Sunday, November 30, 2014

Croatia Greatest All-time Team

World Cup 1998

Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.

I have create an all-time Yugoslavian team that featured played from all the former republics.  This one is the all-time 23 member team for Croatia .  

Historically, Yugoslavia is loaded with football talents, but they did not perform as well as they should have. After the breakup of Yugoslavia, Croatia is the most successful national team of all the former republics.  In 1998, they made history by finishing 3rd at the World Cup in France.  They beat Germany 3-0 in the quarterfinal.  They led eventual winner France 1-0 in the semifinal before France scored twice to win 2-1.  After the World Cup in 1998, Croatia became a regular fixture at major tournament, qualifying for most of them.
World Cup 2018
GK: Vladimir Beara  
Vladimir Beara played on three World Cups; 1950, 1954 and 1958.  He was considered one of the greatest keepers from the Warsaw Pact.  With Hajduk Split , he won the Yugoslav league title in 1950, 1952 and 1955. In 1955, he moved to Belgrade's Red Star, where he won even more Yugoslav league titles, in 1956, 1957, 1959, 1960, and won the Yugoslav Cup in 1958 and 1959. He ended his career in German clubs Alemannia Aachen and Viktoria Köln.
Vladimir Beara 
GK  Franjo Glaser
Franjo Glaser was a keeper during the 1940's.  Before the war, he played 35 times for Yugoslavia.  After the invasion of Yugoslavia, Glaser played further 11 matches for Croatia, all four matches that Banovina Croatia played, and seven matches for the Independent State of Croatia    He is the only Yugoslav footballer who won national titles before and after the Second World War, with three different clubs BSK Belgrade, Građanski Zagreb and FK Partizan.

GK: Danijel Subašić
Danijel Subašić made his name with Hajduk Split. In 2012, he joined Monaco in France, winning Ligue 1 Goalkeeper of the Year: 2016–17.  Since 2010, he earned 44 caps.  He was the starting keeper at Euro 2016.  He was a hero of the 2018 World Cup team, where he saved 4 penalties in two penalty shootouts in the knockout stage as Croatia reached the Final.

RB:  Darijo Srna
Darijo Srna is one of the best wingbacks of his generation. He started Hajduk Split. He is best remembered for playing over 10 years for Shaktar Donetsk and winning the UEFA Cup with them in the 2008-2009 season.  He is both captain for his club and country.  He played 134 times for Croatia, having represented his country at the 2006 and 2014 FIFA World Cups, as well as at UEFA Euro 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016.
Darijo Srna
CB: Igor Stimac
Igor Stimac won 53 caps and scoring two goals, and a member of the Croatian squad that came third at the 1998 FIFA World Cup. He was also a member of the highly talented Yugoslavia under-20 team that won the 1987 FIFA World Youth Championship.  In his playing career he had three spells with Hajduk Split and also played for Cádiz in Spain and for Derby County and West Ham United in England. 

CB: Igor Tudor 
Igor Tudor was most notably a member of the national side that reached the semi-finals of the 1998 World Cup, eventually finishing in third place. He also represented Croatia at Euro 2004, and the 2006 World Cup.  For his club career, he started with Hajduk Split and spent 9 seasons with Juventus. He was a part of the mighty defensive unit of Juventus from 1998 to 2007.

CB/RB: Dario Šimić 
He earned 100 caps for Croatia. He was a member of the  national side that reached the semi-finals of the 1998 World Cup. He also played in the 2002 and 2006 World Cup Finals and three UEFA European Championships in 1996, 2004 and 2008. He played for both Inter Milan and AC Milan and Ligue 1 side Monaco, before returning to his home club, Dinamo Zagreb in 2010.

CB: Ivica Horvat
Horvat gained 60 caps.  He played in both 1950 and 1954 World Cup Finals and won a silver medal at the 1952 Summer Olympics.  In the Final, they lost the legendary Hungarian team of the 1950's. Horvat played from 1945 until 1957 for Dinamo Zagreb. In 1957 he moved to Germany to Eintracht Frankfurt, where he stayed until the end of his career.

CB/DM: Niko Kovac
Born in Germany of Croatian background,  Niko Kovac spent most of his career playing in the Bundesliga, where he played for Hertha Berlin, Hamburger SV, Bayern Munich and Bayer Lerkusen. He also played for Red Bull Salzburg. He earned 83 caps for Croatia and was their captain from 2004 onward.  He is Robert Kovac's older brother.

CB: Robert Kovac
Robert Kovac represented Croatia in two World Cup Finals, 2002 and 2006, and has also participated at two European Championships, 2004 and 2008.  He was the captain of the national team after his brother Niko retired.  He made his name with Bayer Leverkusen. He played a few of the biggest clubs in the world, notably with Bayern Munich and Juventus.  

LW/LB/CB: Branco Zebec 
Zebec was one of the greatest players ever from Yugoslavia. In his heyday the player from FK Partizan and Red Star Belgrade fascinated the world with his performances at the World Cups in 1954 and 1958. With Partizan he won 3 Yugoslav Cups (1952, 1954, 1957). With Red Star Belgrade he won the national championship in 1960. He led Yugoslavia to second-place at Euro 1960. 

LB: Robert Jarni 
Robert Jarni was a member of Yugoslavia's Golden Generation of the 1990's.  He went to the World Cup Finals in 1990 with Yugoslavia and later, represented Croatia at the World Cup Finals in 1998, where they reached the semifinal.  Professionally, he began Hadjuk Split had played in big clubs such as Juventus and Real Madrid as well as Real Betis where he played the longest.  He also played in England and Italy.
Robert Jarni

CM: Ante Zanetic
Ante Zanetic earned 15 caps for the Yugoslavia national team, and participated in the 1960 European Nations' Cup.  He won  Gold Medal at the 1960 Summer Olympics. He deflected to the West in 1961 when his club team Hajduk Split was playing in West Germany.  He moved to Belgium, where he played for for Club Brugge K.V. and Racing White. 

CM: Ivan Rakitic 
Born in Switzerland of Croatian background, Rakitic started his career with FC Basel. He played with Schalke 04 from 2007 and 2011.  Then, he moved to Sevilla in 2011.  At Sevilla, he won the Europa Cup in 2014.  He moved to Barcelona.  For Croatia, he earned 100 caps at the time of writing. He played in the midfield with Luka Modric as Croatia reached the Final of the 2018 World Cup Finals.

CM: Luka Modric 
Luka Modric is one of the greatest playmakers of his generation. He earned more 90 caps for Croatia.  He currently plays for Real Madrid and won the Champions' League for the 2013-2014,  2015-2016, 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 seasons.  He also played with Dinamo Zagreb and Tottenham Hotspurs.  He played in the World Cup Finals of 2006 and 2014, as well as the European Championship of 2008, 2012 and 2016. He was voted the best player of the World Cup Finals in 2018 as Croatia finished second.
Luka Modric
CM: Zlatko Čajkovski
He was considered one of the best Yugoslavian players ever.  He played for FK Partizan before moving to play for Koln in Germany. Internationally, he played between 1942 and 1943 twice for the Independent State of Croatia, and between 1946 and 1955 he played 55 times for the Yugoslav national team scoring seven goals. Participating at the Olympic Games 1948 and 1952 he won the silver medal on both occasions.  He also participated in the FIFA World Cups of 1950 and 1954. 

LW: Ivan Perisic
Perisic is a product of the Hajduk Split and Sochaux youth academies, he played for Club Brugge, where was named Belgian Footballer of the Year for 2011. He later played for Borussia Dortmund and Wolfsburg before joining Inter Milan in 2015.  For Croatia, he had over 70 caps.  He played in Euro 2012 and 2016, and the World Cup Finals of 2014 and 2018.

AM/CM: Zvonimir Boban
Zvonimir Boban was the captain of the national team that finished third at the World Cup in 1998.  He was also an important player of the highly talented Yugoslavia under-20 team that won the 1987 FIFA World Youth Championship. He was also remembered for his career with AC Milan with whom he won four Serie A and one UEFA Champions League titles. He also played Bari and Celta Vigo at the club level.
Zvonimir Boban
AM: Robert Prosinecki
Robert Prosinecki was considered one of the most talented players from Yugoslavia in the 1990's.  In 1987, Prosinečki was named the tournament's best player as Yugoslavia won the World Youth Championship.  He then played for Yugoslavia at the 1990 World Cup and for Croatia at the European Champion in 1996, and both of the 1998 and 2002 World Cups.  For his club career, he played for both Real Madrid and Barcelona, but he failed to establish himself at neither club.
 Robert Prosinecki
LW/FW: Bernard Vukas 
In 2000, he was voted by the Croatian Football Federation as the best Croatian player of all time.  He had 59 caps.  He was also a part of the Yugoslavia team in the 1950 FIFA World Cup and 1954 FIFA World Cup.  With Yugoslavia he won 2 silver medals in the Olympic games: 1948 and 1952. His career was associated with Hajduk Split, but he also played in Italy and Austria.

FW:  Stjepan Bobek 
He played for Partizan between 1945 and 1959 helping them win two Yugoslav First League titles and four Yugoslav Cups, and was named the club's greatest player in history in 1995. Internationally, he is the all-time top scorer for Yugoslavia, scoring 38 goals in 63 appearances between 1946 and 1956, and was member of Yugoslav squads which won two Olympic silver medals (in 1948 and 1952) and played in two World Cups (in 1950 and 1954).

ST:  Alen Boksic
Alen Boksic won the 1992–93 UEFA Champions League, and was voted fourth in the 1993 European Footballer of the Year poll. That same year, he was named Croatian Footballer of the Year. He also won two Serie A titles in 1997 and 2000 with Juventus and Lazio respectively, and is regarded as one of the best foreign players in the history of Serie A since 1980's.  He played for both Yugoslavia and Croatia.  He missed the 1998 World Cup Finals due to an injury.

ST: Davor Suker 
Davor Suker  was a part of Yugoslavia's Golden Generation in the 1990's.  He later played for Croatia, where he is the all-time leading scorer.  He is best remembered for finishing the top scorer at the World Cup Finals in 1998, where Croatia reached the semifinal.  For his club career, he won a Champions' League in 1998 with Real Madrid.  He also played with Sevilla, Arsenal, West Ham and 1860 Munich. He was Croatian Footballer of the Year: 1992, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998.
Davor Suker

Honorable Mention
Ivica Olić, Tomislav Crnković, Ivica Šurjak, Gustav Lechner, Jurica Jerković, Aljoša Asanović, Mario Mandžukić, Vedran Ćorluka, Velimir Zajec, Domagoj Vida, Josip Skoblar.

Squad Explanation
-- Vladimir Beara, Bernard Vukas, Luka Modric, Davor Suker and Branco Zebec are automatic selections.  No explanation is needed. Zvonimir Boban, Robert Prosinecki, Zlatko Čajkovski and Robert Jarni almost belong to this list.
-- Seven members of this all-time team went to the World Cup Finals in 1998: Igor Stimac, Igor Tudor, Dario Šimić, Robert Jarni, Zvonimir Boban,  Robert Prosinecki and Davor Suker.  Alen Boksic missed the Finals because of an injury.
-- Croatia reached the Final of the World Cup in 2018. After the World Cup Finals, Danijel Subašić replaced Stipe Pletikosa as the third keeper.  Ivan Perišić and Ivan Rakiticalso earned spots on the team.  Ivan Rakitic, Mario Mandžukić, Domagoj Vida and Vedran Ćorluka made honorable mention.
-- Luka Modric should now be considered Croatia's greatest ever player.  He was the best player at the World Cup Finals in 2018 as well as winning 4 Champions' League with Real Madrid.
-- Mario Mandžukić still has Bernard Vukas, Davor Suker, Alen Boksic and Stjepan Bobek ahead of him.  At this point, it is hard for him to displace the old-timers. 
-Ivan Perišić was probably Croatia's second best player in Russia.  He has not been recognised for his prior performance in big tournaments.  For tactical purposes, the team also needed a winger.  I dropped Gustav Lehner for him. 
-- I dropped Velimir Zajec for Ivan Rakitic. Rakitic accomplished a lot of things with Sevilla and Barcelona.
-- Vedran Ćorluka had a limited role in Russia, but he deserved the honorable mention for his 12 year career with the national team.
-- Nine playeres were on my Yugoslavia All-Time Team: Luka Modric, Ivica Horvat, Vladimir Beara, Robert Jarni, Branco Zebec, Zlatko Čajkovski, Bernard Vukas, Stjepan Bobek and Davor Suker.
-- Vladimir Beara was born in modern day Croatia.  He is of Serbian ethnicity.  The ethnic issue is very sensitive in the region.  He is chosen for both all time teams for Serbia and Croatia.  
-- Darijo Srna was the most underrated fullback of his generation.  He accomplished a lot with FC Shakhtar Donetsk, but if he played his club football in Western Europe, he would be a household names.  He is the most capped player in the history of Croatia with over 130 caps.  
-- Branko Zebec and Robert Jarni kept Tomislav Crnković out of the team.
-- The Kovac brothers were well-known players because they played in the Bundesliga.
-- Robert Prosinecki did not make my Yugoslavia All-Time Team, His failure to settle with Real Madrid and Barcelona cost him a spot there, but he easily made the Croatia all-time team.
--- Bernard Vukas was chosen in 2000 as the greatest Croatian player of the century.
-- Alen Boksic's club career was among the most successful for the Golden Generation in the 1990's.  He was as good as Davir Suker, but Suker has the World Cup Finals to back his credentials.
-- I have no space for Ivica Šurjak, Gustav Lechner, Jurica Jerković and Aljoša Asanović. Croatia has great midfielders. Luka Modric, Zvonimir Boban, Robert Prosinecki, Zlatko Čajkovski and Ivan Rakitic are ahead of them.

Starting lineup 
Formation: 4-3-3
Luka Modric is the greatest player from Croatia.  I started Davor Suker over Alen Bokšić because I rewarded Suker a starting position as a World Cup hero.

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