Croatia
Shirt badge/Association crest
Nickname(s)Vatreni (Blazers)
Kockasti (Checkered Ones)
AssociationHNS
ConfederationUEFA (Europe)
Head coachZlatko Dalić
CaptainLuka Modrić
Most capsLuka Modrić (159)
Top scorerDavor Šuker (45)
FIFA codeCRO
First colours
Second colours
FIFA ranking
Current 12 Increase 3 (6 October 2022)[1]
Highest3 (January 1999)
Lowest125 (March 1994)
First international
 Croatia 4–0 Switzerland 
(Zagreb, Yugoslavia; 2 April 1940)
as FIFA member
 Slovakia 1–1 Croatia 
(Bratislava, Slovakia; 8 September 1941)
as modern Croatia
 Croatia 2–1 United States 
(Zagreb, Yugoslavia; 17 October 1990)
as FIFA member
 Australia 1–0 Croatia 
(Melbourne, Australia; 5 July 1992)
Biggest win
 Croatia 10–0 San Marino 
(Rijeka, Croatia; 4 June 2016)
Biggest defeat
 Spain 6–0 Croatia 
(Elche, Spain; 11 September 2018)
World Cup
Appearances6 (first in 1998)
Best resultRunners-up (2018)
European Championship
Appearances6 (first in 1996)
Best resultQuarter-finals (1996, 2008)
Nations League Finals
Appearances1 (first in 2023)
Websitewww.hns-cff.hr

The Croatia national football team (Croatian: Hrvatska nogometna reprezentacija) represents Croatia in international football matches. It is governed by the Croatian Football Federation (HNS), the governing body for football in Croatia. It is a member of UEFA in Europe and FIFA in global competitions. The team's colors reference two national symbols: the Croatian checkerboard and the country's tricolour. The team is colloquially referred to as the Vatreni (Blazers) and the Kockasti (Checkered Ones).

Sides were active during periods of political upheaval, representing sovereign entities such as the Banovina of Croatia from 1939 to 1941 or the Independent State of Croatia from 1941 to 1944. The modern-day national team has played competitive matches since 1994 starting with the qualifying campaign for the UEFA Euro 1996. In 1998, they competed in their first FIFA World Cup, finishing third place behind Brazil and producing the tournament's top scorer, Davor Šuker. Twenty years later Croatia reached the 2018 World Cup Final with France, finishing second place and producing the tournament's best player, Luka Modrić.

They maintain sporting rivalries with Italy and Serbia, both of which have led to disruptive matches. Since becoming eligible to compete, Croatia has qualified for every UEFA Euro and FIFA World Cup tournament except for the UEFA Euro 2000 and the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Croatia entered FIFA ranked 125th in 1994; they ascended to third place following their 1998 World Cup campaign. This marked the fastest, most volatile ascension in FIFA Ranking history and made them the youngest team to occupy the Top 10 in the FIFA World Ranking. In July 1998, Croatia recorded its highest-ever Elo rating of 2,006 points.

The team represents the second-smallest country by population and land mass to reach a World Cup Final, behind Uruguay and Netherlands respectively. At the FIFA World Cup, Croatia holds joint-records for most penalty shoot-outs played (2), most extra time period played (3) and most penalties saved in a match (3), among others. They are one of three teams—along with Colombia and France—to be named FIFA Best Mover of the Year more than once, winning the awards in 1994 and 1998.[3][4]

History

Pre-independence

Footballers played for the national teams of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia (1919–39) and the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (1945–92), though during periods of political upheaval, ethnically Croatian sides occasionally formed to play unofficial matches.[5] A more hastily arranged Croatian side, managed by Hugo Kinert, played some matches in 1918–19.[6][7]

In 1940, Jozo Jakopić led an unofficial national team representing the Banovina of Croatia (part of Kingdom of Yugoslavia) in four friendly matches against Switzerland and Hungary.[8] Following invasion by the Axis powers, the Croatian Football Federation became active, joining FIFA on 17 July 1941, representing the Independent State of Croatia. The side, led by Rudolf Hitrec, went on to play 15 friendly matches, 14 of those as a member of FIFA.[9][10] Croatia's first recorded result as a FIFA member was a 1–1 draw with Slovakia on 8 September in Bratislava.[8] The Independent State of Croatia continued playing matches until 1945 and the end of World War II when People's Republic of Croatia was formed as constituent part of the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia.[10] From 1945 to 1956, unofficial Croatian teams were active once again. In September 1945, the state authorities organised the Yugoslav Football Tournament to commemorate the end of World War II. All republics had their national teams with Croatia finishing third behind the team representing the Yugoslav People's Army and Serbia.[11] Croatia also played games against Indonesia and a Yugoslav team playing as Serbia.[7] The Yugoslavia squad at the 1956 Summer Olympic included Croatian footballers[12] as did Yugoslavia at the FIFA World Cup and the UEFA European Championship tournament up to 1990.[13][14]

Official formation

A Yugoslav team to field a Croatian contingent played against Faroe Islands on 16 May 1991, days before the Croatian independence referendum.[15] An unofficial Croatian team was formed before and played the team's first modern international game, against the United States on 17 October 1990 at Maksimir Stadium. The game, which Croatia won 2–1,[16] was one of three games played under caretaker manager Dražan Jerković. The match against the American side also marked the introduction of Croatia's national jersey, inspired by the chequered design of the country's coat of arms.[17] Although Croatia was still officially part of Yugoslavia until its independence declaration on 8 October 1991, this team already served as a de facto national side.[18][19] Croatia went on to win two more friendly games under Jerković, against Romania in December 1990 and Slovenia in June 1991.

On 3 July 1992, Croatia was re-admitted to FIFA, playing its first official matches in the modern era against Australia in Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney. This team was led by Stanko Poklepović as part of an international exhibition tour; in April 1993, Vlatko Marković was appointed as manager. Croatia finally gained admission into UEFA in June 1993 which was too late for the national team to enter the 1994 FIFA World Cup qualification as these already commenced the year before. Marković only led the team in one match, a home win against Ukraine in June 1993, before being dismissed in February 1994 and replaced by Miroslav Blažević the following month. The team's performances before Croatia's official independence were not recorded by FIFA so they entered the World Rankings in 125th place.[20][21] Blažević led Croatia's Euro 1996 qualifying campaign, beginning with the nation's first post-independence competitive victory, a 2–0 win over Estonia on 4 September 1994. Their first competitive defeat came on 11 June 1995 in a 1–0 away loss to Ukraine during the same qualifying campaign.[8] They eventually finished first in their qualifying group[22] and won FIFA's 1994 Best Mover of the Year award as they moved up to 62nd in the rankings by the end of the year.[23]

Blažević period (1994–1999)

Croatia's 1998 World Cup third-place certificate
Croatia's 1998 World Cup third-place certificate

Goran Vlaović scored the team's first goal at a major tournament, a late winner against Turkey at the City Ground in Nottingham in their first group match at the Euro 1996.[24] After their opening victory, Croatia beat reigning champions Denmark 3–0[25] then went on to lose against Portugal by the same scoreline in their finals group fixture.[26] Croatia advanced to the knockout stage and were beaten in the quarter-finals 1–2 by Germany.[27]

Blažević continued to lead Croatia in the 1998 World Cup qualification campaign which ended after an aggregate victory against Ukraine in the two-legged play-off. In the group stage of the World Cup, Croatia beat Jamaica, Japan and lost to Argentina before defeating Romania to reach a quarter-finals tie against Germany.[28] Croatia won 3–0 with goals from Robert Jarni, Goran Vlaović and Davor Šuker, all after Christian Wörns had been sent off. Croatia then faced the host France in the semi-finals. After a goalless first-half, Croatia took the lead only to concede two goals by opposing defender Lilian Thuram and lose 1–2. In the third-place match, Croatia beat the Netherlands 2–1 with Davor Šuker winning the Golden Boot award for scoring the most goals of the tournament with six goals in seven games.[29] Croatia's debut performance in 1998 equals Portugal's third place debut finish at the 1966 World Cup and as a result, Croatia rose to number three in the January 1999 FIFA World Rankings, their highest ranking to date.[21][13] The team of the 1990s was dubbed the "golden generation."[30][31] A portion of this squad (Jarni, Štimac, Boban, Prosinečki and Šuker) previously won the 1987 FIFA World Youth Championship with the Yugoslavia under-20 team.

Croatia's qualifying campaign for Euro 2000 ended as they finished third in their qualifying group behind FR Yugoslavia and the Republic of Ireland.[32] Both fixtures against archrivals FR Yugoslavia (the rump state which was later renamed Serbia and Montenegro) ended in draws which prevented Croatia from qualifying for the tournament.[33]

Jozić, Barić and Kranjčar period (2000–2006)

Fans during the Euro 2004 in Portugal
Fans during the Euro 2004 in Portugal

Blažević resigned in October 2000 following draws against Belgium and Scotland in the first two games of the 2002 World Cup qualifiers. His successor at the helm of the team was Mirko Jozić. Croatia went unbeaten during the rest of the qualifiers. They opened their 2002 World Cup campaign with a narrow loss to Mexico before producing a 2–1 victory over Italy in the next fixture.[34][35] They lost their finals group fixture to Ecuador and were eliminated.[36] Jozić then resigned and was replaced in July 2002 by Otto Barić, the team's first manager born outside of the Balkans.[37][38]

Croatia's 2002 home jersey.
Croatia's 2002 home jersey.

During Barić's tenure, most of the remaining players from the "golden generation" squad were gradually replaced by younger players over the course of the Euro 2004 qualifiers. Croatia went on to qualify for the tournament with a play-off victory against Slovenia, winning 2–1 on aggregate after Dado Pršo's decisive late goal in the second leg.[39] At the finals tournament in Portugal, Croatia drew 0–0 with Switzerland and 2–2 with France[40] only to lose to England 2–4 and undergo another elimination in the group stage.[41] Barić's two-year contract ended in June 2004 and was not renewed.[42] Former Croatia international Zlatko Kranjčar, appointed to succeed Barić in July 2004, led the team through the 2006 World Cup qualifiers without losing a single match and topping the group ahead of Sweden and Bulgaria.[43][44] Local media outlets accused him of nepotism for selecting his son Niko Kranjčar for the squad.[45] At the 2006 World Cup, Croatia lost their opening game to Brazil and drew 0–0 with Japan after Darijo Srna missed a first-half penalty.[46][47] A 2–2 draw with Australia in which three players were sent off confirmed Croatia's exit in the group stage.[48] The game included a mistake by referee Graham Poll who gave three yellow cards to Croatian defender Josip Šimunić, failing to send him off after his second offense. He later stated that he mistook Šimunić for an Australian player due to his Australian accent.[a] Poll was criticised for losing control of the match and retired from refereeing afterwards.[49]

Bilić period (2006–2012)

In July 2006, the Croatian Football Federation replaced Kranjčar with Slaven Bilić.[50] Bilić who previously managed the under-21 team between 2004 and 2006 introduced a host of players into the squad. His first game was a friendly away victory against Italy.[51][52] After suspending Darijo Srna, Ivica Olić and Boško Balaban for missing a curfew after a nightclub outing, Bilić led the team through the Euro 2008 qualifying.[53] Croatia topped their group, losing one game to Macedonia and beating England twice, who as a result failed to qualify for the first time since 1984.[54][55]

Croatia vs. Brazil at the 2006 FIFA World Cup
Croatia vs. Brazil at the 2006 FIFA World Cup

Before the European Championship, Eduardo–who was the team's top goalscorer during qualifying–underwent a compound fracture while playing for Arsenal in the Premier League. Bilić was forced to alter his finals Euro 2008 squad and recruited Nikola Kalinić and Nikola Pokrivač, neither of whom had yet played competitive games for the national team.[56] The team received some criticism after "poor attacking" performances in warm-up games against Scotland and Moldova. At the tournament, they beat Austria, Germany and Poland in the group stages to reach the quarter-finals with maximum group points for the first time in their tournament history.[57][58][59] Niko Kovač remained team captain at what was expected to be his finals international tournament, except in the finals group fixture when Dario Šimić temporarily held the captain's armband.[60][61] Croatia's campaign ended when they lost a penalty shoot-out to Turkey, with Luka Modrić, Mladen Petrić and Ivan Rakitić all missing their penalties. Croatia left the tournament with records for fewest goals conceded (2), fewest games lost (0),[b] and earliest goal (in the fourth minute of their opening game against Austria; this was also the all-time earliest successful penalty at the European Championship finals).[62][63][64][65]

Following the tournament, Bilić renewed his contract, becoming the first manager since Blažević to lead Croatia to successive tournament.[66] Croatia were again drawn to play England in the qualifying stages for the 2010 World Cup; the tie was voted the most anticipated of the campaign on FIFA.com.[67] After a home win against Kazakhstan, Croatia lost at home to England, ending a 14-year unbeaten home record.[68][69] The team then had a number of players' injuries and went on to lose 5–1 to England at the Wembley Stadium. Although Croatia defeated Kazakhstan in their finals qualifying fixture, they were ultimately eliminated as Ukraine who had previously defeated group leaders England beat Andorra to win second place in the group. Bilić vowed to renew his contract and remain in charge.

Croatia vs. Italy match at UEFA Euro 2012
Croatia vs. Italy match at UEFA Euro 2012

Despite falling outside the top ten in the FIFA World Rankings, Croatia were placed in the top tier of teams for the UEFA Euro 2012 qualifying draw; Croatia was previously a candidate to co-host the tournament with Hungary which would have allowed the team to qualify automatically but UEFA eventually chose Poland and Ukraine as hosts instead. Being top-seeds in their qualifying group, Croatia finished second behind Greece, settling for a play-off against Euro 2008 rivals Turkey.[70] Croatia proceeded to beat Turkey 3–0 on aggregate with all three goals coming in the away leg in Istanbul, thereby qualifying for the Euro 2012. In the proceeding group stage draw for the tournament, Croatia were placed in the third tier of teams and were eventually grouped with the Republic of Ireland, Italy and defending champions Spain.

In the buildup towards the UEFA Euro 2012 tournament, the team's first major competition since their 2008 run at the same event, manager Slaven Bilić formally agreed a deal to manage Russian club Lokomotiv Moscow, thereby announcing he would resign from the national team when the tournament ended. Croatia opened their campaign with a 3–1 victory over the Republic of Ireland, with striker Mario Mandžukić scoring twice. Mandžukić continued his run at the tournament with an equaliser in the 1–1 draw against Italy which was marred by fan reactions and referee decisions from English official Howard Webb. Croatia exit the tournament in the group stage once again after losing 0–1 to Spain. Upon Bilić's formal departure, Jutarnji list daily labelled him as Croatia's "only manager to depart on such positive terms" and credited him for his "strong revival" of the national side during his six-year tenure.[71]

Štimac, Kovač and Čačić period (2012–2017)

Croatia vs. Brazil at 2014 World Cup
Croatia vs. Brazil at 2014 World Cup

Following Bilić, former player and pundit Igor Štimac was appointed manager of the national team. Croatia's all-time top goalscorer Davor Šuker also took over as president of the Croatian Football Federation after the death of Vlatko Marković ended a 14-year tenure.[72][73] After a year of his appointment, Štimac was replaced by former captain Niko Kovač who previously managed the under-21 youth side.[74] Kovač led the team to a 2–0 aggregate victory over Iceland in the qualifying playoffs for the 2014 World Cup with both goals coming in the home leg in Zagreb.[75] At the World Cup, Croatia were drawn with host-nation Brazil, Mexico and Cameroon. In the opening match of the tournament, Croatia lost 3–1 to Brazil. The match garnered media attention and controversy as referee Yuichi Nishimura was scrutinized for a number of decisions.[76] In their second match, Croatia won 4–0 against Cameroon[77] then did not progress from the group as they lost 3–1 to Mexico in their finals fixture.[78][79]

Croatia v Portugal at Euro 2016.
Croatia v Portugal at Euro 2016.

In the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign, Croatia were drawn against Italy, Bulgaria, Norway, Azerbaijan and Malta.[80] Following a goalless away draw against Azerbaijan and an away defeat to Norway,[81] in September 2015, the executive committee of the Croatian Football Federation unanimously decided to terminate Kovač's contract.[82] On 21 September 2015, Ante Čačić was named head coach of the Croatian team.[83] On 13 October 2015, Croatia qualified for the finals by finishing as runners-up in Group H.[84] Under Čačić, Croatia broke the record for most goals scored in one match after defeating San Marino 10–0 in a friendly.[85]

At Euro 2016, Croatia were drawn in Group D alongside Turkey, Czech Republic and defending champions Spain. Croatia began their campaign with a 1–0 win over Turkey; following a volley kick from Luka Modrić.[86] The next match was against Czech Republic. With Croatia taking the lead through Ivan Perišić and doubling it through Ivan Rakitić before goals from Milan Škoda and a last-minute penalty from Tomáš Necid; there was crowd trouble in the last minutes of the match with flares being thrown on the pitch and a steward being hurt by a firework during stoppage time.[87][88]

Croatia's finals match was against Spain; conceding a goal from Álvaro Morata before goals from Nikola Kalinić and a winning goal from Perišić securing Croatia a historic win as they topped the group, meanwhile for Spain it was their first defeat at a Euro finals match for the first time since 2004.[89][90] After the match, Croatia were tipped as one of the tournament favourites[91][92] and drew Portugal in the round of 16 who finished third in the group advancing only as the third-best third-placed team.[93]

The match was described by BBC Sport as "abysmal", with Ricardo Quaresma's winning goal in the 117th minute after Ivan Perišić hit the post with a header in the previous attack, knocking Croatia out of the tournament.[94] After the Euro 2016 campaign, Darijo Srna announced his retirement from international football, amassing a record 134 appearances for the national side. Luka Modrić was announced as his successor for team captain.[95][96]

Dalić period (since 2017)

The 2017–18 squad posing with Vladimir Putin and Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović after the 2018 World Cup Final against France.
The 2017–18 squad posing with Vladimir Putin and Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović after the 2018 World Cup Final against France.
The team arrival in Zagreb after the 2018 World Cup
The team arrival in Zagreb after the 2018 World Cup

Croatia was undefeated for their first five 2018 World Cup qualification matches. The following consecutive defeats against Iceland and Turkey as well as a draw against Finland caused a public outcry against manager Čačić.[97][98] He was replaced by Zlatko Dalić who led the team to a 2–0 win against Ukraine in Kyiv,[99] securing a spot in the play-off round against Greece. Croatia went on to qualify for the 2018 World Cup after beating Greece 4–1 on aggregate with all goals coming in the first leg in Zagreb.[100][101]

In the buildup to the World Cup, The Guardian among other news outlets labelled the 2017–18 squad as Croatia's second "golden generation".[102][103] Players drew comparisons to their 1998 counterparts.[104][105][106] Croatia started their World Cup campaign with a 2–0 victory over Nigeria.[107][108] The following 3–0 victory over Argentina marked Vedran Ćorluka earning his 100th cap for Croatia.[109][110][111] Croatia then defeated Iceland to top the group, marking their best ever performance in the group stages of the World Cup.[112][113] Playing Denmark in the round of 16, Croatia prevailed in a penalty shoot-out for the first time[114][115][116] after goalkeeper Danijel Subašić saved three penalties, equalling the record for most penalties saved in a match. In the quarter-finals, Croatia drew 2–2 with hosts Russia, becoming the first team since 1990 to win two consecutive penalty shoot-outs at the World Cup.[117][118][119] Playing England in the semi-finals, Croatia equalized once more to force their third consecutive extra time, equalling another record for most extra time matches at the tournament.[120][121] Mario Mandžukić eventually scored as Croatia won 2–1 making them the second-smallest country by population to reach a World Cup finals (after Uruguay in 1930).[122][123] Croatia lost the 2018 FIFA World Cup Final 4–2 to France where a free kick was awarded to France for a possible dive by Antoine Griezmann as well as penalty later in the game awarded by the video assistant referee (VAR) for a handball by Ivan Perišić.[124] After the match, Luka Modrić became the first Croatian to win the Golden Ball award for best player of the tournament. The Croatian players were welcomed by an estimated half a million people at their homecoming in the capital of Zagreb.[125]

On 23 January 2018, Croatia were drawn to play against England and Spain in the League A of inaugural edition of the UEFA Nations League.[126][127] On 11 September 2018, Croatia lost 6–0 away to Spain in their first Nations League game, with the result becoming Croatia's record loss in the process.[128] Croatia drew 0–0 home with England,[129] played behind closed doors due to UEFA punishment.[130] In the next match against Spain, Croatia won 3–2 at home with a goal in stoppage time.[131] Due to a 2–1 away defeat to England, Croatia placed last in the group and were relegated to League B of the next edition of the tournament.[132]

On 2 December 2018, Croatia was the seeded team of the Group E, grouped with Wales, Slovakia, Hungary and Azerbaijan for Euro 2020 qualifying.[133] Croatia started their qualifying campaign narrowly winning on 21 March against Azerbaijan and narrowly losing on 24 March to Hungary.[134][135][136] Although they dropped points by drawing with Azerbaijan and Wales away, Croatia managed to top their qualifying group for the first time since Euro 2008 qualifying.[137] Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Euro 2020 was postponed for a year.[138]

Due to a rule change in the Nations League, Croatia avoided relegation and remained in League A where they were drawn in the same group with Portugal, France and Sweden.[139][140] Croatia lost all games apart from Sweden at home, conceding more goals than any other team in the Nations League (apart from Iceland),[141][142][143] but once again avoided relegation to League B due to achieving better goal difference than last-placed Sweden.[144] Winning only two out of eight games in 2020, Croatia achieved their worst annual result in their history.[145]

Croatia lost their opening World Cup qualifier to Slovenia 1–0 and scraped past Cyprus and Malta 1–0 and 3–0, respectively.[146][147] Dalić afterwards made a statement about the lack of team spirit among the players and vowed to restore it ahead of the beginning of Euro 2020.[148] Croatia failed to win in any of their pre-tournament friendlies against Armenia and Belgium, drawing 1–1 and losing 1–0, respectively.[149][150] At the Euro 2020, Croatia were drawn in Group D with England, Czech Republic and the play-off winner C (which later turned out to be Scotland).[151] Croatia finished second in their group, with a 1–0 loss to England, a 1–1 tie with the Czech Republic and a 3–1 win over Scotland. They advanced to the round of 16, where they lost to Spain 5–3 after extra time.[152] Following performances before and during the tournament, Dalić–alongside a number of players–was severely criticized by the Croatian public and called upon to resign.[153][154][155][156] During the remainder of the World Cup qualifying, Dalić refreshed the team roster by introducing younger debutants. Croatia finished the qualifying unbeaten, dropping points only by drawing 0–0 with Russia away and 2–2 with Slovakia at home. The campaign made Dalić the first coach in the history of the team to qualify them for three major tournaments.[157][158][159]

Notes
  1. ^ The rules of Association football state that on receiving a second yellow card in a single match a player must be given a red card and be removed for the rest of the match per the Laws of the Game.
  2. ^ Under the rules of Association football and the official European Championship tournament regulations, a loss inflicted via a penalty shootout does not count as a defeat but rather a tie which needed a final process to determine the team which advances per the Laws of the Game.

Image

Kits

The Croatian chequy.

Croatia's modern-day jersey was designed in 1990 by Miroslav Šutej who also designed the nation's flag, coat of arms and banknotes. The red and white motif is based on the Croatian checkerboard (šahovnica) which has been used to represent Croats since the Middle Ages.[160][161][162] Although there have been variations made by the kit manufacturers since the original release, the jersey design has remained consistent throughout the years and has served as a blueprint for some other Croatian national sports teams and entities.[17] The typical combination has featured red-and-white chequred shirts, white shorts and blue socks.

Away kits used by the team have for a period been all-blue, incorporating the red-and-white chequers as a trim. Croatia has moved to using darker away kits such as the dark navy-and-black chequered design that featured prominently in the 2018 World Cup campaign. The Vatreni have often been required to use their away kits even when playing at home or when being listed as the designated "home" team at neutral venues as teams also using a red-and-white colour scheme often use a red home kit and white away kit or vice versa, both clash with the chequers of Croatia.

Kit supplier Period
Germany Uhlsport 1990–1991
Italy Lotto 1992–1994
Italy Kappa 1994
Italy Lotto 1994–2000
United States Nike 2000–

Supporters

Croatia supporters at UEFA Euro 2012
Croatia supporters at UEFA Euro 2012

The team has developed an extensive fan base since its formation in 1991.[163] Following their run at the 1998 FIFA World Cup, there was a rise in domestic and global attention for the side. Balkan Insight commented that the national team became a symbol of Croatian independence from Yugoslavia.[164] After the death of former President Franjo Tuđman, local political ties with the national team have loosened. All matches are followed and televised throughout the country, particularly during tournament.[165]

A part of the team's support base consists of fans of Hajduk Split and Dinamo Zagreb, the two best-supported clubs in the Croatian domestic league, the Prva HNL.[166] Both sets of fans Bad Blue Boys of Zagreb and Torcida from Split—have been associated with hooliganism due to their ultra-style support,[167][168] though violence between them does not occur at international matches. Other ultras groups are Armada Rijeka, Kohorta Osijek, Ultras Vinkovci, Tornado Zadar, Funcuti Šibenik and Demoni Pula. Support for the team also comes from Croats of Bosnia and Herzegovina, particularly from fans of Zrinjski Mostar and Široki Brijeg.[169] There are also Croatian communities in Australia, North America and South America that follow the team.[170][171]

Among supporters, it is customary to include an inscription of their city of origin onto the Croatian flag to indicate where they are from. They are also notable for their vocal support and orchestrated chants during matches. One section may shout "U boj, u boj" (To Battle, to Battle) with another responding "Za narod svoj" (For Our People) which is a Croatian patriotic song. When the team wins, supporters might chant "Bježite ljudi, bježite iz grada" (Run Away People, Run Away From the City) which is a song praising the presence of euphoric Croatian fans.[172] The Croatian Football Federation endorses an official fan club for the team, known as Uvijek Vjerni (Always Faithful).[173]

The team receives support from various local musicians, who release tracks dedicated to them. Former manager Slaven Bilić and his rock band released a single, "Vatreno ludilo" (Fiery Madness), which reached the top position on the Croatian music charts during Euro 2008.[174][175] Other Croatian artists such as Baruni, Connect, Dino Dvornik, Gibonni, Prljavo Kazalište, Colonia, Stoka, Nered and Thompson have also recorded songs mentioning the team. Some of those having been used among supporters are "Moja domovina" (My Homeland), "Srce vatreno" (Fiery Heart), "Hrvatska je prvak svijeta" (Croatia Are World Champions) and "Malo nas je, al' nas ima" (We Are Few, But We Exist). Most popular among the fans and played at every home match is "Lijepa li si" (How Beautiful You Are) by Thompson and fans sing it themselves during the match. Bad Blue Boys supporters from Zaprešić made their band Zaprešić Boys and made some songs for each tournament like "Samo je jedno" (Only One Thing), "U pobjedi i porazu" (In Victory and Defeat) "Neopisivo" (Undescribable), "Igraj moja Hrvatska" (Play, My Croatia), with the latter being an unofficial anthem for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The players and fans adopt other patriotic songs to celebrate victories as well.

Croatian supporters have used flares to celebrate the team's victories, though the use of pyrotechnics has become increasingly controversial due to sanctions imposed by FIFA and UEFA.
Croatian supporters have used flares to celebrate the team's victories, though the use of pyrotechnics has become increasingly controversial due to sanctions imposed by FIFA and UEFA.

Fans' behaviour at international games has led to sanctions against the national side, despite due efforts by the HNS, Croatian government and players to prevent unwanted incidents. The team has been penalized for multiple acts of racist behaviour by its fans including racial abuse towards English striker Emile Heskey in 2010, racial chants at a home game against Norway in 2015 and the carving of a swastika into the pitch at a Euro 2016 qualifier against Italy that same year (to which no fans were allowed, as penalty for the infraction against Norway).[176] The 12 October 2018 UEFA Nations League game against England was played in Croatia, also without fans.[177] (This penalty is referred to as a "ghost game" which is played by the teams but which has no audience.)[178][179] There have also been reports of clashes involving Croatian fans at various tournament, leading to further sanctions imposed by FIFA and UEFA.[180][181]

There are fears of particular violence during matches against Serbia, such as the politically fuelled football riot following the 1990 parliamentary election.[182] This has led to extra security measures being imposed for these matches and general restrictions on traveling fans. There have also been multiple acts of protest against the national team, in response to allegations of corruption within the Croatian Football Federation, and other fan disturbances.[183] Croatia's Euro 2016 qualifying fixture against Italy in Milan was interrupted due to flares being thrown onto the field by a section of attendants, which also occurred at a European Championship match against Czech Republic.[184][185]

Stadiums

The majority of Croatia's home matches take place at the Stadion Maksimir in Zagreb, which is also the home-ground of local football club Dinamo. The venue, built in 1912 and refurbished in 1997, is named after the surrounding neighbourhood of Maksimir. It was one of two venues for UEFA Euro 1976, hosted by Yugoslavia, alongside Red Star Stadium in Belgrade. It has been hosting national team games since Croatia's competitive home debut against Lithuania.[186] The Croatian Football Federation (HNS) previously agreed on extensive plans with the government to renovate the stadium and increase its forty-thousand seating capacity, the proposal was eventually rejected by Mayor of Zagreb Milan Bandić in 2008 due to construction costs.[186][187][188]

Some home matches are occasionally played at other, smaller venues around the country. The Stadion Poljud in Split has hosted some qualifying fixtures since 1995, the first being a 1–1 draw with Italy. In the period between 1995 and 2011, Croatia never won a competitive match at Poljud, which the local media dubbed "Poljudsko prokletsvo" ("the Poljud curse"). The run was finally ended after the team came from behind to beat Georgia on 3 June 2011.[189] Qualifying fixtures have also been played at the Stadion Kantrida in Rijeka along with Stadion Gradski vrt in Osijek and the Stadion Varteks in Varaždin. These venues are less used due to their more remote locations and smaller seating capacity, despite objections from local residents and some players.[190]

Since Croatia's first match in October 1990, they played home games at eleven stadiums around the country. The following table provides a summary of Croatia's results at home venues.

Stadium City / town Pld W D L Win % Last match hosted Map of the host cities
Stadion Maksimir  Zagreb 68 47 15 6 069.1 2022
Stadion Poljud Split-Dalmatia County Split 17 4 8 5 023.5 2022
Stadion Gradski vrt Osijek-Baranja County Osijek 14 10 3 1 071.4 2022
Stadion Kantrida Primorje-Gorski Kotar County Rijeka 11 10 1 0 090.9 2011
Stadion Varteks Varaždin County Varaždin 8 5 2 1 062.5 2019
Stadion Rujevica Primorje-Gorski Kotar County Rijeka 7 5 2 0 071.4 2021
Stadion A. Drosina Istria County Pula 5 4 0 1 080.0 2019
Stadion Koprivnica Koprivnica-Križevci County Koprivnica 1 1 0 0 100.0 2016
Stadion Cibalia Vukovar-Syrmia County Vinkovci 1 1 0 0 100.0 2009
Stadion Kranjčevićeva  Zagreb 1 1 0 0 100.0 1996
Stadion Šubićevac Šibenik-Knin County Šibenik 1 0 1 0 000.0 2003
Stadion Radnik Zagreb County Velika Gorica 1 0 1 0 000.0 2021
Total 135 88 33 14 65.2% 2022

Last updated: Croatia vs. Denmark, 22 September 2022
Statistics include only official matches recognized by HNS[191]

Rivalries

Croatia and Serbia, belligerents during the Croatian War of Independence, have developed a rivalry.

Results and fixtures

Main article: Croatia national football team results (2020–present)

Further information: 2021–22 in Croatian football and 2022–23 in Croatian football

The following matches have been played within the past 12 months. Times are CET/CEST, in accordance with Croatian local time (local times if different, are in parentheses).

2022

26 March International friendly Croatia  1–1  Slovenia Al Rayyan, Qatar
15:00 CET
(17:00 AST)
  • Kramarić 39'
Report
Stadium: Education City Stadium
Attendance: 3,000
Referee: Abdullah Jamali (Kuwait)
Assistant referees: Sayedali Sayedali (Kuwait)
Assistant referees: Ahmad Abbas (Kuwait)
Fourth official: Ammar Ashkanani (Kuwait)
29 March International friendly Croatia  2–1  Bulgaria Al Rayyan, Qatar
16:00 CEST
(17:00 AST)
Report Stadium: Education City Stadium
Attendance: 3,000
Referee: Khamis Mohammed Al-Marri (Qatar)
Assistant referees: Yousuf Aref Al-Shamari (Qatar)
Assistant referees: Zahy Snaid Alshammari (Qatar)
Fourth official: Abdulhadi Alasmar Al-Ruaile (Qatar)
3 June 2022–23 UEFA Nations League Croatia  0–3  Austria Osijek, Croatia
20:45 CEST Report Stadium: Stadion Gradski vrt
Attendance: 13,994
Referee: Chris Kavanagh (England)
Assistant referees: Daniel Cook (England)
Assistant referees: Neil Davies (England)
Fourth official: Craig Pawson (England)
6 June 2022–23 UEFA Nations League Croatia  1–1  France Split, Croatia
20:45 CEST
Report
Stadium: Stadion Poljud
Attendance: 31,560
Referee: Marco Guida (Italy)
Assistant referees: Ciro Carbone (Italy)
Assistant referees: Giorgio Peretti (Italy)
Fourth official: Giovanni Ayroldi (Italy)
10 June 2022–23 UEFA Nations League Denmark  0–1  Croatia Copenhagen, Denmark
20:45 CEST Report Stadium: Parken Stadium
Attendance: 35,862
Referee: Bartosz Frankowski (Poland)
Assistant referees: Marcin Boniek (Poland)
Assistant referees: Jakub Winkler (Poland)
Fourth official: Krzysztof Jakubik (Poland)
13 June 2022–23 UEFA Nations League France  0–1  Croatia Saint-Denis, France
20:45 CEST Report
Stadium: Stade de France
Attendance: 77,410
Referee: Orel Grinfeeld (Israel)
Assistant referees: Roy Hassan (Israel)
Assistant referees: Idan Yarkoni (Israel)
Fourth official: Gal Leibovitz (Israel)
22 September 2022–23 UEFA Nations League Croatia  2–1  Denmark Zagreb, Croatia
20:45 CEST
Report
Stadium: Stadion Maksimir
Attendance: 22,715
Referee: Davide Massa (Italy)
Assistant referees: Filippo Meli (Italy)
Assistant referees: Stefano Alassio (Italy)
Fourth official: Fabio Maresca (Italy)
25 September 2022–23 UEFA Nations League Austria  1–3  Croatia Vienna, Austria
20:45 CEST Report
Stadium: Ernst-Happel-Stadion
Attendance: 45,700
Referee: Artur Dias (Portugal)
Assistant referees: Rui Tavares (Portugal)
Assistant referees: Paulo Soares (Portugal)
Fourth official: Gustavo Correia (Portugal)
16 November International friendly Saudi Arabia  0–1  Croatia Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
13:00 CET
(15:00 AST)
Report Stadium: Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium
Attendance: 8,287[206]
Referee: Adham Makhadmeh (Jordan)
Assistant referees: Ahmad Alroalle (Jordan)
Assistant referees: Mohammad Alkalaf (Jordan)
Fourth official: Khalid Alturais (Saudi Arabia)
23 November 2022 FIFA World Cup Morocco  0–0  Croatia Al Khor, Qatar
11:00 CET
(13:00 AST)
Report Stadium: Al Bayt Stadium
Attendance: 59,407
Referee: Fernando Andrés Rapallini (Argentina)
Assistant referees: Juan Pablo Belatti (Argentina)
Assistant referees: Diego Yamil Bonfá (Argentina)
Fourth official: Kevin Ortega (Peru)
Man of the Match: Luka Modrić (Croatia)
27 November 2022 FIFA World Cup Croatia  4–1  Canada Al Rayyan, Qatar
17:00 CET
(19:00 AST)
Report
Stadium: Khalifa International Stadium
Attendance: 44,374
Referee: Andrés Matonte (Uruguay)
Assistant referees: Nicolás Taran (Uruguay)
Assistant referees: Martin Soppi (Uruguay)
Fourth official: Kevin Ortega (Peru)
Man of the Match: Andrej Kramarić (Croatia)
1 December 2022 FIFA World Cup Croatia  0–0  Belgium Al Rayyan, Qatar
16:00 CET
(18:00 AST)
Report Stadium: Ahmad bin Ali Stadium
Attendance: 43,984
Referee: Anthony Taylor (England)
Assistant referees: Gary Beswick (England)
Assistant referees: Adam Nunn (England)
Fourth official: István Kovács (Romania)
Man of the Match: Luka Modrić (Croatia)
5 December 2022 FIFA World Cup R16 Japan  1–1 (a.e.t.)
(1–3 p)
 Croatia Al Wakrah, Qatar
16:00 CET
(18:00 AST)
Report Stadium: Al Janoub Stadium
Attendance: 42,523
Referee: Ismail Elfath (United States)
Assistant referees: Corey Parker (United States)
Assistant referees: Kyle Atkins (United States)
Fourth official: Mustapha Ghorbal (Algeria)
Man of the Match: Dominik Livaković (Croatia)
Penalties
Note: Croatia advances after penalty kicks
9 December 2022 FIFA World Cup QF Croatia  v  Brazil Al Rayyan, Qatar
16:00 CET
(18:00 AST)
Report Stadium: Education City Stadium

2023

25 March UEFA Euro 2024 qualifying Croatia  v  Wales Split, Croatia
20:45 CET Report Stadium: Stadion Poljud
28 March UEFA Euro 2024 qualifying Turkey  v  Croatia Bursa, Turkey
20:45 CEST
(21:45 TRT)
Report Stadium: Bursa Metropolitan Stadium
14–15 June 2022–23 UEFA Nations League Croatia  v  Netherlands or
 Italy or
 Spain
Netherlands
18 June 2022–23 UEFA Nations League Croatia  v  Netherlands or
 Italy or
 Spain
Netherlands
8 September UEFA Euro 2024 qualifying Croatia  v  Latvia Croatia
20:45 CEST Report
11 September UEFA Euro 2024 qualifying Armenia  v  Croatia Armenia
18:00 CEST
(20:00 AMT)
Report
12 October UEFA Euro 2024 qualifying Croatia  v  Turkey Croatia
20:45 CEST Report
15 October UEFA Euro 2024 qualifying Wales  v  Croatia Wales
20:45 CEST
(19:45 BST)
Report
18 November UEFA Euro 2024 qualifying Latvia  v  Croatia Latvia
18:00 CET
(19:00 EET)
Report
21 November UEFA Euro 2024 qualifying Croatia  v  Armenia Croatia
20:45 CET Report

Coaching staff

Manager Zlatko Dalić
Manager Zlatko Dalić
Position Name[207]
Head coach Croatia Zlatko Dalić
Assistant coaches Croatia Ivica Olić
Croatia Dražen Ladić
Croatia Vedran Ćorluka
Croatia Mario Mandžukić
Goalkeeping coach Croatia Marjan Mrmić
Fitness coach Croatia Luka Milanović
Video analyst Scotland Marc Rochon
Scouts Croatia Nikola Jerkan
Croatia Ognjen Vukojević
Physiotherapists Croatia Nenad Krošnjar
Croatia Andrej Mladenović
Croatia Goran Beloglavec
Croatia Miroslav Jamnić
Doctors Croatia Zoran Bahtijarević
Croatia Saša Janković
Croatia Eduard Rod
Technical director Croatia Stipe Pletikosa
Team manager Croatia Iva Olivari
Security officer Croatia Miroslav Marković
Media officer Croatia Tomislav Pacak
Chef Croatia Tomica Đukić
Kit men Croatia Mladen Pilčić
Croatia Goran Vincek
Croatia Dennis Lukančić

Coaching history

The following table provides a summary of the complete record of each Croatia manager including their results regarding World Cup and European Championship.

Manager Period Pld W D L Win % Tournament
Kingdom of Yugoslavia Jozo Jakopić 1939–1941 4 2 1 1 050.00
Independent State of Croatia Rudolf Hitrec 1941 1 0 0 1 000.00
Independent State of Croatia Bogdan Cuvaj 1941–1943 13 6 3 4 046.15
Independent State of Croatia Bernard Hügl 1943–1945 1 1 0 0 100.00
Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Bogdan Cuvaj 1956 1 1 0 0 100.00
Croatia Dražan Jerković 1990–1991 3 3 0 0 100.00
Croatia Stanko Poklepović 1992 4 1 1 2 025.00
Croatia Vlatko Marković 1993–1994 1 1 0 0 100.00
Croatia Miroslav Blažević 1994–2000 72 33 24 15 045.83
Symbol confirmed.svg
1996 European Championship – Quarter-finals
Symbol confirmed.svg
1998 World Cup – Third place
Symbol delete vote.svg
2000 European Championship – Failed to qualify
Croatia Tomislav Ivić (c)[a] 1994 1 1 0 0 100.00
Croatia Mirko Jozić 2000–2002 18 9 6 3 050.00
Symbol confirmed.svg
2002 World Cup – Group stage
Croatia Otto Barić 2002–2004 24 11 8 5 045.83
Symbol confirmed.svg
2004 European Championship – Group stage
Croatia Zlatko Kranjčar 2004–2006 25 11 8 6 044.00
Symbol confirmed.svg
2006 World Cup – Group stage
Croatia Slaven Bilić 2006–2012 65 42 15 8 064.62
Symbol confirmed.svg
2008 European Championship – Quarter-finals
Symbol delete vote.svg
2010 World Cup – Failed to qualify
Symbol confirmed.svg
2012 European Championship – Group stage
Croatia Igor Štimac 2012–2013 15 8 2 5 053.33
Croatia Niko Kovač 2013–2015 19 10 5 4 052.63
Symbol confirmed.svg
2014 World Cup – Group stage
Croatia Ante Čačić 2015–2017 25 15 6 4 060.00
Symbol confirmed.svg
2016 European Championship – Round of 16
Croatia Zlatko Dalić 2017– 67 33 17 17 049.25
Symbol confirmed.svg
2018 World Cup – Runners-up
Symbol confirmed.svg
2020 European Championship – Round of 16
Symbol confirmed.svg
2022 World Cup – To be determined
Total 359 188 96 75 52.37% 12 out of 14

Last updated: Japan vs. Croatia, 5 December 2022. Source: Croatian Football Federation

  1. ^ In September 1994, national team manager Miroslav Blažević, who was also coaching Croatia Zagreb at the time, was dismissed in a 1994–95 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup match against Auxerre. Blažević was suspended by UEFA for one game and Ivić was appointed as his replacement for the UEFA Euro 1996 qualifying match against Italy in November 1994.

Players

Main article: List of Croatia international footballers

Current squad

The following is the final squad for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.[208]

Caps and goals as of 5 December 2022, after match against Japan.[209][210]

No. Pos. Player Date of birth (age) Caps Goals Club
1 1GK Dominik Livaković (1995-01-09) 9 January 1995 (age 27) 38 0 Croatia Dinamo Zagreb
12 1GK Ivo Grbić (1996-01-18) 18 January 1996 (age 26) 2 0 Spain Atlético Madrid
23 1GK Ivica Ivušić (1995-02-01) 1 February 1995 (age 27) 5 0 Croatia Osijek

2 2DF Josip Stanišić (2000-04-02) 2 April 2000 (age 22) 7 0 Germany Bayern Munich
3 2DF Borna Barišić (1992-11-10) 10 November 1992 (age 30) 29 1 Scotland Rangers
5 2DF Martin Erlić (1998-01-24) 24 January 1998 (age 24) 4 0 Italy Sassuolo
6 2DF Dejan Lovren (1989-07-05) 5 July 1989 (age 33) 76 5 Russia Zenit Saint Petersburg
19 2DF Borna Sosa (1998-01-21) 21 January 1998 (age 24) 11 1 Germany VfB Stuttgart
20 2DF Joško Gvardiol (2002-01-23) 23 January 2002 (age 20) 16 1 Germany RB Leipzig
21 2DF Domagoj Vida (vice-captain) (1989-04-29) 29 April 1989 (age 33) 100 4 Greece AEK Athens
22 2DF Josip Juranović (1995-08-16) 16 August 1995 (age 27) 25 0 Scotland Celtic
24 2DF Josip Šutalo (2000-02-28) 28 February 2000 (age 22) 3 0 Croatia Dinamo Zagreb

7 3MF Lovro Majer (1998-01-17) 17 January 1998 (age 24) 15 4 France Rennes
8 3MF Mateo Kovačić (1994-05-06) 6 May 1994 (age 28) 88 3 England Chelsea
10 3MF Luka Modrić (captain) (1985-09-09) 9 September 1985 (age 37) 159 23 Spain Real Madrid
11 3MF Marcelo Brozović (1992-11-16) 16 November 1992 (age 30) 81 7 Italy Inter Milan
13 3MF Nikola Vlašić (1997-10-04) 4 October 1997 (age 25) 45 7 Italy Torino
15 3MF Mario Pašalić (1995-02-09) 9 February 1995 (age 27) 47 7 Italy Atalanta
25 3MF Luka Sučić (2002-09-08) 8 September 2002 (age 20) 4 0 Austria Red Bull Salzburg
26 3MF Kristijan Jakić (1997-05-14) 14 May 1997 (age 25) 4 0 Germany Eintracht Frankfurt

4 4FW Ivan Perišić (1989-02-02) 2 February 1989 (age 33) 120 33 England Tottenham Hotspur
9 4FW Andrej Kramarić (1991-06-19) 19 June 1991 (age 31) 78 22 Germany 1899 Hoffenheim
14 4FW Marko Livaja (1993-08-26) 26 August 1993 (age 29) 18 4 Croatia Hajduk Split
16 4FW Bruno Petković (1994-09-16) 16 September 1994 (age 28) 26 6 Croatia Dinamo Zagreb
17 4FW Ante Budimir (1991-07-22) 22 July 1991 (age 31) 16 1 Spain Osasuna
18 4FW Mislav Oršić (1992-12-29) 29 December 1992 (age 29) 24 1 Croatia Dinamo Zagreb

Recent call-ups

The following players have been called up to the squad in the last 12 months and are still eligible for selection.

Pos. Player Date of birth (age) Caps Goals Club Latest call-up
GK Dominik Kotarski (2000-02-10) 10 February 2000 (age 22) 0 0 Greece PAOK 2022 FIFA World Cup PRE
GK Nediljko Labrović (1999-10-10) 10 October 1999 (age 23) 0 0 Croatia Rijeka 2022 FIFA World Cup PRE
GK Lovre Kalinić INJ (1990-04-03) 3 April 1990 (age 32) 19 0 Croatia Hajduk Split v.  Austria, 25 September 2022

DF Duje Ćaleta-Car (1996-09-17) 17 September 1996 (age 26) 23 1 England Southampton 2022 FIFA World Cup PRE
DF Marin Pongračić (1997-09-11) 11 September 1997 (age 25) 5 0 Italy Lecce 2022 FIFA World Cup PRE
DF Šime Vrsaljko RET (1992-01-10) 10 January 1992 (age 30) 52 0 Free agent v.  France, 13 June 2022
DF Mile Škorić (1991-06-19) 19 June 1991 (age 31) 7 0 Croatia Osijek v.  Bulgaria, 29 March 2022

MF Luka Ivanušec (1998-11-26) 26 November 1998 (age 24) 11 1 Croatia Dinamo Zagreb 2022 FIFA World Cup PRE
MF Josip Mišić (1994-06-28) 28 June 1994 (age 28) 2 0 Croatia Dinamo Zagreb 2022 FIFA World Cup PRE
MF Nikola Moro (1998-03-12) 12 March 1998 (age 24) 1 0 Italy Bologna v.  Bulgaria, 29 March 2022

FW Josip Brekalo (1998-06-23) 23 June 1998 (age 24) 33 4 Germany VfL Wolfsburg 2022 FIFA World Cup PRE
FW Antonio Mirko Čolak (1993-09-17) 17 September 1993 (age 29) 3 0 Scotland Rangers 2022 FIFA World Cup PRE
FW Petar Musa (1998-03-04) 4 March 1998 (age 24) 0 0 Portugal Benfica v.  Austria, 3 June 2022

  • INJ = Injured or ill.
  • WD = Withdrew.
  • SUS = Suspended from participating.
  • RET = Retired after latest call-up.
  • U21 = Joined the Croatia U21 team instead.
  • PRE = Preliminary squad.

Individual statistics

Main article: Croatia national football team records and statistics

As of 5 December 2022[211]
Players in bold are still active with Croatia.

Most capped players

Luka Modrić, Croatia's most capped player
Luka Modrić, Croatia's most capped player
Rank Player Caps Goals Career
1 Luka Modrić 159 23 2006–
2 Darijo Srna 134 22 2002–2016
3 Ivan Perišić 120 33 2011–
4 Stipe Pletikosa 114 0 1999–2014
5 Ivan Rakitić 106 15 2007–2019
6 Josip Šimunić 105 3 2001–2013
7 Ivica Olić 104 20 2002–2015
8 Vedran Ćorluka 103 4 2006–2018
9 Dario Šimić 100 3 1996–2008
Domagoj Vida 4 2010–

Dario Šimić was Croatia's first player to reach 100 appearances, doing so before his retirement in 2008. This allowed him to surpass Robert Jarni's previous record of 81 appearances.[212][213][214] On 6 February 2013, captain Darijo Srna, Josip Šimunić and Stipe Pletikosa each also played their 100th cap for Croatia in a 4–0 friendly victory over South Korea in London. The trio went on to set a new joint-record of 101 appearances for the national team in March 2013 in a World Cup qualifying victory against Serbia in Zagreb. Srna eventually surpassed his teammates and accrued a total of 134 international caps for Croatia before retiring in 2016; he was surpassed by Luka Modrić in 2021. Alen Halilović is the youngest player to represent the team, making his senior debut in June 2013 aged 16 years, 11 months and 22 days.[215] The team's oldest player is Dražen Ladić who played his last match in May 2000 aged 37 years, 4 months and 27 days.[216]

Top goalscorers

Davor Šuker, Croatia's top goalscorer
Davor Šuker, Croatia's top goalscorer
Rank Player Goals Caps Ratio Career
1 Davor Šuker 45 69 0.65 1991–2002
2 Mario Mandžukić 33 89 0.37 2007–2018
Ivan Perišić 120 0.28 2011–
4 Eduardo da Silva 29 64 0.45 2004–2014
5 Luka Modrić 23 159 0.14 2006–
6 Andrej Kramarić 22 78 0.28 2014–
Darijo Srna 134 0.16 2002–2016
8 Ivica Olić 20 104 0.19 2002–2015
9 Niko Kranjčar 16 81 0.2 2004–2013
10 Nikola Kalinić 15 42 0.36 2008–2018
Goran Vlaović 51 0.29 1992–2002
Ivan Rakitić 106 0.14 2007–2019

The team's youngest goalscorer is Luka Ivanušec who scored his debut goal on 14 January 2017 aged 18 years, one month and 19 days.[217] With 45 goals scored, Davor Šuker is the team's highest-scoring player.[33]

Most clean sheets

Stipe Pletikosa, Croatia's record holder in most clean sheets.
Stipe Pletikosa, Croatia's record holder in most clean sheets.
Rank Player Clean sheets Caps Ratio Career
1 Stipe Pletikosa 54 114 0.47 1999–2014
2 Dražen Ladić 26 59 0.44 1990–2000
3 Danijel Subašić 24 44 0.55 2009–2018
4 Tomislav Butina 15 28 0.54 2001–2006
5 Dominik Livaković 11 38 0.29 2017–
6 Vedran Runje 9 22 0.41 2006–2011
7 Tonči Gabrić 5 9 0.56 1990–1997
Marjan Mrmić 13 0.38 1995–1999
9 Lovre Kalinić 4 19 0.21 2014–
10 Ivan Vargić 3 3 1 2014–2016
Joey Didulica 4 0.75 2004–2006
Ivica Ivušić 5 0.6 2021–

Competitive record

FIFA World Cup

Main article: Croatia at the FIFA World Cup

Final Qualification
Year Round Position Pld W D L GF GA Squad Pos Pld W D L GF GA
Uruguay 1930 Part of  Kingdom of Yugoslavia
Kingdom of Italy 1934
French Third Republic 1938
Fourth Brazilian Republic 1950 Part of  Yugoslavia
Switzerland 1954
Sweden 1958
Chile 1962
England 1966
Mexico 1970
West Germany 1974
Argentina 1978
Spain 1982
Mexico 1986
Italy 1990
United States 1994 Not a FIFA member
France 1998 Third place 3rd 7 5 0 2 11 5 Squad 2nd 10 5 4 1 20 13
South Korea Japan 2002 Group stage 23rd 3 1 0 2 2 3 Squad 1st 8 5 3 0 15 2
Germany 2006 Group stage 22nd 3 0 2 1 2 3 Squad 1st 10 7 3 0 21 5
South Africa 2010 Did not qualify 3rd 10 6 2 2 19 13
Brazil 2014 Group stage 19th 3 1 0 2 6 6 Squad 2nd 12 6 3 3 14 9
Russia 2018 Runners-up 2nd 7 4 2 1 14 9 Squad 2nd 12 7 3 2 19 5
Qatar 2022 TBD 4 1 3 0 5 2 Squad 1st 10 7 2 1 21 4
Canada Mexico United States 2026 To be determined To be determined
Total Runners-up 6/7 27 12 7 8 40 28 6/7 72 43 20 9 129 51

Draws include knockout matches decided on penalty kicks; correct as of 5 December 2022 after the match against  Japan.

Matches
First match  Croatia 3–1 Jamaica 
(Lens, France; 14 June 1998)
Biggest win  Croatia 4–0 Cameroon 
(Manaus, Brazil; 18 June 2014)
Biggest defeat  Brazil 3–1 Croatia 
(São Paulo, Brazil; 12 June 2014)
 Mexico 3–1 Croatia 
(Recife, Brazil; 23 June 2014)
 France 4–2 Croatia 
(Moscow, Russia; 15 July 2018)

UEFA European Championship

Main article: Croatia at the UEFA European Championship

UEFA European Championship record Qualifying record
Year Round Position Pld W D L GF GA Squad Pos Pld W D L GF GA
France 1960 Part of  Yugoslavia
Francoist Spain 1964
Italy 1968
Belgium 1972
Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia 1976
Italy 1980
France 1984
West Germany 1988
Sweden 1992
England 1996 Quarter-finals 7th 4 2 0 2 5 5 Squad 1st 10 7 2 1 22 5
Belgium Netherlands 2000 Did not qualify 3rd 8 4 3 1 13 9
Portugal 2004 Group stage 13th 3 0 2 1 4 6 Squad 2nd 10 6 2 2 14 5
Austria Switzerland 2008 Quarter-finals 5th 4 3 1 0 5 2 Squad 1st 12 9 2 1 28 8
Poland Ukraine 2012 Group stage 10th 3 1 1 1 4 3 Squad 2nd 12 8 2 2 21 7
France 2016 Round of 16 9th 4 2 1 1 5 4 Squad 2nd 10 6 3 1 20 5
Europe 2020 Round of 16 14th 4 1 1 2 7 8 Squad 1st 8 5 2 1 17 7
Germany 2024 To be determined TBD To be determined
Total Quarter-finals 6/7 22 9 6 7 30 28 6/7 70 45 16 9 135 46

Draws include knockout matches decided on penalty kicks; correct as of 28 June 2021 after the match against  Spain.

Matches
First match  Croatia 1–0 Turkey 
(Nottingham, England; 11 June 1996)
Biggest win  Croatia 3–0 Denmark 
(Sheffield, England; 16 June 1996)
Biggest defeat  Portugal 3–0 Croatia 
(Nottingham, England; 19 June 1996)

UEFA Nations League

Main article: Croatia in the UEFA Nations League

UEFA Nations League Finals record
Season LG GP Pos Pld W D L GF GA P/R RK Year Pos Pld W D L GF GA Squad
2018–19 A 4 3rd 4 1 1 2 4 10 Same position 9th Portugal 2019 Did not qualify
2020–21 A 3 3rd 6 1 0 5 9 16 Same position 12th Italy 2021
2022–23 A 1 1st 6 4 1 1 8 6 Same position Netherlands 2023 Qualified
2024–25 A To be determined 2025 To be determined
Total 16 6 2 8 21 32 1st–4th Total 1/3 0 0 0 0 0 0

Draws include knockout matches decided on penalty kicks; correct as of 25 September 2022 after the match against  Austria.

Matches
First match  Spain 6–0 Croatia 
(Elche, Spain; 11 September 2018)
Biggest win  Austria 1–3 Croatia 
(Vienna, Austria; 25 September 2022)
Biggest defeat  Spain 6–0 Croatia 
(Elche, Spain; 11 September 2018)

Other

Year Round Position Pld W D L GF GA
Morocco 1996 King Hassan II International Cup Tournament Champions 1st 2 0 2 0 3 3
Japan 1997 Kirin Cup Runners-up 2nd 2 0 1 1 4 5
South Korea 1999 Korea Cup Champions 1st 3 1 2 0 5 4
Hong Kong 2006 Lunar New Year Cup Third place 3rd 2 1 0 1 4 2
China 2017 China Cup Fourth place 4th 2 0 2 0 2 2
Total 2 Titles 5/5 11 2 7 2 18 16

Draws include knockout matches decided on penalty kicks; correct as of 14 January 2017 after the match against  China.

Head-to-head record

Main article: Croatia national football team records and statistics

Key
  More wins than losses
  As many wins as losses
  Less wins than losses

Correct as of 5 December 2022, after the match against  Japan.

Post-independence[191]
Opponent Pld W D L GF GA GD Win %
 Andorra 6 6 0 0 24 0 +24 100.00
 Argentina 5 2 1 2 7 5 +2 040.00
 Armenia 1 0 1 0 1 1 +0 000.00
 Australia 6 2 2 2 11 6 +5 033.33
 Austria 7 6 0 1 12 6 +6 085.71
 Azerbaijan 4 2 2 0 9 2 +7 050.00
 Belarus 2 2 0 0 4 1 +3 100.00
 Belgium 9 3 3 3 9 6 +3 033.33
 Bosnia and Herzegovina 4 4 0 0 14 6 +8 100.00
 Brazil 4 0 1 3 2 7 −5 000.00
 Bulgaria 8 5 2 1 12 6 +6 062.50
 Cameroon 1 1 0 0 4 0 +4 100.00
 Canada 1 1 0 0 4 1 +3 100.00
 Chile 1 0 1 0 1 1 +0 000.00
 China 1 0 1 0 1 1 +0 000.00
 Cyprus 3 3 0 0 6 0 +6 100.00
 Czech Republic 4 1 3 0 8 6 +2 025.00
 Denmark 8 4 2 2 11 8 +3 050.00
 Ecuador 1 0 0 1 0 1 −1 000.00
 Egypt 1 0 1 0 2 2 +0 000.00
 England 11 3 2 6 13 22 −9 027.27
 Estonia 9 6 2 1 16 5 +11 066.67
 Finland 2 1 1 0 2 1 +1 050.00
 FR Yugoslavia 2 0 2 0 2 2 +0 000.00
 France 10 1 3 6 10 20 −10 010.00
 Georgia 3 2 0 1 4 3 +1 066.67
 Germany 5 2 1 2 8 6 +2 040.00
 Gibraltar 1 1 0 0 4 0 +4 100.00
 Greece 8 2 4 2 10 9 +1 025.00
 Hong Kong 1 1 0 0 4 0 +4 100.00
 Hungary 9 4 4 1 17 7 +10 044.44
 Iceland 7 5 1 1 13 3 +10 071.43
 Iran 2 1 1 0 4 2 +2 050.00
 Israel 9 8 1 0 22 8 +14 088.89
 Italy 8 3 5 0 10 6 +4 037.50
 Jamaica 1 1 0 0 3 1 +2 100.00
 Japan 4 1 2 1 5 5 +0 025.00
 Jordan 1 1 0 0 2 1 +1 100.00
 Kazakhstan 2 2 0 0 5 1 +4 100.00
 Kosovo 2 2 0 0 7 0 +7 100.00
 Latvia 4 4 0 0 10 1 +9 100.00
 Liechtenstein 2 2 0 0 8 2 +6 100.00
 Lithuania 2 1 1 0 2 0 +2 050.00
 Macedonia 8 5 2 1 12 9 +3 062.50
 Mali 1 1 0 0 2 1 +1 100.00
 Malta 10 9 1 0 29 5 +24 090.00
 Mexico 6 4 0 2 9 6 +3 066.67
 Moldova 2 2 0 0 2 0 +2 100.00
 Morocco 2 0 2 0 2 2 +0 000.00
 Netherlands 2 1 0 1 2 4 −2 050.00
 Nigeria 1 1 0 0 2 0 +2 100.00
 Northern Ireland 1 1 0 0 3 0 +3 100.00
 Norway 5 3 1 1 10 6 +4 060.00
 Peru 1 0 0 1 0 2 −2 000.00
 Poland 5 3 1 1 7 3 +4 060.00
 Portugal 7 0 1 6 4 15 −11 000.00
 Qatar 1 1 0 0 3 2 +1 100.00
 Republic of Ireland 7 2 3 2 8 8 +0 028.57
 Romania 4 4 0 0 6 1 +5 100.00
 Russia 6 2 4 0 6 3 +3 033.33
 San Marino 3 3 0 0 18 0 +18 100.00
 Saudi Arabia 1 1 0 0 1 0 +1 100.00
 Scotland 6 1 3 2 5 6 −1 016.67
 Senegal 1 1 0 0 2 1 +1 100.00
 Serbia 2 1 1 0 3 1 +2 050.00
 Slovakia 10 5 3 2 18 11 +7 050.00
 Slovenia 12 7 4 1 20 10 +10 058.33
 South Korea 7 3 2 2 11 7 +4 042.86
 Spain 9 3 1 5 12 20 −8 033.33
 Sweden 6 4 0 2 8 7 +1 066.67
 Switzerland 4 1 2 1 6 7 −1 025.00
 Tunisia 1 0 0 1 1 2 −1 000.00
 Turkey 10 3 6 1 13 9 +4 030.00
 Ukraine 9 5 3 1 15 5 +10 055.56
 United States 1 1 0 0 2 1 +1 100.00
 Wales 6 4 2 0 10 4 +6 066.67
Total: 76 teams played 339 178 92 69 575 329 +246 052.51
Croatia total: 77 teams played 359 188 96 75 622 362 +260 052.37


FIFA ranking history

The following is a chart of yearly averages of Croatia's FIFA ranking.[218] Upon admission to FIFA, Croatia was ranked 125th in the world. The 1998 World Cup propelled Croatia to third place after the tournament, marking the fastest, most volatile ascension in FIFA ranking history. It held that rank until February 1999.[219][220] During the 1998 World Cup, Croatia reached its highest-ever Elo rating of 2,006 points on July 11, 1998.[221] With an average Elo rating of 1,876 points, Croatia has the sixth-highest rating in the world as of 2022.[221]

Charity

In 2010, manager Slaven Bilić established a foundation Vatreno Srce (Fiery Heart), starting a string of charity work by the team.[222] The primary cause of the foundation is helping children in various forms.[223] As of 2012, the foundation made fifty donations of 1,200,000 HRK to various children's organizations.[224]

On 16 December 2012, the foundation made 500,000 HRK on an auction of Niko Kranjčar's shirt and Lionel Messi's shirt that was signed by all FC Barcelona players. The auction was organized in Esplanade Zagreb Hotel and even attended by President of Croatia Ivo Josipović.[224]

On 13 November 2018, the players gathered in hotel The Westin Zagreb to answer the fans' phonecalls, the proceeds of which were donated to the Vatreno Srce foundation. In 2018, the foundation chose to finance Children's Hospital Zagreb and Korak u Život (A Step Into Life), a charity that helps youngsters raised in orphanages to make the transition into the higher education system.[222][225]

On 11 November 2019, more than 500,000 HRK were collected in another call event that were then directed to Children's Hospital Kantrida.[226]

On 24 March 2020, the players donated 4,200,000 HRK for fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and for repair of damage caused by an earthquake in Zagreb earlier that year.[227]

See also

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