16 June 2008

CROATIA 1 (Klasnic 53)

The Poles created two chances inside the first ten minutes against Bilic's reserves. Saganowski flicked on a longball out of defence to Lobodzinski and Runje, under pressure from Krzynowek, bravely flew off his line to punch clear the wingers cross taking out one of his own defenders in the process. From the resulting corner Polish midfielder Dudka towered above the Croat defence but sent his header hopelessly wide. Rakitic, who has been linked with Juve, swung in a great free kick in from the right flank which Vejic sent bouncing wide of Boruc's left post. Klasnic played the PES classic lofted one-two pass with Petric and raced through on goal but was denied by the excellent, excellent Boruc. Rakitic missed an open goal on a rebound after Boruc dived to save at the feet of Klasnic.

Klasnic was bundled over on the edge of the box following a tremendous run by Rakitic but surprisingly the Croats didn't appeal as the ref waved play on, Pranjic gathered the loose ball, drove into the box and cut back for Klasnic to shoot first time into the bottom right corner. Great finish. Passport cheat Guerreiro had a chance to score an equaliser against the run of play after a slip by Simic (retire already) but dragged his shot wide.

I thought this was Croatia's best performance to date. Rakitic and not Modric, has been Croatia's standout player. I'm a big fan of Klasnic and see him as much more of a threat than the rubbish Ivica Olic.

Attendance : 30,000
Assist : Pranjic

GERMANY 1 (Ballack 49 fk)

Klose ran onto a throw in, accelerated past two defenders, turned inside Hiden and rolled a pass to Gomez who, standing a yard out, sliced the ball up in the air and didn't bother challenging Garics for the rebound. COMPLETE PUSSY. On 19 minutes there was a great chance for Jimmy Hoffa when Hiden chipped a diagonal ball into the box but Lehmann was alert to a wretched first touch and dived at the Austrian striker's feet to save. Podolski snapped a drive from 25 yards, drawing a great save from Macho. Hickersberger and Low were sent off on 40 minutes because Manuel Mejuto Gonzalez is a shit ref.

A tremendous run by Lahm deep into the Austria half was crudely ended by Ivanschitz (don't forget to wash you hands). Ballack took the resulting free kick about 30 yards from goal and sent a bullet of a right foot shot into the top corner, the first free kick goal of the tournament. Hoffa missed a chance to equalise when he turned onto Ivanschitz's miss-hit shot but fired wide. Lehmann found the wretched Neuville, on as a late sub for Podolski, with a monstrous 50 yard throw, as the Austrian defence backed off he shot wide from 16 yards.

A better defensive performance from Germany but they were only playing Austria who suck utterly. Gomez has been a complete failure. I'm not sure what Kuranyi has to do to get a chance.

Attendance : 50,000
Assist : Frings (fk)

12 June 2008

AUSTRIA 1 (Vastic 93 Pen)
POLAND 1 (Guerreiro 30)

Austria should have been 3-0 up inside the first 15 minutes. Harnik ran onto a hospital pass, left two defenders for dead and with only Boruc to beat shot wide of a post. Two minutes later a brilliant run by Korkmaz should have ended with Harnik making up for his earlier mistake but Boruc dived to save with his feet. The Austrian's then hit the Poles on the break, Prodl sent Leitgeb racing clear but once against Boruc came to the rescue. Predictably Poland scored with their first time. Smolarek found Saganowski at the back post, the striker turned Pogatetz shot wide of Macho and Guerreiro stabbed into an empty net.

Poland took control in the second half. Smolarek raced onto Guerreiro's superb crossfield pass but shot straight at Macho. On the hour mark Guerreiro found Bak with a cross to the back post, the centre back controlled on his chest before firing a volley forcing Macho into a superb save and he quickly recovered to deny Lewandowski on the follow up. A second goal for the visitors seemed a formality, Macho was called into action again, tipping Krzynowek's stupendously powerful free kick over the bar. Austria failed to muster anything close to resembling a clear cut chance in the second half before they were suddenly given a lifeline from the penalty spot for shirt tugging. Normally these are never given but Wasilewski was yanking on Prodl's shirt in full view of referee Howard Webb. Vastic sent Boruc the wrong way earning Austria a point and himself a lifetime's supply of beer, which was later declined.

Attendance : 51,428
Assists : Saganowski, Prodl (won pen)

CROATIA 2 (Srna 24, Olic 62)
GERMANY 1 (Podolski 79)

Srna's goal was the culmination of a brilliant move spanning 15 passes started by Modric deep in his own half. The ball was eventually played to Kranjcar who switched flanks with a crossfield pass out to Pranjic, he played a double one-two with Rakitic, Rakitic looked to play a give and go with Olic, taking three defenders with him, Olic played the ball back to Pranjic, he swung a cross to the back post and Srna stole a yard on Jansen to volley past Lehmann. Poor marking by Jansen but a brilliant team goal nonetheless. Gomez blew a chance to score a quick equaliser, heading over an excellent Jansen cross. Rakatic and Olic combined for a second time but Kranjcar failed to take advantage of more poor marking in the box. Pletikosa struggled to clear a fiercely struck Ballack free kick and Metzelder missed a sitter from corner. Pletikosa sent Corluka down the left with a quick throw, he absolutely destroyed Jansen, flicking the ball inside him as he sprinted upfield then left the fullback in a heap as he failed to connect with an insane jump tackle, Corluka centring to Kranjcar, he failed to connect but the ball fell to Olic who chipped a great first time pass to Kranjcar, he took the ball on his chest before blasting a left foot volley at Lehmann who nonetheless made a great save.

Ballack, who is having a shocker of a tournament so far volleyed high into the stands after Pletikosa spilled a cross. Rakitic's right wing cross deflected off Podolski onto a post and Olic snapped up the rebound to score Croatia's second. Schweinsteiger went close minutes after replacing the hugely disappointing Mario Gomez. Podolski lashed in another left foot volley after Robert Kovac made a mess of a Ballack header but a comeback was never on the cards and Croatia looked more likely to score. Schweinsteiger was sent off for pushing Leko in the chest. The first red card of the tournament. For those of you who don't know the literal translation of Schweinsteiger is pig farmer.

Gomez continually ran offside. He's like Inzaghi minus the goals. Jansen, as highlighted here weeks ago by other posters, was horrible at the back, so poor in fact Low substituted him at half time. Germany looked every bit as poor as Croatia did in their first match. The Mario Gomez experiment is a failure. It's time Kuranyi got a chance. Jansen won't be starting the next match. It's a good time for Germany to get a wake-up call, better now than in the knockout stages. It looks like they'll get Portugal a round early, if they beat Austria.

Attendance : 30,461
Red Card : Schweinsteiger 91 (Germany)
Assists : Pranjic, n/a, n/a

8 June 2008

GERMANY 2 (Podolski 20, Podolski 72)

Inside the first 30 seconds Germany's weak link Lehmann ran off his line to attack a cross and collided with Mertesacker fortunately Krzynowek's volley was way off target. Frings sent Klose clear on the break and with the goal at his mercy he centred to Gomez who made poor contact and missed the target. The duo combined for the opening goal. Gomez released Klose with a great pass with the outside of his foot, Klose ran into the box and this time his centre was converted - by Podolski. Poland's best spell of pressure came after Lewandowski sprayed a crossfield pass out wide to Krzynowek. The duo both have shots charged down before Jansen hurriedly cleared. Wasilewski released Lobodzinski and he got the break of a bounce off Jansen before pulling the ball back to Zurawski who dragged his shot wide of Lehmann's left post. A minute later the industrious Fritz vaulted over a Krzynowek sliding tackle on the left touchline, drove into the box and pulled the ball back to Gomez who again failed to hit the target.

Frings sent Lahm clear with an angled ball down the left channel, Lahm left his marker for dead and pulled the ball back to Ballack and his first time shot was brilliantly saved by Boruc. Schweinsteiger tackled Golanski as he tried to clear a through pass, Schweinsteiger passed to Klose, he completely misskicked slicing the ball up in the air but Podolski was on hand to slam a left foot volley into the top corner. Poland's Brazilian forward Guerrinski impressed when introduced as a second half substitute. His cross forced Lehmann into denying Saganowski at his near post.

Men of the Match : Podolski & Fritz

Attendance : 30,000
Assists : Klose, Klose

CROATIA 1 (Modric 4 Pen)

Modric showed great balance to hold off the giant Stranzl on the left of the penalty box and rolled a pass into Olic who went down theatrically after taking a kick from Aufhauser. Modric converted, sending the ball straight down the middle. Petric failed to take advantage of a poorly played offside trap, volleying Corluka's excellent cross into the stands. Pogatetz, who was booked for disputing the penalty decision, was lucky not see a second yellow after manhandling diver Olic who went down in a heap clutching his nose. Standfest spurned Austria's best chance of the half, heading wide a free kick.

The Austrian's got a grip on midfield following the second half introductions of Korkmaz, the middle aged Vastic and the lively Kienast but for all their possession Korkmaz was the only player to trouble Pletikosa with a curling shot from 25 yards.

Croatia owe their tag of dark horses due to the fact that, because they topped a qualifying group featuring England, journalists assumed they must be a good side. They're not. They were overrun in midfield by AUSTRIA.

Man of the Match : Kienast

Attendance : 50,000
Assist : Olic (won pen)