After a magnificent performance on Tuesday, Croatian fans’ hopes are sky high. Along with the fans, it looks like every major media outlet in Europe has labeled Croatia as a favorite to make it to the final. From dark horse, to possible expulsion, to the top team in the tournament, this has been one hell of a ride in such a small amount of time.
That rollercoaster of emotions and historical significance of this match is what makes me weary. As a long time supporter, I’ve seen this story go wrong too many times. We have a team with talent, passion, and willingness, but do we have the mental strength to carry us through to the next round.
The Portuguese Nightmare
I’ve heard a lot of fans mark this game up as a cakewalk. “They only have Ronaldo” or “they tied all 3 of their games”. Much like Croatia, Portugal have underperformed at big tournaments. With the likes of Ronaldo, Pepe, Nani, and Quaresma Portugal have never been able to translate individual talent into a team effort.
Unfortunately, their last game proved that they still have the ability to score goals. Their team effort may be lacking, but we haven’t faced a team that has a true difference maker like Ronaldo. If you look at this from a neutral perspective, we are also going up against a mirror image of ourselves emotionally. Along with the comeback victory, this may be Portugal’s last opportunity to make a run with this generation of players.
|Croatia Vs Portugal|
- Ronaldo – No real explanation needed
- Quaresma – If you follow football, you know the name. At the tail end of his career, but he just picked up a league title with Besiktas and has shown glimpses of former glory this tournament. Always an underperformer, but somebody that you’d never want to rule out.
- Nani – A tournament of rebirth? Nani causes havoc down the wings and with 2 goals already, Nani has somehow regained his old form.
- Pepe – A proper cu… someone that always influences a match. You hate him when he’s playing against you, but you love him on your team because of the frustration he causes the oppositions attack.
Along with fear, comes hope. On paper, Croatia look to be the odds on favorite. Giving up 3 goals to a Hungary side that came out of nowhere, and another to the Cinderella story from Iceland, Croatia should be able to take advantage of Portugal’s defensive weakness. Depending on which Mandza shows up, we could see the scoreboard light up like a christmas tree.
Say what you want about Cacic, because I know I did, but it seems that the players are happier playing with a coach that focuses on basics and feel. Even though he’s had a few missteps with substitutions this tournament, he’s quietly let his stars guide the team for him. Aside from popular belief, Cacic put those youngsters in because of yellow card accumulation. We already knew that we had a strong chance to qualify, and we couldn’t risk Vida, Brozovic, or Badelj being left out for the round of 16. That being said, the performance of those youngsters against Spain proved that there is something special going on in that locker room.
Midfield: (Perisic, Rakitic, Modric, Badelj, Brozovic) Croatia’s biggest strength against any opponent. In this game especially, control of the midfield will be crucial in stopping the flow of the ball to Ronaldo. The Vatreni need to focus on only letting Ronaldo receive the ball from the back line. If we lock down the center of the pitch, our defensemen’s’ jobs become a lot easier.
Defense: (Srna, Vida, Corluka, Strinic) Strinic knows his career depends on his performance at Euros, and so far he’s been a very good selection on the wing. His distribution is lacking, but that job is left to Srna. No matter how well we play, the fate of our team lies on the backs of Corluka and Vida. Corluka has saved us in the final seconds of 2 matches, and aside from the handball I’ve loved Vida’s tenacity so far. Corluka has not practiced since Tuesday, so let us hope that he’ll be at least 90% ready to go with his kapa. Finally, Srna, may be targeted as a weak spot by the Portuguese. Even though his emotions have helped in the group stage, his speed is not something that can improve over night. Look for Nani and Ronaldo to go after that wing as much as possible.
Forward: (Mandzukic) Mandzukic hasn’t bagged a goal just yet, but I think going against Pepe might actually be good for him. Mandza tends to get into what I call “cry baby mode”, in which he completely loses his form and direction. If he harnesses that pity party into anger, I wouldn’t be surprised if he bags 2 goals this game. If he doesn’t produce in the first 55 minutes, look for Kalinic to come in to replace Badelj.
Goalkeeper: (Subasic) He looked like he just got out of bed against the Czechs, but he was able to pull himself back together against Spain. Subasic hasn’t really had to face a lot of shots, aside from the last game. Let’s hope to God that he’s ready for CR7, and the danger that the other Portuguese players bring.
Keys To the Match:
1. Center of the Pitch: Control the center of the pitch, and we control the game. We’ve seen how frustration affects Ronaldo’s game, and we need to focus on that. He is their difference maker, and if we prevent him from getting simple balls through the midfield, we set ourselves up for a better opportunity to win.
2. Perisic/Wings: Perisic has been our best tournament player for the past 4 years. While the focus tends to fall on Modric, Rakitic, and Mandzukic, Portugal will look to have an answer on how to stop the seemingly unstoppable force. If Perisic gets locked up, we need to have an answer on the other side of the pitch to deal with it. Call me crazy, but I wouldn’t mind seeing Pjaca substituted for Broz in the second half if we don’t have a lead.
3. Keep Your Head: Going down 1-0 could be the best thing to happen to us. We’ve seen this team play lazy games up until the 80th minute, where we experience near cardiac arrest. If Portugal manage to hold a draw for 90 minutes, or go up early, we need to be able to regroup and react. On the other hand, if we grab a lead, that doesn’t necessitate parking the bus. We’ve seen how shaky things get when we start to get pressure towards the end of games.
Croatia pull it off in epic fashion. 2 goals from Mandzukic and a goal from Vida.
I have to laugh at all those homers on this site especially jm.
Constant talk of Drmic. People saying our savez is nuts for not picking him. Well looks like our savez knows what they are doing. They have done a hell of a job bringing this team together. Picking the right players.
Fucking feel bad for teams when they have to go because of loosing on penalties.
I would rather Poland than Swiss. Swiss are legit dangerous with FK,Corners and shaqiris menacing runs to creat or score goals.Poland are very defensive minded and ZZZZ not to be taken lightly but ye they are a 30 min hero team after that they play to draw or PK.Lewandowski has 0 shots on target in live play which is shocking to say the least….
Drmic is injured but he didn’t became the player we thougt he’d be. He plays for Hamburg and is often not even in their starting 11.
Yup. Goddamn gypsies.
Poland were great for 30 minutes, were very very average for the next 90.
Let’s take care of the gypsies first.
Better team lost there…
Not sure I care which team id rather have played if we win…
stupid Platini with 24 teams worse worse ever concept ..make group stage here and prior qualification more like kindergarden with every team inside happy can go advance …. i wanna go to toilet but i would like to peee on platini face.
Anyone know what happened to Josip Drmic? Everyone was lamenting how he didn’t choose Croatia.
Not “may”, he was, cracking goal by Shaqiri.
On a side note in the event that Switzerland win. Schar is now suspended and Behrami has a hamstring strain.
Of course means nothing if we don’t beat Portugal.
Modric may have just been replaced for goal of the tournament – bicycle kick from Shaqiri to make it 1-1 vs Poland.
Yes on checkers. Perisic is even wearing them on his hair… You’ll see what I mean soon.
I’d like to remind people that when Portugal played Hungary, Hungary was playing with 50% of their B squad, similar to us but with primarily all their replacements in the middle. And Portugal still had huge problems. If we control the midfield I’m 70/30 it’s our game. But football is a crazy game, and considering this ref I see our chances at 50/50.
Are we wearing the checkers today?
im both pissing and shitting myself :O
I’m shitting it.
Full respect to Gli Azzurri as they know how to win tournaments.
I will say this:
Hrvatska win this tournament then we will become the most dominant footballing nation in Europe. This will not be a one off as we have a pipeline of teenagers right behind this senior crew. Football will grow from the grassroots level to cultivate even more home grown talent. Balkan disease will be integrated and we will take our rightful place as world footballing power in 2018!
How appropriate to take out the best player in Europe today in Ronaldo.
U boj … U boj … U boj … Za Narod Svoj!
Anyway back to football.
I think Croatia will win.
Of course you agree, because I wrote those comments as well!
Confident and calm. It’s ok iggy
I agree with Modena. It’s not good to talk up too much. I also remember stimac before the Scotland game banging on about how good we are and scotland won’t touch the ball….I think they beat us. But I think that overall the talk hasn’t been too much this time. Confident but respectful. U BOJ
Im already pissing me panties
Ljudi moji portugal je rupa ako ne idemo do finale to bi bio neuspjhe They coukd not beat austrija madarska island. Brate no body taught they would get this far and croatia did no matter what happens just stay positive our b team outplayed spain and stop nani and ronaldo we are ok but whos gonna stop modric raketa perisic expect alot of chances and if mandzo is off his game bring in kale pjaca and kramaric
Modena, when Italy gets to Ireland’s level you can start thinking about a “goal of winning the whole thing”, until then you should probably worry about the Spanish trolls on ItalianSports.com and stop playing one here.
lol – pisham u gachima
@ Modena – Bobby V told me to tell you he meant to say 9 titles for Italy, not 0. He said that if you look at your keyboard, 0 and 9 are next to each other and his finger just happened to slip – sorry about that.
Mine would be 4
Bravo Bobby V.
I for one, don’t mind the statements being made by us Croatians as long as they are facts.
Remember, we are a small nation that has been in existence for only 21 years, yet, we have already finished third in the World and have a good chance of going to the semi-finals of the European championships.
How many titles would Italy have won if they were a nation of only 4 million?
We can only guess – mine would be zero.
I’m not sure, because I would not trade places with the Greeks.
Well Croatia is a very good team, what do you want me tell you?
But lying in your bed, many years from now, would you give every competitive match, from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance, so you could tell us Italians, that you can take those competitive matches but you will never take our Euro 2016 trophy?
Modena, don’t take this the wrong way, but I don’t see Italy having enough quality this year to do anything on that side of the bracket. I’ll be rooting for you guys to upset the big teams and make the final. Since we tied twice in qualification it would make for an interesting final.
and this is what us Croatians say to you Italians – you have never beaten us in a competitive match. Why is that?
It’s good to go to a tournament with the goal of winning the whole thing, Italians always do this.
But this is why us Italians always say to you guys that you guys have won nothing, it’s not arrogance (although we are a cocky bunch), but until you win something at international level, you don’t know what it takes to win one of these tournaments.
My concern for you guys is that some of your players have started to do some big talking, I remember some similar statements being made before the Mexico game and we all know how that turned out.
Like when Modric said that Mandzukic has scored against better keepers than Ochoa, why does something like that need to be said? Like now some players are saying that “we have the best midfield at the Euros,” it’s silly to put added pressure on yourself.
Let others do the talking while you guys let your actions speak, anyway good luck!
I hope for a Italy vs Croatia final, I got a fifty on Italy at 18-1 and a $10 on Croatia at 26-1
“Ja sam za naše ali brate mili tko visoko leti nisko pada. Nemojmo se odmah prvacima nazivati. Treba biti optimista ali ne pretjerivati.”
Great comment! He who exalts himself shall fall.
Even Wayne Rooney loves us!
After the EU falls next is FIFA and UEFA. Scum all of them.
all these fucking articles about subasic coming off his line and it should have been called, fifa admitting they shouldve called it. Give me a fucking break, how about the fact it wasn’t even a penal and the fact that pjaca just got fouled in the box a real foul and it was a nocall, what a fucking joke. Italy pissed off now, fifa mad, what a joke…..only way we loose tomorrow is to fifa.
Everyone beats the shit out of Brisbane, and i say that as a disappointed Lions fans for a long time 🙁
Richmond is going to beat the shit out of Brisbane today!
Essendon, Brisbane, WCE and Geelong, will do whatever it takes to win flags, yes, whatever it takes, I’m talking about drugs!
That was Pjaca who passed the ball to Kalinic who in turn passed the ball to Perisic who scored a brilliant goal, but just look where Pjaca was when Perisic scored that goal, he is one fast individual.
I’m telling you he is a good player, going to be great!
Never understood how you let someone stomp on you.
Ronaldo is a fag as far as I am concerned. Dogs rule and tomorrow belongs to us!!!!
We’ve got good players on this team, I’m telling you that a lot of them play in big teams!
Jedvaj plays RB at Leverkusen.
Exactly what Maminjo said, the Portugese counter attack has me very concerned!
Also our counter attacking play has impressed so many people this tournament, and I just can’t see us having much opportunity to counter attack when we most likely will be dominating possession.
My prediction Croatia 6 – Portugal 5
Mandzukic will be starting in my opinion
@mishko, yeah what asshole that man is…
@iggy, don’t be scared. Use the force to support the team…
Mishko, yeah that incident is actually already posted in the article above. That guy is definitely a Grade A Cunt so hopefully he gets a red against us in the 1st minute lol
Shut your ass’s, we win this 1
Don’t forget what an idiot Pepe can be.
I believe we are the better team. I believe we will win. I believe the guys will be ready, positive and confident. Not too worried. Can’t sleep though. 1.30 am here, just watched the second half of spain game again. Badelj was good, his best game yet…don’t know about the striker. I trust cacic to make the best choice. Can’t wait to see pepe and mandzukic square up….
We will dominate the midfield for sure. But this also means having to defend Nani and Ronaldo on the counter. Still gonna be tricky, but we’ve been pretty disciplined on defense.
So, apparently, the yellow cards are not cleared until after the quarterfinals?
Is that correct?!
Damn. Perišić is an idiot for taking his shirt off after that Spain goal. That yellow card can cost him. We have 8 guys with yellows and we’re playing with a Spanish ref.
Cacic is for real. This team is playing amazing. Imagine 5 new players against Spain and we win. Portugal has no midfield.
Aww, sorry mate 🙁
Hopefully we can win and cheer u up a bit
Ronaldo/Portugal will once again have all eyes on us!
The boys will bring an extra focus.
@Iggy, it could be worse, I have to put my 12 year old Malamute down tomorrow, not really sure if I give a fuck about the game, but if we win it might take the sting away. 🙁
I’m actually expecting to lose. I find that’s the best psychical chicanery for approaching these kinds of matches. If i expect to win im going to be heartbroken for weeks and crying myself to sleep. So i’m going to say i expect us to lose and that way if we win i’ll be pleasantly surprised lol
Ronaldo is a marketing machine UEFA won’t want him out of the tournament this early think about it. I can see Portugal defeating Croatia. Everyone is hyping Croatia that usually means that we will lose. Just like in Euro 2008 we defeat Germany in the group stage all hype then lose to Turkey same goes here.
We win 3-1. Mandzukic should stay on the bench though, and let Kalinic score another buzzing goal. That guy fits better with the team. I see Mandzukic as not bringing so much to the team as Kalinic. Mandzo rarly scores for the national team. Let’s at least start with Kalinic and sub him if he doesn’t score in the first half (which he will)…
Kalinic one goal, Perisic another goal and Rakitic with a high beautiful lob over the perplexed Portuguese keeper. That’s the way to go. Portugal will get a consolidation goal in the last minutes due to Penaldo finally coming through our midfield and we let them have a consolidation goal.
Fuck me, I’m nervous for this game. Like I said, Portugal is far worse than Spain for us.
Yeah that’s true Bobby.. we have extra rest and prolly more importantly half our players got rested. I believe Portugal played their best team in all 3 matches didnt they? So hopefully they are tired and in the second half we can run rings around them
The fact that Portugal had to expend so much energy just to stay alive in the tournament, in that 3-3 draw with Hungary, has to lead you to believe we have a great advantage going into the game tomorrow.
Now, with only two days rest, Portugal has to play the team everyone has said has been the best in the first round and has rested half their starters.
Croatia are eventually going to need Mandzukic to come alive – I think it starts tomorrow.
Yeah i agree it’s a real fifty-fifty match
On the above record of the past games going 3-0, 2-0 and 1-0 to them, if that trend continues is it a tie or do we win 1-0 ? 😉
Honestly, this game could go either way. I pray we win.
Thank heavens this new thread was made and we can get away from the utter shitposting the last one was corrupted by.
Anyway, to say we have _never underachieved_ at major tournaments is just abject bantha wank. The fact this team is performing so well now actually *proves* how much we have underperformed previously. The team is not vastly different.
I had a dream last night i missed the game but we won 2-0 so i didn’t care so ffs i hope that was correct. I’m really scared though, this is the sort of game we always lose.. Turkey, Mexico, Ecuador – teams that have knocked us out of major tourneys in these kind of matches, Portugal fits into that kinda category imo so we have to kinda buck the trend to actually win this game.
As someone else said, it’s so funny how the one tourney with this expanded format is the one where we would’ve been far better served with only 2 teams going through from each group since we finally made it anyway for a change, lol. Ah well them’s the breaks.. anyways, have i mentioned im SCARED as fuckles ?
– don’t worry ours fans. We going to do everything and winning…
The only reason I think he went with 3-1 is because I could very likely see Croatia going up 2-1 and Portugal throwing everything at the net in the final few. That’s where the counter happens and they knot it at 3-1.
I wouldn’t be surprised if that scoreline is reversed for a portugal victory either.
Guys I really hope we do this tomorrow and show the world what we can do….I’ve been so nervous this whole week can’t even sleep…I think I’ve read every comment on the site 1000 times… We can do this! idemooooooooooo!!!!!
Perisic gonna work on his wing
Vieirinha is no wing back get stuck high a lot
That place kicks ass! I hope you have a good time!
Now let’s go win us a game tomorrow!! 🙂
…where have you been!? Going to Second City theatre in Chicago next month – haha
It looks like I’m buying my playoff tickets in……
Growing up without a Croatia forced many of us to choose sides when it came to World Cups and European Championships.
1974 Holland, 1986 Denmark, 1994 Romania were three of may favorites.
Great to read about other fans, including the many Argentines we met at a Gillette Stadium Copa America game last Saturday, all saying that they are supporting us.
No greater compliment.
I’m sick with anticipation for this game. How come so many different web sites anticipate a 3-1 victory for Croatia? I got to influenced, I actually bet money on that result. Agree with the poster who talks about the great football Croatia produces. At last it seems to click in every part of the Croatian team, and that happens with an inexperienced coach like Cacic. Fuck it, I would have thought Bilic or someone else would be better than Cacic at this, but it seems he does something very right in the locker room when preparing the players mentally. Also have to say, his tactics have been very solid from day one, letting them play in their natural position most of the time, and that does not fuck up the performance like it did under Kovac who experimented the team to death. Every single web site you can read about how thrilling it is to watch Croatia, and the amazing technical football they put on show. Let’s hope they grind down Penaldo and Portugal tomorrow, 3-1!
Croatia is only getting more and more fans worldwide during this tournament, and The Telegraph in England ranks Croatia currently as no 1 to take the title this year. Great stuff! Long time coming, couldn’t say it better!
I don’t see a Croexit
…just to follow up though in support of your point… Croatia or Portugal will not progress past the round of 16 and the loser will be tagged as having underachieved. Hopefully thats going to be Portugal’s legacy.
I disagree with your sentiment that we have not underachieved. Many of the players on the current team have not accomplished much at the NT level despite a significant number playing for top clubs around Europe. In a way we’re in a second golden generation of Croatian futball which is another similarity to Portugal.
Of course there are plenty of teams that have disappointed despite significant talent, so we have plenty of company.
I will say that I disagree with Ziva’s theory that we have some mental blockage. Instead, I believe it has more to do with the small sample size of meaningful int’l games and the importance of finding team cohesion in very limited time together coupled with inexperienced managers.
I don’t like your comment about “Portugal like Croatia underperforming at big tournaments.” We have never underperformed. Some of guys just have some unrealistic of our NT and ltitle respect for other countries. Missing out of the knock out stage at 2 World Cups to Mexico is not underperforming. Mexico is a soccer mad nation and 20x the size of Croatia.
Be thankful for what you have. 98% of the world can only dream of having a team as good and consistent as Croatia.
I am so proud of this team and our fans. Great football to watch and amazing atmosphere. Long time coming.