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Groundhopping in Croatia

Croatia might not be everyone's first thought for a groundhopping weekend away, but the home of the 2018 World Cup Runners-Up might just be worth a look.

Location and season

Technically located in Eastern Europe, Croatia is a stonesthrow away from Italy over the Adriatic Sea and has borders with Slovenia to the North, Hungary and Serbia to the East and Bosnia and Herzegovina to the South.

The season runs from late July to late May meaning football is on for almost 11 months of the year. Fans can bet on Croatian football through

League structure

The Croatian league structure comprises of 3 professional divisions, simply named First Football League, Second Football League and Third Football League although they are commonly known as 1. HNL, 2. HNL and 3. HNL due to the league's sponsorship agreement with Hrvatski Telecom.

The third league is split geographically into 3 regions - East, South and West with a total of 50 teams split over the 3 divisions.

Famous teams and grounds

Dinamo Zagreb are by far Croatia's most successful team winning the league an impressive 19 times and spending its entire existence in the Croatian top flight.

Dinamo play at the Stadion Maksimir in north eastern Zagreb which is also the occasional home of the Croatian national team. The 35,000 capacity stadium is the largest in the country but getting a ticket shouldn't be a problem as attendances are regularly less than half that.

The second most successful team in Croatia is Hadjuk Split who play their home games at the Stadion Poljud. With a capacity just shy of 35,000 it is the second largest ground in the country.

The third largest stadium is the Stadion Gradski Vrt (Garden City), home to NK Osijek in the East of the country. It is also home to the National team.

Whilst most tourists may head to the picturesque city of Dubrovnik, it should be noted that it's not exactly a footballing city, home to only one team - HNK Dubrovnik and their 3,000 capacity Stadion Lapad... complete with running track around the perimeter.

Not that a small stadium is a bad thing... for fans of the smaller teams, Croatia is awash with lower capacity grounds. 7 of the 10 teams in the First Division play in stadiums with a capacity of less than 11,000. Slaven Belupo's Ivan Kusek-Apas Stadium is the smallest in the league, holding just over 3,000.

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