Tag Archives: modric

Euro 2012 Match 13: Italy vs Croatia pre-game prediction

Ireland made Croatia look better than they really are.  That will change against Italy.  While Croatia have traditionally done well against Italy, and their strikers are in great form with both Jelavic and Mandzukic scoring against Ireland, tomorrow will be different.

The Italian midfield will not allow Modric any space to make plays and control the tempo.  Cassano and Di Natale were very clever in their movement against Spain and should have the same success against Croatia.

Pre-game prediction:  Italy 1 Croatia 0

Cassano or Marchisio to score for Italy.

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Euro 2012 Match 6: Ireland vs Croatia pre-game predictions

If Spain vs Italy ends in a draw, it will mean both these teams in Match 6 are going to have to go for a win else it is going to be hard to get out of the group stage.  Ireland and Croatia will both be praying for a Spain win.  This match pits teams whose key players – Modric, Jelavic, Corluka vs Keane, Given, O’Shea – know each other well from the English Premier League.

Why Ireland will win

  1. Trapattoni is a master tactically.  He will set Ireland up to manage the game well and neutralize the playmaking ability of Modric.
  2. Karma.  This will be payback for getting robbed of appearing in World Cup 2010 by a Thierry Henry handball that was never called during Ireland’s playoff against France.  This Irish team is so proud to have qualified for a major international tournament after a long break – they will give it everything they have in front of a stadium full of traveling Irish fans.
  3. They have good depth, speed and creativity in midfield with McGeady, McClean and Duff.  This is balanced with very good striking options in Robbie Keane, Long, Doyle and Walters.
  4. Modric and Jelavic are not mysteries to most members of the Irish team.

Why Croatia will win

  1. This is a well coached team that has been together for a while.  They will play hard for Bilic as this could be his last tournament in charge of the national team.
  2. Modric.  He pulls the strings all over the midfield.  He has done it repeatedly in the English Premier League and the Irish team will not be able to stop him from doing it now if the individual players haven’t been able to do it during the tournament.
  3. It’s been a while since Ireland was in this position.  The pressure could get to them.

Pre-match prediction: Ireland 1 Croatia 0

A goalless or 1-1 draw wouldn’t surprise me.  However, I think this is Ireland’s time.  I expect Keane or Doyle to get a goal for Ireland.  Look for Dunne and O’Shea to put a lot of pressure on Croatia on dead ball situations.

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Croatia v Turkey – post game

I give up.  CH12 is retired… till later this evening 🙂  This is the most amazing set of comebacks I have ever seen.  It’s not even like there is some superstar dribbling through tons of defenders and bringing them back.  Turkey has no Maradona or Zidane or Pele.  What they have tons of if “been there, seen that, know what to do”… all gathered over the last week.

Croatia started the game on the backfoot, but had the best chance to score when Olic put a gilt edged cross by Modric onto the crossbar before Kranjcar headed the rebound wide.  That should have been 1-0.  Of course, Turkey would probably have scored two goals at the end of regulation to beat Croatia in regular time!  As it was, Croatia outplayed Turkey in the second half and would have gone ahead but for some excellent keeping by Rustu Recber who recovered from a shaky start.  He palmed over a goal bound Srna free kick before blocking a few more Olic opportunities.  Olic worked hard, got in position, but was wasteful.  Kranjcar was the invisible man before being substituted in the second half and Modric had flashes of creativity while floating in and out of the game.

To extra time, and Turkey suddenly seemed to pick it up again.  Maybe Sanli and Turan realized they were not going to have to save anything for the semi finals since they are going to be suspended.  Good chances were created, but no goals.  So, of course, everything happens in the last three minutes.  In the 119th minute, Rustu suddenly went Nikopolidis-walkabout along the goal line and Modric picked up the ball and crossed it for Klasnic to put it into the net behind a scrambling Rustu.  Surely this meant the game was over.  Key play – it’s 1minute into injury time and Rakitic has the ball.  He dribbles past two Turks, looks up, sees two of his teammates breaking in the center circle and launches a through ball.  Offside.  If only he had continued his dribble, or dropped off a simple lateral pass or even kicked it to the corner.  But, no.  Rustu grabbed the ball before it rolled to far, set it down and launched a blast that got nodded in some confusion at the top of the Croatian box and dropped for Semih Senturk to turn an unstoppable finish into the top left hand corner.  Bilic went crazy asking why there were two minutes of injury time.  Whatever. 

Whatever the Turks teach their goalies, saving penalties must be one.  Of course, Volkan’s deputy was the hero – Rustu saved the final penalty and Croatia put another two wide of the goal.  Game over.  Croatia is crushed.  If only …

For a positive rant.  Whatever one may say of the modern pro loving his club more than his country, all you had to do was see Srna sobbing – and he had a great game, and scored his penalty – after the game to know how much international tournaments mean to players.  It is so nice to see and reminds us that’s it not about the money when you flash back to why you started playing the game as a kid and the fantasies you had about winning the World Cup for your country. 

Big topic over the next few days – will Turkey be able to field even 15 players for the semi final given the suspensions and injuries?

Pre-game prediction: Croatia 2 Turkey 0

Result: Croatia 1 Turkey 1 (Turkey wins on penalties)

Scorers: Ivan Klasnic (Croatia) Semih Senturk (Turkey)

To what I believe will be the best football played in the tournament – Russia v Holland…

 

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Croatia v Turkey – pre game prediction

Croatia wins. If Rakitic is well enough to play, Croatia has enough to beat a banged up and tired Turkish team. Olic, Srna and Modric will be enough to see Croatia through and their defense has been relatively tight.

Turkey has some major gaps to fill through injury and suspension. They will be without captain Emre Belozoglu because of a hamstring injury since their opening game, Emre Gungor is out for the rest of the tournament with a calf problem and Sevet Cetin and Tumer Metin will miss the Croatia game due to injury. Goalkeeper Volkan Demirel and Mehmet Aurelio are suspended, with Volkan potentially missing the semi final game as well.

Turkey does have enough firepower and desire with the front trio of Nihat, Tuncay and Turan.  However, this is the match where I expect Niko Kranjcar to finally step up, much like Schweinsteiger did for Germany.  He has great technique and a great shot – let’s see how Rustu deals with being the starter.

Pre-game prediction: Croatia 2 Turkey 0

It would set up a nice rematch with Germany in the semi finals…

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Group B post game – Germany vs Croatia and Austria vs Poland

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?? 

 

 

 

 

 

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Croatia vs Austria

Croatia did not deserve to win this game.  The penalty was a penalty – no debate.  After that Croatia did nothing.  Modric and Kranjcar did nothing in midfield.  There was no real possession or offensive threat in their movement.  Elbows, tugging, Austria upset about the penalty got thrown off their game and didn’t really put pressure till the end of the first half. 

The last 15 minutes were great.  Austria put unrelenting pressure on Croatia and should have leveled at the death with a header by the big substitute, Kienast, flashing just past the post.  Austria’s man of the match for me was Korkmaz, even though he came on only in the 69th minute.  He took the right back on time and again – he should start based on this performance.  Ivanschitz had a decent game in spots.  Croatia’s player was Olic – slim pickings but he worked the hardest.

If Croatia plays this way, and you could see the absence of Eduardo showing in the lack of firepower upfront, I feel comfortable that Poland will see them off for second as I predicted in my previous post.

Pre-game prediction: Croatia 1 Austria 0

Result: Croatia 1 Austria 0

Scorer: Modric (Croatia)

 

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Who will win Euro 2008 – Day 0

My updated thoughts after watching this last week’s action and with the current injury report.

Group A: Still think Portugal wins this group though I think if there is an upset possibility, it’s that the Turks maybe roll them before the tournament gets going. Wouldn’t be surprised if the Turks or even the Swiss pip the Czechs for second place but I think it’s still the Czech Republic through in second place.

Group B: Germany wins this and even though Croatia plays some stylish football I am going to go on a limb and pick Poland to finish second. Eduardo missing is a big loss that Modric and Niko Kranjcar are not going to be able to make up though Olic is nice.

Group C: The tough one. Italy have suffered a major setback with Cannavaro done for the tournament. No Nesta, no Cannavaro and possibly the big Stiff with the stiff chest, Materazzi, on the bench means Chiellini and Barzagli starting in the middle. Sorry, not going to happen in terms of their winning the tournament no matter what Pirlo says about their mental state being better than at the World Cup. This isn’t the World Cup where they can sleepwalk through the first round, almost losing to the US and then squeaking by Australia. This group is as tough as it gets in world football. No Robin van Persie for the first game means if the Dutch lose against Italy, they are up against it. No Viera is a good thing for France in my book. Diarra or Toulalan with Maka is better than Patrick and Maka. He’s lost more than a step in class. Whichever of the three wins the most points off Romania goes through – I think it will be Netherlands and France. Love that man Ribery and hope Evra starts instead of Abidal.

Group D: Spain and Russia. End of story.

I still stand by Portugal v Spain for the title. However, Spain will get knocked out in the quarters if they don’t improve massively relative to their performance against the US. You can’t play Torres up front alone and expect to get it done. No real wingers to stretch the defense in the squad I saw. There’s no Joaquin, no Vicente, no Capel. Aragones is crazy for thinking a whole bunch of Cescs are what you can use in midfield and expect to win. Play Cesc and Xavi or Iniesta. Then get offense on one wing, use a holding midfielder like Senna and get another striker up front. They need Villa in the worst way. And Puyol looks like he is past the Use By date.

Below are my predictions for this weekend’s game – look for updates to this column daily.

Saturday, June 7, 2008
Time Home Away STAGE TV VENUE
12:00 ET Switzerland 1 1 Czech Rep Group A St Jakob Park
14:45 ET Portugal 2 1 Turkey Group A Stade de Geneve
Sunday, June 8, 2008
Time Home Away STAGE TV VENUE
12:00 ET Austria 0 1 Croatia Group B Ernst Happel Stadion
14:45 ET Germany 1 0 Poland Group B Hypo-Arena

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