Croatia in Europe: 2024/25 Coefficient Preview

The 2024/25 European season is quickly approaching, with 236 clubs set to compete in UEFA’s continental club competitions this season.

With the first qualifying round draws occurring on Tuesday, Extratime Talk will be providing a comprehensive coefficient preview. Between now and then, each country will be previewed, and all clubs participating in Europe for the 2024/25 season are discussed.

In these articles, we will provide analyses of what to expect from each country in Europe. We will explore what is on the line from a coefficient standpoint, and the keys to succeeding, in that country’s case.

Article number 52 of this series will be on Croatia. Can the Balkan nation finally live up to its potential? Here is what to expect from Croatia in Europe next season.

Croatia in Europe: Country Profile

Previous Season Coefficient (Rank)5.875 (18th)
Previous Season’s 5-Year Coefficient (Rank)25.525 (20th)
Starting 5-Year Coefficient (Rank)21.150 (21st)

Last term was yet another typical year in Europe for Croatian football. Dinamo Zagreb carried the coefficient, making the round of 16 of the Conference League. They were the Croatian side to make the group stages, with Rijeka, Hajduk Split, and Osijek all failing in qualifying. While they solidified their place in the top 22, it is now a matter of whether Croatian football can finally take a step further and make a serious challenge for the top 15.

This season will see Croatia start nearly 5.000 points behind Greece for 15th. While it rather unlikely that the Balkan country will pose a serious threat for the top 15, we have seen some remarkable performances within the last two seasons, most notably Turkey, Czechia, and Iceland. That could be reason to believe that Croatia could end up being in the mix for the top 15 this term.

Croatia in Europe: Club Profile

ClubQualified AsRound of EntryTotal European SeasonsLast Season’s Performance5-Year Club Coefficient (2023/24)5-Year Country Coefficient Contribution, 2023/24 (%)
Dinamo ZagrebDomestic ChampionUCL Playoff Round, CH Path30UECL Round of 1650.00018.250 (71.5%)
RijekaDomestic Runner-upUEL Q218UECL Playoff Round12.0003.950 (15.5%)
Hajduk SplitDomestic Third PlaceUECL Q2, Main Path31UECL Q39.0001.275 (5%)
OsijekDomestic Fourth PlaceUECL Q2, Main Path14UECL Q38,5001.850 (7.2%)

For the seventh year in a row, and 18th time in the last 19 campaigns, Dinamo Zagreb ended up on top of the league. They also completed the domestic double for the 10th time in those 18 years. Dinamo is easily the biggest club in Croatia, and will be heavily relied on to earn the nation a considerable amount of points. They will enter the Champions League playoff round, courtesy of UEFA’s new rebalancing principles, which will assure them at least a Europa League place in the fall.

Rijeka finished second in both the league in the cup, having to settle for a spot in the second round of Europa League qualifying. They led for much of the way, but could seldom hold on. That had to be considered a massive disappointment for the club, seeing the chance they had in front of them. After failing to make the main rounds in Europe in their last three seasons, they will have a great opportunity to change that this summer.

Hajduk Split took third spot after being the other team with serious ambitions of ending Dinamo’s domination. Hajduk was in front for quite a bit of the season as well, but dropped off considerably to finish third. They will enter Q2 of the Conference League, and will be seeded for that round as well as Q3. This could be their best chance of entering a main round since they last got to a group stage 14 years ago.

Osijek held off Lokomotiva Zagreb for fourth spot and the final European spot. The last time they made the playoff round in Europe was seven years ago, where they lost on away goals to Austria Wien in the UEL. Like Hajduk, they will enter UECL Q2, and will be seeded in both Q2 and Q3. It will be a question of whether the club can finally make the most of their European experience and take a serious step forward.

Croatia’s Season Ambition

For Croatia, the goal for the 2024/25 season should be two-fold. Firstly, the country should be attempting to make a reasonable challenge for the top 15. While it is quite unlikely for them to end up that high, that should be a goal for them. As previously mentioned, countries have made some considerable leaps in the coefficient rankings within the last couple of years. Thus, that should be the aim for them.

On top of that, since a top 15 season does not look very likely, they should be aiming for a high coefficient, something closer to 10.000 to give them a fighting chance for (at least) 15th spot in the coming years. They have 5.900 points to defend this term, which should be easily done. Picking up at least 8.000 points should be the goal, to put themselves in a better position come 2025/26.

What a Successful Season Would Look Like for Croatia

What would be a great year in Europe for Croatian football is if a team other than Dinamo could make the league phase. Two would make this an absolutely golden season. Never has Croatia had more than teams in the main rounds in the same campaign. Changing that would be an incredible feat for the clubs and for Croatian football. This summer will be the best chance they will get, so they have to make the most of it.

From a coefficient standpoint, a total of 8.000 points should be seen as a good season for Croatia, with anything higher than that a bonus. If they fail to pick up at least 7.500 points, it should be seen as a disappointing year, considering where they are in the rankings and where they should be striving for within the two years.

What to Expect From Croatia in 2024/25

So, can Croatia finally take the steps necessary to be a top 15 nation? Talking with Balkan football expert Richard Wilson, there should be reasons for optimism going into this season. “This is a stronger cohort of Croatian sides than in many a year,” Wilson said when asked about whether Croatia can get at least three teams in a league phase. “If Croatia get the luck they’re owed, or even just a normal amount of luck that anyone would expect, Dinamo and Rijeka will be flying the flag throughout the autumn.”

As for the other teams, Wilson does not know what to make of them yet. “Hajduk and Osijek are the most unpredictable of the Croatian cohort this season,” he stated. Regarding how far they can go, the Balkan football expert sees the potential. “Both sides are capable of a playoff appearance. If they can avoid the relative financial giants of sides entering from the top 10 leagues at that point, like Chelsea, Fiorentina and others, they have a fantastic chance.”

There is more than enough reason to agree with Wilson here. Croatia has the potential to really have a big year. The same four sides will compete in Europe for the seventh year running. This has to count for something at this point. At least one team should be joining Dinamo Zagreb in the league phases, most likely Rijeka. As for Hajduk and Osijek, they really do need to make the most of the opportunity in front of them.

Realistically, Croatia will have at least two teams in the league phase, possibly more. They are the lowest ranked country with any semi-realistic hope of having all their teams in the league phase. While this should be a good year for Croatian football, it will almost surely not be enough for a top 15 place. However, if the four clubs live up to their potential, it could open the door for the chance at more in the near future.

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