Croatia are one of the most successful teams on the international stage, consistently ranking near the top in major international competitions over the last 25 years. Croatia have never won the EHF EURO, but have left with medals five times – silver in 2008 and 2010, and bronze in 1994, 2012 and 2016.
On debut at the World Championship 1995, Croatia claimed the silver medal, before going on to raise the trophy in 2003, finish as runners-up in 2005 and 2009, and win bronze in 2013. At the Olympic Games, they have won two gold medals and one bronze, in 1996, 2004 and 2012, respectively.
Since 2002, Croatia have always placed in the top six at every major international event – and in 2018, aim to end the long wait for the European title at home. Under the guidance of returning coach, Lino Cervar, Croatia’s prospects of reaching the medal round appear very strong.
Croatia were responsible for one of the most sensational surprises of the last EHF EURO, in 2016. The team beat Poland with an incredible final score of 37:23 to qualify for the semi-finals, where they lost to Spain but beat Norway to take a medal.
13 January: Right back Denis Buntic (129 internationals/290 goals) replaces Domagoj Duvnjak.
15 January: Goalkeeper Ivan Pesic (41 internationals/1 goal) replaces Mirko Alilovic.
Remaining replacements Croatia: 4 (0 in preliminary round)
Domagoj Duvnjak is one of the most famous Croatian players in history. He started handball at the age of 10 in his birth town, Djakovo, from where he moved to Zagreb. Duvnjak stayed in Zagreb for three years, during which time he became one of the youngest players in the national team.
His transfer from Zagreb to Hamburg in 2009, when he was 21, was one of the biggest ever and made him the world’s most expensive handball player. In Hamburg, Duvnjak won the Champions League in 2013 and was named 2013 World Handball Player of the Year. After playing for Hamburg for five years he moved to Kiel, where he remains today.
At 29, Duvnjak has played three Olympic campaigns – Beijing 2008, London 2012, where he claimed bronze, and Rio 2016. He has won two silver and two bronze medals at EHF EURO events, along with silver and bronze at the World Championships.
Luka Cindric is the future of Croatian handball’s back court. He is mainly a centre back, but is a very versatile player that can easily change positions. Cindric’s fast, agile and creative playing style is reminiscent of legendary Ivano Balic, who is also his role model.
Cindric started in the Croatian Premier League with Karlovac, before being scouted by Lino Cervar, whose invitation the young player could not refuse. In 2014, Cindric signed for Metalurg. One year later, he transferred to HC Vardar, with whom he won the VELUX EHF Champions League trophy in 2017.
With the Croatia national team, Cindric won the bronze medal at the EHF EURO 2016 in Poland and made it to the semi-finals at the World Championship 2017.
24-year-old Cindric has already proven himself on the international stage as one of the best young players in his position and will be a leader for Croatia for many years to come.
Lino Cervar is the most successful coach in the history of Croatian handball. After seven years’ absence, he returned to the Croatia bench in 2017. Cervar coached the national side from 2002 to 2010, guiding Croatia to the World Championship title in 2003 and Olympic gold one year later. He tallies a total of 157 games on Croatia’s bench.
After leaving Croatia, Cervar went to Skopje, where he coached Metalurg, became a Macedonian citizen and took over the FYR Macedonia national team from 2016.
Cervar started his coaching career in Novigrad, from where he left to Umag. He led his first team abroad in Klagenfurt, Austria, in the early 1990s, before coaching Italy’s men’s national side. In 2000, Cervar returned to Croatia to lead Zagreb and became national team coach two years later.
In Croatian handball, no other name symbolises success as much as Cervar’s. Along with the two notable trophies, he also guided Croatia to silver medals at the World Championships in 2005 and 2009, and EHF EUROs in 2008 and 2010.
Only one trophy is missing from Cervar’s rich career with the national team – European gold, which he aims to win at home in January.
Past Performance at EHF EURO Events