Is this a record year for Croatian clubs in Europe?

PSV Eindhoven vs NK Osijek

If there is any country which is going with huge optimism into the new season in European competitions it is Croatia.Never before so many Croatian clubs are in the race for qualifying for major European club competitions which are the UEFA Champons League and the UEFA Europe League besides the real qualifications have started.In recent years only Dinamo Zagreb and Rijeka which was Dinamo’s biggest competitor in recent seasons in the Croatian First Division made some noises in Europe with other clubs only reaching the knockout stages of the qualifiers with trying to survive August.But this year is way different partially thanks to investments being made in Croatian clubs.The defending champion of Croatia which is Rijeka led by Matjaz Kek on the bench played in the UEFA Europe League in recent seasons and shocked the footballing world when they knocked out Stuttgart four years ago in the qualifiers for the UEFA Europe League and ever since they have been on the European football map with their home ground being a tough place for opposing European clubs,this seasons the whites from Rijeka are being involved in the qualifiers for the UEFA Champions League since last season they won their first ever Croatian First Division title and the draw matched them in the third qualifying round with Red Bull Salzburg,one of the most hated clubs due to their sponsorship with Red Bull,however Rijeka left a good impression at the first leg in Austria a week ago where the match ended in a 1-1 draw which gives Rijeka a chance to pass to the fourth and final qualifying round to achieve the ultimate dream to play in the UEFA Champions League for the first time in their history.It will come down to tonight’s match at their home ground at the Rujevica stadium and it is the match of the generation for Rijeka to prove their quality and value in front of Europe.Meanwhile the blues from Zagreb have been in turmoil for much of the summer with Ivajlo Petev leaving the bench and Matio Cvitanovic coming to the rescue.For now Dinamo Zagreb is the only Croatian club with a trophy by winning the 1967 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup in 1967 and besides being a major producer of talents for bigger European clubs,Dinamo for decades hasn’t survived the autumn round of European club competitions and made past beyond the group stage of the UEFA Champions League or the UEFA Europe League besides huge sums of money have been pumped into the club.Instead Dinamo which played in the UEFA Champions League group stage was humiliated by bigger European clubs besides two years ago they won their group match against Arsenal at home.For this season the blues from Zagreb are in for the qualifier for the UEFA Europe League against Norwegian minnows Odd.Going eastern from Zagreb,there is NK Osijek which by far gave the biggest shocker of the third qualifying round of the UEFA Europe League qualifiers where they beat by a single goal PSV Eindhoven which caused huge celebrations and huge sense of optimism in Osijek which for years was plagued by disastrous financial situations,but since Hungarian businessman Lorenc Meszaros took over the club the blue-whites from Osijek are ready to make a huge return to the Croatian football scene and to Europe as well.They hope to replicate Rijeka’s success from recent seasons and turn themselves into a title contender in Croatia while making themselves a name in Europe and with the recent victory against PSV they already made a lot of waves,On thursday night at Gradski Vrt,their home ground it will be filled to the last seat since they want to knock out PSV out of Europe.At the end finally there is Hajduk Split which last time was featured in the competition in the 2010-11 season besides having a lot of unsuccessful qualification campaigns the whites from Split believe they can make to UEFA Europe League group stage.But their obstacle is one of the most famous Danish football clubs which is Brondby and Hajduk is known for crashing out on clubs which are weaker than they are.But Poljud will be filled to the last seat and the whites will have a huge support from their home fans.Four Croatian clubs are on the hunt for their place in European competitions which didn’t happened in a long time and all will be known on wednesday and thursday night to find out that is this the year that Croatian clubs will leave a mark in European club competitions and achieve a result worth remembering.


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