Friday, 30 April 2010


Dinamo collected the Croatian league title on Saturday, but celebrations were muted after a disappointing goalless draw with Hajduk Split. Although Dinamo had the chance to win it in style, the team has appeared to be struggling in recent games. Many of the side have struggled to make an impression this season. Keeper Tomislav Butina looks set to step aside for Filip Loncaric next season. Robert Kovac also looks bound for retired, whilst Igor Biscan missed most of the season with injury. Tomislav Barbaric will look on the season as progressive, whilst Luis Ibanez, Etto and Leandro Cufre have failed to get going and shown only flashes of their best form. Ivica Vrdoljak, Pedro Morales and Milan Badelj particularly have been central to the sides best work, but have Mamic's interest in Jerko Leko may suggest Dinamo are not entirely satisfied by Vrdoljak's play. In attack Mandzukic has failed to light up the league despite scoring 14 goals. Mandzukic would argue he has to carry the responsibility of the number 9 having watched Miroslav Slepicka, Dodo, Papadopoulos and Karlo Primorac all disappoint in attack with their being a strong case for Dinamo to offload the lot. Andrej Kramaric has also only made baby steps this year in his progress. Dinamo's recent showing would suggest they will be working hard in the summer to spend transfer money recieved from Dejan Lovren and others on new signings. Hajduk Split themselves are look for new recruits with the possible purchase of Ermin Zec likely to seriously improve their weak forward line.

The loss of two points against Dinamo has in fact seen Hajduk slip to third as Cibalia defeated Medimurje 2-0 and joyfully play Sesvete next with only two games to go. It is likely Hajduk will need to win both games in order to gain the runners up spot. Sibenik meanwhile moved into fourth with a 2-0 win over direct rivals Karlovac. Osijek also missed a chance to move up the table after drawing 1-1 with Varteks. Belupo were also held to a draw by Rijeka.

At the lower end of the table the improved form of Istra and Zagreb has thrown the relegation zone wide open with Zapresic, Varteks and Zadar now in immediate dangers. NK Zagreb got the game they needed at just the right time against bottom of the table Sesvete. Igor Stimac's men made light work of the watch strolling to a 4-1 win. 35 year old Davor Vugrinec continues to outshine the rest of the division as he moved to 17 for the season with a double. Key signings Goran Ljubojevic and Jethron were also on target. Zagreb are now out of the relegation zone.

Istra overcame Zapresic 2-0 to put their opponents in the bottom three and move themselves out of the drop zone. Istra are still only a point away, but have moved up to 11th. Medimurje are meanwhile one defeat away from relegation after their loss against Cibalia. It would appear hard to call who will be dropping down with Sesvete at this stage, but Medimurje are on a poor run and Zadar have collected only a point out of a possible 15. Zagreb and Istra meantime are collecting wins, whilst Varteks have been defeated only once in 5 games, although have also only won once. The Varazdin side it would appear need a win to secure safety.

Saturday, 24 April 2010


ZAGREB 2 MEDIMURJE 1 (Vugrinec, Abruhamedi/ Golubovic)
ZAPRESIC 2 BELUPO 0 (Sivonjic, Zivko)
VARTEKS 4 SESVETE 1 (Smrekar 2, Mumlek, Svorc/ Zubak)
LOKOMOTIVA 2 OSIJEK 2 (Poljak, Bule/ Gavric, Niksic)
RIJEKA 3 ZADAR 2 (Dalovic, Pamic, Budicin/ Mrsic 2)
SIBENIK 1 ISTRA 1 (Dajic/ Traore)

Hajduk Split remain on course for Europa Liga qualification after a penalty from Senijad Ibricic gave them a 1-0 victory over rivals Karlovac. Cibalia however stay in close proximity after a surprise win over lead league Dinamo Zagreb. Goals by Dino Kresinger and Ivica Baraban secured a comfortable win for Stanko Mrsic's side. Igor Biscan was red carded late on. Dinamo will however be cheered by news that Monaco duo Dario Simic and Jerko Leko look set to sign for the club.

Sibenik look set to miss out on a top three finish after being held to a 1-1 draw against battling Istra 1961. Khallilou Traore has come to the fore in recent weeks and equalised after Jusuf Dajic's earlier strike. The point just keeps Istra above the relegation zone. NK Zagreb, Inter Zapresic and Varteks all collected vital wins. Zagreb who have been in the bottom three all season finally leapt ahead of opponents Medimurje following a 2-1 win. Davor Vugrinec was again central with the opening goal. Medimurje's top scorer Bojan Golubovic equalised, however Besart Abdurahimi was on hand to net the winner. Zagreb however are running out of teams to catch as Zapresic beat Slaven Belupo 2-0, whilst Varteks brushed aside Croatia Sesvete.

In midtable Osijek's season looks also to be over as they were held to a 2-2 draw by Lokomotiva. Nino Bules collected his 12th goal of the season. Rijeka meanwhile appear to have secured their top flight status after they scored two late goals to beat Zadar 3-2.

Saturday, 17 April 2010


Nikica Jelavic and Ivica Olic continued their impressive goalscoring form at the weekend with a double for Rapid Vienna and Bayern Munich. Olic scored twice in 7-0 win over Hanover to take his tally to 10 for the season and 14 in all competitions.

Jelavic meantime is pushing hard for a place in the Croatia squad, as he is now 15 in the Austrian Bundesliga and has a further 11 in all competitions, giving he a outstanding tally of 26 goals. Jelavic's form should see him ahead of Mario Mandzukic and Nicola Kalinic for Croatia's upcoming friendlies. He is also pushing hard to compete with Eduardo, Olic, Mladen Petric and Mate Bilic. Jelavic's current main competitor is Ivan Klasnic who continues to show his quality at Bolton Wanderers.

Elsewhere Ivan Rakitic is having one his best ever seasons as Schalke hunt for the Bundesliga title. Already assured of Champions League football next season, Rakitic scored twice as Schalke won 3-1 against Monchengladbak to move himself to 7 for the season. Ivan Perisic also is coming through strongly this season with 13 goals at Club Brugge.


ISTRA 1961 2 BELUPO 0 (Traore, Sehic)
DINAMO 1 ZAGREB 1 (Badelj/ Vugrinec)
KARLOVAC 3 CIBALIA 0 (Latjman 3)
OSIJEK 1 RIJEKA 0 (Barisic)
SESVETE 1 LOKOMOTIVA 2 (Cizmek/ Peko, Bagaric)

Istra 1961 took a massive step forwards in their fight to avoid relegation after victory over Slaven Belupo moved them out of the bottom three and into 11th place. Zagreb also picked up a draw with Champions elect Dinamo Zagreb. Davor Vugrinec collected his 14th of the season. The hard earned draw however was soured by victory for Inter Zapresic away to Zadar. Medimurje and Varteks played out a goalless draw meaning Medimurje drop into the bottom three, with Varteks fourth bottom.

At the top end of the table Cibalia suffered a major set back after a Ivan Latjman hatrick saw Karlovac win by 3-0. Karlovac are now just three points from second. Osijek also made headway with a 1-0 over in form Rijeka. Lokomotiva meanwhile got back to winning ways with victory over Croatia Sesvete.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010


HAJDUK 1 ISTRA 0 (Ibricic)
LOKOMOTIVA 1 MEDIMURJE 3 (Mesaric/Cicero, Golubovic 2)
RIJEKA 4 SESVETE 2 (Dalovic 2, Strok 2/ Zubak, Guja)
BELUPO 2 ZADAR 1 (Maras, Juric/ Mrsic)
ZAGREB 4 KARLOVAC 2 (Ljubojevic, Ivankovic, Abruhademi, Vugrinec/ Tokic, Paracki)
ZAPRESIC 0 OSIJEK 3 (Milicevic, Barisic, Vida)
CIBALIA 4 SIBENIK 3 (Milardovic 2, Kresinger, Tomic/ Grgic O.G 2, Ademi)
VARTEKS 1 DINAMO 2 (Mumlek/ Dodo, Badelj)

It was all change in the Croatian league again as Hajduk and Cibalia made head way in the race for a top three position. In the game of the day Cibalia defeated Sibenik 4-3 to hold second place despite severe pressure from Hajduk Split. Hajduk defeated Istra 1-0 thanks to Senijad Ibricic's goal. The win moves them into third ahead of Sibenik. Sibenik and Karlovac are themselves now being chased down by in form Slaven Belupo who beat Zadar 2-1.

Osijek also picked up a vital win defeated Zapresic 3-0. Rijeka continued their good run with a 4-2 win over Sesvete. At the lower end of the table, their is a fierce fight for survival due to a excellant win for both Zagreb 4-2 over Karlovac and Medimurje who beat Lokomotiva. Zagreb and Istra still find themselves in the relegation zone, but both sides are slowing good signs of life. Zapresic were the biggest losers of the day, whilst Varteks were dragged back into danger due to defeat to Dinamo Zagreb.

Saturday, 10 April 2010


ISTRA 2 ZADAR 0 (Sehic 2)
OSIJEK 0 BELUPO 1 (Mujanovic)
SESVETE 3 ZAPRESIC 1 (Bosnjak, Pokrajcic 2/ Sivonjic)
MEDIMURJE 1 RIJEKA 5 (Golubovic/ Gerc 3, Kreilach, Dalovic)
KARLOVAC 1 VARTEKS 1 (Tokic/ Tklacic)
SIBENIK 3 ZAGREB 1 (Grgic 2, Zec/ Ljubojevic)

A penalty by Sammir was enough to give Dinamo Zagreb their latest win over feeder club Lokomotiva in the latest round HNL1 matches. Dinamo are edging closer to yet another title, despite some recent poor performances which would indicate to a need to strengthen the squad. Igor Biscan returned to the side today, however Dinamo are not impressing in front of goal despite fielding three forwards. Injuries to Badelj, Morales and Tomecak is also impacting on the sides creativity.

Sibenik had no such problems as they got back to winning ways with a 3-1 victory over Zagreb. With Ermin Zec back in the goals the side have two shots of Europa Liga qualification via the league or through the Croatian Cup where the meet Hajduk Split in the final. Such hopes now appear to be over for Osijek and Lokomotiva who have nevertheless had respectable seasons. Osijek were defeated by Goran Mujanovic's goal at home to Slaven Belupo.

Belupo have an outside chance of reaching the top three, whilst Karlovac are still in the hunt after a 1-1 draw with Varteks. Niko Tokic's late goal proved a set back for Varteks who were dragged back into danger by an outstanding win for Istra over Zadar. Zoran Vulic has gradually been bringing Istra back into contention and they now moved to fourth from bottom, one place outside the relegation zone. Asim Sehic was the hero scoring twice, moving him to 10 goals for the season.

Zapresic are also in danger after a shocking 3-1 loss to soon to be relegated Sesvete. Medimurje are however the side to drop into the bottom three as Rijeka went to town on them with a 5-1 demolition show. Vedran Gerc was the man of the match with a hatrick. This was Rijeka's second strong performance after arguably outplaying Dinamo last week. Although Rijeka's season seems set to end in midtable mediocrity, there appears potential in the current line up should they keep the current staff together.

In the late evening game Hajduk turned around a 2-1 deficit to defeat Cibalia. Goals from substitutes Mario Ticinovic and Ante Vukusic cancelled out Dino Kresinger's earlier strike. The lack of a regular goalgetter appears to be catching up with Cibalia who are now being chased down by Sibenik, Hajduk and Karlovac.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010


Dinamo Zagreb and Hajduk Split look set to undergo their usual auctioning of players at the end of the season. For Dinamo playmaker Milan Badelj is hot property, whilst striker Mario Mandzukic looks to finally be granted his transfer, with Mamic expected to focus on gaining top money for youngster Badelj.

Dinamo Zagreb are often renowned for turning to the academy to find new gems, but in central midfield Domogoj Antolic does not appear ready to step in and so Dinamo may be forced to make a new signing to replace Badelj. One possibility is experienced former Croatian international Ivica Banovic who has a lot of experience in the Bundesliga with his current club Frieburg and with former employers Werder Bremen and Nuremburg. The 29 year old could be a steading influence in the centre of Dinamo's midfield. Another player of sufficient quality is Energie Cottbus playmaker Stiven Rivic. The 24 year old could grow within Dinamo Zagreb and become a major asset to the club. The club could also look within HNL1 at Sibenik playmaker Mehmed Alispahic. However Dinamo do not have a good history in dealings with his Croatian employer and may also wish to steer clear of enrolling soft players into the central midfield.

Hajduk Split meanwhile will surely cash in on in form Bosnian international Senijad Ibricic who has long been ready for a step up to a stronger league. The club has Marin Tomasov, Florin Cernat and more likely Anas Sharbini and Mario Ticinovic who could step into his shoes. However they will need to improve their potency in front of goal to eleviate the burden which was carried by class act Ibricic.

Ante Vukusic and Duje Cop may have done enough to stay on board, whilst the club also want to bring through Mark Livaja. However they may need another two. Hajduk appear to have long fallen out of love with Ivan Rodic and he is expectly to released or sold along with ex Rijeka hot shot Ahmad Sharbini. Hajduk and Dinamo have been bitten before fishing in the free agent market. They could turn to Leon Benko whose 5 goals of Kortrijk may suggest he can be of use to Hajduk. A loan move for Ante Rukavina has also been muted as the player has not built of his good first season in Greece.

It is not likely the club will still be able to afford such players as Mario Budimir of Ergotelis and Ermin Zec of Sibenik. Youngster Ivan Milicevic of Osijek and Mateas Delic of Slaven Belupo have however impressed this season. Radomir Dalovic has also come good at HNK Rijeka and is within Hajduk's budget, along with Bojan Vrucina of Hapoel Tel Aviv. Although Tomislav Busic, Zvonimir Deranja and Ivan Bosnjak could be all be available on frees it's unlikely Hajduk will consider players in this market.

Sunday, 4 April 2010


Jerko Leko's situation this season has been alarming. With his favorite spot as defensive midfielder wide open to be taken in the Croatian National team, Monaco midfielder Leko has been happy to sit back and watch.... literally. The experienced 29 year old has found himself out of favor with his club who declared their desire to sell him at the end of last season.

Leko however rejected moves to Wolverhampton Wanderers and Stoke City who look set to survive in the English Premier League. There has even been talks of Chelsea, Espanjol and Dinamo Moscow. Leko however has shown no real interest to move and has been running down his generous contract at Monaco and waiting for free agent status in the summer, much to the frustration of Slaven Bilic who resultantly dropped him from the squad and was unable to field him in important matches against Ukraine and England due to lack of match practice.

Dario Simic, similarly has not shown any intention to split from his contract at Monaco and played no football this season. At 34 Simic, may have an excuse, but with consideration to Stjepan Tomas's desire to get out the pitch and take a smaller contract in Turkey, Simic has been largely found idle.

The same can be said of Dario Smoje, Stjepan Poljak, Mario Mijatovic and Zvonimir Deranja who spent 6 months in free agent status. Mijatovic was having a half decent season at Lustenau but after his release did not build on it by transferring across to a new club. Dario Smoje also appeared once for Pananios and then not found a new employers. It would appear these players future lie in the Croatian league.

Ivan Bosnjak also failed to make any impression or score a goal despite gaining a decent transfer from Genk to Irakilis. Once again it would appear Bosnjak's future lies in his home country.

Two of the season biggest disappointments have been Marko Babic and Darko Bodul. There is still some affection for Babic amongst Croatian supporters whose games for his national team have arguably been decent. In fact before Slaven Bilic took charge Babic was one of the best performers in the 2006 World Cup side. Babic's decision to leave Germany's Bayer Leverkusen for Spain has however cost him. Spain has been notable for its lack of Eastern and Central European talent over recent years as the country focused more on home grown and Latino talent.

Babic was always in a ominous position at Betis who are renowned for coaching changes and changes of ideas in mid season. As a result Babic was starved of football at Betis and not even a loan spell at Hertha Berlin could revive him. His decision however to transfer to Real Zaragoza was therefore met with hope rather than expectation and Babic has again been on the sidelines. Babic looks set to be remembered as a player that threw away his international career. Arguably as talented and promising as his counterparts Dario Srna, Niko Kranjcar and Jerko Leko, Babic has however taken an unneccessary step backwards. If Babic finds the right club he could encounter a mini revival, but he needs to get back to starting football matches on a regular basis.

Another player who needs to do more is Darko Bodul who has failed to make the most of a season long loan at Sparta Rotterdam. Bodul's lack of goals have left many about his real potential to become high quality player. His parent club Ajax are unlikely to have seen enough to convince them he's worth a place in the squad for next season. Bodul can however take heart from Nikica Jelavic who similarly bombed out during a stint in the Belgian league, only to go on to impress at Rapid Vienna and is now pushing for a place in the Croatia squad.

Whereas Bodul has seen many opportunities, the same can't be said of Mario Brkljaca who has not appeared for midtable Calgiari. Ante Rukavina has also failed to build on his decent first season with Panathanaikos appearing in only a dozen games.

Friday, 2 April 2010


ZAPRESIC 2 MEDIMURJE 1 (Palic, Balic/ Amauri)
ZAGREB 1 HAJDUK 1 (Ljubojevic/ Strinic)
VARTEKS 5 SIBENIK 1 (Mumlek 2, Simek, Smrekar, Glavica/ Zec)
BELUPO 4 SESVETE 0 (Mujanovic, Delic, Maras, Poredski)
ZADAR 2 OSIJEK 1 (Santini, Terkes/ Niksic)
RIJEKA 2 DINAMO 2 (Strok, Pamic/ Sammir, Barbaric)

Dinamo Zagreb edge towards the title after a 2-2 draw with Rijeka. Hjorve Strok stunned the visitors early on, but Sammir quickly replied. Tomislav Barbaric followed in after more good work from the in form Brazilian to give Dinamo the lead. However Alen Pamic netted late on to give Nenad Gracan's side a point. Sammir has come to the fore in the absence of Pedro Morales who is now injured topping off a very unhappy March.

Hajduk Split received a set back to there hopes of European qualification after a 1-1 draw with NK Zagreb. Ivan Strinic put Hajduk in the lead, but substitute Goran Ljubojevic equalised late on to save the game. Fortunately for Hajduk Sibenik and Osijek experienced unlikely drubbings at the hands of Varteks and Zadar. Cibalia meanwhile kept on course for second place despite a draw with Istra. Karlovac and Lokomotiva also drew.

Despite picking up a point Zagreb lost ground on the sides above them. Varteks stunned Sibenik 5-1, whilst Zadar beat Osijek. Zagreb will now target Medimurje who sacked coached Srecko Bogdan after defeat to Inter Zapresic. Zapresic and Zadar particularly have given themselves some breathing space. Slaven Belupo also put an end to any thoughts of sliding towards the relegation zone by pounding Sesvete 4-0. Goran Mujanovic scored his first goal for the club.