Thursday, October 31, 2019

Netherlands Before Johan Cruyff "BC"

1934 World Cup Finals

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

Netherlands All-Time Team
North Holland 
South Holland
Dutch Players' surnames starting with "Van"
Italy after 1982Italy between 1938 and 1982
England After 1966 All-Time Team
Germany All-Time Team After Beckenbauer
Germany All-Time Team before 1972
Brazil All-Time Team After Pele 
Brazil All-Team Under Mari Zagallo
Brazil All-Time Team before 1958

This is my all-time 22-member for Dutch players before Cruyff "BC".  Before 2002, only 22 players went to a World Cup Finals.

During the 1970s, led by the talents of Johan Cruyff, Dutch football invented "Totel Football".  They suddenly made strides, finishing second in two World Cup Finals in the decade.  Their team in the 1974 World Cup Finals is considered to be one of the greatest national team ever.  This blog is about the period before the emerge of Johan Cruyff.  

In the Julian and Gregorian calendars, "BC" usually stands for "Before Christ".  In Dutch football, "BC" sometimes is used to stand for "Before Cruyff" to describe Dutch football in the era before the emerge of Johan Cruyff.   
I heard of the term "BC" (Before Cruyff) many years ago, but I did not really known much about Dutch football before the 1970's.  I really did not think that I have the knowledge to create a blog team about them.  In October, 2019, I did a review on my blog teams North HollandSouth Holland and the Rest of Netherlands.  Suddenly, I realised that I already have created profiles on many players who played before Johan Cruyff.  So I did a quick survey of all of my Dutch blogs and came up with 18 Dutch players who played before the 1970's.  Suddenly, I realised that I might be able to do a blog team.

Some players played with Johan Cruyff.  The eligibility is flexible  but in general, I look for player who retired from playing international football before the year 1970.  That year, Feyenoord won the European Cup, which put Dutch football on the map.  Then, Ajax won three straight European Cup afterward.  Some players continued their club career after the year 1970.
World Cup 1938
GK: Frans de Munck
Frans de Munck was nicknamed Black Panther because of his black hair and overall, de Munck was best remembered for his career with DOS Utrecht.  In 1950, he moved to play in Germany for Koln.  He was the club's first ever foreign player. While playing for the club, he starred in a German movie. He was capped 31 times between 1949 and 1960.

GK: Gerrit Keizer
Keizer started with Ajax Amsterdam before moving to play in England in 1930.  He played briefly with Kent side Margate, a feeder for Arsenal.  On August 30, 1930, he made his debit for Arsenal.  With the Gunners, Keizer went on to win the First Division title of 1930-31. This victory was Arsenal's first ever league title.  After a season, he played for Charlton Athletic and then, QPR.  He was capped once for Netherlands.  He was not picked for the 1934 World Cup.

GK: Eddy Pieters Graafland
Eddy Pieters Graafland started with Ajax in 1952, but was better remembered for playing with Feyenoord between 1958 and 1970.   He was a part of Feyenoord's European Cup victory in 1970. He also won 4 Eredivisie: 1960–61, 1961–62, 1964–65, 1968–69. He earned 47 caps for the Netherlands national football team between 1957 and 1967, but he did not attend any major tournament.

RB: Harry Dénis 
Harry Dénis participated in three consecutive Summer Olympics, starting in 1920.  He actually delivered the Olympic Oath during the opening ceremony of the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam.  Dénis started playing football with local side DVV and joined HBS aged 11. He would stay at the club for the rest of his career, winning the 1925 Netherlands Football League Championship with them. 

RB: Bertus Caldenhove 
Born in Amsterdam in 1913, Bertus Caldenhove was capped 25 times between 1935 and 1940.  He went to the 1938 World Cup Finals in France. He started playing football for SDZ then joined Door Wilskracht Sterk, where he was made captain when he was 18 years old.  He played his entire career there.

CB: Cor Van der Hart
Cor Van der Hart became the third Dutch player in history to play board and one of the first professional player in Netherlands when he joined Lille in 1950.  Before that, he played for Ajax.  Widely considered one of the best Dutch defender in history.  He had 44 caps, but the cap total largely was limited because the KNVB suspended all players that left the country to play professional football. 
Cor Van der Hart (R)
CB: Cor Veldhoen 
Cor Veldhoen spent his entire career with Feyenoord between 1956 and 1970.  He played over 380 games for them.  He was a member of the team that won the European Cup in 1970.  The trophy was the first ever European title won by a Dutch club team.  He earned 27 caps between 1961 and 1967 for the Dutch national team.  

CB: Mauk Weber 
Weber officially played for ADO' Den Haag's second team, when he was invited to join the national team.  In 1931, he made his official debut with national team against Denmark. He was 17 years old and three months. He played in both 1934 and 1938 World Cup Finals.  He earned 27 caps in total.  His club career was mainly spent with ADO Den Haag.   He also played with AGOVV Apeldoorn between 1935 and 1937.

CB: Wim Anderiesen 
Born in Amsterdam, Wim Anderiesen played for Romein and 't Gooi before being joining Ajax, where he would play from 1925 to 1940. With Ajax, he won five national titles.  He also earned 46 caps for the Netherlands national football team, and participated in the 1934 and 1938 World Cups.  His son Wim Anderiesen Jr. also played for Ajax.

LB: Kees Kuijs 
From 1955 to 1963, Kees Kuijs played for NAC Breda.  Cruyff named him as one of the greatest Dutch leftback.  He studied physiotherapy in Breda and tplayed as a semi-professional  with NAC.  He also played with HFC Haarlem. For Netherlands, he earned 43 caps between 1955 and 1962.  He was known with his partnership with rightback Roel Wiersma, whom played for PSV.

CM: Bok de Korver
De Korver played for Sparta Rotterdam between 1902 and 1923. He won the Dutch national title five times. De Korver scored his most notable goal in 1912, in a match against AFC Ajax. His goal won Sparta the national title.  De Korver played 31 caps for the Netherlands between 1905 and 1913, scoring one goal. He won two Olympic bronze medals, in 1908 and 1912. De Korver captained the latter team. He was also a player of the Dutch national team that beat England for the first time ever, in 1913.
Bok de Korver
CM: Mick Clavan 
Mick Clavan played for both ADO De Haag and SHS(Holland Sport) with two stints each for the two clubs, sandwiching each other.  Part of his club career was played as an amateur.  He earned 26 caps between 1948 and 1965.  His international career lasted nearly 17 years and it is the third longest for the Dutch national team.  He participated in the 1948 and 1952 Olympics. 

CM/LM: Puck Van Heel  
Puck Van Heel was an inside-left and left wing-half in the 1930's. He spent his entire career with Feyenoord.  He was a cornerstone of the Feyenoord success preceding the World War II, winning five Eredivisie Championships and two KNVB Cups. During his time there, he became the team captain for the club. He was capped 64 times, a record until 1979.  He went to the World Cup finals in 1934 and 1938.

Puck Van Heel

AM: Kees Rijvers 
Kees Rijvers was considered one of the best players in Oranje's history before the emerge of the Golden Generation of the 1970's. He started with NAC Breda before moving to play for St.Etienne in 1950. He would have three different stints with the French club.  he also played for Feyenoord.  from 1946 to 1960, he played 33 times for Netherlands. 

RW/WF: Jan de Natrus
Jan de Natris was voted as the greatest Ajax player of the first half of the 20th Century.  He had three stints for Ajax from 1914 to 1921, 1923 to 1925 and 1928 to 1929, playing alongside with Wim Gupffert.  He also playd for Vitesse. He played for Netherlands in the 1920 Summer Olympics in Antwerp, Belgium and the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris, France.  

LW: Coen Moulijn  
Coen Moulijn was considered the best left winger in Dutch football.  He started his career with Xerxes in 1954.  A season later, he joined Feyenoord. He stayed there until 1972. He won the European Cup and the Intercontinental Cup with them in 1970. He had 38 caps at a time when Holland was not considered a major power in football. He scored 4 goals for the Netherlands national football team.
Coen Moulijn  
FW: Wim Lagendaal 
Between 1930 and 1935, Lagendaal played 15 times, scoring 13 goals for Netherlands.  He was a part of Netherlands' World Cup team in 1934, but did not play in Holland's only match of the tournament in Italy. He played for XerxesDZB.  His daytime job was a manager at the Rotterdam police station, where he saved the lives of many Dutch footballers during the war,

FW: Abe Lenstra
Abe Lenstra was a club legend at SC Heerenveen in the 1950's. The club was nicknamed "Abeveen" because of his legendary status with the club.   He also played for SC Enschede and Enschedese Boys. For Oranje, he was capped 47 times, scoring 33 goals.  He was at one point Netherlands' all-time leading scorer.  he was known for his partnership with Faas Wilkes and Kees Rijvers. 

FW:  Faas Wilkes 
Faas Wilkes was one of the first Dutch player to play aboard.  In 1949, he joined Inter Milan, where he had the best of his career.  He also had a great career with Valencia..  He was considered to Holland's best player until the emerge of the Golden Generation of the 1970's. He was capped 38 times scoring 35 goals.  He was banned from the national team between 1949 and 1955 because KNVB did not select professional players. He was Netherlands' all-time leading scorer until 1998.

Faas Wilkes

ST: Kick Smit 
Kick Smit was a member of Netherlands' World Cup team in 1934 and 1938. He scored 26 goals in 29 matches for Netherlands.  He is the first Netherlands football player who scored a goal in a World Cup (27 May 1934 against Switzerland). During his club career, he played for HFC Haarlem.

ST: Coen Dillen 
Coen Dillen spent 12 years with PSV Eindhoven.  He scored 43 goals in the 1956/1957, a goal record for a single season that still remains unbroken today.  He scored twenty goals in a nine-match period between 27 January and 31 March 1957.  He also played for Brabantia. Internationally, he only played 5 times for Netherlands.

ST: Beb Bakhuys 
In his club career, Bakhuys played  for HBS, Zwolsche AC, Zac and VVV.  He alsop had a spell with THOR in his native Dutch East Indies while working for the Bataafsche Petroleum Maatschappij in Surabaya. He became the second Dutch player to play abroad when he joined FC Metz in 1937, in a move which ended his international career. Bakhuys scored 28 goals in 23 games for Netherlands. He represented them at the 1934 World Cup.
Beb Bakhuys 

Honorable Mention
Jus Goebel, Gejus van der Meulen, Henk Groot, Sjaak Swart, Roel Wiersma, Eddy de Neve, Bennie Muller, Leen Vente,  Daan Schrijvers, Bertus de Harder, Tinus Bosselaar.

Squad Explanation
-- Only 22 players go to the World Cup Finals before 2002.
-- I did not really known much about Dutch football before the 1970's.  Before the 1974 World Cuo Finals, Netherlands only qualified twice for the World Cup Finals, both in the 1930's. From 1908 to 1920, they won three straight bronze medals at the Olympics.
-- As mentioned, some players played with Johan Cruyff.  The eligibility is flexible  but in general, I look for player who retired from playing international football before the year 1970.  That year, Feyenoord won the European Cup, which put Dutch football on the map.  Then, Ajax won three straight European Cup afterward.  Some players continued their club career after the year 1970.
-- Johan Cruyff made his national team debut in 1966.  He was 27 years old at the time of the 1974 World Cup Finals.  So he was an active player with some of the players selected, but I still used 1970 as the cutoff year.  It was before Ajax winning the European Cups in the 1970-1971 season.
-- Feyernood won the European Cup in 1970, which put Dutch football on the map.  I thought whether that moment in history should be a consideration as a part of Cruyff's generation.  In the end, I decided to include players on that team because they achieved that before Johan Cruyff secured his place one of the greatest footballers in the history of the game.
-- I mentioned that I do not know much about Dutch football before Cruyff, but I do know the following players as household names: Kees Rijvers, Puck Van Heel,  Coen Moulijn, Faas Wilkes and Cor Van der Hart.  They are my automatic selections.
--  I do not know if I have the three keepers on the team correctly.  Before I started my research on this Dutch "BC" team, I heard of Eddy Pieters Graafland and Frans de Munck, but I do not claim to be an expert on the subject.  I simply googled the internet for information and clues about football in Netherlands.  Jus Goebel and Gejus van der Meulen are my fourth and fifth goalkeeper, but not necessity in that order.
-- GK Gerrit Keizer made a name outside of Netherlands with Arsenal at a time when Dutch footballers were mainly amateurs. He was not picked for the 1934 World Cup Finals.  I do not know the reason.  Perhaps, it had to do with professional football, but I still rewarded him with a spot.
-- Jus Goebel helped Netherlands to win a bronze medal at the Olynmpics.
-- Both Eddy Pieters Graafland, Cor Veldhoen and Coen Moulijn played with Johan Cruyff on the national team.  Eddy Pieters Graafland and Cor Veldhoen played on Johan Cruyff's 1966 national team debut game against Hungary.  
-- Eddy Pieters Graafland's international career ended in 1967.  However, he was known for Feyenoord's European Cup victory in 1970.
--  Coen Moulijn played with Johan Cruyff on the national team, but he missed out the 1970 generation that defined "Total Football".   His last match for the Netherlands was in 1969.
-- Beb Bakhuys was one of the first Dutch players to play professional football.
-- I do not know Mauk Weber's position, but he is probbaly a defender in a 2-3-5 formation, which is probably a centerback.
-- I might be wrong about my rightbacks. Roel Wiersma is also mentioned among the greatest Dutch right backs.  Meanwhile, Sjaak Swart played international football until 1972.  So he is not eligible.
-- Johan Cruyff named Kees Kuijs as the greatest Dutch left back.
-- Eddy de Neve scored a hatrick against Belgium in Netherlands' first ever international match, but I do not really know much about him.


Friday, October 18, 2019

What if Yugoslavia World Cup 2018

This blogger Artur Yanturin of Russia copied this blog team.  His entry was written in November 2020, but mine was uploaded in 2019.  He also copied many many of my blog entries.  His Spartak Moscow All-Time team entry of was published in October 2020, but mine was uploaded in 2017.  His entry of the Dutch-German rivalry between Real Madrid and Barcelona was written in 2020, but mine was uploaded in 2014.  He also copied many many of my blog entries.

His Facebook and Instagram

Ovaj bloger Artur Yanturin iz Rusije kopirao je ovaj blog tim. Njegov unos je napisan u studenom 2020., ali moj je učitan 2019. On je također kopirao mnoge mnoge moje unose na blogu. Njegov unos za momčad Spartak Moskva za sva vremena objavljen je u listopadu 2020., ali moj je učitan 2017. Njegov unos o nizozemsko-njemačkom rivalstvu između Real Madrida i Barcelone napisan je 2020., ali moj je postavljen 2014. On je također kopirao mnogo mnogo mojih unosa na blogu.

Овај блогер Артур Јантурин из Русије копирао је овај блог тим. Његов унос је написан у новембру 2020., али мој је постављен 2019. Он је такође копирао многе моје уносе на блогу. Његов унос за Спартак Москва за сва времена за тим је објављен у октобру 2020, али мој је постављен 2017. Његов унос о холандско-немачком ривалству између Реал Мадрида и Барселоне написан је 2020, али је мој постављен 2014. Он је такође копирао много много мојих уноса на блогу.

Этот блоггер Artur Yanturin of Russia copied этот blog team. Его введение было написано в Ноябрь 2020, но меньше было добавлено в 2019. Он также получил много людей из моих blog entries. Его Спартак Москвы все время команда была запущена в октябре 2020 года, но она была запущена в 2017. много людей из моего blog entries.

Croatia World Cup 2018
Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.

Hungary World Cup 1950
Sweden World Cup1950
Austria-Hungary 1954
Argentina World Cup 1958
Scotland World Cup 1970
United Kingdom World Cup 1970
England World Cup 1974
United Kingdom World Cup1982
Spain without Catalan players World Cup 2010
USA World Cup 2010
If Ronaldo and Messi played for Australia in 2006
Brazil 1982 with Careca,etc
Ireland/Northern Ireland Combined Team 1986 World Cup

Croatia made history in the 2018 World Cup Finals by reaching the Final before losing to France.  Serbia also qualified for the Finals.  It was not the first time ever that more than one former republics of Yugoslavia to have qualify for the World Cup Finals.  In fact, all World Cup Finals after the breakup of Yugoslavia has seen the 
participation of more than one team from the region. 

Considering the talent pool from the former Yugoslavia, it is reasonable to speculate that the combined team would have been stronger in 1998 when two former republics performed well, or in 1994 when key players from the successful 1990s generation were in their prime (I did a blog team for Yugoslavia in the 1994 World Cup Finals). However, they came closest ever of winning a World Cup in 2018.  If Croatia were to be reinforced with additional players from the former Yugoslavia, it would certainly be intriguing to envision the team's enhanced capabilities. The fusion of talent from various republics could potentially create a formidable force capable of achieving even greater success on the international stage.

Yugoslavia always had the talents in football.  They actually underachieved. It only had two semifinal appearances in the World Cup Finals and two second place finishes in the European Championship. They managed to win a Gold Medal at the 1960 Olympics. Yugoslavia probably would have done something in the 1990's with its talent team (Yugoslavia at USA 1994).  I really do not understand the politics and ethnic issue of the region before the breakup.  So I am not going to say anything further.

Serbia World Cup 2018
GK: Jan Oblak (Slovenia/Atletico Madrid)
Jan Oblak made his debut for Olimpija Ljubljana at hime in the 2009–10 season aged 16 before joining Benfica in 2010.  Starting in 2014, he plays for Atletico Madrid in Spain. At the time of writing, he has won La Liga's Zamora Trophy three times for their best goalkeeper.  At the international level, he became the first-choice goalkeeper of the national team after the international retirement of Samir Handanović at the end of 2015.
Jan Oblak 
GK: Danijel Subašić (Croatia/Monaco) 
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.

GK: Asmir Begovic (Bosnia and Herzegovina/Bournemouth)
The Begović family fled the Bosnian War to Germany and moved Canada when Asmir was 10 years old. He grew up in Canada and played for their youth team before switching to play for Bosnia and Herzegovina senior team. He helped Bosnia and Herzegovina to qualify for the WC in 2014.  Professionally, he started with Portsmouth. He spent most of his career with Stoke City in England. He was used as a backup for Chelsea.

RB: Šime Vrsaljko (Croatia/Atletico Madrid)
Šime Vrsaljko played with Dinamo Zagre between 2009 and 2013.  he then played for Genoa and Sassuolo.  In 2016, he joined Atletico Madrid. At the time of writing, he is on loan with Inter Milan.  He earned over 40 caps.  He played UEFA Euro 2012 and the 2014 and 2018 World Cups.

RB: Branislav Ivanović (Serbia/Zenit Saint Petersburg)
Ivanović began his career with FK Srem. He later played with OFK Beograd and Lokomotiv Moscow. In January 2008, he joined Chelsea.  He won nine major honours with Chelsea, including the Champions League and the Europa League. He is only five foreign players to appear in over 300 matches for the club. He has the most appearances for the Serbian national team in its history, having played 105 matches. He went to 2010 and 2018 World Cup.

CB: Stefan Savić (Montenegro/Atletico Madrid)
Stefan Savić started his career at Brskovo, before moving to BSK Borča, and then to FK Partizan. He won the double with Partizan, and then joined Manchester City in 2011, winning the Premier League title in his only season there. In 2012, he was transferred to Fiorentina, before signing with Atlético Madrid in 2015, where he won the Europa League in 2018. Since 2010, he has played over 50 times for Montenegro.
Stefan Savić 
CB: Dejan Lovren (Croatia/Liverpool)
Dejan Lovren began his career at Dinamo Zagreb before moving to Olympique Lyonnais in 2010.  He signed for Southampton in 2013. After one season with Southampton, he joined Liverpool, being part of the squad that won the UEFA Champions League in 2019. At the time of writing, he has over 50 caps for Croatia.

CB: Domagoj Vida (Croatia/Dynamo Kyiv)
In 2010, Vida joined Bayer Leverkusen. A season later, he joined Dinamo Zagreb, where he played until 2014.  From 2013 to 2018, he played Dynamo Kyiv.  In 2018, he joined Beşiktaş.  Since 2010, he had over 70 caps. He went to 2014 and 2018 World Cup Finals as well as Euro 2016.

CB: Nikola Milenković (Serbia/Fiorentina)
Nikola Milenković played for FK Partizan at home from 2015 to 2017.  Then, he joined Fiorentina in Italy with a loan spell with FK Teleoptik. He made his international debut for the Serbia in a friendly 3–0 loss to Qatar on 29 September 2016. Since then, he has earned over 16 caps.  He played in the 2018 World Cup Finals.

LB: Aleksandar Kolarov (Serbia/Roma) 
Aleksandar Kolarov began his career at Red Star Belgrade, but he moved onto Čukarički in 2004. Two years later, he joined OFK Beograd before signing for Lazio in Serie A. In 2010, he joined Manchester City, with which he won two Premier League titles, the FA Cup and the League Cup. He now plays for AS Roma in Italy. He has over 70 caps for Serbia. Kolarov was a member of Serbia's squads for the 2010 and 2018 World Cup Finals. He was named Serbian Player of the Year in 2011.
Aleksandar Kolarov 
LB/CB: Sead Kolasinac (Bosnia and Herzegovina/Arsenal)
Born in Germany of Bosniak parents, Sead Kolasinac made his professional debut with Schalke 04 in 2012.  In 2017, he joined Arsenal.  He represented Germany at the youth level.  However, in 2013, he made his senior debut with Bosnia and Herzegovina in a game against Argentina. He went to the 2014 World Cup Finals.

CM: Ivan Rakitic (Croatia/Barcelona)
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: Miralem Pjanić (Bosnia and Herzegovina/Juventus)
Pjanić started his career at Metz.  He signed for Lyon in 2008 before signing for Roma in 2011. In 2016. Pjanić joined Juventus. , He was named Serie A Team of the Year for 2015–16, 2016–17 and 2017–18 seasons.  Pjanić made his senior international debut for Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2008, earning 90 caps and scoring 15 goals since. He went to the 2014 World Cup.

DM: Nemanja Matić (Serbia/Manchester United)  
Nemanja Matić began his career at Kolubara, before joining Slovak side Košice in 2007. He moved to Chelsea in 2009. With Benfica, he won the Primeira Liga Player of the Year award.  He returned to Chelsea in 2014. He was named in the PFA Team of the Year for the 2014–15 season. In 2017, he joined Manchester United. With Serbia, he has over 48 caps since 2008. He went to 2018 World Cup. He was the Serbian Player of the year twice.
Nemanja Matić
CM: Marcelo Brozović (Croatia/Inter Milan)
Marcelo Brozović played for Hrvatski Dragovoljac at home. After the 2010-2011 season, he joined Lokomotiva. From 2012 to 2015, he played for Dinamo Zagreb.  In 2015, he moved overseas joining Inter Milan, where he became a key player.  Since 2014, he has over 50 caps for Croatia.  He went to the 2014 and 2018 World Cup Finals and the European Championship in 2016.

CM: Granit Xhaka (Kosovars with Switzerland/Arsenal)
Xhaka began his career at Basel. He then moved to Bundesliga team Borussia Mönchengladbach in 2012. He was made captain of Borussia Mönchengladbach in 2015 at the age of 22. He moved to Arsenal in 2016.  He has considered to play for Albania due to his Kosovan Albanian.  He has represented Switzerland since 2011. He played in Euro 2016, the World Cup 2018 and Euro 2020.

CM: Sergej Milinković-Savić (Serbia/Lazio), 
Born in Spain when his father Nikola played football there,  commonly known mononymously as Sergej,  Milinković-Savić started with Vojvodina at home in 2013.  Later, he played a season with Genk in Belgium before joining Lazio in 2015. Since 2017, he started to represent Serbian national team.  He played in all three matches at the 2018 World Cup.

AM/CM: Luka Modric (Croatia/Real Madrid)
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
AM: Josip Iličić  (Slovenia/Atalanta)
Josip Iličić played for SC Bonifika and Interblock before joining Maribor.  From 2010 to 2013, he played for Palermo and from 2013 to 2017, with Fiorentina. Then, he joined Atalanta in 2017.  He was on the Serie A Team of the Year: 2018–19.  Since 2010, he played for the Slovenian national team.  At the time of writing, he had over 65 caps.

RW/AM: Xherdan Shaqiri (Kosovars with Switzerland/Stoke City)
Shaqiri was born in Yugoslavia, to Kosovar Albanian parents, but moved to Switzerland.  He started with Basel. He then played for Bayern Munich between 2012 and 2015.  He then played for Inter Milan and Stoke City before moving to Liverpool in 2018.  Since 2010, he has played fro Switzerland.  He went to 2014 and 2018 World Cup Finals as well as Euro 2016.  he helped Switzerland to reach the semifinal of UEFA Nations League in 2019.

FW/RW/LW: Ivan Perišić (Croatia/Inter Milan)
Ivan 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 was a part of the team that finished second in the 2018 World Cups.  He also played in Euro 2012 and 2016, and the World Cup Finals of 2014.
Ivan Perišić 
ST: Mario Mandžukić (Croatia/Juventus)
In Croatia, Mandžukić played with Marsonia, NK Zagreb and Dinamo Zagreb.  Then, he played with Wolfsburg, Bayern Munich and Artletico Madrid.  With Juventus, his  bicycle kick goal against Real Madrid in the Champions League Final went on to win the 2016–17 UEFA Goal of the Season award.  From 2007 to 2018, he played 89 times for Croatia. He was a hero at the 2018 World Cup, scoring the winning goal in the semifinal.

STEdin Džeko (Bosnia and Herzegovina/AS Roma)
Edin Dzeko is probably the most famous player for Bosnia and Herzegovina not from the era under Yugoslavia. He has played over 80 times for his country and scored 52 goals since 2007, becoming the highest Bosnia and Herzegovina goalscorer of all time. He led Bosnia and Herzegovina to qualify for the World Cup in 2014.  He had a great career with Wolfsburg and moved to Manchester City in 2011.  At the time of writing, he plays for Roma, helping the club to reach the semifinal of the Champions' League in 2018.
Edin Džeko 
Honorable Mention
Vladimir Stojković (Serbia), Aleksandar Mitrović (Serbia), Matija Nastasić (Serbia), Vedran Ćorluka (Croatia), Andrej Kramarić (Croatia), Ante Rebic (Croatia), Ivan Strinić (Croatia), Bojan Jokić (Slovenia), Goran Pandev (North Macedonia), Dušan Tadić (Serbia), Mateo Kovačić (Croatia), Stevan Jovetić (Montenegro), Adnan Januzaj (Belgium of Kovoso background), Haris Seferović (Switzerland of Bosnian background).

Squad Explanation
-- Because of the Yugoslav War of the 1990's, ethnic issue is a problem in the region. Can the players get along? This is only an imaginary team and it is a beautiful game where people find joy.  it's best to avoid delving into those sensitive matters. It's worth noting that some players on this team are also teammates at the club level, which could contribute to a sense of harmony within the squad. Therefore, the team's cohesion might not be as compromised as initially anticipated.
-- I do not believe the additional of better players would have changed much.  It takes more than just better players to win a World Cup.  So this is just a fun blog.
-- I tried my best to use the prospectives of the team before the World Cup Finals for my team selection.  
Jan Oblak, Luka Modric, and Edin Džeko were unquestionable picks for the team, their inclusion requiring no further explanation. Similarly, Aleksandar Kolarov, Nemanja Matić, Miralem Pjanić, Mario Mandžukić, and Ivan Rakitić were likely regarded as obvious choices for the squad.
-- The backbone of the team is still the Croatian national team at the 2018 World Cup Finals.  I selected nine players from Croatia.  They are Luka ModricMario Mandžukić, Šime Vrsaljko, Danijel Subašić, Dejan Lovren, Ivan Perišić, Ivan Rakitic, Marcelo Brozović and Domagoj Vida.
Ivan Rakitic and Dejan Lovren
-- I have five from Serbia, four from Bosnia and Herzegovina, two from Montenegro and one from Slovenia. I do not have players from North Macedonia and Kosovo, but I selected two Kosovars playing for Switzerland. Four players were born outside of the former Yugoslavia.
--I have not chosen any players from the national team of Kosovo, but I have selected Xherdan Shaqiri and Granit Xhaka from Switzerland instead. Xherdan Shaqiri was born in the former Yugoslavia, while Granit Xhaka's family sought refuge in Switzerland during the war, where he was born. Had the war not occurred, it is likely that they would be residing in Yugoslavia, much like Luka Modric or Edin Dzeko. Ivan Rakitic, who was born in Switzerland, decided to play for Croatia. If Kosovo had gained independent football status earlier, they might have represented Kosovo, similar to Rakitic representing Croatia. The players I have chosen share similar backgrounds.
-- Xherdan Shaqiri and Granit Xhaka scored against Serbia while playing for Switzerland at the 2018 World Cup.  They made controversial gestures after their goals, but I overlooked that. 
-- Zlatan Ibrahimović's parents left the former Yugoslavia in the 1970's. Their departure had nothing to the breakup of Yugoslavia.  If Yugoslavia remained intact in 2018, Ibrahimović would still be playing for Sweden.  Besides, he has retired from playing internationally.  
-- Jan Oblak (Slovenia) won the Zamora Trophy in Spain in the 2017-2018 season. He is one of the best keepers in the world. 
--Danijel Subašić showcased his exceptional goalkeeping abilities during the 2016-2017 season, earning him the prestigious title of Ligue 1's Goalkeeper of the Year. His outstanding performances played a crucial role in AS Monaco's triumphant campaign, as they clinched the Ligue 1 title.  Furthermore, in Russia, he played a crucial part in Croatia's journey, aiding them in securing victory in two penalty shootouts.  triumphant campaign, as they clinched the Ligue 1 title. 
-- Samir Handanovic (Slovenia) has retired from the national team so he was not considered. He was a starting goalkeepr in Italy for Inter Milan that season.
-- Vladimir Stojković (Serbia) was Serbia's starting goalkeeper in Russia, but I went with Asmir Begovic as the third goalkeeper who was a much more famous keeper.
-- Šime Vrsaljko was not a key player for Atletico Madrid that season, but he started in the 2018 Europa League final for them. Branislav Ivanović was 34 at the time of the World Cup Finals, but "Yugoslavia" would probably take him since he was their most experienced fullback.  In real life, he went to the World Cup Finals with Serbia.  
-- But I did not do the same for Vedran Ćorluka.  Croatia took him to the actual World Cup Finals. He was one of Croatia's most experienced defender.  As the captain of FC Lokomotiv Moscow as they won the league before the World Cup Finals, he would be playing at "home", but I still could not find space for him.  He was injured throughout the Fall of 2017.  He had returned to the lineup with his club by Spring, 2018, but he did not play regularly.  
-- Instead, I opted for younger and healthy defenders.  Stefan Savić and Dejan Lovren were at their primeoin 2018.  Savić showcased his skills in numerous matches for Atletico Madrid, a renowned team recognized for its defensive prowess, as they secured a second-place finish in the league. Meanwhile, Lovren played a pivotal role in Liverpool's journey to the Champions League Final. Nikola Milenković was an emerging star from the region.  He made 26 appearances for Fiorentina that season.
-- I always noticed Domagoj Vida because of his ponytail.  He stood out in Euro 2016 as well as the World Cup Finals.  He made some controversial comments during the actual World Cup, but I overlooked that. 
-- Matija Nastasić was excluded in Serbia's real World Cup team in Russia. So I did not consider him.
-- Aleksandar Kolarov (Serbia/Roma) captained Serbia at the World Cup Finals.  For the backup leftback, I preferred Sead Kolasinac over Bojan Jokić (Slovenia).  Kolasinac is more famous due to playing for Arsenal.
-- Miralem Pjanić's exceptional performances earned him a well-deserved spot in the Serie A Team of the Year for the 2017-2018 season. He has been a star with Juventus for a few seasons. Marcelo Brozovic proved to be a crucial asset to Inter Milan during his time in Italy, making significant contributions to the team. Nemanja Matić joined Manchester United in the summer of 2017.  He was a big name player that year.  The last or not least was Ivan Rakitić who was playing in Barcelona at the time.  Overall, Granit Xhaka's career in Arsenal was mixed, but he started most of Arsenal's games in the 2017-2018 season.
Granit Xhaka
-- Meanwhile, Mateo Kovačić (Croatia) was mainly used as a sub in Real Madrid. So I went for the other higher more profile players. 
-- Luka Modric won the Champions' League in 2018.  It was Real Madrid's fourth titles in 5 season. After Russia 2018, he is probably considered to be the greatest ever player from the former Yugoslavia.  He won Ballon d'Or in 2018, the first player from there to have won it--- Both Josip Iličić and Dušan Tadić were their club's top player in the 2017-2018 season.  While Dušan Tadić's Southampton struggled in the Premiership and the FA Cup, Josip Iličić's Atalanta finished 7th and reached the semifinal of Coppa Italia.  I read a review of Tadic's season from a Southampton fan site.  It did not have a positive review. Atalanta also played in Europa Cup.  Josip Iličić scored 15 goals that season.  So I took him over Tadic.  Coincidently, both players broke out the season after the World Cup Finals.
-- Stevan Jovetić moved to AS Monaco in the summer of 2017.  I do not watch many games of him since his days with Fiorentina. At one point, he was considered a future star in Europe.  He scored 7 goals for Montenegro during the actual World Cup qualifiers.  He edged out Andrej Kramarić who contributed to Croatia's World Cup run in 2018. I based my selection on performance and/or reputation before the tournament.  In August, 2020, I did a review and decided to include Kosovar players in exile.  I took Xherdan Shaqiri over Jovetić.
-- Xherdan Shaqiri gained fame through his stints with Bayern Munich and Inter Milan.  However, by 2018, he was playing for Stoke, but he secure a move to Liverpool in the summer of 2018. Ivan Perišić had established himself in Inter Milan. He was still underrated before the World Cup Finals.  He was one of Croatia's best players at the actual tournament.  Adnan Januzaj represented Belgium in Russia.  He scored a goal against England.  He made honorable mention.
-- Edin Džeko scored 24 goals for AS Roma in the 2017-2018 season.  He is probably the greatest player for Bosnia and Herzegovina.
-- I considered taking striker Goran Pandev as a representative from North Macedonia, but he only scored 5 goals that season. 
-- By 2018, Mario Mandžukić had played some of the biggest clubs in Europe. That season, he only had 10 goals for Juventus.
-- Aleksandar Mitrović (Serbia) was playing fine in the second half of the 2017-2018 season, but he was playing in the lower division with Fulham.  With Newcastle United in the first half of the season, he was not doing well.  I did not take him to Russia.
-- Haris Seferovic was born in Switzerland.  Liked Zlatan Ibrahimović, his parents were not refugees from the war.  So his eligibility for this team came into question. He transferred to Benfica in the summer of 2017.  He only scored 6 goals his first season.  His career in Portugal took off after the World Cup Finals.  I decided not to take him.
--  I mentioned above that Zlatan Ibrahimović' ineligible due to the fact that his parents left Yugoslavia long time ago.  Besides, in April 2018, Ibrahimović made a move from Manchester United to LA Galaxy. It's worth mentioning that he had previously suffered an ACL injury in 2017. Although he made a swift recovery, he ultimately decided to part ways with Manchester United and seek new opportunities elsewhere.  Furthermore, he retired from international football by 2018.
Croatia World Cup 2018

4-3-3 Diamond
The team is still dominated by Croatian players, but I am able to add 6 players to the starting lineup.  Two of my defenders Stefan Savić (Montenegro) and Šime Vrsaljko (Croatia) played with goalkeeper Jan Oblak (Slovenia) at Atletico Madrid. Pjanic (Bosnia and Herzegovina) has played with Mario Mandžukić (Croatia) at the Juventus. Aleksandar Kolarov (Serbia) and Edin Džeko (Bosnia and Herzegovina) played with AS Roma.