PHOTO: Ivan Brajković // Bracopone


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In recent years, there has been a noticeable decline in the quality of the Croatian football league. Once considered a strong and competitive league in Europe, it is now experiencing significant challenges that have hampered its reputation.

Several factors have contributed to this decline. Firstly, financial instability has plagued many clubs in Croatia. Poor management, misappropriation of funds, and lack of investment have resulted in a significant drop in the competitiveness of teams. This has led to players leaving for more lucrative opportunities abroad, leaving the league with a lack of talent and depth.

Furthermore, the lack of infrastructure development and modernization in Croatian football has hindered its progress. Many stadiums are outdated, training facilities are inadequate, and youth development programs are not given enough attention. These factors have prevented clubs from attracting top-quality players and developing promising young talents.

Another challenge for the league has been the dominance of Dinamo Zagreb. While Dinamo Zagreb has consistently performed well domestically, their lack of competition and challenges from other clubs has prevented them from reaching greater heights in European competitions. This monopoly has resulted in a lack of excitement and unpredictability, further diminishing the league’s overall attractiveness.

Since the days when Croatian clubs had two representatives in the UEFA Champions League qualifiers, the situation has worsened. Croatian teams have struggled to progress beyond the qualifying rounds, with early exits becoming a common occurrence. This has not only affected their revenue but has also led to a decline in the coefficient, making it more difficult for Croatian teams to qualify for European competitions in the future.

To reverse this decline, significant efforts need to be made to improve the financial stability and infrastructure of Croatian football. Prudent financial management, increased investment in clubs, modernization of stadiums, and a focus on youth development are crucial steps. Additionally, there needs to be a greater competitive balance in the league to encourage more excitement and a better showcasing of talent.

While the recent decline in the Croatian football league is concerning, with the right reforms and investments, there is still hope that it can regain its former status as a competitive and respected league in Europe.

I wouldn’t care if we lose every game in the competition, if only we win the championship

Mark Viduka


However, generally speaking, clubs from different countries may experience various challenges when playing in foreign leagues. Some potential reasons that could apply in different situations include:

  1. Financial constraints: Croatian clubs may struggle with the financial demands of participating in foreign leagues, such as higher travel costs, player wages, or administrative expenses.
  2. Competitive disparities: Football clubs from different countries may operate in leagues with differing levels of competition. Cultural, tactical, or infrastructural disparities can pose challenges for Croatian clubs when competing in foreign leagues.
  3. Limited resources: Compared to clubs from wealthier or more established leagues, Croatian clubs may have limited resources, which could impact their ability to attract quality players, coaching staff, or develop the infrastructure necessary for success in a foreign league.
  4. Different playing styles or strategies: Football clubs from various countries often have different playing styles and strategies. Adapting to the tactics and approaches of a different league can take time, and Croatian clubs may face difficulties in adjusting to the play of teams from Kazakhstan, Georgia, Malta, or similar countries.
  5. Travel and logistics: Participating in foreign leagues often involves increased travel and logistical challenges. These factors can affect players’ fitness, recovery time, and overall performance, which may contribute to a decline in results.

These reasons are quite speculative, and a lot of it relates to Croatian clubs.


For all of the above, Croatian clubs think and consider themselves the “kings of the world“. Take a look at the behavior of individual players who play in the Croatian Football League. Furthermore, the biggest problem is whining and placing the blame on others, while the same ones are doing such a good job in international competitions.

Why is there no “uproar” at international matches for Istrian things as well as at home matches? This mentality we possess is the biggest problem. There is always talk of random thefts, and international matches always lose matches.

For example, Hajduk Split. They constantly “shout” that there is no justice in Croatian football, and in European matches they regularly lose to Kazakh, Maltese, Georgian or similar clubs. They mention and say that they are favorites against such teams, and then they get knocked out by them. This season, the situation is a little better, where they are still somehow in the race for the league title. Let’s be realistic, this kind of game won’t go far. Neither do they have the personnel that can play, nor do they have the means for significant reinforcements, and logistics are also running out of steam. Even when the best players they have play, they are poor performances in football terms.

The same is the case with NK Osijek. This season, they are protesting against the decisions of the referees. And they do not see beyond their own vantage point. They don’t see the problem in the game, they don’t see why they are so bad in the game and the creation of opportunities to score a goal, but also the actual realization.


Croatian clubs, that is, their leadership, emphasize and point out how they will play in the groups of European competitions, and how they will become champions. With this kind of game, transfers, competences, logistics, and player scouting, no Croatian club will be successful. That became the rule.

Unfortunately, Dinamo Zagreb is an exception. The only thing that matters is a Zagreb’s club that has results and can do something in European competitions. Rijeka did something in that regard, but even that is a very poor result considering the words of everyone who came from that club. But they can’t do it alone either. The Croatian league must be much stronger and have international success, and not just play in the Croatian league and pat yourself on the back. If we are to be realistic, everyone is somehow deluded that this is a good path and that the Croatian league has reason to celebrate. It doesn’t exist, nor will it if it continues like this.

This is a problem for the national team. If you don’t have a strong and competitive league in European competitions, how can you expect to have players who will perform for the national team. And how will you progress if you don’t have a plan for the development of young players in your own national league.

Is the goal to have as many memberships as possible or is the goal to succeed at all levels of competition? Success is when you have both. Because that’s when the results come. Then various prizes arrive. Those sponsors come that make it easier to find players for further competitions, it makes it easier for you to get additional publicity, the logistics are then simpler, you can have several tactics and formations in place. But you also have to have results.


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