Croatian media claim Celtic's Josip Juranovic has sent Atletico Madrid defender into int'l "oblivion"

By David Walton

November 18, 2021

The Croatian media have hailed Celtic right-back Josip Juranovic for ousting Atletico Madrid’s Sime Vrsaljko as the first-choice on international duty.

Stretching back to 2016, the Atletico star had held the spot with Croatia. He featured both at Euro 2016 and played a key role in Croatia’s run to the World Cup final 3 years ago in Russia.

However, manager Zlatko Dalic decided to give Juranovic his spot midway through Euro 2020. Since then, Josip hasn’t looked back, starting in all but 2 of their 9 games since. Even that was simply down to injury.

Photo by Jurij Kodrun/Getty Images

And as they reflected on 5 Croatia players who have strengthered their position for Qatar in 2022 over the last fortnight, Slobodna Dalmacija said the following regarding Juranovic:

“Josip Juranovic has managed to push Vrsaljko into oblivion. His story was special even before he became Dalic’s first choice for right back. Juranovic is, in fact, an inspiration for all those guys who start from scratch. Moving from the third league and within just three years, he reached the captain’s armband with Hajduk and the national team jersey. 

“He arrived in Split from Dubrava as a midfielder, and then he took a position on the right flank and, here he is, the first option for Qatar. We practically don’t see any competition for him. Ever since Juranovic took over the right flank at the Euros, only a few have asked where the once impressive Sime Vrsaljko is. 

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“In the September cycle of these qualifiers, he was among the best-rated players of the national type, and this last cycle also ended in great style. When at one point it seemed that Bayer’s Josip Stanisic would skip him, Juranovic’s added gas and came to the fore again.”

Josip Juranovic looks a cert to star for Croatia at Qatar 2022

Granted, there’s still a fair period yet before Qatar 2022. Unlike regular World Cup competitions, this one will take place during the winter period. This is due to the unplayable heat that affects the country during the summer months.

Vrsaljko is regularly on the bench with Madrid at the moment. Whilst he still plays the odd role as a substitute, his game-time in recent months has been limited. Considering his lack of first-team football, it’s difficult to see a route back in for him so long as he remains in Madrid.

Bayern Munich regular Josip Stanisic is also a potential up and comer for the right-back role. The 21-year-old only made his Croatia debut last month when Josip had a knock. But Dalic hasn’t moved to give him Josip’s place just yet.

Sanjin Strukic/Pixsell/MB Media/Getty Images

It’ll be interesting to see how the positional rotation affects Juranovic moving forward. If he wants to keep his spot as Croatia’s number 1 right-back, surely he’ll struggle to command it consistently playing out of position at Celtic.

It’s something that’s going to have to be brought up at some stage. Celtic fans would certainly love to see a peak of Juranovic playing in his more familiar right-back role. Yes, even if that means an alternative role for Anthony Ralston from time to time.

But credit to Josip here. He’s a mainstay in the Croatian first-team these days. That takes some doing and shows you the level of player we’ve acquired here.

In other news, Celtic hero James Forrest now in his “best condition” yet since Ange Postecoglou arrived