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Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Can ÖFB Dinamo legionnaire Robert Ljubicic slip through his fingers?

Top performances by Dinamo-Zagreb legionnaire Robert Ljubicic in the premier class once again sparked the national team question about the Viennese. Will the former Rapid kicker play for Austria or Croatia in the future?

ÖFB legionnaire Robert Ljubicic is one of the surprises of the current Champions League season. The ex-Rapidler dominated the left flank in the 1-0 win against Chelsea on Matchday 1 and scored his first Champions League goal against Red Bull Salzburg on Tuesday. The 23-year-old is the first Austrian to score against an Austrian team in a Champions League game.

“We were very strong up until the 70th minute, but Salzburg then had their space. They saw that we opened up a bit and thank God it was still 1-1,” said Ljubicic. “We’ll take a point and look to Milan.”

The fact that Ljubicic was converted from a midfielder to a left-back also makes the Viennese interesting for the Austrian national team. An idea from Dinamo coach Ante Cacic, who sees Ljubicic in this position in the long term. At the U20 level, Ljubicic acted for Croatia, but in the U21 he played for the ÖFB. Despite strong performances, he still has to wait for his A-Team debut. He would be eligible to play for both nations.

Robert Ljubicic: “…will identify 100 percent”

Team boss Ralf Rangnick recently confirmed that he has Ljubicic on his radar and also mentioned “that he plays for the country for which he is first nominated.” Ljubicic does not want to commit himself in advance today he says: “I can only say what is important to me: If I’m called up by one or the other national team, I’ll focus 100 percent on them and I’ll identify with them.”

In Croatia there is already speculation about an early draft. The next international training course could be decisive for Ljubicic’s national team future. But it is also clear: In Croatia, Ljubicic would have great competition with Borna Sosa (VfB Stuttgart) and Borna Barisic (Glasgow Rangers). In the ÖFB team, the left-back position was regularly vacant, Andreas Ulmer is already 36 years old, and Maximilian Wöber last helped out. As with Real Marid, David Alaba should be in the center of defence.


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