Tag: Croatia

Euro 2012: Group C – The Final Day

Despite Group C containing three of its best teams, the tension of the final games nearly unravelled the quality with which Spain, Italy and Croatia have sprinkled this tournament to date. Spain’s light blue kit was, dare I say it, a bit scruffy, i.e. it suited players such as the Sergios Ramos and Busquets. They produced, for them anyway, a performance to match. And this made for one of the flattest games of the tournament to date. It was well-documented that a 2-2 draw would have knocked Italy out regardless of their result, just as it did in 2004 when Giovanni Trapattoni’s team went home despite being unbeaten with five points. But if Croatia and Spain had finished 2-2 after that first-half the fix would all-too obviously have been in. Among Spain’s best first-half efforts were long-range strikes by Ramos and his centre-back partner Gerard Pique, which spoke volumes. And Croatia would have gone into the break thinking “job well done,” especially with the shock news that Ireland were still 0-0 with Italy after five minutes. Indeed, Slaven Bilic’s side should have been ahead. The tournament hasn’t overly-suffered from officious officials. But their mistakes have been doozies. And Ramos’s studs-up leap at Mario Mandzukic was one of those tackles which “would have been a free-kick anywhere else on the pitch”, as ITV’s Craig Burley dutifully noted. Actually, Burley’s first...

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Euro 2012: Croatia 1-1 Italy

A good result, this for Croatia. Italy’s midfield trio of Pirlo, Purlo and Pairlo, combined with the rugged centre-back pairing of Chiellini and Collini, would have presented a challenge to Spain at their best. But Croatia overcame the odds – themselves helped by defensive duo Caluka and Corluka – and, after being second best for much of the first half, were worth their point in what was yet another quite entertaining encounter in a quite enjoyable tournament. Of course, Italy’s greater numbers were entirely a product of the BBC commentary team’s David Pleat-like pronunciation skills. Both Simon Brotherton and Mark Bright had difficult afternoons. But it didn’t detract from an excellent exposition of the “game of two halves” theory. In the first 45 minutes, Italy were every bit as good as they were in their sumptuous opening draw with Spain. After the break, Croatia did enough to justify studio pundit Alan Pardew’s view that “a very good side will go missing from this group.” He was thought not to be referring to Ireland. Whilst never quite being on the sort of “same wavelength” as football’s best strike partnerships, Mario Balotelli and Antonio Cassano have been a joy to watch. Balotelli has got his head down for the right reasons and has worked hard for the team. Cassano has shown the sort of form he’s threatened for years with a...

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Euro 2012: Croatia 3-1 Republic Of Ireland

If only Robbie Keane’s singing voice had been the low point of the evening. The lyricism of the Irish language is not exactly enhanced by the Dublin accent. When you add Keane’s atonality – and the dirge which is Amhran na Bhfiann, Ireland’s national anthem – you are in a form of hell. And there Ireland’s followers stayed. In parts, Ireland weren’t that bad. But in the parts either side of half-time, they were. Croatia’s passing was slick in the build-up to their third goal. And Nikica Jelavic’s finish for their second was the classiest act of the night. However, if Spain press the ball against the Croats as poorly as Ireland did, their manager Vincente Del Bosque might have to give his marquisate back. Ireland conceded only nine goals in twelve qualifying games, three at Italia ’90 and only two at Euro ’88. So three in forty-eight minutes might have been worth a “bet in play, naaah (now)” with that doyen of gambling adverts Ray Winstone. Mario Mandzukic’s third-minute opener was a slow-motion nightmare. You wait expectantly for a defender or goalkeeper to get there…and you wait…. Mandzukic only stretched to head the ball somewhere towards the target in the hope that a colleague might get there too. But there was no need. In Moscow, when Ireland held Russia 0-0 (a result which looked fabulous on Friday after...

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Euro Moments: Croatia

This mornings cartoon for the run-up to the European Championships from Dotmund features Croatia, and a player with an ever-expanding head. Don’t forget, you can see plenty more Dotmund artwork here, and you can read his trenchant opinions on just about everything here. You can download the Twohundredpercent Euro 2012 spreadsheet here (for Excel 2007), whilst a version that will be compatible with older versions of Excel is available here. You can follow Twohundredpercent on Twitter by clicking...

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