|Nickname(s)||Vatreni (The Blazers)|
Kockasti (The Checkered Ones)
|Association||Croatian Football Federation (HNS)|
|Head coach||Zlatko Dalić|
|Most caps||Luka Modrić (152)|
|Top scorer||Davor Šuker (45)|
|Current||15 1 (23 June 2022)|
|Highest||3 (January 1999)|
|Lowest||125 (March 1994)|
| 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)
| Croatia 10–0 San Marino |
(Rijeka, Croatia; 4 June 2016)
| Spain 6–0 Croatia |
(Elche, Spain; 11 September 2018)
|Appearances||6 (first in 1998)|
|Best result||Runners-up (2018)|
|UEFA European Championship|
|Appearances||6 (first in 1996)|
|Best result||Quarter-finals (1996, 2008)|
The Croatia national football team (Croatian: Hrvatska nogometna reprezentacija) represents Croatia in men's international football matches and is controlled by the Croatian Football Federation (HNS). The team was recognised by both FIFA and UEFA following the dissolution of Yugoslavia. 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 team has played competitive matches since 1994 starting with the qualifying campaign for the 1996 European Championship. In 1998, they competed in their first FIFA World Cup, finishing third and providing the tournament's top scorer, Davor Šuker. Twenty years later, Croatia reached the 2018 World Cup Final, providing the tournament's best player, Luka Modrić. They are one of the youngest national teams (since formation) to reach the knockout stage of a major tournament as well as the youngest team to occupy the top 10 in the FIFA World Rankings.
Among other nicknames, the team is colloquially referred to as the Vatreni (Blazers) or the Kockasti (The Checkered Ones). In the Italian-speaking counties the team is known as Il furioso incendio (The Blazing Fire). Since becoming eligible to compete, Croatia has only failed to qualify for two major tournaments: the UEFA Euro 2000 and the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Their biggest defeat came in the 2018–19 Nations League with a 0–6 loss to Spain, while their highest-scoring victory was a 10–0 friendly win over San Marino in 2016. The team have developed several rivalries such as the Derby Adriatico with Italy or the politically charged rivalry with Serbia, both of which have led to disruptive matches.
The team represents the second-smallest country by population and land mass to reach a World Cup final, behind Uruguay and Netherlands respectively. At major tournaments, Croatia holds joint-records for longest period between one goal and another of a player (2002–2014), most penalty shoot-outs played (2), most extra time periods played (3) and most penalties saved in a match (3). They are also one of three teams—along with Colombia and France—to be named FIFA's Best Mover of the Year more than once, winning the award in 1994 and 1998. Upon admission to FIFA, Croatia was ranked 125th in the world; following the 1998 World Cup campaign, the side rose to third place in the rankings, making it the most volatile team in FIFA Rankings history.
Croatian 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. A more hastily arranged Croatian side, managed by Hugo Kinert, played some matches in 1918–19.
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. 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. Croatia's first recorded result as a FIFA member was a 1–1 draw with Slovakia on 8 September in Bratislava. 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. 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. Croatia also played games against Indonesia and a Yugoslav team playing as Serbia. The Yugoslavia squad at the 1956 Summer Olympics included Croatian footballers as did Yugoslavia at the FIFA World Cup and the UEFA European Championship tournaments up to 1990.
A Yugoslav team to field a Croatian contingent played against Faroe Islands on 16 May 1991, days before the Croatian independence referendum. 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, 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. 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. 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. 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. They eventually finished first in their qualifying group 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.
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. After their opening victory, Croatia beat reigning champions Denmark 3–0 then went on to lose against Portugal by the same scoreline in their final group fixture. Croatia advanced to the knockout stage and were beaten in the quarter-finals 1–2 by Germany.
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-final tie against Germany. 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-final. 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. 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. The team of the 1990s was dubbed the "golden generation." 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. 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.
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. They lost their final group fixture to Ecuador and were eliminated. Jozić then resigned and was replaced in July 2002 by Otto Barić, the team's first manager born outside of the Balkans.
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. At the finals tournament in Portugal, Croatia drew 0–0 with Switzerland and 2–2 with France only to lose to England 2–4 and undergo another elimination in the group stage. Barić's two-year contract ended in June 2004 and was not renewed. 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. Local media outlets accused him of nepotism for selecting his son Niko Kranjčar for the squad. 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. A 2–2 draw with Australia in which three players were sent off confirmed Croatia's exit in the group stage. 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.
In July 2006, the Croatian Football Federation replaced Kranjčar with Slaven Bilić. 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. 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. 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.
Before the European Championships, 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 final Euro 2008 squad and recruited Nikola Kalinić and Nikola Pokrivač, neither of whom had yet played competitive games for the national team. 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. Niko Kovač remained team captain at what was expected to be his final international tournament, except in the final group fixture when Dario Šimić temporarily held the captain's armband. 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).
Following the tournament, Bilić renewed his contract, becoming the first manager since Blažević to lead Croatia to successive tournaments. 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. After a home win against Kazakhstan, Croatia lost at home to England, ending a 14-year unbeaten home record. 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 final 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.
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. 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.
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. After a year of his appointment, Štimac was replaced by former captain Niko Kovač who previously managed the under-21 youth side. 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. 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. In their second match, Croatia won 4–0 against Cameroon then did not progress from the group as they lost 3–1 to Mexico in their final fixture.
In the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign, Croatia were drawn against Italy, Bulgaria, Norway, Azerbaijan and Malta. Following a goalless away draw against Azerbaijan and an away defeat to Norway, in September 2015, the executive committee of the Croatian Football Federation unanimously decided to terminate Kovač's contract. On 21 September 2015, Ante Čačić was named head coach of the Croatian team. On 13 October 2015, Croatia qualified for the finals by finishing as runners-up in Group H. Under Čačić, Croatia broke the record for most goals scored in one match after defeating San Marino 10–0 in a friendly.
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. 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. Croatia's final 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. After the match, Croatia were tipped as one of the tournament favourites and drew Portugal in the round of 16 who finished third in the group advancing only as the third-best third-placed team. 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. 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.
Croatia was undefeated for the first round of 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. He was replaced by Zlatko Dalić who led the team to a 2–0 win against Ukraine in Kyiv, 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.
In the buildup to the World Cup, The Guardian among other news outlets labelled the 2017–18 squad as Croatia's second "golden generation". Players drew comparisons to their 1998 counterparts. Croatia started their World Cup campaign with a 2–0 victory over Nigeria. The following 3–0 victory over Argentina marked Vedran Ćorluka earning his 100th cap for Croatia. Croatia then defeated Iceland to top the group, marking their best ever performance in the group stages of the World Cup.
Playing Denmark in the round of 16, Croatia prevailed in a penalty shoot-out after goalkeeper Danijel Subašić saved three penalties, equalling the record for most penalties saved in a match. This was the team's first ever successful penalty shoot-out. In the quarter-finals, Croatia drew 2–2 with hosts Russia and advanced after another penalty shoot-out. This made them the first team since 1990 to win two consecutive penalty shoot-outs at the World Cup. 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. Mario Mandžukić eventually scored as Croatia won 2–1 making them the second-smallest country by population to reach a World Cup final (after Uruguay in 1930). Croatia lost the 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. 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.
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. 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. Croatia drew 0–0 home with England. The match was played behind closed doors due to UEFA punishment. In the next match against Spain, Croatia won 3–2 home due to a goal in stoppage time. 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.
On 2 December 2018, the draw for the Euro 2020 qualifiers was held in Dublin, Ireland. Croatia was the seeded team of the Group E and was grouped with Wales, Slovakia, Hungary and Azerbaijan. Croatia started their qualifying campaign narrowly winning on 21 March against Azerbaijan and narrowly losing on 24 March to Hungary. 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. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Euro 2020 was postponed for a year.
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. Croatia lost all games apart from Sweden at home, conceding more goals than any other team in the Nations League (apart from Iceland), but once again avoided relegation to League B due to achieving better goal difference than last-placed Sweden. Winning only two out of eight games in 2020, Croatia achieved their worst annual result in their history.
Croatia lost their opening World Cup qualifier to Slovenia 1–0 and scraped past Cyprus and Malta 1–0 and 3–0, respectively. 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. Croatia failed to win in any of their pre-tournament friendlies against Armenia and Belgium, drawing 1–1 and losing 1–0, respectively. 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). 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. Following poor performances before and during the tournament, Dalić–alongside a number of players–was severely criticized by the Croatian public and called upon to resign. During the remainder of the World Cup qualifying, Dalić refreshed the team roster by introducing several 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 successful campaign made Dalić the first coach in the history of the national team to qualify them for three major tournaments.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Croatia national football team kits.|
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. 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. The typical combination has featured red-and-white chequred shirts, white shorts and blue socks, mirroring the tricolour of the country's flag.
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. Since both kits clash with the chequers of Croatia, frequent use of the away kit has been necessitated.
The team has developed an extensive fan base since its formation in 1991. 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. 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 tournaments.
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. Both sets of fans Bad Blue Boys of Zagreb and Torcida from Split—have been associated with hooliganism due to their ultra-style support, 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. There are also Croatian communities in Australia, North America and South America that follow the team.
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. The Croatian Football Federation endorses an official fan club for the team, known as Uvijek Vjerni (Always Faithful).
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. 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.
Fans' behaviour at international games has led to various 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). The 12 October 2018 UEFA Nations League game against England was played in Croatia, also without fans. (This penalty is referred to as a "ghost game" which is played by the teams but which has no audience.) There have also been reports of clashes involving Croatian fans at various tournaments, leading to further sanctions imposed by FIFA and UEFA.
There are fears of particular violence during matches against Serbia, such as the politically fuelled football riot following the 1990 parliamentary election. 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. 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.
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. The Croatian Football Federation (HNS) previously agreed on extensive plans with the government to renovate the stadium and increase its forty-thousand seating capacity, however the proposal was eventually rejected by Mayor of Zagreb Milan Bandić in 2008 due to construction costs.
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. 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.
The following table provides a summary Croatia results at various venues used for home games. 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||Last match hosted||Map of the host cities|
|Stadion Gradski vrt||Osijek||14||10||3||1||71.4||2022|
|Stadion A. Drosina||Pula||5||4||0||1||80.0||2019|
|Stadion Radnik||Velika Gorica||1||0||1||0||0.0||2021|
Last updated: Croatia vs. France, 6 June 2022
Statistics include only official matches recognized by HNS
Main article: Croatia national football team results (2020–present)
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).
|28 June UEFA Euro 2020||Croatia||3–5 (a.e.t.)||Spain||Copenhagen, Denmark|
|18:00 CEST||Report||Stadium: Parken Stadium|
Referee: Cüneyt Çakır (Turkey)
Assistant referees: Bahattin Duran (Turkey)
Tarik Ongun (Turkey)
Fourth official: Andreas Ekberg (Sweden)
Man of the Match: Sergio Busquets (Spain)
|Note: Played in front of limited number of spectators due to the COVID-19 pandemic.|
|1 September 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification||Russia||0–0||Croatia||Moscow, Russia|
|20:45 CEST(21:45 MSK)||Report (FIFA)
|Stadium: Luzhniki Stadium|
Referee: Roi Reinshreiber (Israel)
Assistant referees: Roy Hassan (Israel)
Idan Yarkoni (Israel)
Fourth official: Eitan Shmuelevitz (Israel)
|4 September 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification||Slovakia||0–1||Croatia||Bratislava, Slovakia|
|20:45 CEST||Report (FIFA)
||Stadium: Tehelné pole|
Referee: Bartosz Frankowski (Poland)
Assistant referees: Marcin Boniek (Poland)
Jakub Winkler (Poland)
Fourth official: Krzysztof Jakubik (Poland)
|7 September 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification||Croatia||3–0||Slovenia||Split, Croatia|
|20:45 CEST||Report (FIFA)
|Stadium: Stadion Poljud|
Referee: Clément Turpin (France)
Assistant referees: Nicolas Danos (France)
Cyril Gringore (France)
Fourth official: Jérémie Pignard (France)
|8 October 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification||Cyprus||0–3||Croatia||Larnaca, Cyprus|
|20:45 CEST(21:45 EEST)||Report (FIFA)
|Stadium: AEK Arena – Georgios Karapatakis|
Referee: Michael Oliver (England)
Assistant referees: Stuart Burt (England)
Simon Bennett (England)
Fourth official: David Coote (England)
|11 October 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification||Croatia||2–2||Slovakia||Osijek, Croatia|
|20:45 CEST||Report (FIFA)
|Stadium: Stadion Gradski vrt|
Referee: Ovidiu Hațegan (Romania)
Assistant referees: Radu Ghinguleac (Romania)
Mircea Mihail Grigoriu (Romania)
Fourth official: Radu Petrescu (Romania)
|11 November 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification||Malta||1–7||Croatia||Ta' Qali, Malta|
|20:45 CET||Report (FIFA)
|Stadium: National Stadium|
Referee: Deniz Aytekin (Germany)
Assistant referees: Christian Dietz (Germany)
Dominik Schaal (Germany)
Fourth official: Florian Badstübner (Germany)
|14 November 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification||Croatia||1–0||Russia||Split, Croatia|
|15:00 CET||Report (FIFA)
|Stadium: Stadion Poljud|
Referee: Danny Makkelie (Netherlands)
Assistant referees: Hessel Steegstra (Netherlands)
Jan de Vries (Netherlands)
Fourth official: Dennis Higler (Netherlands)
|26 March International friendly||Croatia||1–1||Slovenia||Al Rayyan, Qatar|
|15:00 CET(17:00 AST)||
||Stadium: Education City Stadium|
Referee: Abdullah Jamali (Kuwait)
Assistant referees: Sayedali Sayedali (Kuwait)
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|
Referee: Khamis Mohammed Al-Marri (Qatar)
Assistant referees: Yousuf Aref Al-Shamari (Qatar)
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|
Referee: Chris Kavanagh (England)
Assistant referees: Daniel Cook (England)
Neil Davies (England)
Fourth official: Craig Pawson (England)
|6 June 2022–23 UEFA Nations League||Croatia||1–1||France||Split, Croatia|
||Stadium: Stadion Poljud|
Referee: Marco Guida (Italy)
Assistant referees: Ciro Carbone (Italy)
Giorgio Peretti (Italy)
Fourth official: Giovanni Ayroldi (Italy)
|10 June 2022–23 UEFA Nations League||Denmark||0–1||Croatia||Copenhagen, Denmark|
||Stadium: Parken Stadium|
Referee: Bartosz Frankowski (Poland)
Assistant referees: Marcin Boniek (Poland)
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|
Referee: Orel Grinfeeld (Israel)
Assistant referees: Roy Hassan (Israel)
Idan Yarkoni (Israel)
Fourth official: Gal Leibovitz (Israel)
|22 September 2022–23 UEFA Nations League||Croatia||v||Denmark||Zagreb, Croatia|
|20:45 CEST||Report||Stadium: Stadion Maksimir|
|25 September 2022–23 UEFA Nations League||Austria||v||Croatia||Vienna, Austria|
|20:45 CEST||Report||Stadium: Ernst-Happel-Stadion|
|23 November 2022 FIFA World Cup||Morocco||Match 12||Croatia||Al Khor, Qatar|
|11:00 CET(13:00 AST)||Report||Stadium: Al Bayt Stadium|
|27 November 2022 FIFA World Cup||Croatia||Match 27||Canada||Doha, Qatar|
|17:00 CET(19:00 AST)||Report||Stadium: Khalifa International Stadium|
|Head coach||Zlatko Dalić|
|Assistant coaches|| Ivica Olić|
|Goalkeeping coach||Marjan Mrmić|
|Fitness coach||Luka Milanović|
|Video analyst||Zlatko Novaković|
|Scouts|| Nikola Jerkan|
|Physiotherapists|| Nenad Krošnjar|
|Doctors|| Zoran Bahtijarević|
|Technical director||Stipe Pletikosa|
|Team manager||Iva Olivari|
|Security officer||Miroslav Marković|
|Media officer||Tomislav Pacak|
|Kit men|| Mladen Pilčić|
The following table provides a summary of the complete record of each Croatia manager including their results regarding World Cups and European Championships.
|Tomislav Ivić ( )[a]||1994||1||1||0||0||100.00|
|Totals||352||184||93||75||52.27%||12 out of 14|
Last updated: France vs. Croatia, 13 June 2022.
Source: Croatian Football Federation
Main article: List of Croatia international footballers
The following is the squad for the Nations League fixtures against Austria on 3 June 2022, France on 6 June 2022, Denmark on 10 June 2022 and France on 13 June 2022.
|No.||Pos.||Player||Date of birth (age)||Caps||Goals||Club|
|1||GK||Dominik Livaković||9 January 1995||31||0||Dinamo Zagreb|
|12||GK||Nediljko Labrović||10 October 1999||0||0||Rijeka|
|23||GK||Ivica Ivušić||1 February 1995||5||0||Osijek|
|2||DF||Marin Pongračić||11 September 1997||5||0||VfL Wolfsburg|
|3||DF||Josip Stanišić||2 April 2000||5||0||Bayern Munich|
|5||DF||Duje Ćaleta-Car||17 September 1996||23||1||Marseille|
|6||DF||Josip Šutalo||28 February 2000||2||0||Dinamo Zagreb|
|20||DF||Martin Erlić||24 January 1998||3||0||Spezia|
|21||DF||Domagoj Vida (vice-captain)||29 April 1989||98||4||Beşiktaş|
|22||DF||Josip Juranović||16 August 1995||20||0||Celtic|
|DF||Šime Vrsaljko||10 January 1992||52||0||Atlético Madrid|
|DF||Borna Barišić||10 November 1992||26||1||Rangers|
|DF||Borna Sosa||21 January 1998||6||0||VfB Stuttgart|
|4||MF||Lovro Majer||17 January 1998||8||2||Rennes|
|8||MF||Mateo Kovačić||6 May 1994||81||3||Chelsea|
|10||MF||Luka Modrić (captain)||9 September 1985||152||22||Real Madrid|
|11||MF||Marcelo Brozović||16 November 1992||74||7||Internazionale|
|13||MF||Nikola Vlašić||4 October 1997||39||7||West Ham United|
|14||MF||Luka Sučić||8 September 2002||3||0||Red Bull Salzburg|
|15||MF||Mario Pašalić||9 February 1995||40||7||Atalanta|
|16||MF||Kristijan Jakić||14 May 1997||4||0||Eintracht Frankfurt|
|19||MF||Luka Ivanušec||26 November 1998||11||1||Dinamo Zagreb|
|7||FW||Josip Brekalo||23 June 1998||33||4||VfL Wolfsburg|
|9||FW||Andrej Kramarić||19 June 1991||71||19||1899 Hoffenheim|
|17||FW||Ante Budimir||22 July 1991||14||1||Osasuna|
|18||FW||Mislav Oršić||29 December 1992||19||1||Dinamo Zagreb|
The following players have also 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||Ivo Grbić||18 January 1996||2||0||Lille||v. Bulgaria, 29 March 2022|
|GK||Simon Sluga||17 March 1993||3||0||Ludogorets Razgrad||v. Russia, 14 November 2021|
|DF||Joško Gvardiol INJ||23 January 2002||10||1||RB Leipzig||v. Austria, 3 June 2022|
|DF||Dejan Lovren INJ||5 July 1989||70||4||Zenit Saint Petersburg||v. Bulgaria, 29 March 2022|
|DF||Mile Škorić||19 June 1991||7||0||Osijek||v. Bulgaria, 29 March 2022|
|DF||Filip Uremović||11 February 1997||6||0||Hertha BSC||v. Slovakia, 11 October 2021|
|MF||Nikola Moro||12 March 1998||1||0||Dynamo Moscow||v. Bulgaria, 29 March 2022|
|FW||Ivan Perišić INJ||2 February 1989||113||32||Tottenham Hotspur||v. Austria, 3 June 2022|
|FW||Marko Livaja INJ||26 August 1993||13||2||Hajduk Split||v. Austria, 3 June 2022|
|FW||Petar Musa INJ||4 March 1998||0||0||Benfica||v. Austria, 3 June 2022|
|FW||Bruno Petković||16 September 1994||21||6||Dinamo Zagreb||v. Russia, 14 November 2021|
|FW||Antonio Čolak||17 September 1993||3||0||PAOK||v. Russia, 14 November 2021|
Main article: Croatia national football team records and statistics
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. 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 record 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. The team's oldest player is Dražen Ladić who played his last match in May 2000 aged 37 years, 4 months and 27 days.
|4||Eduardo da Silva||29||64||0.45||2004–2014|
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.
With 45 goals scored, Davor Šuker is the team's highest-scoring player.
Main article: Croatia at the FIFA World Cup
|1930||Part of Kingdom of Yugoslavia|
|1950||Part of Yugoslavia|
|1994||Not a FIFA member|
|2010||Did not qualify||3rd||10||6||2||2||19||13|
|2026||To be determined||To be determined|
Draws include knockout matches decided on penalty kicks; correct as of 14 November 2021 after the match against Russia.
|FIFA World Cup record|
|First Match|| Jamaica 1–3 Croatia |
(Lens, France; 14 June 1998)
|Biggest Win|| Cameroon 0–4 Croatia |
(Manaus, Brazil; 18 June 2014)
|Biggest Defeat|| Brazil 3–1 Croatia |
(São Paulo, Brazil; 12 June 2014)
| Croatia 1–3 Mexico |
(Recife, Brazil; 23 June 2014)
| France 4–2 Croatia |
(Moscow, Russia; 15 July 2018)
|Best Result||Runners-up in 2018|
|Worst Result||Group stage in 2002, 2006 and 2014|
Main article: Croatia at the UEFA European Championship
|1960||Part of Yugoslavia|
|2000||Did not qualify||3rd||8||4||3||1||13||9|
|2016||Round of 16||9th||4||2||1||1||5||4||Squad||2nd||10||6||3||1||20||5|
|2020||Round of 16||14th||4||1||1||2||7||8||Squad||1st||8||5||2||1||17||7|
|2024||To be determined||To be determined|
Draws include knockout matches decided on penalty kicks; correct as of 28 June 2021 after the match against Spain.
|UEFA European Championship record|
|First Match|| Turkey 0–1 Croatia |
(Nottingham, England; 11 June 1996)
|Biggest Win|| Croatia 3–0 Denmark |
(Sheffield, England; 16 June 1996)
|Biggest Defeat|| Croatia 0–3 Portugal |
(Nottingham, England; 19 June 1996)
|Best Result||Quarter-finals in 1996 and 2008|
|Worst Result||Group stage in 2004 and 2012|
Main article: Croatia in the UEFA Nations League
|UEFA Nations League|
Draws include knockout matches decided on penalty kicks; correct as of 13 June 2022 after the match against France.
|UEFA Nations League record|
|First Match|| Spain 6–0 Croatia |
(Elche, Spain; 11 September 2018)
|Biggest Win|| Croatia 3–2 Spain |
(Zagreb, Croatia; 15 November 2018)
| Croatia 2–1 Sweden |
(Zagreb, Croatia; 11 October 2020)
| Denmark 0–1 Croatia |
(Copenhagen, Denmark; 10 June 2022)
| France 0–1 Croatia |
(Saint-Denis, France; 13 June 2022)
|Biggest Defeat|| Spain 6–0 Croatia |
(Elche, Spain; 11 September 2018)
|Best Result||9th place in 2018–19|
|Worst Result||12th place in 2020–21|
|1996 King Hassan II International Cup Tournament||Champions||1st||2||0||2||0||3||3|
|1997 Kirin Cup||Runners-up||2nd||2||0||1||1||4||5|
|1999 Korea Cup||Champions||1st||3||1||2||0||5||4|
|2006 Lunar New Year Cup||Third place||3rd||2||1||0||1||4||2|
|2017 China Cup||Fourth place||4rd||2||0||2||0||2||2|
Draws include knockout matches decided on penalty kicks; correct as of 14 January 2017 after the match against China PR.
Main article: Croatia national football team all-time record
Correct as of 13 June 2022, after the match against France.
|Total: 8 teams played||20||10||4||6||47||33||+14||50.00|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||4||4||0||0||14||6||+8||100.00|
|Republic of Ireland||7||2||3||2||8||8||+0||28.57|
|Total: 74 teams played||332||174||89||69||564||325||+239||52.41|
|Total: 75 teams played||352||184||93||75||611||358||+253||52.27|
The following is a chart of yearly averages of Croatia's FIFA ranking. Upon admission to FIFA, Croatia was ranked 125th in the world. The 1998 World Cup propelled Croatia to third place after the tournament, making it the most volatile team in FIFA Rankings history. It held that rank until February 1999.
In 2010, manager Slaven Bilić established a foundation Vatreno Srce (Fiery Heart), starting a string of charity work by the national team. The primary cause of the foundation is helping children in various forms. As of 2012, the foundation made fifty donations of 1,200,000 HRK to various children's organizations.
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.
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.
On 11 November 2019, more than 500,000 HRK were collected in another call event that were then directed to Children's Hospital Kantrida.
On 24 March 2020, the national team players donated 4,200,000 HRK for fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and for repair of damage caused by 2020 Zagreb earthquake.
((cite web)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
((cite news)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
Croatia enter the World Cup on Saturday, their Golden Generation beginning what is surely a last quest towards making an impact on the greatest stage.
The golden generation – with Modrić, Rakitiž and striker Mario Mandžukić as its pillars – have more often watched such efforts go up in flames.