martes, 19 de junio de 2012

Match Review

Spain - Croatia 1:0

The most important question in this match was, whether the teams will play 2:2. It'll be recalled that this score would have been satisfactory for both, Spain and Croatia. The both would have entered quarter-finals regardless of other circumstances. And Italy would have gone overboard (here is an extra motivation for Spain). Many experts cynically assumed that in such important tournament all means are good - business is business. However, it was hard to believe in 2:2 - both, Spaniards and Croatians still value their reputation very much. In reality the 'match-fixing' Croatia - Spain became one of the most dramatic matches on this tournament...
True, the game's start left some field for fantasies and guesswork. Both teams seemed to have started the duel very friendly and non-aggressively. Spain played top seed, of course. However, Croatian goal wasn't attacked too much. There were hot moments, though - their peak was Fernando Torres's goal attempt virtually from zero angle, on the 23d minute. Sergio Ramos's far kick that happened on the same minute, may be recalled as well... However, Stipe Pletikosa cleared both attempts. Moreover, Croatians - in person of Modrić, Pranjić and Mandžukić - answered with very unpleasant counterattacks from time to time.
Meanwhile, Italy scored its first goal in parallel match. That is, there were no surprises in that match. In this case goalless draw wasn't a suit for Croatians and they turned second speed. Spaniards realized that Croatians may score a goal and kick them out from Euro-2012 and put on some pressure, too...
Spanish apprehension wasn't for nothing. On the 59th minute, Croatians had a perfect chance to score. Luka Modrić's free passage along the right wing ended with overplaying Spanish defender and lobbed ball to the penalty area's left part. Rakitić ran in there without any markers. He headed the ball to the goal just from few meters. Iker Casillas reacted by a miracle and kicked the ball away! The ball went to Spanish defender, who didn't manage to control it, and bounced again... to Rakitić, who was lying on the ground by then. He headed the ball (lying on the lawn!), but Spaniards had already regained control and kicked the ball outside the field.
In the following 20 minutes it was very dangerous at Iker Casillas's goal. Sensation seemed unavailable. (At this moment, Croatians' manager Slaven Bilić looked like crazy genius, who rushed about his lab, waiting for experiment's end.)
The result was totally different, though. On the 88th minute, Croatian defenders apparently made a mistake creating offside trap (although, there is a version that there was an offside), and after Fàbregas's pass, two Spaniards found themselves behind Croatians. Iniesta headed the ball to Navas, and the latter virtually walked with it into the goal (just to be sure!). Pletikosa was, certainly, 'a superfluous third' in this situation.
Spaniards' minimal victory brought them to quarter-finals, and the Croatians will unfortunately go home. Will there really be no more sensations on Euro-2012 after Netherland's kickout?


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