Tag Archives: olic

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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Group B predictions for second round of play – Germany v Croatia, Poland v Austria

I think this will be similar to the Group A second round results.  Croatia will play better than they did against Austria.  But Germany will play better than they did against Poland.  Modric will struggle against Ballack and Frings in the center of the field and will start drifting to the wings to find more room and time.  No double for Podolski this time.  I think it’s time for Ballack and Gomez to score.  Klose will have at least one more assist.  Lehmann gets a clean sheet.  Interesting to see if Olic and friends can make things a bit more difficult for the slower Metzelder and Mertesacker.

Austria will give Poland a run for their money but the Poles will come through – they have to with Croatia having beaten Austria.  However, it’s going to be tight.  Austria know that if they lose this game, they have a high likelihood of getting blanked at this tournament with Germany being their next and last opponent.  A draw is likely but I give the nod to Poland as I still think they go through ahead of Croatia.

Pre-game prediction:

Germany 2 Croatia 0

Poland 2 Austria 1

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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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