Croatian Sport 2020: A Look at Year Ahead

Daniela Rogulj

January 2, 2019 –  After reviewing 2019 in Croatian sport, a look at the year ahead.

A remarkable year in Croatian sport lies ahead. It is the year of the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, and the Euros in handball, water polo, and football – but that doesn’t even scratch the surface. 

A closer look at 2020 in Croatian sport. 

The first weekend of 2020 will kick off with the always exciting ski spectacle on Sljeme in Zagreb – the Audi FIS Ski World Cup “Snow Queen Trophy” 2020. Namely, on Saturday, January 4, the women’s slalom will feature in the program, while a day later, the men will take the stage. Croatian skiers will compete in both of these races.

Leona Popovic is the biggest expectation in the women’s competition after she won the first slalom points in her career in Lienz, Austria, not even one week ago. However, Croatia has a respectable team of skiers, as evidenced by the fact that three Croatian representatives have finished with points twice this season, which many nations cannot boast.

The first-ever ATP Cup will take place across Australia in Brisbane, Perth and Sydney from January 3 to 12. The Croatia national team will play in Sydney against Argentina and Poland. Borna Coric, Marin Cilic and Viktor Galovic will represent Croatia. Croatia’s tennis players will continue their stay in Australia for the Australian Open in Melbourne from January 14 to 27. 

Croatia handball is next to steal the show, as from January 9 to 26, the European Championships are held. For the first time in history, the Euros will be played in three countries (Austria, Norway, Sweden) with 24 national teams. The ‘Cowboys’ are placed in Group A in Graz, where their opponents will be Montenegro (January 9), Belarus (January 11) and Serbia (January 13). The two best teams move to the second round to be played in Vienna, and from that newly formed group (which will likely include Spain and Germany), the two top-ranked teams go to the semifinals.

Nearly running parallel to the Handball Euros is the European Water Polo Championship, which will be played in Budapest. This competition begins on January 14 and ends on January 26, with the ‘Barakudas’ in Group A against Germany (January 14), Montenegro (January 16) and Slovakia (January 18). The winner of the group goes directly to the quarterfinals, and the second and third go to the playoffs against Group C, hosted by Hungary, Spain, Turkey and Malta.

The second half of the Croatian First League returns earlier than ever, on January 31, with the match between Inter Zapresic and Istra 1961. The other games of the 20th round will be played in February.

Croatian football will be in focus in the first half of February, because in addition to the Championship, the Croatian Cup will continue, where Rijeka and Dinamo are scheduled in the quarterfinals on February 5. On February 12, the semifinals will be played with the winner of Rijeka – Dinamo against the host Osijek, while the other semifinal features Slaven Belupo and Lokomotiva. 

The Champions League knockout phase continues on February 18, followed by the Europa League two days later.

Croatia basketball will begin qualifications for EuroBasket 2021 in February. Coach Veljko Mrsic will again not be able to count on NBA players or those who play in the Euroleague. Croatia welcomes Sweden on February 21 and visits the Netherlands three days later. Turkey is also in Croatia’s group, and three national teams will qualify for EuroBasket. 

The Croatia football team returns in March for two friendly games as part of their Euro preparations. The dates, as well as the opponents, are still unknown. On January 31, we will find out Croatia’s remaining rival in the Euros alongside England and the Czech Republic. The Nations League C Playoffs will be played that day, and the winner will play in Glasgow against Croatia in the third round of Group D on June 23. It will either be Scotland, Israel, Norway or Serbia.

April may be crucial for the Croatia handball team. Should the Cowboys fail to qualify for the Olympic Games in January at the Euros, their next exam will be held from April 17 to 19 when the Olympic Qualifying Tournament will be played.

In May, the focus returns to football thanks to the Croatian Championship and Cup, with an emphasis on the Cup final on May 13 at Subicevac, followed by the last round of the Croatian First League, which will be played on May 17.

The second Grand Slam tournament of the season, Roland Garros, begins Sunday, May 24.

In June, we move our attention to the Euros in football, which begins with the Turkey-Italy match on June 12. Zlatko Dalic’s side will play two friendly games, one in Osijek on June 1 or 2, and one away in France, as a rematch of the World Cup final and general prep for the Euro competition. At the Euros, Croatia will play against England at Wembley on June 14, while the second and third Group D matches will be played in Glasgow: on June 19 against the Czech Republic and June 23 against the Nations League C winner.

At the same time Croatia is expected to get out of their Euro group, the Croatia basketball team will play in the final Olympic Qualifying Tournament at the Spaladium Arena in Split. Brazil, lead by coach Aco Petrovic, Tunisia, Germany, Russia and Mexico will participate in the qualifying tournament. Only the best of these teams will go to Tokyo.

Days later, tennis fans can rejoice with the return of the most prestigious tournament in the world, Wimbledon, on June 29.

On Friday, July 24, the new season of the Croatian First League and the Olympic Games begin in Tokyo. The biggest sports celebration will last until Sunday, August 9.  Croatian athletes are looking to repeat the medal harvest from 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, where they took home ten medals, five of which were gold.

In August, Croatian football clubs will fight to qualify for the group stage in one of the UEFA competitions. Namely, in the summer of 2020, five Croatian clubs will compete in the Champions League and Europa League qualifiers.

A new edition of the Nations League will follow in early September. The Croatia national team will once against compete in the highest rank.

Shortly after that, the Champions League and Europa League seasons will kick-off for the last time in the format as we know it. Recall, from 2021, there will be 32 instead of 48 clubs so far. At the same time, the last Grand Slam of the season, the US Open, will begin.

This is merely a fraction of what’s on in Croatian sport this year. Follow TCN to find out more.


To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page


Subscribe to our newsletter

the fields marked with * are required
Email: *
First name:
Last name:
Gender: Male Female
Please don't insert text in the box below!

Leave a Comment