Capital: Zagreb Population: 4.5 million Currency: Kuna Official Language: Croatian Borders: Slovenia (North), Hungary (North/East), Serbia (East/South) GNP per Capita: $4,060 (59th in world) Main Airport: Pleso International - Zagreb
Located to the south of Slovenia and to the west of Dalmatia, Croatia is the jewel of the Adriatic Sea. The coast is a source of the main income for the country, tourism. Croatia suffered heavy damage in the Balkans war as they defended their country from the Serbian armies.
The Croatian First Football League (Croatian: Prva hrvatska nogometna liga or commonly Prva HNL or 1.HNL) is the top football league in Croatia. For an up to date list of fixtures, click here.
For a more detailed view on where these clubs play in Croatia, go to Footiemap.com to see their comprehensive map of the country.
The Prva HNL was formed in 1991, following the dissolution of the Yugoslav First League, and is operated by the Croatian Football Federation. The first season started in February 1992. Since its formation, the league went through many changes in its system and number of participating clubs. Currently, there are 12 teams participating in the league. Above - The amazing Kantrida stadion - Home of Rejika on the Adriatic Sea Cliffs
Each season of the Prva HNL starts in late July or early August and ends in May, with a two-month hiatus between December and February. Historically, the teams were split into two groups of six which continued to play separately starting in March. These two groups were known as the Championship League and the Relegation League. Right: Osijek's Gradski Stadium
However, the 2006-07 season introduced a new system in which everybody plays everybody three times in the season. Upon the end of the first part of the season, consisting of 22 matchdays, a draw is held to pair the teams and decide host teams for the last 11 matchdays of the season. This system brought one additional matchday in comparison to the preceding seasons. Above: NK Varteks Varteksa stadium
At the end of each season, the last team is directly relegated to the Druga HNL and the second-last team goes in the relegation play-off, a two-legged tie against the second-placed team from the Druga HNL.
The champions qualify for the first qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League, the runners-up for the UEFA Cup qualifying, as well as the winners of the Croatian Cup, with the third-placed team winning a spot in the UEFA Intertoto Cup. The average attendance for the 06-07 season was about 3,150 per game. Altogether the attendance was 622,900. UEFA currently ranks the league 26th in Europe. Last season the championship was won for the third consectutive season by Dinamo Zagreb. Slaven Belupo suprised many by finishing in second place and they will be in the UEFA Cup next season along with Hadjuk Split who despite finishing 5th in the league, and losing the Cup go onto the UEFA Cup as Dinamo also won the domestic cup final.
The teams playing in the Prva HNL in the 2008-2009 season are:-
HNK Cibalia - Vinkovci - Gradski vrt - 19,500 Capacity NK Dinamo Zagreb - Zagreb (Click here for section on Zagreb) - Maksimir - 43,500capacity HNK Hajduk Split - Split (Click here for section on Split) - Poljud - 35,000 capacity NK Inter Zaprešić - Zaprešić - Stadion Intera - 10,000 capacity Croatia Sesvete - Zagreb - Kamen Ingrad Stadium - 10,000 capacity NK Osijek - Osijek - Gradski vrt - 19,500 Capacity (groundshare with Cibalia) HNK Rijeka - Rijeka - Kantrida - 12,000 capacity NK Slaven Belupo - Koprivnica - Gradski stadium - 5,000 capacity HNK Šibenik - Šibenik - Subicevac - 8,000 capacity NK Varteks - Varazdin - Stadio Varteksa - 10,000 capacity NK Zadar - Zadar - Subicevac Stadion - 8,000 capacity NK Zagreb - Zagreb (Click here for section on Zagreb) - Maksimir - 43,500 capacity
After the tragic death of a player during a game at the Zardar stadium in March 2008, it was decided that the stadiums for the 2008-09 season would have to pass a closer inspection to be deemed fit for first-league football. Since only 9 stadiums managed to meet the requirements and obtain first-league license from the Croatian FA. it was announced in May 2008 that some of the teams would have to share stadiums in order to play their Prva HNL games. These include NK Zagreb, HNK Cibalia and NK Zadar.
Dinamo won the league again in 2008/09 by six points from Hajduk.