Germany’s performance made me almost have to retire CH12. The crystal ball was looking very opaque. Football reiterated to me – “CH12, you think you know me but you don’t.” Or to paraphrase Biggie, “If you don’t know, now you know”… that you don’t know as much as you think.
Croatia did improve their performance as I anticipated, and Olic and company did give Mertesacker and Metzelder problems. However, the first goal was Jansen’s fault, not the central defenders’, while the second Croatian goal was lucky but the two M’s didn’t react as quickly as Olic. Modric was great in the first 20 minutes, the last 20 minutes and skated through the time in between. However, Kovac and Pranjic picked up the slack during that period, the defense was solid and, if not for Kranjcar’s profligacy, the game should have been over in the first half and the result could have resembled Spain’s scoreline against Russia. Coach Loew, Fritz is not working out. Start Schweinsteiger – Podolski and he were the only ones who showed a sense of urgency. Too bad you won’t be able to yell Bastian till the quarters at the earliest given his silly red card, but something needs to change on the wing. Odonkor is not really the answer either. Maybe Hitzlsperger. Super Mario – you are killing me. It may be time for Kuranyi to start. He’s good in the air and better on the ground than Mario has shown himself to be in this tournament.
Having said all that, I give Bilic credit. They played well and didn’t let the Germans play their game. I have to also give them credit on the set up work on the first goal. The pass into the box sucked the right back into the striker, but instead of turning or laying it off to his teammate in the center of the park, he sent it back to the passer who had all the time and space to make the telling cross. It was very much like an inbounds play in basketball where the ball goes back to the inbounding player and no one is there to pick him up. And of course, they needed Jansen to be asleep on the back post, but that’s already been picked up in the earlier rant.
Man of the match for Croatia was Modric for asking for, and taking care of, the ball when he needed to; Rakitic was also brilliant in spots. For Germany, Podolski again was their best player on the pitch.
Pre-game prediction: Germany 2 Croatia 0
Result: Germany 1 Croatia 2
Scorers: Darijo Srna, Ivica Olic (Croatia) Lukas Podolski (Germany)
The second game gets going, gets toward the end and I am starting to have confidence in the crystal ball again… and then injury time happens. That’s two picks that have been blown after the 90 minute mark. Not that I am keeping score or anything but I am now at 50% at 6 and 6. Good thing I don’t bet on games.
Watching Austria blow two one on ones – too bad Harnik’s not an out and out striker – and one point blank shot, I had no doubt that it was going to come back to bite them. It’s the same as when the shooter doesn’t throw the dice hard enough to hit the back wall – you almost always seven out. Boruc kept Poland in the game and, sure enough, Roger scored a goal – offside though it was. Poland actually played well thereafter, with Roger and Krzynowek (that man has a harder left foot than Jon Arne Riise, and that’s saying something) creating options every time they came down the field. It was probably a just result that Austria pulled a goal back but it’s ridiculous that they called that a penalty after all the tugging and pulling that has gone on, and will continue to go on, unpunished in dead ball situations. Great penalty. Anelka, that’s how you strike it. Man of the match for Poland was Boruc, though Roger ran him a close second; for Austria, I was digging Korkmaz.
Pre-game prediction: Poland 2 Austria 1
Result: Poland 1 Austria 1
Scorers: Roger Guerreiro (Poland) Ivica Vastic (Austria)
Now we will hear about all the permutations that can occur to determine who goes through from this group.
On to the game of the tournament. I can’t wait. Italy vs Romania… Okay, so that’s a close second to the other game – Holland (that’s what you call them when they play fantasy football. If they lose, they are back to Netherlands IMB… In My Book for you non literary 18 year olds) vs France. Hup Oranje, Allez Francaise… Forza Italia??