Rijeka – Slaven Belupo

The Croatian champion Rijeka hosts Slaven Belupo in their first game from the new season in the 1. HNL.

Last season Rijeka won the league title for a first time in their history, finishing with two points ahead of Dinamo Zagreb. They also won the Croatian Cup, which made their season even more successful. Or to be more precise – their most successful in their history so far.

Now Rijeka are having even a tougher task ahead of them – to defend the crown they have won. Dinamo will try to bounce back after losing the title and Hajduk will try to be a strong factor in the league as well. One thing is for sure – it won’t be easy for Rijeka to defend their gold this season. It’s always more difficult to remain on the top than to reach it.

Slaven Belupo will be Rijeka’s first opponent this season. Slaven finished the last campaign at 7th place, which makes them a huge underdog in this first clash of the new season. Especially playing on Rijeka’s ground.

Just as expected, this summer Rijeka made some improvements to their squad. The defender Josip Elez was brought in from Lazio with a permanent transfer, while the Brazilian striker Heber was bought from Slaven Belupo for a fee of 300 000 euro. 50 000 euro was paid for Bari’s Tomislav Gomelt. Players like Damjan Dokovic, Roberto Puncec, Stefan Ristovski and Marko Vesovic were signed with free transfers.

Meanwhile the club was left by the midfielder Franko Andrijašević, who signed with Gent for a fee of 4.3 million euro.

It remains to be seen if Rijeka can repeat their great performance from last year. Because of being current champions, we should believe that they can do it. But Croatia’s biggest club Dinamo Zagreb won’t give up without a fight, that’s for sure.