Monday, November 19, 2007

Euro 2008 - Croatian squad for the Wembley game

Croatia.
Know England's next rivals

The chequered squad - Pride of Croatia


By Ozren Podnar

Manager Slaven Bilic, the former West Ham and Everton defender, usually deploys a 4-4-2 system with Pletikosa on goal, Corluka and Simunic as full backs, Simic and Robert Kovac as central defenders, Srna and Kranjcar as wide midfielders, Niko Kovac as a defensive midfielder, Luka Modric as an attacking midfielder, Petric or Olic as the second striker and Eduardo as the main striker.
In the current Euro qualifiers Croatia have won eight, drawn two and lost only one game, on Saturday to Macedonia, after learning that they had already qualified thanks to the Russian defeat to Israel. It will be interesting for Steve McClaren to learn that their next rivals have never lost two qualifiers in a row, but then again a draw at Wembley would be just fine for both teams.
Since coming on to the international scene in 1994, Croatia has lost just six out of 67 qualifying games, none of which have been at home. The men in the red and white chequered shirts have made it to six out of seven major competitions (Euros and World Cups), and only missed out on Euro 2000 - by a single goal!

Stipe Pletikosa
/STEE-peh PLE-tea-coss-ah/
Goalkeeper
1st January 1979
Spartak Moscow
64 caps

Big and agile goalkeeper. Made his debut at 19 for Hajduk Split. Spent a stint as a second-choice keeper for Shakhtar Donetsk, which unnerved both him and his Croatian fans. Now a regular at Spartak.

Vedran Runje
/VED-run ROON-yeh/
Goalkeeper
10th February 1976
Lens
4 caps

A decent club goalkeeper, formerly of Hajduk, Marseille and Standard. Highly respected at all of his clubs, has had few chances due to the dominance of Tomo Butina and Pletikosa in goal over the past 7 years.

Vedran Corluka
/VED-run CHOR-look-ah/
Defender
5th February 1986
Manchester City
15 caps

A prodigy. Former Dinamo star who immediately made an impact upon joining City last summer. Tall, strong, but a technically gifted defender. Can perform both as full back, centre-back or defensive midfielder. Participates in the play.

Dario Simic
/SHE-mitch/
Defender
12th November 1975.
AC Milan
93 caps, 3 goals

The most capped player for Croatia. Made his debut for Dinamo Zagreb at 16. A tigerish defender used both centrally or to the right. Rarely features in the Milan squad, which the Croats find hard to understand. A true professional, lives for soccer.

Robert Kovac
/KOH-vutch/
Defender
6th April 1974
Borussia Dortmund
67 caps

Arguably the best Croatian defender. Won plenty of honours at Bayern Munich plus an eventually anulled championship with Juventus. Capable of marking his player without a foul.

Josip "Joe" Simunic
/YOH-sip SHE-moon-itch/
Defender
18th February 1978
Hertha Berlin
57 caps, 3 goals

Australian born. Amazingly technical, but also a wildly aggressive player. Four expulsions in the Bundesliga over the past year bear witness to his aggression. Three yellow cards at the Australia game at last year's World Cup courtesy of Graham Poll's poor record keeping.

Marko Babic
/BUB-itch/
Midfielder
28th January 1981
Betis Seville
45 caps, 3 goals

A highly professional, strong, dependable left midfielder. Sometimes used as the left wing-back, which he resents. Prefers playing upfront. Recently sidelined to make room for Kranjcar. Moved from Bayer to Betis last summer.

Darijo Srna
/DA-ree-oh SER-nah/
Midfielder
1st May 1982
Shakhtar Donetsk
51 caps, 15 goals

Regular as a right midfielder. Strong and enduring as a horse. Very dangerous at set pieces. Originally from Hajduk Split, has starred for Shakhtar Donetsk since 2003. He is ocasionally used in a more defensive position with his club.

Niko Kovac
/NEE-koh KOH-vutch/
Midfielder
15th October 1971
Red Bull Salzburg
72 caps, 12 goals

Germany born, like his younger brother Robert. May be 36, but this seasoned veteran has plenty of fuel for some more tireless running around the midfield. A superb ball winner who often comes forward and scores. A long and distinguished career in the Bundesliga.

Luka Modric
/LOO-kah MOD-rich/
Midfielder
9th September 1985
Dinamo Zagreb
18 caps, 2 goals

Euro 2008 - Croatian squad for the Wembley game.


The most talented player to come out of Croatia in the past five years. A wonderfully gifted ofensive midfielder reminiscent of Johan Cruyff. Lots of strength in his fragile body. Mobile, fast, clever with the ball, seems destined for Arsenal or Chelsea.

Niko Kranjcar
/NEE-koh CRUNCH-ar/
Midfielder
13th August 1984
Portsmouth
37 caps, 5 goals

Hyped as the greatest Croatian player for the XXI century, has not lived up to the expectations. Still, has found some of his early form in his second season at Portsmouth. Attacking midfielder by formation, usually played on the left side of the midfield for the national team. Technically gifted.

Jerko Leko
/YER-koh LEH-koh/
Midfielder
9th April 1980
Monaco
48 caps, 2 goals

Tall, elegant, powerful, early on drew comparison with Frank Rijkaard. Upon transferring from Dinamo Zagreb to Dinamo Kiev has host much of his initial reputation, but still useful in the national team when Niko Kovac is injured.
Not entirely serious approach to soccer has cost him a bigger career.

Milan Rapaic
/ME-lun Rup-EYE-itch/
Midfielder
16th August 1973
unattached
49 caps, 6 goals

Naturally talented left or attacking midfielder. Possibly the best dribbler in the squad. Has had a very chequered career club-wise, which has discouraged managers from using him more. Despite his age, still in good shape and may be recalled to Croatia provided he finds a club. Has plenty of offers but has high financial demands.

Ivan Rakitic
/EE-vun RUCK-it-itch/
Midfielder
10th March 1988
Schalke
4 caps, 1 goal

A supremely talented scoring midfielder. Subject of a soccer war between Croatia, his parents' country, and Switzerland, his country of birth. As usually happens with the people from the Balkans, his ethnic origins prevailed, enabling him to make his debut for Croatia last August. Born to be the leader of the team over the next ten years.

Danijel Pranjic
/DAH-nee-yell PRUN-yitch/
Midfielder
Heerenveen
2nd December 1981
6 caps

A speedy left midfielder or wing back. Extremely fast on the break, packs a tremendous shot in his left foot. Currently the second choice for the left side of the midfield, behind Kranjcar, tied with Babic.

Eduardo da Silva
Forward
25th February 1983
Arsenal
20 caps, 13 goals

A clinical finisher with pure Brazilian technique. Came to Zagreb at 16, signed for Dinamo and spent some time on loan at neighbouring Inter Zapresic. Returned in 2003 to become an instant hit with fans and coaches alike. Last season scored an amazing 53 goals in all competitions for club and country. Currently at Arsenal, where he still has to adapt to the more physical English game.

Mladen Petric
/MLAH-den PET-rich/
Forward
1st January 1981
Borussia Dortmund
19 caps, 8 goals

A great striker who can equally well perform as an attacking midfielder. Born in Switzerland, won trophies both with Grasshoppers and Basel before joining Borussia last summer. Scored four goals against Andorra a year ago.

Ivica Olic
/EE-vee-tzah OH-litch/
Forward
14th September 1979
Hamburger SV
49 caps, 8 goals

The Croatian international with the most titles of this generation. Won back-to-back Croatian titles with NK Zagreb and Dinamo in 2002 and 2003 before collecting two Russian Leagues and Cups plus the 2005 UEFA Cup with CSKA Moscow. A powerful winger or central striker reminiscent of Alen Boksic. Less prolific for country than for his clubs.

Bosko Balaban
/BOSH-koh BAH-lub-bun/
Forward
15th October 1978
Dinamo Zagreb
34 caps, 10 goals

Aston Villa fans may disagree, but Balaban is a hell of a forward, who simply did not get a fair chance at Villa Park when John Gregory, the manager who signed him from Dinamo in 2001 left the club. Able to create his own chances. Dangerous from set pieces. Scored plenty of goals for Rijeka, Club Brugge and Dinamo. Currently injured.

Ivan Klasnic
/EE-vun KLUS-nitch/
Forward
29th January 1980
Werder Bremen
26 caps, 8 goals

Called "Killer Klasnic" spent most of the year on the sidelines because of a mysterious kidney disease and two attempted transplants. Now with his father's kidney fully operational, Klasnic worked hard to return to form and finally featured for Werder amateurs in the German Cup - with goals!

Also used in the current qualifiers:
Igor Budan (forward)
Mario Mandzukic (forward)
Goran Sablic (defender)
Anthony Seric (defender)
Ognjen Vukojevic (midfielder)

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2 comments:

Андрей said...

Cratia and croats thank you for EURO-2008!!! :) bravoja!

from Russia with love :)

Ruslan said...

thanks from RUSSIA!!!