Sunday, November 30, 2014

Croatia Greatest All-time Team

World Cup 1998

Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.

I have create an all-time Yugoslavian team that featured played from all the former republics.  This one is the all-time 23 member team for Croatia .  

Historically, Yugoslavia is loaded with football talents, but they did not perform as well as they should have. After the breakup of Yugoslavia, Croatia is the most successful national team of all the former republics.  In 1998, they made history by finishing 3rd at the World Cup in France.  They beat Germany 3-0 in the quarterfinal.  They led eventual winner France 1-0 in the semifinal before France scored twice to win 2-1.  After the World Cup in 1998, Croatia became a regular fixture at major tournament, qualifying for most of them.

GK: Vladimir Beara  
He played on three World Cups; 1950, 1954 and 1958.  He was considered one of the greatest keepers from the Warsaw Pact.  With Hajduk Split (1946–55), he won the Yugoslav league title in 1950, 1952 and 1955. In 1955, he moved to Belgrade's Red Star (1955–60), where he won even more Yugoslav league titles, in 1956, 1957, 1959, 1960, and won the Yugoslav Cup in 1958 and 1959. He was Red Star's goalkeeper against Manchester United in the last game United had played before the Munich Air Disaster. Beara ended his career in German clubs Alemannia Aachen (1960–62) and Viktoria Köln (1963–64).
Vladimir Beara 

GK  Franjo Glaser
He was a keeper during the 1940's.  He played both Yugoslavia and Croatia during the Period.   He is the only Yugoslav footballer who won national titles before and after the Second World War, with three different clubs BSK Belgrade, Građanski Zagreb and FK Partizan.

GK: Stipe Pletikosa
He played over 110 times for Croatia, starting in 1999.  Pletikosa started his professional career with Hajduk Split, from where he was transferred to Shakhtar Donetsk, before joining Spartak Moscow in 2007. In 2011, after spending one season with Tottenham Hotspur, he signed with FC Rostov, and moved to Deportivo de La Coruña in 2015, where he retired.

RB:  Darijo Srna
He is one of the best wingbacks of his generation. He is best remembered for playing over 10 years for Shaktar Donetsk and winning the UEFS Cup with them.  He is both captain for his club and country. He earned 134 caps.
Darijo Srna

CB: Igor Stimac
He won 53 caps and scoring two goals, and a member of the Croatian squad that came third at the 1998 FIFA World Cup. He was also a member of the highly talented Yugoslavia under-20 team that won the 1987 FIFA World Youth Championship. At the club level he played for Hajduk Split and, most notably, Derby County. 

CB: Igor Tudor 
He was most notably a member of the  national side that reached the semi-finals of the 1998 World Cup, eventually finishing in third place. He also represented his country at Euro 2004, and the 2006 World Cup.  For his club career, he started with Hajduk Split and spent 9 seasons with Juventus.

CB/RB: Dario Šimić 
He earned 100 caps for Croatia. He was a member of the  national side that reached the semi-finals of the 1998 World Cup.  He played for both Inter Milan and AC Milan and Ligue 1 side Monaco, before returning to his home club, Dinamo Zagreb in 2010.

CB: Ivica Horvat
He played in both 1950 and 1954 World Cup Finals and won a silver medal at the 1952 Olympics.  He played mostly for Dinamo Zagreb.  Horvat played from 1945 until 1957 for Dinamo Zagreb. In 1957 he moved to Germany to Eintracht Frankfurt, where he stayed until the end of his career.

CB/DM: Niko Kovac
Born in Germany of Croatian background.  He spent most of his career playing in the Bundesliga, where he played for Hertha Berlin, Hamburger SV, Bayern Munich and Bayer Lerkusen. He earned 83 caps for Croatia and was their captain from 2004 onward.  He is Robert Kovac's older brother.

CB: Robert Kovac
He represented Croatia in two World Cups, 2002 and 2006, and has also participated at two European Championships, 2004 and 2008.  He was the captain of the national team after his brother Niko retired.  He played a few of the biggest clubs in the world, notably with Bayern Munich and Juventus.  

LW/LB/CB: Branco Zebec 
Zebec was one of the greatest players ever from Yugoslavia. In his heyday the player from FK Partizan and Red Star Belgrade fascinated the world with his performances at the World Cups in 1954 and 1958. With Partizan he won 3 Yugoslav Cups (1952, 1954, 1957). With Red Star Belgrade he won the national championship in 1960. He led Yugoslavia to second-place at Euro 1960. 

LB: Robert Jarni 
He was a member of Yugoslavia's Golden Generation of the 1990's.  He went to the WC Finals in 1990 with Yugoslavia and later, represented Croatia at the WC Finals in 1998, where they reached the semifinal.  Professionally, he had played in big clubs such as Juventus and Real Madrid.
Robert Jarni

DM/CM: Velimir Zajec
Zajec began his career at Dinamo Zagreb in 1974.  In 1979 and 1984, he was named the Yugoslav Footballer of the Year. He then transferred to Greek club Panathinaikos. He won 36 international caps for Yugoslavia, and captained them at both the 1982 World Cup and the 1984 European Championships.  In 1979 and 1984, he was named the Yugoslav Footballer of the Year.

CM: Ante Zanetic
He earned 15 caps for the Yugoslavia national team, and participated in the 1960 European Nations' Cup.  He deflected to the West in 1961 and moved to Belgium, where he played for for Club Brugge K.V. and Racing White.

CM: Luka Modric 
Modric is one of the greatest playmakers of his generation.  He earned more 90 caps for Croatia.  He currently plays for Real Madrid, and won the Champions' League for the 2013-2014 and 2015-2016 season.  He also played for  Dinamo Zagreb and Tottenham Hotspurs.  He played in the WC Finals of 2006 and 2014.  
Luka Modric

CM: Zlatko Čajkovski
He was considered one of the best Yugoslavian players ever.  he played for FK Partizan before moving to play for Koln in Germany. He also participated in the FIFA World Cups of 1950 and 1954.  

CM: Gustav Lehner
He played 44 matches for the Yugoslav national team between 1931 and 1940. He also played 12 matches for the IS Croatian national team. He spent his early career with Slavija Osijek and BSK Belgrade. In 1941, he and teammate Ernest Dubac joined Građanski Zagreb. At the end of the war, he became player-manager of Proleter Osijek.

AM/CM: Zvonimir Boban
He was the captain of the national team that finished third at the World Cup in 1998.  He was also an important player of the highly talented Yugoslavia under-20 team that won the 1987 FIFA World Youth Championship. He waas also remembered for his career with AC Milan with whom he won four Serie A and one UEFA Champions League titles.
Zvonimir Boban
AM: Robert Prosinecki
He was considered one of the most talented players from Yugoslavia in the 1990's.  In 1987, Prosinečki was named the tournament's best player as Yugoslavia won the World Youth Championship.  He then played for Yugoslavia at the 1990 World Cup and for Croatia at Euro 96 and the 1998 and 2002 World Cups.  For his club career, he played for both Real Madrid and Barcelona, but he failed to establish himself at neither club.
 Robert Prosinecki

LW/FW: Bernard Vukas 
In 2000, he was voted by the Croatian Football Federation as the best Croatian player of all time.  He was also a part of the Yugoslavia team in the 1950 FIFA World Cup and 1954 FIFA World Cup.  His career was associated with Hajduk Split, but he also played in Italy and Austria.

FW:  Stjepan Bobek 
He played for Partizan between 1945 and 1959 helping them win two Yugoslav First League titles and four Yugoslav Cups, and was named the club's greatest player in history in 1995. Internationally, he is the all-time top scorer for Yugoslavia, scoring 38 goals in 63 appearances between 1946 and 1956, and was member of Yugoslav squads which won two Olympic silver medals (in 1948 and 1952) and played in two World Cups (in 1950 and 1954).

ST: Davor Suker 
He was a part of Yugoslavia's Golden Generation in the 1990's.  He later played for Croatia, where he is the all-time leading scorer.  He is best remembered for finishing the top scorer at the WC in 1998, where Croatia reached the semifinal.  He also played with Seville, Real Madrid, Arsenal, West Ham and 1860 Munich.  He was a top scorer in La Liga while playing for Seville and Real Madrid.
Davor Suker

ST:  Alen Boksic
He won the 1992–93 UEFA Champions League, and was voted fourth in the 1993 European Footballer of the Year poll. That same year, he was named Croatian Footballer of the Year. He also won two Serie A titles in 1997 and 2000 with Juventus and Lazio respectively, and is regarded as one of the best foreign players in the history of Serie A since 1980's.  He played for both Yugoslavia and Croatia.  He missed the 1998 World Cup Finals due to an injury.

Honorable Mention
Ivica Olić, Tomislav Crnković, Ivica Šurjak, Jurica Jerković and Aljoša Asanović, Ivan Rakitic, Mario Mandžukić

Squad Explanation
-- Seven of them went to the World Cup Finals in 1998: Igor Stimac, Igor Tudor, Dario Šimić, Robert Jarni, Zvonimir Boban,  Robert Prosinecki and  Davor Suker.   Alen Boksic missed the Finals because of an injury.
-- Nine playeres were on my Yugoslavia All-Time Team: Luka Modric, Ivica Horvat, Vladimir Beara, Robert Jarni, Branco Zebec, Zlatko Čajkovski, Bernard Vukas, Stjepan Bobek and Davor Suker.
-- Vladimir Beara  was born in modern day Croatia.  He is of Serbian ethnicity.  The ethnic issue is very sensitive in the region.  He is chosen for both all time teams for Serbia and Croatia.  
-- I have no space for Ivica Šurjak,, Jurica Jerković and Aljoša Asanović. 
-- Luka Modric and Darijo Srna have don enough for their country.  Both deserved to be on the time. I did not really consider Mario Mandžukić and Ivan Rakitic, but they might be able to build a career to be in consideration in the future. At this point, it is hard for them to displace the old-timers.

Starting lineup 
Formation: 4-3-3
Luka Modric actually started on my All-time Yugoslavian team, but I put him on the bench for this team.  Instead, I opted for two Croatian playmakers from the 1998 team.  I started Davor Suker over Alen Bokšić because I rewarded Suker a starting position as a WC hero.

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