Wednesday, 21 December 2011


Rijeka have released Mexican trio Luis Delgadillo, Herbert Alferez and Carlos Gutierrez as they try to rebuild their team for the second half of the campaign. The moves allows them to pick up a new forward and creative midfield player. On their radar may be former player Antun Dunkovic who has impressed in the Belgian league with Mechelen and is now a free agent. Chonquin Lifan may also part with forwards Ivan Bosnjak and Zelimir Terkes should Rijeka send offers to the players. Both players are former leading scorers in HNL1 and would provide a more experienced front line. Deals for Hajduk Split forward Ahmad Sharbini and Krunoslav Lovrek would also give the side greater potency.

Meanwhile Dinamo Zagreb have allowed fans favorite and ex Argentine international Leandro Cufre to join Mexican club Atlas. Cufre, 33 played two season with Dinamo and will be remembered for his role in the teams historic 2-0 Europa Liga victory over Villareal. Cufre was also said to be influential in the development of Luis Ibanez who has been playing at left back, but more successfully at left wing. However Dinamo may be on a look out for a new defensive minded player with Slovan Liberec's Renato Kelic, Livorno's Dario Knezevic and Wolfsburg's Hjorve Cale all fitting targets for their ambitions.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011


With Dinamo Zagreb out in front in the league it seems a case of a another routine Championship waltz for the team from the Croatian Capital. Hajduk Split appear a unhappy runners up with city neighbours RNK Split an annoying accompaniment in third place as things stand. Dinamo's main issue is Europe as they seem incapable of competing currently when they step outside of Croatia. What they can change in the winter transfer window is hard to see. The team they have now is more than equipped to bring them the Croatian title. Internationals such Jerko Leko, Milan Badelj, Nikola Pokrivac, Domagoj Vida and Ante Rukavina will use the rest of the season to push for a national team place. At present its hard to see any player moving to a bigger league from there Champions League exploits apart from Sime Vrsaljko and Fatos Beciraj. Both players could attract interest. Sammir, Ivan Tomecak, Ivan Krstanovic, Luis Ibanez Mario Situm and Arjan Ademi will also look to increase their reputations. However three players who may be on the exit door are Adrian Callelo who is a excess midfielder. Pedro Morales is talented but underused. Jakub Sylvestr meanwhile just has not made any impression and looks a bad recruit who needs offering back to clubs in the Czech Republic or to his native Slovakia. One player who Dinamo would want to keep is Mateo Kovacic who Dinamo fans would like to see blossom in the same way as Luka Modric did before going on to bigger things. Sammir, Badelj, Tomecak and Leko will now need to play support to him and allow the youngster to come through.

Two players who would interest the rest of the Croatian league are striker Andrej Kramaric and midfielder Matias Chago. Neither player has a place in Dinamo Zagreb as things stand. Chago would gain interest from Istra Pula where he excelled whilst Kramaric is a obvious candidate to take over from Nino Bule at Lokomotiva Zagreb for the next two seasons. Kramaric and Antun Palic may also intrigue NK Zagreb who are gaining little from there current forward line or midfield department. It is surprising Zagreb dont also apply effort to chase their former player Nino Bule to find the way to goal knowing Dinamo normally like to send their youngers down to Lokomotiva.

RNK Split are not likely to change much with everything working out just nicely. They would like to make a sale to balance the books, but whilst Josip Seradusic is injured, Ivica Krizanac remains their big name star. Neighbours Hajduk are currently assessing a squad filled with signings that have not worked out. Nikola Saric, Ivan Vukovic, Steven Lustica, Ljubo Milicevic and Josip Barisic have all flopped since arriving at the club. They also continue to get little out of Ahmad Sharbini and Mario Ticinovic. Anas has been slightly better, Drago Gabric is a excellant signing whilst Marin Tomasov has been the sides best player and could finally be ready to transfer to progress his career. Ante Vukusic hasn't kicked on from last season, but does provide some hope along with Ivan Lendric. New signings will be hard whilst Hajduk have so many failing players on there books. A experienced striker is neccessary especially if Tomasov moves. However Dinamo have some of the players Hajduk might have looked at such as Mehmad Alispahic and Ivan Krstanovic both of whom are strong HNL1 players but not key in Zagreb as of this moment. As Hajduk will be reluctant to send offers to Zagreb, they may fight for Zadar's Ivan Santini who may go abroad or Slaven Belupo's Leon Benko both of which would do damage to the selling clubs. Mate Bilic is no longer available having revived his Sporting Gijon career, same goes for Ergotelis's Mario Budimir and Teplice's Andrej Keric. Hajduk fans may wince at any more gambles made by the clubs management. If Tomasov goes one player who may not be a gamble is Lokeron's Ivan Leko who has over 200 appearences, medals and near 40 goals and over 50 assists from his time in the Belgian league. Verona's Sasa Bjelanovic would also bring a lot to the Hajduk forward line, not achieved by youngsters who are failing to make their mark.

Osijek and Slaven Belupo have both finally seen their investments pay off and are having decent season. Belupo's Kokalovic, Glavica, Busic, Milardovic, Mujanovic are just doing so much better this time out and have the squad to challenge for third place. Benko is the star of the team however and Belupo would need to keep him at the club. Failed spells at Nuremburg, Standard Liege and Kortrijk may make clubs wary however. Hajduk however may take a look at him. Osijek's president Robert Spehar brought in experienced men such as Goran Ljubojevic, Marko Babic, Ivo Smoje and these deals are now starting to work. However the club would like another sale with Tomislav Sorsa, Ivan Milicevic and Dino Gavric there prize assets. Osijek would also be expecting more from Dario Zahora having took a chance on the floating hitman earlier in the season.

Lokomotiva are also enjoying life a lot more this season with players such as Leonard Mesaric back on board to team up with Pivaric, Komorski, Skvorc and Antolic from Dinamo. One deal the club may have to do in time is to bring Croatia Under 21 striker Andrej Kramaric in who has been stagnating at Dinamo to replace Nino Bule who could be moved on at the end of the season after outstanding service. Below them is HNL1's problem club HNK Rijeka. Three seemingly pointless Mexican arrivals have not worked out in the same way Argentine Ramon Fernandes did. Midfielder Damir Krielach and Andro Srvluga remain the heart beat of the team and the side has simply not had a goalscorer since Ahmad Sharbini went to Hajduk. Ahmad is struggling in Split and simply belongs in Rijeka if the club had the finances. Bosko Balaban is also a ex Rijeka star and would excite fans if he were to return home, but the player has in the past commanded huge wages so would not appear realistic. Jeonboek Krunoslav Lovrek, Lifan's six goal midfielder Ivan Bosnjak and Zelimir Terkes may also be successful should Rijeka offer them options to return to Croatia.

Despite having a more difficult season Cibalia are likely to retain their HNL1 status with Dino Kresinger and Mladen Bartulovic in their attack. Zadar however could experience serious problems if as expected HNL1 top scorer Ivan Santini transfers this winter. Vedran Gerc did not work out and was released. Ivan Rodic is a free agent and could be chanced upon. Hajduk would meanwhile be more than willing to send away Ivan Pesic, Dzoni, Mario Jelavic and Nikola Saric to gain confidence should Zadar need to take players. Goran Jozinovic also has been down at Zadar before. Zadar are being chased currently by Istra Pula who in Henri Belle and Karlo Primorac do have forwards. Coach Igor Pamic may also target Karlovac striker Enes Novicic as his former club is in serious financial problems, whilst Matias Chago could also come back to Pula. The team is also looking for a playmaker and could send a loan offer for Antun Palic.

Friday, 9 December 2011


Nobody can deny that Dinamo Zagreb were resounding dumped out the Champions League having failed to win a match in their outings against Real Madrid, Ajax and Lyon. The latter of which they lost 7-1. However in qualifying for the competition did they take a step forward in their ambition to be a serious European side. Results would show they cannot compete in the Champions League. However can Dinamo hope to perform better now in Europa Liga competition.

At the start of the season bringing Tonel, Josip Simunic and Jerko Leko to the club who had all had strong spells abroad with Sporting Lisbon, Hertha Berlin and Dinamo Kiev respectively demonstrate Dinamo could attract decent players. Besides this Nikola Pokrivac arrived from Red Bull Salzburg where his form was in and out. A huge talent in Domagoj Vida came to plug central defence and talents Milan Badelj, Ivan Tomecak, Sime Vrsaljko, Luis Ibanez, Sammir, Pedro Morales and Mateo Kovacic were already at the club. Despite results one thing the current standard has not had is time to grow together having come in during different stages of the season, whilst Dinamo also chop and change their squad at club level to include Mario Situm, Adrian Callello and Arjan Ademi.

With coach Krunoslav Jurcic having gone, it would seem Dinamo need to find the basis for a team that can play consistently together. Consistency however would not appear the only requirement. Dinamo for example has a strong attack for HNL1, but Fatos Beciraj, Ante Rukavina and Ivan Krstanovic all struggled in higher level European football. Although all three are likely to stay for the rest of the season, Dinamo's hope would be in signing one proven forward from abroard. Although Dino Spehar, Andrej Kramaric and Situm are talents they are not ready until loaned out to Lokomotiva or given HNL1 run outs. Although the concept failed in the past with Tomislav Sokota, Dmitrios Papadopoulos and Bosko Balaban, Dinamo need to go back abroad for their goalpoacher.

Palermo's Igor Budan, Wolfsburg's Srdjan Lakic or Bayern Munich's Ivica Olic is as such the type of forward they must bring in. Budan would clearly come if a healthy contract was on the table, whilst Olic and Lakic probably would have other choices. Outside of that Andrej Keric is treading water in the Czech Republic having initially blown away the league at Slovan Liberec. A return home could benefit him. Dinamo also need to look at a left back and Hjorve Cale and Dario Knezevic could do a lot of good for the club and get themselves back into international reckoning having lost their way in Wolfsburg and Livorno.

To bank roll these moves Dinamo need another sale and the most likely asset is Sime Vrsaljko who could transfer for around 6-8 million. Fatos Beciraj is also a sellable asset for around 2m Euros and the club could also clear out Jakub Sylvestr, Callelo, Morales and Mehmed Alispahic at a push. Matias Chago, Kramaric and Antun Palic could also go out on loan.

Friday, 2 December 2011


Croatia finally took their place in next years European Championships after defeating Turkey 3-0 in the play offs. Ironically the win buried the ghost of Euro 2008 where Croatia's most talented squad of the last decade shorn of star Eduardo Da Silva was defeated by their opponents on penalties after claiming three wins during the group campaign.

Ivica Olic came back in the nick of time to show he can still be a big threat and big help for Croatia and put in a hugely mobile attacking display alongside Mario Mandzukic. Nikica Jelavic, Nikola Kalinic and Ivan Klasnic have refound form at domestic level and will be good back up. Eduardo and Mladen Petric will also be fighting hard for their place. Ivan Perisic and Ivo Ilicevic are favorites to join Ivan Rakitic, Luka Modric and Niko Kranjcar as attacking midfielders in the squad, but don't rule out Mato Jajalo who is playing well with Koln. Milan Badelj would appear to need a transfer to step to the level. At present alongside Drago Gabric he stands to miss out.

Daniel Pranjic was recalled to the squad and may have a chance as Croatia only has Ognjen Vukojevic and Tomislav Dujmovic as reliable defensive midfielders. However he needs to switch clubs as out the picture at Bayern Munich. Pranjic can also cover left back. Dnipro's Ivan Strinic may need to do more to bed down his left back slot as could miss out with Vedran Corluka moving across to put in a hugely accomplished display there. Corluka is certain to travel and Dinamo Zagreb's Sime Vrsaljko and especially Domagoj Vida may now be trusted at right back allowing Corluka to switch position and Darijo Srna to move back onto the right wing where he has played his best football for Croatia.

Rather than making slots for players Coach Slaven Bilic may now be prepared to let his squad fight it out for roles in his side leaving Ivan Rakitic and Niko Kranjcar in direct competition for the left wing slot. In the long run when Croatia need to rotate this could prove in the countries interest. In attack there will be a scramble with Klasnic and Petric not likely to give up easy on one last chance to represent their country at a Euro finals. Both have the quality to rack up a high goalscoring tally this season with Klasnic already on 6 and Petric having started brightly at HSV.

If Croatia have a worry it is in central defence and central midfield. Luka Modric is the teams star, but alongside him Dujmovic and Vukojevic are no Niko Kovac still. In defence Josip Simunic is making gutsy displays to roll back the years when he played alongside Igor Tudor, Robert Kovac and Dario Simic. However Croatia now longer have centre backs of that quality. Dejan Lovren's performances at club and international level are in and out despite the fact he is a talent. Gordon Schildenfeld has done well when called upon, but he is playing week to week in the German second Division despite being with the leaders Eintract Frankfurt. It is likely Croatia will have to go to the finals without a top rate centre back and that will be there weakness. Rostov's Stipe Pletikosa between the sticks is also welcome.

If there were to be any surprise packages in Croatia's squad it is only likely to be in the form of central midfielder Jerko Leko who can offer experience or Hertha Berlin's captain Andre Mijatovic. Manuel Pamic as alternative left back also stands a chance as is strong at Sparta Prague. The only other player really making waves is Darko Bodul with 10 goals already this season, but this is in the Austrian league.