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Nice article by Jonathan Wilson. Didn't know where to put it and I thought it was an interesting read. First English analysis of Croatia's team minus dudu.

Feel free to move it to another thread...The link:
http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/sport/2008/02/26/cold_comfort_for_croatia_as_ed.html

I think he's the same guy who first reported on eduardo before he even went to arsenal: http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/sport/2007/06/04/croatias_biggame_poacher_strik.html


Cold comfort for Croatia as Eduardo injury forces Bilic to shuffle his pack

For all Croatia remain a talented side, Eduardo's injury has dealt a huge blow to their dreams of winning Euro 2008

February 26, 2008 11:47 AM
Jonathan Wilson

Jutarnji List is one of Croatia's more respectable newspapers, but their big sports exclusive this morning was headlined "Jutarnji goes training with Eduardo's executioner". Croatia had serious hopes of winning Euro 2008 this summer, but the loss of Eduardo has severely diminished them and the response has been widespread anger.

"This really frustrated me," said Vlatko Markovic, the president of the Croatian Football Federation. "When I heard what had happened I started to cry. When I saw how it happened ... it was without reason. I felt this was not random. It is a huge blow for Croatian football. It's a curse. We haven't anybody who can cover for his absence - that is a fact. The only sure thing is that [the national coach Slaven] Bilic will have to change our play and find a new answer. With Dudu [Eduardo's nickname] and without Dudu is not the same. All our play depended on Dudu."

An online petition demanding that Martin Taylor be banned from football for life has attracted over 30,000 names, many of them calling for retribution to be taken against the Birmingham defender. Jutarnji certainly wasn't pulling any punches, reporting how Taylor turned up to training in an Audi A6, and seemed untroubled by the events of Saturday. The general English reaction - gleaned from the usual sources of journalists, pub landlords and taxi drivers - that Taylor was clumsy, perhaps a touch reckless, was treated with mocking disbelief.

It would be easy for an English reader to moralise and wonder how on earth such a blinkered view could be taken - particularly when Eduardo himself has publicly defended Taylor - but the hounding of Deportivo La Coruña 's Argentinian midfielder Aldo Duscher after he had injured David Beckham ahead of the 2002 World Cup was just as unedifying.

A comparison with that incident at least reveals one slight silver lining: there is at least no doubt. This is not like the metatarsal injuries that afflicted Beckham - and later Wayne Rooney - in the build-up to major tournaments. Eduardo will not play in Austria this summer; there will be no procrastination, no agonising wait as newspapers print mock up X-rays and seek advice from faith healers: it's over. Bilic will not face the temptation of taking him half-fit and praying for a miracle; he can begin planning now how Croatia will play without their totem.

As far as positives go, that's about it. Two years ago Croatia had an awful World Cup. They were sluggish and boorish, and went out in the first round. Nobody then would have thought that they would have gone into Euro 2008 as everybody's favourite dark horses, and that they did was down largely to Bilic and two players: Eduardo and Luka Modric.

Modric will, hopefully, still be there, pulling the strings in the middle of a glorious creative line with Niko Kranjcar to his left and Darijo Srna to his right, but it doesn't matter how beautifully the bullets are crafted if there is no marksman to fire the gun. Vecernji List was trying to make the best of it this morning, pointing out that Mladen Petric and Ivica Olic, the likely strike pairing if Bilic sticks with the same formation in Eduardo's absence, have scored 21 goals between them in the Bundesliga this season, but that really is cold comfort.

There is one other option: Ivan Klasnic. Inconsistent but blessed with power and touch, his career looked as though it could be over when he had to have a kidney replacement last year. He returned at the end of November, though, and has since scored four goals for Werder Bremen. "It was a terrible shock," Klasnic said of Eduardo's injury. "I've spoken to him and told him he has to keep his head up. He said that he'd thought about my illness and how I've returned and he said that was an example to him at the moment. We have to pray for him and his return."

Both Petric and Olic have looked good alongside Eduardo, but both really are there to offer a physical foil. "He's not just a good player but a brilliant person," Petric said. "He's a special player and he's irreplaceable in the national team. Olic is in good shape and he's scoring regularly. He's probably first in line to take Eduardo's place."

Neither, though, has Eduardo's guile, his opportunism or his finishing ability. Eduardo is the sort of player who can rescue a side when they are playing badly with a moment of spontaneous invention; Petric and Olic both need the chances creating for them.

In Tallinn in June last year, for instance, Croatia found themselves frustrated by Estonia's hard-pressing and, with half an hour gone, had created nothing. Then a loose ball fell to Eduardo inside the box, he turned sharply and hooked a shot into the bottom corner. It was a goal from nothing, and it won a game that could easily have stagnated. Quite aside from his obvious ability, Eduardo is an escape clause.

So can Croatia still mount a challenge in Euro 2008? They can. For all the wailing and the gnashing of teeth, they were never a one-man team, but it will be much harder for them. The question mark previously was always whether, with just Niko Kovac protecting the back four, they would be good enough defensively (they did, after all concede three in Israel and two at Wembley in qualifying). There is now an added doubt about their potency.

The solution may be for Bilic to temper his attacking principles, leave just one centre forward and add an additional holding player, switching from a 4-1-3-2 to a 4-2-3-1. Marko Babic of Real Betis perhaps could be brought in alongside Kovac or, if Bilic wants to maintain the sense of adventure he could drop Srna, a full-back with Shakhtar Donetsk, back as the second holder, and bring in Schalke 04's hugely talented 19-year-old Ivan Rakitic on the right. Srna is a fine crosser and it would be galling to reduce his opportunities to arc balls into the box from wide, but the sacrifice might be worth it to add an extra runner behind Petric.

The thought of three such technically gifted players as Kranjcar, Modric and Rakitic operating in the same midfield is beguiling. But the truth is that however appealing the permutation Bilic selects, it would always look better with Eduardo at the front of it.
 

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I stopped reading after "Jutarnji List is one of Croatia's more respectable newspapers". :D Nice article, but Petric is way too underated in it. They describe him as a physical player who needs others to make chances for him. He is much better than that. Also Jonathan Wilson always mentions that Estonia goal when he talks about Croatia. I think he has put that in every single one of his artcles. Overall good knowlwedge of Croatian game, but I think the guy is a east European football corespondant.
 

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Other than calling Jutarnji List a "respected newspaper" I think he's spot on with that article.

This point pretty much says what both Van Cro and I mentioned:

Neither, though, has Eduardo's guile, his opportunism or his finishing ability. Eduardo is the sort of player who can rescue a side when they are playing badly with a moment of spontaneous invention; Petric and Olic both need the chances creating for them.
Both guys have yet to prove that they can finish on a consistant basis on the international level. Look at Petric for example..similar speed to Eduardo..but, as great as that goal was against England, how many chances from close in has he missed? More than his fair share...Olic well we all know about him. Thing is, Eduardo is a game breaker, a guy who can make something out of nothing and get a goal when the team is playing badly...ok, he mentiones Estonia but, what about the Israel game in Israel?

here's the thing...do you think the German, Austria, or Polish game plan was to stop Petric? Nope..it was to stop Eduardo..well, now we're all going to see how much he's meant to us...
 

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JureM said:
Other than calling Jutarnji List a "respected newspaper" I think he's spot on with that article.

This point pretty much says what both Van Cro and I mentioned:



Both guys have yet to prove that they can finish on a consistant basis on the international level. Look at Petric for example..similar speed to Eduardo..but, as great as that goal was against England, how many chances from close in has he missed? More than his fair share...Olic well we all know about him. Thing is, Eduardo is a game breaker, a guy who can make something out of nothing and get a goal when the team is playing badly...ok, he mentiones Estonia but, what about the Israel game in Israel?

here's the thing...do you think the German, Austria, or Polish game plan was to stop Petric? Nope..it was to stop Eduardo..well, now we're all going to see how much he's meant to us...
youre right Jure,

Israel goes undefeated 5 years at home, and who makes this victory happen? Dudu! ... I mean, this is ahuge loss for us. That is obvious. Im trying to be optimistic about the Euros, but I just cant. Gettting out the group stage will be very difficult.
 

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Eduardo is Eduardo and you'll be hard pressed to find a better finisher in Europe, let alone our NT. But Petric can create goals for himself, just look at what he's been doing for Dortmund:

[tub]TbNZhpQvQgc[/tub]
 

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Lynx..again, has he done it on a regular basis on the international level? PLUS, if you look at those goals for Dortmund alot were set ups off of crosses.....again, he still hasn't done it on the international level....well he's going to have to now.

One thing, I think this is where guys like Pranjic become even more important with his runs from the back to set guys up....

Croguy, yep! We were absolutly flat and had no life in that game in Israel and Dudu desides to save the day. This is where he will be missed a lot.
 

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Lynx17 said:
Eduardo is Eduardo and you'll be hard pressed to find a better finisher in Europe, let alone our NT. But Petric can create goals for himself, just look at what he's been doing for Dortmund:

[tub]TbNZhpQvQgc[/tub]

meh...
 

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NO ONE can replace Eduardo, I think that's clear.

But to say that Petric can't "create for himself" is just plain wrong.
 

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Good article, but as others have mentioned, Petric is underrated. I'm going to bet on Petric and Benzema as the top scorer.
 

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I think Petric is very underrated. He has pace and heart and works his ass off in every game i've seen him play. I think if Rakitic comes in to, those two have a chemistry that we have yet to tap.
 

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Rakitic has be worked into the starting 11. Bringing Srna to Rb and Pranjic to LB would be fantastic. That leaves Corluka and Simunic at CB, which leaves no questions about our defence or midfield.....without Dudu we know what we have, still quality forwards. I'd say Petric and Olic starting both are in good form now. Hopefully Budan can catch form before summer hes a monster, he adds that arial attack which Srna could connect with.
 

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I would like to see Budan get a real shot. Hope Bilic commits to him sooner than later.

Budan is 27 now. He is 6'1" and has the hops to get at the ball.

I personally like Olic in a reserve role... coming off the bench supplying the energy and the speed to put pressure against the last line defense.

Budan is a proven scorer and needs the chance shine.

I think he and Petric up front can be a formidable combo.
 

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coreuptrec said:
I think Petric is very underrated. He has pace and heart and works his ass off in every game i've seen him play. I think if Rakitic comes in to, those two have a chemistry that we have yet to tap.
yup..they played together in Basel and while the NT is no Basel, like you pointed out they are familiar with each other.
 

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So much doom and gloom, we have a class "TEAM" that i can't wait to see play, even without Dudu and his finishes. This is huge loss but doesn't mean we are a man short, just don't bring this up in June when Olic misses a sitter. I hope he proves us all wrong and no need underestimating Petric or Budan just because they had injuries and less time to shine. Keep positive, all this should stoke the fires.
 

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Good points CroMelTor.

Our team has been through a lot in a very short time. We were walking on clouds after the success at Wembley and the qualifiers in general. We were then bought back down to earth after the Dutch game and are now in a position of slightly questioning our own credibility with the loss of Dudu. In typical Croatian fashion, it's an emotional rollercoaster ride.

Despite this, I'm sure our boys (Bilic and Co included) will come out of it all stronger and more motivated. The onus of prooving that we're a good football team is back on us. And I think that appeals to our mentality.

The upcoming Scotland game will be very important.
 

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Budan & Petric are my picks as first choice strikers.

Having Budan there means we need to be supllying more crosses. That increases the possibility of Pranjic coming in for Kranjcar.

If we have a 4-2-3-1 formation, Olic can also play the left winger role as he does that for Hamburg when I have watched them.
 

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ptooey said:
The solution may be for Bilic to temper his attacking principles, leave just one centre forward and add an additional holding player, switching from a 4-1-3-2 to a 4-2-3-1. Marko Babic of Real Betis perhaps could be brought in alongside Kovac or, if Bilic wants to maintain the sense of adventure he could drop Srna, a full-back with Shakhtar Donetsk, back as the second holder, and bring in Schalke 04's hugely talented 19-year-old Ivan Rakitic on the right. Srna is a fine crosser and it would be galling to reduce his opportunities to arc balls into the box from wide, but the sacrifice might be worth it to add an extra runner behind Petric.

The thought of three such technically gifted players as Kranjcar, Modric and Rakitic operating in the same midfield is beguiling. But the truth is that however appealing the permutation Bilic selects, it would always look better with Eduardo at the front of it.
Since when have Babic or Srna ever been holding midfielders?

I personally think we should put Rakitic in for Eduardo, of coarse hes not a striker, but we've been looking for a place for Ivan, and this could be his big break through. Just have Rakitic playing in the hole behind Petric, from what i've heard they have a good chemistry from there time at Basel, and Petric was one of the reasons Ivan chose to play for us.
 

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Marko021 said:
I stopped reading after "Jutarnji List is one of Croatia's more respectable newspapers". :D Nice article, but Petric is way too underated in it. They describe him as a physical player who needs others to make chances for him. He is much better than that. Also Jonathan Wilson always mentions that Estonia goal when he talks about Croatia. I think he has put that in every single one of his artcles. Overall good knowlwedge of Croatian game, but I think the guy is a east European football corespondant.
bwahahah I ja isto
 
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