One Month Left of HNL: With Critical Derbies and No Breaks Until the End, What to Expect?

Daniela Rogulj

We’re one month away from finding out who will be this year’s Croatian First League champions – will Dinamo pull through once again or will Hajduk claim their first title in over a decade?

After the last remaining game this evening to finish up the 29th round, the Croatian First League takes a turn for the crazy. Until Saturday, May 19th, the Croatian First League will race to the finish in an unrelenting rhythm, with no more breaks and games played twice a week – until the end, until the final decision had been made, reports on April 15, 2018. 

Beginning this week, new rounds will take place on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and through the end of April, you better believe there are a series of matches to choose from that could very well complicate the current league standings. In any case, the next ten days offer four critical derbies between the top four teams while the bottom three teams struggle to stay in the league at all. 

Precisely, here are the derbies and crucial matches left in the Croatian First League.

30th Round:

April 18th: Dinamo v. Osijek 

31st Round:

April 22nd: Hajduk v. Dinamo 

Rijeka v. Osijek 

32nd Round:

April 28th: Dinamo v Rijeka

35th Round:

May 12th: Hajduk v. Osijek

36th Round:

May 19th: Rijeka v. Hajduk

Rudeš, Istria, and Cibalia, the bottom three teams in the league, will have to win as many as they can to save face in the first league. 

What do the winners expect this year?

According to the UEFA ranking of national league coefficients, Croatia has one representative in the Champions League and three in the European League, of which one advances through the Cup.

The Croatian champion is included in the 2nd qualifying round of the Champions League, the third-place team in the 1st round of qualifying for the Europa League, the second place team in the 2nd qualifying round of the Europe League, and the winner of the Cup in the third qualifying round of the Europa league. 

However, if it happens that UEFA kicks Greece out of European competitions, Croatia would be allowed two clubs in the Champions League (both in the 2nd qualifying round, but not in the same part of the draw). For Europa League, on the other hand, the third and fourth clubs in the standings would be included in the second qualifying round, while the winner of the Cup would go in the third. 

And the losers?

The last placed team in the standings is out of the league and is relegated to the 2nd HNL league. 

Who’s the top goalscorer this season?

After the domination of Dinamo’s Soudani as the best goalscorer in the league, Rijeka’s Heber has been the best goalscorer in the 2017/2018 season thus far. 

The Croatian Cup awaits.

The Croatia Cup final also awaits us in May, just four days after the first league comes to an end. Hajduk defeated Lokomotiva 5:3 (1:1) in the first semifinal match in Zagreb, while Dinamo beat Rijeka in Zagreb 3:0 in the other. Hajduk and Dinamo will meet in the final of the Croatian Cup on May 23 in Vinkovci.


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