Thursday, June 12, 2008

Euro 2008 Liveblog: Germany v. Croatia

All aboard folks! Time now for another scintillating afternoon of Eastern European derby action.

The football in this first match should be a delight to watch. Pint-sized powerhouse Luka Modric and the rest of the guys in the checkered shirts square up with the German International All-Stars in Group B's signature tilt . Joachim Low has his lads playing polished, flowing football , much to the delight of their Spanish fathers and Polish mothers. And then there's Modric, Luka. Strapping lad -- right here, over to the left. Has the yiddo nose already. As a Spurs fan and jewish male, I see Modric as the Croation government's flesh-and-blood letter of apology to my forebears. He is the opposite of the Ustasi. Total stud. And sure to look great in a youth size large, Tottenham Casino and Poker Club shirt.

As far as true game analysis, don't jounce my limb as I climb out and predict that the Croats, midfield-centric as they are, could get stuck up in Deutschland's lithe and clever backline.

More (loads!) on this as the game unfolds.

First though, let's lay out the what the tie means for both sides ( the assumption being the hosts battle heroically for zero points in each of their two remaining group games. )

-Germany win and they can book their ticket to a quarterfinal match-up in Vienna. The Lukas would be left to scuffle with Polska on Monday for the runner-up spot.

-If Modric leads his nation of 4.5 million to a glorious victory they too w ould be into the quarters, needing only a point in the Group B finale to guarantee their own trip to Vienna.

-A draw throws the competition into a muddle. Monday must-wins all around.

Lineups and live, in-game bloggery after the jump.

The lineups...


* 01 Pletikosa
* 05 Corluka
* 04 Kovac
* 03 Simunic
* 22 Pranjic
* 11 Srna
* 14 The Modric
* 10 Kovac
* 07 Rakitic
* 19 Kranjcar
* 18 Olic

The 'Shaft

* 01 Lehmann
* 16 Lahm
* 21 Metzelder
* 17 Mertesacker
* 02 Jansen
* 04 Fritz
* 08 Frings
* 13 Ballack
* 20 Podolski
* 09 Gomez
* 11 Klose

Referee: Frank De Bleeckere

Kick-off: And we are underway from Klagenfurt. Luka is in the line-up as you may have noted. Apparently he suffered a nick on the ankle against Austria. Sweet relief. The shaft trots out the same XI from the Poland match.

4 minutes: the first "opportunity" goes to the Germans. Klose carried up the right, made a clever pass into the box, but the Croat backline stood up. Lot of space out there.

6 min: Good headed clearance by Mertesacker. He was in close to the goal and clearly had not intention of letting that juiced up slob of a GK touch the ball. Pretty slick for a German center back.

10 min: That class doesn't quite make it into the kraut midfield. Frings cuts off a Croatia counterattack by leg-whipping The Modric. Only way to stop him I suppose.

13 min: Finally some life out of the boys in blue. First 5-7 mins were played almost entirely in their own half-- even if they had 40% of the possession. As noted earlier, real quality in the midfield but things tend to lose direction as they enter the final third.

15 min: El Capitan showing off what he's learned at Chelsea-- bitching at the ref over (an admittedly terrible) call. It all leads to a Croatia corner that's flicked on nicely by the defender Simic. But no one there to punch it home.

19 min: Not even 20 minutes played and I'm already thinking about muting the TV. Old Onion Sack just does not shutup for a minute. Christ.

22 min: Podolski picks out Gomez on the right side for a clear chance, but again the half-Spaniard is offside by a km. Wonder how many he'll run today. ESPN will tell me later I'm sure.

24 min: TOOOOOOOR!!!! Srna creeps in to poke home a cross from the left. Jansen is caught looking as Croatia's #11 picks it up on the short hop. Lehmann was half-way. Had no chance.

26 min: Yellow card-- first of the game-- for the goalscorer. Srna late by a solid 3-count on a slide tackle on Podolski, who is clearly Germany's most influential player so far. He's on the left side of the midfield and picking people out all over the field. Had the Germans' only sniff of a chance a bit earlier.

30 min: It's become pretty obvious that no one likes Mario Gomez. I bet he eats his weiners all alone. Podolski and Klose are always yelling at him. He needs to learn some Polish.

32 min: Ref clearly has eyes in the back of his head as he awards a German free kick (35 yards out?) on a tackle that took place directly behind him.

33 min: A failed clearance from Kovac makes for a little madness along the Croation goal line. Klose looked set to poke it home, but there were too many bodies. Nice initial save by Pletikosa on a rippin' free kick by Ballack.

38 min: There some kicking going on and a ball rolling about... Let's talk about Luka for a minute here. Nothing outrageous thus far, but he is clearly the lynchpin for everything Croatia does. So calm. So quick. He's the eddy and the other 21 players are the river. German corner...

39 min: Metzelder blows a sure goal for the shaft. Heads over the bar off a perfect corner. Could easily be 2-1 to Croatia or 2-2. Been a little chippy at times, but otherwise just what we expected from these teams. Can't imagine how much MORE the Germans can open up their attack.

42 min: Cracker of a save from the (soon-to-be-ex) Scummer. Kranjcar on the volley from about the penalty spot. Fat boy managed to get over to his right and elevate a bit. They felt it Ghangzou when he hit the turf.

45 min: One minute of added time.

Half: Simunic given a yellow for booting the ball into the stands. Mr. Bilic nearly shites himself. He may be a "rock star" in Croatia, but he looks like a junkie uncle. And can he stop running after the ball and kicking it to his players for throw-ins? You know he tries to go out for drinks with them after the game and asks questions like, "What are we doing tonight guys?!?!" Sort of like Regina George's mom in "Mean Girls."
Oh you guys, you keep me young!

STUDIO TIME: Someone drag OOS out of the play-by-play pit. Foudy is useless, along with this other newt. Andy Gray obviously knows his shit, but his ripping on Smyth has been some of the best entertainment of the tournament. ESPN probably figured Tommy boy would catch on eventually and stab ol' Andy in the neck with his pen. (Then leave one of his "lucky charms" on the body...)

Note: Julie Foudy, expert analyst, cannot pronounce "Luka Modric." Ugh.

Looks like they've drawn OOS from his hole. Go get him Andy! We await...

After watching this Adidas commercial for 46,501st time, I must admit a small man crush on Mourinho. It is more important to be a "top man."

46 min: Aaaaad we're back. Jansen however, is not. Odonkor is into the midfield, with Fritz dropping to right back. Jansen looked a mess on the Croatia goal. So no shock.

By the way, how come no shots of The Scarfed One, ESPN? Bilic is everywhere.

49 min: Ballack sends a rocket off into space from the top of the box. Took it on a volley after the keeper punched out a cross. Had more time. Ballack's done more crying than playing thus far.

51 min: Germans on the attack. (shudder...) But nothing comes of it. Repeat. That's the story so far. Podolski's the only guy creating chances. And is now waiving his arms around like he's on a runway, screaming at his aimless mates. Do they know Polish?

55 min: Croatia are officially in "Four Corners" mode. And they can pull it off. Just kicking the ball around the midfield.

Great slo-mo montage of Podolski, El Capitan, and (thanks) Low writhing around in anger.

58 min: Quoteth Rae: Croatia "not playing a very high line of defense." Certainly a lot of bodies between the ball and the keeper. I know Bilic is a young man, but surely he understands this German team will score eventually. Croatia will not win this 1-0. Noted?

61 min: TOR!!!!!! Croatia 2-0 Olic touches home after Rakitic hits the post from long distance. Lehmann absolutely embarrasses himself. Spun around three times looking for the ball... stuck in between after it hit the post...

65 min: Schweinsteiger on for Mario Gomez. Who will everyone yell at now? That's the second move by Low. Bastian, we imagine, slots into the midfield with Podolski taking a place next to Klose up front.

67 min: Srna clatters one into the German wall from 30 yards out. Given the form of the Roberto Duran-type figure in net for the 'shaft, he has to get that on goal.

73 min: Great run from the left by Bastian. He skids one across the Croatia line. Out for a corner that leads to nothing.

75 min: Yellow for Ballack. He's clearly given up. Didn't even scream at the ref. Rough game for der man.

79 min: Goal for Germany!!! You'll never guess who! Podolski with his 3rd of the tournament. 2-1 to Croatia

79 min: Podolski caught it on the hop and just slammed it home. Nearly tore the onion bag up. Thrilling ten minutes ahead.

82 min: Kuranyi on for Fritz. Germans done making changes. How much confidence do Croatia have in their possession game now? Looks like they're back on the attack as Odonkor gets away with an American football tackle in the box. Lehmann struggles to collect...

85 min: Knezevic on for Kranjcar. Bilic looking to seal it up in the final 5+ minutes here. Kranjcar ran 10.1km by the way. Is that good?

87 min: Luka Luka! It's all flowing through him as the Croats play keep away in the midfield.

89 min: That howler from Lehmann looking just a tad more important now, eh?? Stooge. Germany losing some momentum. Last 3 mins almost entirely in their end.

They'll get three more to try and even up...

90 min: Schweinsteiger with the Straight Red. Probably not deserved as the Croat makes a meal of it. Lehmann joins the act and earns himself a yellow. And after the restart another yellow, this time to Luka. Weak end to a thriller.

Full time: Croatia 2, Germany 1 Croatia go wild on the sideline. Bilic jumping around like he hit a walk-off home run. 10 years since Davor and the lads knocked Germany out of France. And damn, they really are going apeshit. Easy guys! This plus that pathetic flop by Leko (which earned Bastian his orders) could add up to some bad karma.

But Croatia have done it. They'll still need a point from that last game with Poland, but destiny is in their hands.

Postgame: Find me a Chelski "fan" who wouldn't trade Ballack for Luka. I dare you. And I'm not just talking about the future. He'll be more influential this year. Now if you'll excuse me, time for a breath, some Andy Gray, and emotional preparation for the lame shit to come. (Unless Austria win and the football world is blown into 5,000,000 pieces)

Late Note: Tommy Smyth just claimed that his ears BLED after leaving GIANTS STADIUM following the Italy-Bulgaria match in '94. Gray lets him off the hook.


ü75 said...

Welcome. Don't screw this up.

Lingering Bursitis said...

The Frings will tear The Modric a new, and rather painful, orifice

Mike Georger said...

not to state the obvious but if croatia play anything like they did over the weekend this is a bloodbath. and heres hoping it is, podolski scores seven, mark it

Keith said...

I sum up Frings' approach to midfield the way I sum up Nigel Reo-Coker's: "He runs up and down the field, kicking people."


The Fan's Attic said...

Try listening to it in a slavic language sopcast.

i just wait for the pitch to change to look up from my work. i have no idea what's going on.

The NY Kid said...

Just stopping in to check on the new lad in between my dr. appointments. Doing okay for a Spurs supporter, I guess.

Goat said...

Shoulda been 2-0 to Croatia

BerbaKeane said...

Modric is class

The Fan's Attic said...

what the fuck was the croatian manager kissing that fell out of his pocket?

The NY Kid said...

as a GK, let me say that Germany should have had that goal count

ü75 said...


Glad he is gone.

ü75 said...

Holy cow, a BerbaKeane sighting!


ü75 said...

Think Gomez pays again? He seems pretty useless in his first two appearances.

ü75 said...

To be fair to Lehmann, he made a pretty good save on the deflection, just didn't push it wide. Olic jumped on the ball while the defenders watched.

Croatia may score two more before it is over.

Ian said...

Some Spurs level defensive competence going on in this game.

ü75 said...

Is Odonkor German for Donkey?

Nice heel pass to the defense, moron.

Goat said...

Did anyone else see Lehmann bite the ball? I just want to make sure I'm not imagining things.

ü75 said...

Podolski, again. It's too bad the rest of the German attack took the tournament off.

Yes, Lehmann bit the ball and spat something out.

Keith said...

Oh, sure, Ian, you manage to bring your Spurs/Gooners rivalry into an unrelated thread!!

Goat said...

So he's "Mad Jens" in both the sense that he's angry and crazy. Now I get it.

Ian said...

I saw you call me out on that Cardillo post today, Keith.

Ian said...

Did they finally bring in Rob Stone to anchor the Euro coverage?

Mike Georger said...

as soon as luka learns to play defense and keeper as well as midfield spurs will be back in contention for a uefa cup spot

/ bitter ... but accurate

ü75 said...

Good show, fun game.

Modric on the wrong end of a poor yellow. Won the ball cleanly, although studs up, and should have been in free against Lehmann. Which,as we have all come to know, is a sure goal.

ü75 said...

Let Foudy Watch begin.

The Likely Lad said...

I'm off the Foudy "watch." HD, like the years, have not been kind to Miss Julie.

ü75 said...

They won't need said point if this afternoon is a draw.

The Likely Lad said...

Right. I'm just going on the assumption that Austria lose out.

Andrew said...

What the hell, Germany?

I was standing inches in front of my TV urging my Teutons on, but they lacked any sense of direction or creativity. And they looked tired. Except for Podolski, that Pole.

Good game by Croatia. Not a better side, but they put together a superb effort.

Keith said...

So does that mean my Connectedness Level goes up, Ian?