re all grasping at straws, but I guess that’s what we do here.

    The most important thing is that the 23 man squad is essentially 95% correct.

    I think it’s pretty unanimous that Melnjak is absolute trash and was an obvious coach’s pet selection. I’m hoping it’s also a case of Domagoj Bradaric simply not being available.

    Also, maybe remove the declining Badelj for a younger up-and-coming player (just to get them some minutes). But otherwise, the squad fine.

    Most importantly, we need to figure out the Petkovic vs Kramaric situation…and further evaluate the Vlasic vs Rakitic situation. These are two major recent changes that could decide how far we go in the next tournament.

    Also, we also need to see how Pongracic (and eventually Bradaric) are in our back four, to see if they can bring that lacking technical element back there.

    These four Nations League games cannot be wasted by giving players like Melnjak time to run around like an idiot. This is legit competition, in a tournament that actually has an impact on tournament seeding and qualifications.

  10. Soul Champ says:

    Portugal is physical affair always.

    So Dalic has to keep a rotation in mind for the France match coming on a quick 3 day turnaround.

    Rakitic – Modrić need to be subbed symbiotically with each other.

    I love Kovačić for the France match.

    Vlašić is a starter.

    He brings an explosiveness that teams cannot account for.

    I am curious to give Grbic a look as maybe his size can support us on set pieces?

    I need Modrić fresh for France.

    Kramaric is a world class finisher.

    Petković his skilled and big but lacks a bit of pace.

    Barišić compared to washed up Strinic and below standard Pivaric is a revelation.

    Vrsaljko returns??

  11. Maminjo says:

    Curious to see if Grbić is as good a keeper as Livaković, but with more size.

    Funny how he can’t get a game when on Hajduk, he goes to start at Lokomotiva, and now he’s on the National Team. Hajduk can’t seem to assess the talent they have.

  12. CiganJeCigan says:

    def-vrsaljko, lovren, vida, barisic
    mid-perisic, brozo, modric, rebic
    forward-kramaric, petkovic

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