What can I tell you guys that you don’t already know? Croatia lost in penalty kicks after the most bizarre of endings. The person I feel most for is Ivan Klasnić. After all he’s been through with his two kidney transplants in the past 2 years and being told he would never play soccer again in his life- he does that today. Klasnić comes on as a late sub and in the 119th minute of extra time does the unthinkable. It looked as if both teams were completely fatigued and were playing for penalty kicks but a nice cross from Modrić met Klasnić’s head and ended up in the back of the net when the Turkish keeper was caught in ‘no man’s land’. All with only 45 seconds left to play. And then the impossible happened- Turkey equalized and took HERO right back from Klasnić.
Now let’s break this down and find out why Croatia lost that game. The long free kick that the Turkish keeper, Rustu, took which led to the final second goal was due to a Croatian offsides- not by 1 player but 2! There should be no reason any of our players are trying to attack and are caught offsides with only seconds to go. When that ball finally did land, I have no idea how it could find a Turk so fast where he could get off such a shot. Croatian defenders need to find the ball and kick it into the 36th row! This is fundamentals.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. That game should have never even reached extra time. Croatia should have blown out Turkey by at least 2 goals. Mr. Ivica Olić should never start for Croatia ever again in my opinion. At this level to miss two absolute golden opportunities is unacceptable. How he shanked that beautiful pass from Modrić in the 1st half off the post boggles my mind. Olić once again blew a chance in the 2nd half when he let the ball bounce instead of bringing it down and having his choice of goal corner to put the ball into; but he butchered the play as usual. I have no faith in Olić; Klasnić should have had more playing time as he had 2 goals in the few minutes he got to play in the tournament. Petrić didn’t even show up for Euro 2008 and Croatia plain and simply had striker problems. I won’t start the ‘Well, if we had Eduardo it would’ve been a different story” debate either. We had months to prepare and that’s what Bilić came up with.
Like I said before, it’s a team effort and no one single entity can be blamed. I don’t want anyone blaming the referee either. I looked over the tape and the time of the goal was correct. Klasnić scored at the 118:42 mark, celebrated for exactly 1 minute and the Turks also made a substitution which is timed for 30 seconds. The Turkish goal came at 121:05 so it was all legit.
Croatia played scared and conservative today. They were very laid back and weren’t hungry in the game. They played for possession and didn’t attack like they did versus Germany. Olić was blundering, Rakitić wasn’t on his game and Krančjar was non-existent. But I think we gained more from this game than you can know. It’s fantastic experience for our young players and we once again got the world’s attention.
That still didn’t stop my heart from dropping when the game ended. ‘This team’ that I had followed so closely for the past 2 years had been eliminated by Cinderella. I was getting calls and texts from friends and family consoling me on what had happened. Like someone close had passed away and they were reminding how good they were in the past and that they did a great job and had a good life. The thing that finally picked me up was watching coach Slaven Bilić comfort Darijo Srna as he was engulfed with tears after the game. Like a father would to his son, you could see that there was true love on this team. Sure they all play professionally abroad and in leagues where only money and results matter, but this is more than just a soccer team; it’s a family and it won’t be the last we hear of them. World Cup 2010 qualifying begins this September and I’m sure England will be gunning for us.
The only thing we will have to wait for is to see if Niko Kovač returns as captain, as he’s hinted towards international retirement, and to see if Dario Šimić makes a return for his record 100th CAP.
Stayed tuned to CroatianSoccerReport.com, as this was only the beginning.
THIS IS EXCITING STUFF GUYS. WE FOUND OUT WHAT OUR PROBLEM WAS AT EURO. AND WE HAVE THE LINK TO FIX IT. SHOULD BE A FUN JULY SEEING WHAT HAPPENS…
I would take Dario in a heartbeat. Since Davor Suker, Croatia has had trouble scoring. Dudu has had flashes of Suker, however, we will never know how it would have been with the young Brazilian at the EURO.
Slaven, open your eyes, throw a cap on Dario before it’s too late.
Modern football like old football has not changed it’s primary objective since the invention of the game. With that said, Croatia scored one goal and Turkey scored one goal and then Turkey scored more goals than Croatia in penalties. Teams never win a game by playing better on the pitch… in fact, we all know and maybe we just like kidding ourselves because losing is never an easy thing to accept. But thank God that football hasn’t changed in that perspective at all.
Croatia played a decent game of football against the Turks but didn’t score when they should have.
Olic scores goals but he’s not a pure goal scorer. This is the game where it was shown how much Croatia missed the talents of Eduardo. And as much as one might want to deny that, we all know it’s true.
But there is hope. Hope which comes from abroad from far away lands… something Croatia is good at. Finding the lost sons of Croatia whose parents or grandparents have emigrated as so many have in the last century. Croatia got Rakitic from Switzerland, Dudu from Brazil and now there is another Croatian superstar hopefully on his way to join the Vatreni. Dario Cvitanich, the leading goalscorer in the Argentinean Clausura who just scored his last two goals against River Plate. Unlike dopey ex teammate Daniel Bilos, who by the way also played for Banfield in Argentina and was Dario’s teammate, let me be absolutely clear. Dario Cvitanich is the real deal. To be the leading goalscorer in Argentina is no easy task. He’s fast, skillful as all hell and he terrorizes defenses in the air, can shoot with either foot and most of all Dario posesses that killer instinct for GOALS!!!!!!!!!
Now, if the Croatian Federation approaches Dario, who is going to play his football with Ajax of Holland next season, Dario has already expressed his great joy and interest to be called up for the national team. Bilos on the other hand, advised by his agent Hugo Issa of Argentina that he would surely get a call up for the Argentines in 2006 and also his girlfriend who attended a meeting at the Croatian embassy in Buenos Aires didn’t want Bilos to go to Europe because she feared losing her meal ticket. Well, now she can have him!!!! Because we all know what happened in 2006. The Argentines played him for 18 minutes in one match in 2006 and said thanks Bilos and then he was sold to St. Etienne from Boca Juniors who then laid him off to America in the Mexican league and is now at second tier club San Lorenzo in the Argentine league as a substitute. I don’t feel sorry for the guy at all but I’m sure he questions all that great advise given to him.
Dario Cvitanich has the advantage of knowing all this information and will not make the same mistake. Croatia need Dario Cvitanich… and I’m saying that not from articles I’ve read but actually watching him play in league games in Argentina. He’s the real deal and only 24 years of age. With Dudu and Dario up front…. Croatia’s goal scoring problems would be a thing of the past. Dario already has a Croatian passport and is waiting for the call. Slaven Bilic should visit the young man in Amsterdam and by the way, Dario also has a reputation of being a great person and very down to earth… so Croatia must use all of it’s strengths in football…
And one of the main strengths that Croatians have is that their diaspora is wide and far across the globe… for as long as the sons have been lost… they are out there… waiting to be called home and play for the land of their forefathers and ancestors. We should always be on the look out for such talents because they are out there… Croats excel and so do their sons and the sons of their sons… because in the end OUR BLOOD IS STRONG!!!!
And if that wasn’t true we would not be around to even cheer a national team… think about it.
Slaven, don’t wait too long. Dario wants to score!!!
I feel a bit better now after seeing Netherlands get kicked out by Russia. So far none of the teams that finsished top of their group have made it through.
The only good thing that has come out of this game against Turkey is that young players such as Rakitic have gained great experience by playing in this tournament and playing in a match that went all the way to penalties against Turkey. This will help us greatly as Kovac will most likely leave.
I must say that I think Simunic was one of our best players this tournament and I am very proud of him as I was born in Australia also 😀 Olic played alright this tournament but I think Eduardo and Klasnic should start in our qualifiers.
I look forward to our games against England in qualifying, should be entertaining.
Even though we lost in the worst possible way there are so many positives to draw from this tournament. We have shown what we can do and our team has shown it has great potential to do well in future tournaments with great young players.
I would like to run the thoughts you had on the Turkey game. I thought you put it in perfect perspective. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can speak privately if you are interested. Me and Denis created this site to make everything you need to know about Croatian soccer accessible and comprehended in seconds. I also want our readers not just to be readers, but voices. Sure I write what I think, but that’s only one opinion. I want this to be a community effort where everyone has a piece of the pie. I hope JP has set the first bar for something that will be great and last forever. Thank you all again for your comments and thoughts during Croatia’s Euro 2008 run. It was fun and now we have 2010 and England in our sights. -Ante
“Nogomet zna biti i “kurva”…”
For those not familiar with the Croatian language this translates as:
“Football knows how to be a whore”
I read this at the Jutarni List, and thought that it was well-said, and an apt description of the situation. Not to mention witty.
This young team is amongst the best in the world, and the youngest part of the generation: Kranjcar, Modric, Rakitic, Corluka, Pranjic, Dudu, Srna, Vukojevic, Pokrivac, etc., will now be “steeled” for great future success. You can easily envision all of these players, playing for the team, when they are in their mid 30’s, just like the heroic Kovac bros.
These types of experiences, being unique, and powerfully trying as they are, are invaluable to development. Once you overcome such circumstances (and they surely will, I guarantee), you reach a new level of confidence and understanding, which this team will take into the next 4 major tournaments to come, and into the entire future of Croatian soccer.
Heartbreak is temporary, but learning lasts forever.
In 10 years we may look back at this as a turning point, where Croatian soccer advanced to the elite level. No longer an “autsajder” or a “dark-horse” but rather a force that must be reckoned with at every turn, and for every tournament.
Great analysis JP, I completely agree, however, I believe the plan “B” shouldn’t have even been thought of, I believe Bilic should have gone with a different line up than against Germany, sure we defeated them but what good is that if you have a striker that can’t score?
I completely agree on Josip and Robert, both played lights out, Simunic might have done a stupid thing or two, example the unneccesary yellow against Germany but they both played great, however my Croatian player for the Tournament has to be the Captain, Niko Kovac, this guy showed the world that age is just a number, gave everything he had, played with all his heart.
Pletikosa also deserves a memorable mention, he did great, some believed he was not good enough to be on the team, some thought he wasn’t good enough but he was all we had, Pletikosa showed that he IS good enough for Croatia and any other team in Europe (Club wise).
Some follow-up comments to my post last night.
Croatia got “snake-bit”, in one of the most memorable games on record.
People will be talking about this game for a long-time to come. I don’t know that I have even seen such a goal, regardless of the dramatic timing of it. The sheer force of the shot, the deflection, two defenders in front of the ball, and then to the top corner. All with the last kick of the game. Wow.
Everyone knows that Croatia was the better team, despite the fact that they did not perform optimally. Although, here we must also give Turkey credit, as they did very well to neutralize Croatia’s many strengths.
However, the better team does not always win, as the Turks have dramatically proved in their last 3 games. That’s ok let them have their day in the sun, as Croatia’s will surely come down the road. The fates are fickle, no doubt, but they are also not indiscriminate. Croatia’s involvement in such a “fated” match signifies to me that
the fates have identified Croatia for bigger achievements down the road (ie in the upcoming World Cup). This type of loss, surely signifies that bigger things are in store for this team.
Also, although the Turks were unbelievably lucky, lets also give them credit, where credit where credit is due. Their strategy was perfect and largely nullified Croatia’s midfield superiority.
Terim taught Bilic a lesson in coaching strategy last night, and being the bright and unassuming individual that he is, Bilic and his staff will surely realize this in the next few days, and be stronger for it, in the future.
First of all, Terim knew exactly what Croatia would field for the game. Croatia’s strategy for the game was too predictable and transparent. Terim knew that Croatia would field it’s “Germany line-up”, and prepared for it masterfully.
Bilic had no plan “B”. Surely he believed that he didn’t need one, and he was right, except for the intervention of fate. He will now realize that you must not give fate a chance to intervene. And if fate does intervene, one must intervene right back. Case in point, see Terim’s substitution of Nihat after Klasnic’s goal, which served to create the last minute of extra time, in which Turkish luck came to the fore.
For example, before the shootout, Bilic might have gathered the team, and stressed the context of the situation. He might have told them that actually they were in the perfect situation, and that if someone had told them before the tournament that all they had to do was execute penalties against the Turks to advance to the semi’s, they would’ve readily accepted the chance. Nonetheless, this is much easier said than done, but with experience this type of leadership develops, and becomes a natural instinct.
Also in hindsight, Bilic might’ve fielded a novel variant in the first half, with the simple goal of nullifying the Turkish preparations, while keeping his “Germany variant” for the second half, if needed.
Further to this point, it was obvious from the get go (with the Turks effectively playing 5 in defense) that they were worried about the Croatian attacking prowess.
After the 1st half, it was obvious that the Turks pulled-in defensively, even further, and were at that point playing to get to penalties. At this point, and for the rest of the game, Croatia played into Turkish hands, by continuing to run at them. This is where plan ‘B’ was needed, not in terms of substitutions only but in terms of the plan. The only way to counter this is to mimic the strategy, and draw them forward, and at the same time not expend energy fruitlessly.
Anyway, I hope that Bilic and co. realize this on their own, but if not, we need to send them the link to this site.
Final note, R. Kovac, & Joe Simunic played “out of this world”.
Anyway, I’d love to hear any of your comments on my analysis.
In a matter of minutes i went from being the happiest man alive to the unhappiest!
That ref was a joke…1 extra minute not 2!!!!
I knew as soon as it went to penalties we would lose.
I just hope this loss dosent stop the team from achieving in world cup qualifiers and next world cup!
its a disappointing ending for us all and croatia should have blown out the turks before this game began. Croatia did not play to their fullest potential and honestly for the first 30 min of the game it felt like Turkey wanted it more. I completely agree about Olic, how do u miss a goal from the inside of the 6 yard box! Anyway im very disappointed with the performance today but now i am rooting for Netherlands, the way they have been performing this tourney they deserve it.
Swiss refs!!!…every game for the rest of time!!!
Hahaha, Tell that rule to the Reff of Croatia-Germany, Besides it wasn’t an attack when rustu kicked it, thats usually when reffs are supposed to call full time.
I agree on the whole “No ending a game on attack” but this occasion I’d have blown full time, Lubos Michel would have blown full time, haha.
Also UEFA needs to STOP with the whole Rival team reff, I mean, Netherlands v France it was a German, now Hrvatska v Turkey its an Italian?!? whats next? Brazilian in Argentina v Chile? Chilean in Argentina v Brazil? (They are not UEFA, but I couldn’t really think of anything else at the moment)
theres that tricky unwritten rule in soccer, a ref will not blow the whistle while a team is on attack…im sure he had the whistle ready to blow once that ball got cleared out or croatia gained possession…
Won’t argue with most of this as I agree.
However, Klasnic and company did celebrate 1 exact minute or whatever, and yes turkey did have a substitution, in which they replaced who I thought was the scariest man on the pitch Nihat, but this does not mean you extend the game, The Italian (shocking) Reff gave how many minutes in added time? +1 correct? The ball hit the net about 121:06/07, as soon as Rustu kicks Game should be Over, No matter the substitution, No Matter goal celebration, the Added time was 1 minute, not 1 and a half, not 1 and 10 seconds but 1!, Reffs not fully to blame, but he should have ended the game, any other reff would have.
Thats all for now, Lets hope Schweinsteiger dominates the turks like he did the portuguese