And so it begins in the Croatian First League


And so we are in the middle of July among the hottest summer temperatures and some leagues particulary in Eastern Europe have already begun with the 2017-18 season while Western Europe is waiting for August for the season start,one of the countries where the new football season started early is Croatia.Besides the protests from clubs and fans of a too early start the Croatian First League has begun its 2017-18 season.And from what is heard from experts it could be one of the most interesting seasons in years.Last season Rijeka for the first time in its history won both the Croatian First League and the Croatian Cup in the same season,which is a historical achievement for Matjaz Kek’s team and they finally got out of the shadow of Dinamo Zagreb which in the last decade dominated Croatian football.Ever since Matjaz Kek came on the bench of the whites from Rijeka in February of 2013,Rijeka is reaching constantly new heights and they have become a name in the UEFA Europe League since they have played in that comeptition in recent years.But last season was a historical one for Rijeka since they have managed to break the deadlock of the dominance of Dinamo Zagreb which was for more than a decade.This season Rijeka is competing in the qualifiers for Europe’s biggest club tournament-the UEFA Champions League and besides the draw gave them Red Bull Salzburg in the 3rd qualifying round,the whites from Rijeka have chance to make it to the 4th qualifying round where everything is possible.Rijeka will compete in three fronts this season which meant that the club is had to spend money on reinforcements which successfully it did,while Kek signed a new contract to 2019.Competing with Rijeka for the title this season is Dinamo Zagreb,By far the blues are the most strongest in finances and there are serious problems with the stadium as well with the controversial Zdravko Mamic who is non-stop in the media due to his corruption cases and bizarre antics which made him the enemy of the media,the blues are in for a rematch against Rijeka after last season’s losses both in the league and in the cup which marked for the first time since 2004-05 season that the blues were trophyless.Just days before the season started Ivalo Petev was fired from the bench and Mario Cvitanovic was hired and the blues started well with a 2-0 victory over NK Istria 1961,however questions still arise over the club’s chemistry and the influence of Zdravko Mamic over the club which created an unhealthy culture.With Rijeka and Dinamo competing for the title,Hajduk Split and Osijek will grab for their chance from the shadows besides still they aren’t strong as the two main competitors,but surely they are more and more becoming.The last time Hajdul Split was champion of Croatia was twelve years ago and since then the whites from Split went from crisis to crisis period both on and off the field,but the Bili have stabilized on the field while dealing with some off the field issues due to financial mismanagement of former club presidents,but the fans gathered in the association Or Hajduk bought the shares of the club and Hajduk could become in the following years once again a title contender and bring the title back to Split.On the other side it is Osijek,the blue-whites from Slavonia have never been Croatian champions and in recent years experienced a lot of financial hardship,however with a change of ownership with the coming of Hungarian businessman Lorenc Meszaros,the blue-whites are experiencing a renaissance of their own and better days are ahead for the biggest club in Slavonia which might achieve the best results in years.With the top four competing for the primary spots of the league the rest will compete for survival,starting with Cibalia from the city of Vinkovci.The skyblues are in deep financial problems and only by luck they weren’t relegated from the Croatian First League last season thanks to a victory in the promotion/relegation playoffs against Gorica,however the situation in the club is very dire and they are the prime candidate for relegation.The story of the season might become NK Rudes from Zagreb which signed a partnership with Deportivo Alaves and thanks to that partnership it brought a group of players from Spain as well coach Inaki Alonso who promised that Rudes will become the sensation of the league this season.The rest of the clubs which include the likes of NK Istria 1961,Inter Zapresic,Lokomotiva Zagreb and Slaven Belupo will fight from the middle to relegation places and try to avoid of being a problem like RNK Split was last season when it was demoted to play in the third division.The Croatian First Division started last weekend in the middle of July and does it make sense anymore of a season starting so early and a league which is barely surviving with football clubs barely having any finances.As usual we will find out during the season about the financial problems and irregurlarites in what supposed to be a decent professional football league,but in reality has very serious problems which had to be solved a long time ago.


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