Friday, October 18, 2019

What if Yugoslavia World Cup 2018

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

Rest of the former Yugoslavia without players from Croatia and Serbia.  
Sweden World Cup1950
Argentina World Cup 1958
Scotland World Cup 1970
United Kingdom World Cup 1970
England World Cup 1974
United Kingdom World Cup1982
United Kingdom World Cup 1994
Yugoslavia World Cup 1994
France World Cup 1994
Germany World Cup 2002
Netherlands World Cup 2002
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 the national team of Yugoslavia has more than a single team from there. I do believe that the former "Yugoslavia" would have a better combined team in 1998 when two of its former republics did well or in 1994 when some of the key players from the 1990's 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.  So what if Croatia was reinforced with more players from the former Yugoslavia?

Yugoslavia always had the talents in football, but 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)
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. Dsince 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: Mateo Kovačić (Croatia/Real Madrid)
Mateo Kovačić began his career with Dinamo Zagreb at the age of 16,  before joining Inter Milan in 2013. In 2015, he joined Real Madrid, winning three Champions League titles with the club.  At the time of writing, he plays for Chelsea. He represented Croatia in the 2014 and 2018 World Cup Finals and an European Championship in 2016.

CM: Marcelo Brozović (Croatia/Inter Milan)
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.  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: Sergej Milinković-Savić (Serbia/Lazio), 
Born in Spain when his father Nikola played football there, 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: Dušan Tadić (Serbia/Southampton)
Tadic made his debut with FK Vojvodina. After two seasons with FC Groningen he joined FC Twente in 2012, where he earned a move to Southampton of the Premier League. After four years in England, Tadić returned to the Netherlands in 2018, when he joined Ajax. Since 2008, he earned over 65 caps.  He played in the 2018 World Cup Finals.

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 
SS/AM/FW: Stevan Jovetić (Montenegro/Monaco) 
Jovetic began his career with FK Partizan, winning the double of Serbian Superliga and Serbian Cup in 2008. He spent 5 seasons with Forentina.  With Manchester City, he won the League Cup and the Premier League. He then played for Inter Milan, Sevilla and AS Monaco. He made his senior international debut in 2007, in Montenegro's first international football match as an independent country.

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.
Mario Mandžukić 
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).

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.  So I would not want to go into that.
-- 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.  This is just a fun blog.
-- I tried my best to use the prospective of the team before the World Cup Finals on my team selection.  
-- Jan Oblak. Luka Modric and Edin Džeko are automatic selections.  I do not need to explain their inclusion. Aleksandar Kolarov, Nemanja Matić, Miralem Pjani, Mario Mandžukić and Ivan Rakitić are probably automatic selections as well.  Branislav Ivanović was 34 at the time of the World Cup Finals, but "Yugoslavia" would take him since he was their most experienced fullback.
-- The backbone of the team is still the Croatian national team at the 2018 World Cup Finals.  I selected ten players from Croatia.  They are Luka Modric, Mario Mandžukić, Šime Vrsaljko, Danijel Subašić, Dejan Lovren, Ivan Perišić, Ivan Rakitic, Mateo Kovačić, Marcelo Brozović and Domagoj Vida.
-- I have six from Serbia, four from Bosnia and Herzegovina, two from Montenegro and a single from Slovenia. I do not have players from North Macedonia and Kosovo. Four players were born outside of the former Yugoslavia.
-- Jan Oblak (Slovenia) won the Zamora Trophy in Spain in the 2017-2018 season. He is one of the best keepers in the world. Samir Handanovic (Slovenia) has retired from the national team so he was not considered. Vladimir Stojković (Serbia) was Serbia's starting goalkeeper in Russia, but I went with Asmir Begovic as the third goalkeeper who was much more famous keeper.
-- Matija Nastasić was excluded in Serbia's real World Cup team in Russia. So I did not consider him.
-- Vedran Ćorluka is one of Croatia's most experienced defender, but I still could not find space for him. I opted for younger defenders.
-- 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. 
-- Aleksandar Kolarov (Serbia/Roma) captained Serbia at the World Cup Finals.  For the backup leftback, I preferred Sead Kolasinac over Bojan Jokić (Slovenia).
-- Luka Modric won the Champions' League in 2018.  It was the club's fourth titles in 5 season. After Russia 2018, he is probably considered to be the greatest ever player from the former Yugoslavia.
-- Miralem Pjanić was named in Serie A Team of the Year for the 2017-2018 season.  He has been a star with Juventus for a few seasons.
-- Dušan Tadić is underrated.  He never got his chance with a big club.
-- Edin Džeko scored 24 goals for AS Roma in the 2017-2018 season.
-- Ivan Perišić (Croatia) was underrated before the World Cup Finals.  He was one of Croatia's best players at the tournament.
-- 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 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. 
-- I considered taking striker Goran Pandev as a representative from North Macedonia. I also do not have a single player from Kosovo.
-- Aleksandar Mitrović (Serbia) was playing fine in the second half of the 2017-2018 season, but he was playing in a lower division with Fulham.  With Newcastle United, he was not doing well.

4-3-3 Diamond
The team is still dominated by Croatian players.  I am still able to add 6 players to the team.  Two of my defenders and goalkeeper Jan Oblak played for Atletico Madrid. Pjanic has played with Mario Mandžukić at the club level. 



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