Thursday, June 05, 2008

Spurs fan’s guide to Euro 2008: Come on Croatia!

Since only one of our (current) players will be appearing in the forthcoming European Championships, and bearing in mind none of the Home Nations qualified, it’s time Spurs fans became Croatia supporters.

Our new signing, Luka Modrić, has been tipped by his national coach to become one of the stars of the tournament. So what do we need to know about Modrić on the international stage? Well, he’s been capped for the senior side 26 times in just over two years, scoring 3 goals in the process. And this was on the back of a hatful of appearances at the Under-17, Under-19 and Under-21 levels. Having won the Croatian football Hope of the Year in 2004 and the Croatian League’s Player of the Year in 2007 it’s no surprise that much is expected from the young playmaker.

Other than Modrić, the Croatians have two other English-based players: Niko Kranjčar at Portsmouth and Vedran Ćorluka at Manchester City. They would have had another, but for Eduardo Da Silva’s broken leg.

And what about the Croatian team itself? Well following Croatia’s independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, the team made it to the quarter-finals of Euro 1996 and then finished third in World Cup 1998 (when Davor Šuker won the Golden Boot). Things didn’t go quite as well for them after that, as they failed to qualify for Euro 2000, and then didn’t progress beyond the group stages of World Cup 2002, Euro 2004 or World Cup 2006.

But things are looking up for them. They are ranked 13th in the world (according to FIFA), and are regarded as a classy side with bags of technical ability. Their biggest weakness is likely to be the lack of firepower upfront as a result of Eduardo’s injury.

Their current coach, Slaven Bilić, is another notable former Croatian player (he won 44 caps before retiring in 1999) who took over as coach of the national side in 2006. An interesting fact about him is that he plays in a rock group called Rawbau, who recorded a song as a hymn for Croatia at Euro 2008 called Vatreno Ludilo (or Flaming Madness)! Another interesting point is that he asked only to be paid the minimum wage because he was so proud to be appointed as the national coach.

In terms of the tournament specifics, Croatia are in Group B and kick-off their campaign in Vienna against co-hosts Austria on Sunday. They then face Germany a week today and Poland on the following Monday. The top two sides then progress to the quarter-finals. I fully expect Croatia to get through to at least that stage, where they are likely to face Portugal or the Czech Republic.

So what are Croatia’s chances like? Well the bookies have them joint sixth with Holland. It strikes me that Germany and Spain are the overwhelming favourites, but it’s also worth pointing out that two of the last four tournaments were won by highly unfancied teams (Greece in 2004 and Denmark in 1992).

Anyway, before signing off my final piece of advice is to ensure you learn some of the lingo:
- Dođite na Hrvatsku (Come on Croatia)
- The sudac je wanker (The referee’s a wally)
- Mi smo bili opljačkani (We were robbed)
- Ti si, jebote klasa Modrić (You are absolutely class Modrić)

Enjoy the tournament, and let’s hope Modrić reaps the praise whilst remaining injury free!

4 comments:

Nick Spurs said...

Brilliant - love the translations!

Anonymous said...

No, It's all about Holland I'm afraid.

Anonymous said...

good article.

with eduardo, croatia would have had a great chance of winning it. if petric steps up though they could do well.

personally i think it's going to be germany winning it again. klose or gomez to be top scorer.

yiddo said...

go to http://spursopia.myminicity.com/

and register ur support everyday!