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How to Bet on the Croatian 1. HNL (2020 Guide)

| May 25, 2020 3:56 am PDT
How to Bet on the Croatian 1. HNL in 2019/20

Professional soccer is set to resume in Croatia after almost three months without any action. The country’s top division — 1. HNL — was suspended in early March, but it is now scheduled to restart on Friday, June 5.

With ten games of the 2019/20 season remaining, there is still plenty that needs to be decided. Yes, Dinamo Zagreb’s mammoth lead at the top of the table means their domination of the league looks set to continue. But elsewhere, top four and relegation spots are far from guaranteed.

In this Croatian 1. HNL betting guide, I set you up for wagering on Croatia’s top tier. I look at the country’s top clubs and star players, as well as assessing the odds for the main 2019/20 markets.

But first, let’s start by looking at the best sites to use.

Where to Bet on the Croatian 1. HNL

Before you can start betting on Croatia’s 1. HNL, you’ll need to choose a betting site.

I’m sure many of you will already have your own preferences, and that’s fine. But if you’re serious about wagering on Croatian soccer, I highly recommend using the sites above.

All of our top-rated online soccer betting sides offer competitive odds and juicy bonuses. But perhaps more importantly, they are all highly safe and trustworthy options.

So, to make the most of your money, check out the sites above!

When Are Croatian 1. HNL Games Usually Played?

We still have ten rounds of fixtures to look forward to in Croatia’s top division this season. The season resumes with Hajduk Split vs. Inter Zapresic on Friday, June 5, and the game will kick off at 20:00 local time (CEST).

There will then be two games on Saturday and a further two on Sunday. The earlier weekend games will commence at 18:55, while the later games start at 21:05.

This format will be followed throughout the remainder of the campaign, with the occasional mid-week fixture thrown in for good measure.

As a rule of thumb, 1. HNL games kick off between 18:55 and 21:05 local time. However, on the final day of the season, all five fixtures in Round 36 will start at 21:00.

Here is the full fixture list for Round 27.

  • Hajduk Split vs. Inter Zapresic
  • Slaven Koprivnica vs. HNK Gorica
  • Varazdin vs. Dinamo Zagreb
  • Istra 1961 vs. HNK Rijeka
  • Lokomotiva Zagreb vs. Osijek

Top Teams in the Croatian 1. HNL

In this section, I take a closer look at Croatia’s biggest and most successful clubs.

Dinamo Zagreb

A number of Europe’s top-flight leagues have been accused of being uncompetitive in recent years. Indeed, Juventus has claimed the previous eight Serie A titles in Italy, while Bayern Munich has won each of the past seven Bundesliga crowns in Germany.

However, you’ll struggle to find a team who has dominated their league more than Dinamo Zagreb.

Since Croatia’s top tier was created in 1991, the country’s most successful club has won 20 of the 28 titles on offer. The Blues’ control over the division has seen them capture 13 of the last 14 titles, and they are well on their way to being crowned champion for a 21st time.

Dinamo currently sits 18 points clear at the top of the table, and despite the club’s strange decision to switch managers in April, it would be a miracle if the powerhouse of Croatian soccer was overtaken at this stage in the campaign.

Hajduk Split

There is absolutely no denying that Dinamo Zagreb is Croatia’s top club. But you could say that Hajduk Split is the country’s second-most successful club with a similar air of confidence.

Although the most recent of their six league titles came back in 2004/05, Hajduk has been a mainstay at the top end of the 1. HNL table for almost three decades. In fact, the Whites have finished second on 12 occasions, clinching the runner-up spot five more times than any other side.

Hajduk finished outside of the top three for only the second time in 11 years last term. But with club legend Igor Tudor back at the helm, the team will return from the break with a spring in their step.

Known for having some of the most passionate and loyal supporters in world soccer, Hajduk is definitely a club worth keeping an eye on.

HNK Rijeka

HNK Rijeka is the only club that has managed to prevent Dinamo from winning the title in the past 14 seasons.

Following three consecutive second-place finishes, Rijeka triumphed in 2016/17. With two defeats to their name throughout the campaign, the underdog managed to pip Dinamo to the title by just two points.

Normal service has been resumed over the last couple of years, with Rijeka finishing runner-up to Dinamo in each of the previous two seasons. But six straight top-two finishes prove that Rijeka is a force to be reckoned with.

You probably won’t be surprised to hear that Rijeka is second in the current standings.

The Croatian 1. HNL’s Star Players

Croatia’s top tier is home to some highly gifted players. Here are three to watch this season.

Mirko Maric

It’s safe to say that Mirko Maric was in the form of his life before 1. HNL was put on hold. NK Osijek’s star man is miles clear at the top of the goalscoring charts, having netted 17 goals in 25 top-flight appearances this season.

The Bosnian-born striker — who has represented Croatia at international level — has kept his side in contention for a top-four finish this term. His goals have fired Osijek to fifth, while they are only five points behind second-place Rijeka.

Maric’s height makes him a dangerous target man. But despite his size, he is also a threat with the ball at his feet. If he picks up where he left off, Osijek will continue to climb up the table.

Bruno Petkovic

Bruno Petkovic began his professional career in Italy. But after failing to make a name for himself during spells with Catania, Bologna, and Hellas Verona, he returned to his homeland and joined Dinamo.

Petkovic wasn’t exactly known for being a prolific goalscorer overseas. However, he is thriving back in Croatia, and he has quickly become of the division’s most productive players.

23 goals and 21 assists in 74 games for Dinamo is an outstanding record. The 25-year-old has played a starring role in the Blues’ bid to retain the title this season, so he is certainly a player worth watching.

Dominik Livakovic

Sure, Petkovic deserves plenty of credit for putting Dinamo within touching distance of yet another title. But it could be argued that Dominik Livakovic has been even more influential at the other end of the pitch.

Dinamo’s goalkeeper has kept a remarkable 14 clean sheets in 1. HNL this season and has conceded just six goals in 19 league appearances.

Livakovic’s importance to Dinamo is underlined by the fact that second-choice goalkeeper Danijel Zagorac has conceded five goals in just seven top-flight appearances in 2019/20.

The giant shot-stopper has been linked with a host of elite European clubs in the past, and his recent performances will have surely gained him even more admirers.

Latest Croatian 1. HNL Betting Odds

Let’s take a look at the main outright betting markets for the 2019/20 Croatian 1. HNL season.

Betting on the 2019/20 Croatian 1. HNL Title Winner

Here are this season’s title odds. Did somebody say one-horse race?

Dinamo Zagreb1.05
HNK Rijeka25.00
Hajduk Split29.00
Lokomotiva Zagreb30.00

It’s impossible to argue with the bookies here. Barring a miraculous turn of events, it’s inevitable that Dinamo will win the title this season.

Following their slip-up in 2016/17, the capital club has been on a mission to reassert their authority over Croatian soccer in the past few years. Dinamo finished 25 points clear at the top last term, and although the gap is likely to be slightly smaller this time around, it probably won’t be far off.

As I’ve already mentioned, Dinamo boasts an 18-point lead over second-place Rijeka. With Lokomotiva 19 points behind and Hajduk 20 points off the top spot, the title race is all but over.

I’d love to make a case for one of the outsiders upsetting the odds in this market, but it’s just not going to happen.

Betting on Who Will Finish in the Top Four

Unlike the title market, the top four odds are very tight.

HNK Rijeka1.90
Hajduk Split2.20
Lokomotiva Zagreb2.40
NK Osijek3.00
HNK Gorica7.00

The teams occupying the top two places in the 1. HNL table at the end of the season are entered into the qualifying rounds for the Champions League, while third and fourth place qualify for the Europa League. This means the race for a top-four finish is often fierce.

As things stand, there are only five points between Rijeka and fifth-place Osijek. Sixth-place Gorica is seven points behind Osijek, so there will effectively be five teams battling it out for the three places below Dinamo when the campaign resumes.

Considering that Rijeka hasn’t finished outside the top three in each the past seven seasons, odds of 1.90 for Simon Rozman’s side to finish in the top four this term seem generous.

I also think Hajduk’s price of 2.20 is very attractive. 11 straight top-four finishes for the Whites prove they know what it takes to qualify for European competition.

If you’re looking for a slightly risker — but still very plausible — option in this market, I recommend backing Osijek. Last season’s third-place side is only three points shy of the top three right now and has some favorable fixtures coming up.

Betting on Who Will Be Relegated

The bookies haven’t released the relegation odds just yet, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take a quick look at the teams struggling at the foot of the table.

Bottom club Varazdin and ninth-place Inter Zapresic are locked on 17 points each. Interestingly, both sides also sit on an identical goal difference (-23). Meanwhile, Istra 1961 is only two points ahead of the bottom two with a goal difference of -21.

With a seven-point gap between eighth and seventh, Slaven Belupo should be out of trouble. However, the Koprivnica outfit returns with five consecutive fixtures against top-six opposition, so they could easily get dragged into the relegation battle.

Given that Slaven is nine points clear of the drop zone at the moment, I can see their relegation price being quite high when the odds are announced. Betting on Slaven to be relegated could be a fantastic opportunity to take advantage of the bookmakers.

Final Words

The title race may be over, but don’t let that deter you from betting on Croatia’s 1. HNL this season. The race for a top-four finish couldn’t be tighter, and the relegation battle is far from over.

As the 2019/20 campaign’s resumption draws closer, make sure you keep checking the best online soccer betting sites for the latest odds. After all, betting on who will be relegated could turn out to be very lucrative.

If you’re looking for more content like this, why not check out the soccer posts on our blog?

Ben Morris

Ben is a sportswriter and tipster who specializes in soccer. Currently based in the UK, he has traveled all around the world watching – and betting on – his beloved sport.

Alongside his regular soccer content, Ben publishes blogs and picks for cricket, Formula 1, Aussie rules, darts, and various other sports.

Ben is a diehard fan of Nottingham Forest and England, so he hasn’t had much to cheer about in recent years!

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