World Cup 2018 Croatia Preview: It feels a little like ’98

It seems like yesterday when I was a kid watching Croatia make their World Cup debut in 1998. I remember thinking their checkered jerseys were cool. Combine those sweet uniforms with Davor Šuker’s cheeky skills and I was rooting for Croatia during their magical 3rd place finish. I think there is a great chance that they might match that result in Russia.  First, a little information about Croatia.

Despite first appearing as a Duchy in the 7th century, Croatia has been an independent nation since 1991. Croatia is located in eastern Europe and has a population of just under 4.3 million people. Despite being 27 years old, Croatia’s current president is a woman named Kolinda Grabar. She is incredibly smart and very easy on the eyes. So much so, there are lots of fake pictures of her wearing a bikini around the interwebs. Some tabloids even mistook Ice T’s wife, Coco, as Grabar. I may or may not have had to delete at least a paragraph full of puns connecting Croatia’s main cities with how incredible “Grabar” looked.

Croatia is a hidden gem that most people in North America are unfamiliar with. It’s a place known for creating the modern day neck-tie, the speedometer and the mechanical pencil. Most importantly, it is known for their breath taking beaches:

 

Zlatni  beach. If you play your cards right, that won’t be the only tongue  that will be licking something wet, IF YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN. . . Unless you’re DJ Khalid.

their incredible food:

Got damn that looks so good

 

their women, who, with the exception of their president,  are tall, tanned, lean and very friendly. . . if you’re into that kind of thing.

Typical looking Croatian woman.

Their women are also good dancers

and their fans have gotten a bit of a bad reputation as of late.

Just like Croatia is an over-looked tourist destination, Croatia’s lesser footy team is being overlooked at this year’s World Cup.

Basic stats:

Croatia Nickname: The Blazers
What their nickname should be: 101 Dalmatias, Split Kicks, Picnic Blankets
Head Coach: Zlatko Dalić
FIFA World Ranking: 15
World Cup Kit:

Roster:

Goalkeepers: Danijel Subasic (Monaco),Dominik Livakovic (Dinamo), Karlo Letica (Hajduk), Lovre Kalinic (Gent).

Defenders: Borna Barisic (Osijek), Vedran Corluka (Lokomotiv Moscow), Domagoj Vida (Besiktas), Ivan Strinic (Sampdoria), Dejan Lovren (Liverpool), Josip Pivaric (Dynamo Kiev), Tin Jedvaj (Bayer Leverkusen), Sime Vrsaljko (Atletico Madrid), Matej Mitrovic (Club Brugge), Zoran Nizic (Hajduk), Duje Caleta-Car (Red Bull Salzburg), Borna Sosa (Dinamo).

Midfielders: Luka Modric (Real Madrid), Ivan Rakitic (Barcelona), Mateo Kovacic (Real Madrid), Marko Rog (Napoli), Mario Pasalic (Spartak), Filip Bradaric (Rijeka), Milan Badelj (Fiorentina), Marcelo Brozovic (Inter).

Strikers: Mario Mandzukic (Juventus), Ivan Perisic (Inter), Nikola Kalinic (Milan), Ante Rebic (Eintracht), Duje Cop (Standard Liege), Ivan Santini (Caen), Andrej Kramaric (Hoffenheim), Marko Pjaca (Schalke)

 

Analysis:

Look at that roster. This team is pretty stacked, particularly at midfield. Marko Rog is coming off the bench and this guy could easily start on most of the other teams. Even if you don’t recognize the names, you will recognize the names of the clubs these guys play for. With this being the last World Cup for most of Croatia’s Golden and greatest generation, I expect them to go deep into this tournament.

So you might be wondering why Croatia is an underdog and not one of the top four or five teams expected to win. There are two causes for concern that most pundits point out. First, they looked inconsistent when they placed second in UEFA’s Group I World Cup qualification. Iceland, who is also in group D, placed first. However, while Croatia struggled in Group I, that group was essentially the Group of Death because they were grouped with Iceland, Turkey and Ukraine. All those teams are good enough to qualify. Furthermore, while Iceland placed first in the group, head to head, Croatia is 4 wins 1 draw and 1 loss against them with a 12:2 goal differential. To suggest Iceland is the clear favorite against Croatia for second place seems like a stretch. Also, since Dalić has taken over head coaching duties in late 2017, Croatia has played significantly better.

Second, pundits point out that nobody really knows who is managing the squad. Most Croatian fans hate the federation because politicians are involved, to the detriment of everyone. There are internal power struggles that is arguably affecting the team’s play on the field. Essentially, many claim the manager is a puppet to executives behind the scenes, which is creating problem for all involve. However, as you can tell by the club names these players play for, they are used to behind the scenes politicking. This concern is over-rated and the head coaching incompetence may have been resolved.

Final thoughts:

This is a team that can win Group D. While talented, Argentina qualified for the World cup based on a Messi miracle. Given that Argentina’s #1 goalie is now out for the tournament with an injury, it’s not out of the realm of possibilities that Argentina doesn’t make it out of the group stage. They’re very beatable. As already mentioned, Croatia has a winning head-to-head record against Iceland–who has also lost the element of surprise.  No team is going to take them lightly. Additionally, while Nigeria is talented, their best players are old and/or playing in China and the rest of the team is not as good. Plus,nthere’s always some sort of dysfunction off the field with African clubs. Usually, it has to do with not receiving wages.

Even if Argentina goes with the script and wins the group, Croatia still places second and matches well against les Frogs. This is a team that no one is going to want to play. I think they make it to the semifinals.

/narrator voice: They didn’t make it out of the group stage.

 

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WakezillaballsofsteelandfuryRikki-Tikki-DeadlyMoose -The End Is Well NighBrettFavresColonoscopy Recent comment authors
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Rikki-Tikki-Deadly

A friend of mine from high school got married to a Croatian woman in one of the most blatant cases of green card honeypotting I have ever seen. They got married because she was about to get deported, and then she divorced him almost immediately after she was free and clear to do so without getting sent back.

As for myself, she’s the only Croatian I can think of off the top of my head I’ve known. I actually meant to head to Croatia myself when I did my big trip to Europe, but didn’t make it that far. My second to last night in Rome I went on a pub crawl hosted by the hostel I was staying in; I ended up making out with an American girl from a different hostel; at one point in a bar bathroom where another girl kept pounding on the door mistakenly thinking her friend was in there. The next night – my last in Rome – an Australian girl talked me into going on the same pub crawl again but it was far too much of a sausage party and I didn’t feel like competing for her attention so I bailed before it even started and spent the remainder of the night talking to another American. We were headed in the same direction – east – so we decided to travel together to Venice (a trip which eventually ended up in Slovenia instead of Croatia). In keeping with my failure to plan in even a rudimentary sense, I hadn’t bought a Eurail pass before I left the U.S. and was chagrined to find that you cannot buy one in Europe, so the only way for me to get on the train from Rome to Venice was to shell out for a private car. Which I did, and of course happily shared my space with my new friend. And that’s the story of the time I got to have sex on a moving train.

ballsofsteelandfury

I love these stories.

Liverpool! Real Madrid! Champions League Final Open Thread – [DOOR FLIES OPEN]

[…] connects each one of the 80-100 passes he makes in a game; Luka Modric is brilliant and will lead a sneaky-stacked Croatia; and then ahead there’s Ronaldo, with a Benzema or Bale too. Real reached the final through the […]

theeWeeBabySeamus

Stanley Cup Finals should be starting tonight.
This sucks.

ballsofsteelandfury

DA CHAMPIIIIIIOOONNNNNSSSS

Gotta love that music. Even if it is accompanied by a Heineken ad.

Senor Weaselo

“Can we stop bastardising my music?” -G.F. Handel
/Due to Hansel being big in England he gets the British spelling

Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh

Was he illegitimate?

theeWeeBabySeamus

yeah right

Additional Croatia fact: the city of Dubrovnik is the filming location and setting for King’s Landing in Game of Thrones.

There was a massive controversy when the production crew wanted to film Cersei’s “walk of shame” through the streets after beginning at an ancient catholic church there. No nudity was filmed live but it was added via special effects during post production.

Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh

OK, let’s start with the closest; in the stadium, er sorry, ballpark is a Coors owned brewery (still has some good brews on tap):

https://www.bluemoonbrewingcompany.com/

It is excellent to go to during the game, particularly on a hot day when there is local scenery.

Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh

I’m not that impressed by their brews, but a good steak or appetizers and they do have one or two good brews.
http://www.denverchophouse.com/#home-section

Right next to the ballpark. I would recommend restaurants, but there are so many good ones Yelp or something can get you what you are in the mood for.

yeah right

How is the Cherry Cricket? I’ve heard things.

Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh

It is average in my mind, not really worth it because it is a ways away from where you are at. That said; it is a fine burger if you are in the area.

yeah right

Know a place where I can get some green chili? Love that stuff.

Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh

If you want great Mexican food there are a lot of place own by REAL Mexicans on Federal Blvd. DEFINITELY worth a drive out there. The two places I go I can’t remember the names right off the top, but know where they are; I’ll look it up.

Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh

Breckenridge Brewery is now own by InBev, it was one of the first back in the day when it wasn’t the rage; they were one of the ones that got me started on craft brews. I can’t fault the owners because they made BANK on the deal, just won’t endorse them anymore. However they are right up the street.

A word on safety; I have been downtown in the old days when you had to watch the fuck out. It is so gentrified now that it is a very safe place. That doesn’t mean you should have a wad of cash or put your wallet in your back pocket.

Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh

I really like the brews here;
http://www.zephyrbrewingco.com/

And the place.

Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh

These guys have several breweries, they started in Bend.

https://10barrel.com/pub/denver/

Dolph Ucker
Dolph Ucker

10 Barrel is InBev too.

Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh

DAMN IT!!

*Too be fair we had a flight and left. Not the most memorable, but OK.

Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh

I liked this place, it is a little farther northeast:

http://www.omfbeer.com/

Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh

A a place that is good across the river; I just walk there across the footbridge, but it is a fair distance.

denverbeerco.com

BrettFavresColonoscopy

This place is right next to Habit Donut Dispensary. They’ll inject whiskey into your donuts if you’d like.

Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh

Here is the original in Denver, pretty good food too:

http://www.wynkoop.com/

Me and this place go way back.

Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh

This is also worth a try, but it is a pretty good walk from your area:

https://www.blackshirtbrewingco.com/denvers-best-music-centric-brewery

Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh

If you are going around town there is a brewery near you. For the designated driver thing, let the light rail take you.

Get a pass ticket:
http://rtd-denver.com/lightrail.shtml

The Grand Central Station is near the Wynkoop (nice bar in there, some good eats nearby.

This site can’t quite keep up with moves, etc.; just verify on the brewery website the location:
http://rtd-denver.com/lightrail.shtml

But it is a really good listing.

yeah right

Great stuff. Thanks for the information. Maybe we can grab a beer somewhere.

King Hippo

Premier League? PREPARE YOUR ANUS!!

/someone PLEASE make the gif

yeah right

Holy shit, Fulham. Welcome back! And they played the last 20 minutes short handed.

Congrats Litre!

ballsofsteelandfury

I have driven in Istria and stayed at an apartment in Pula. Fun fact: there is a gorgeous Colosseum in Pula that is in better shape than the one in Rome. They still use it for performances to this day.

comment image

King Hippo

This Grealish cunt seems a bit of a cunt. Should have been sent off.

BrettFavresColonoscopy

Croatia also invented zithromax (Zpak)

King Hippo

aka “the smoker’s best friend”

/this could explain the motivation, or it could be all teh syphilis

Rikki-Tikki-Deadly
King Hippo

GOOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLLLLL!!!!!

King Hippo

It’s HOT in merry olde London, hope Sessignon’s mom remembered the orange slices ,, smh

King Hippo

Fulham WOO!!! Hotel WiFi holding up so far…

Fronkenshteen

Looks like there may be a peace agreement between North and South Korea after all, huh?
https://youtu.be/0K8s9cNqZO4

theeWeeBabySeamus

Where’s Frank Drebbin when you need him?

yeah right

My old hometown of San Pedro is filled with Cro-ats and they are some of the friendliest folks you’ll ever meet. The food is incredible. It’s very Mediterranean with Greek and Italian leanings and they make this sausage called cevapcici, or “chevap” that’s like gyro meat but charcoal grilled. They are also quite skilled in the pizza making world.

What a country!

10/10 would bang.

litre_cola

Wakezilla, if you are reading this then come to the ship and anchor today for the games.

BrettFavresColonoscopy

I’ve been there!

Fronkenshteen

Had a wake & bake session and clicked this post. Read “cheeky skills” as “silky cheeks”. I’m gonna make some coffee and sit outside with Murdercat, watching the robins feed their babies. I love spring.