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Posts Tagged ‘ Dejan Lovren ’

World Cup 2014: Recap Of Week One

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The first week of World Cup 2014 is now behind us, and there has been plenty of talking points and memorable moments. Here is our recap of all the action that has taken place so far.

Thursday:

The opening game between Croatia and the host nation Brazil was the sole game on Thursday, and provided no end of controversy. Croatia had taken a well deserved early lead against a sluggish Brazillian outfit, before Neymar conjured an equaliser out of very little to get the home fans on their feet. Yet they failed to get the upper hand in the contest, until the referee awarded a very controversial penalty to Fred as he tumbled under Dejan Lovren’s presence in the penalty area. Neymar converted, and Oscar wrapped up the 3-1 win with a good finish from outside the box, although there was strong suspicion that Ramires had fouled the Croat player in possession before moving the ball to his Chelsea teammate. The home side were very unconvincing throughout, however.

Friday:

The standard of the officials continued to be brought into question during Friday’s first game, as the linesman ruled out two seemingly good goals for Mexico’s Giovanni Dos Santos in their game against Cameroon. Mexico did eventually get the breakthrough when Oribe Peralta turned in a rebound after Charles Itandje failed to hold Dos Santos’ shot. That was the only goal of the game, securing the win for the lively Mexicans, with Cameroon looking very poor. Continue reading

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World Cup 2014: The Dark Horses

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Yesterday, we had a good look at the four teams most likely to win the upcoming World Cup. What we have yet to touch on is one of the most lively debates before any international tournament. Who will be the team who emerges from nowhere to thrill the crowds and cause a few upsets along the way? Is there a team from lower down the international pecking order who can surprise us all and go all the way? Usually there is at least one team who overachieves in these competitions, and calling them right is often the difference between winning and losing the fantasy football wars, so here we will look at four teams who could potentially go from dark horses to World Cup champions in the space of a few weeks in June. Continue reading

Premier League Preview: Jose’s Blues Are The Boys To Beat

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With the new Premier League season fast approaching, it’s hard to look beyond an old foe of many managers and fans alike from stealing the limelight once the season gets underway.

This summer’s transfer window and indeed all of the summer’s talk has been shaped around three men, Liverpool’s Luis Suarez and Arsenal’s pursuit of the Uruguayan, Wayne Rooney and his transfer request and Spur’s Gareth Bale who is being courted by Real Madrid.

One team, with the exception of a handful of Rooney rumours, has slipped under the radar as they plan to wrestle back a title that they won back to back in 2005 and 2006, and they have Jose Mourinho back to steer them there. Continue reading

Spotlight On Croatia

Ireland kick off their first European Championship since 1988 against Slaven Bilic’s Croatia in Poznan on June 10th. If Ireland are going to get out of this extremely tough group I believe they will have to go out all guns blazing against the 1998 World Cup Semi-Finalists. The critics are saying that we will be fighting for third place with the Croats and even that won’t be an easy task. 

Just like Ireland, the play offs were the route that the Croatians took to gain qualification. They finished two points behind Greece in their group and were handed a two legged tie against Turkey. Croatia put three past the Turks in the first leg meaning a nil-all draw at home secured a place in Poland. 

Croatia aren’t as strong as their 1998 World Cup golden generation and don’t have a player quite as influential as Davor Suker but they can still pose a serious threat. Suker was a thorn in the side of the Irish team scoring three goals in four meetings including a 94th minute winner in a Euro 2000 qualifier. 

Since the heady heights of the late nineties, Croatia have done reasonably well, qualification has usually been achieved, missing out only twice, however group stage elimination has usually followed. The exception came at Euro 2008 under current coach Bilic. Having qualified ahead of England, who they defeated at Wembley during the campaign, Croatia went on a run to the quarter finals, where they lost a penalty shoot-out to Turkey.  This team pose a threat but it’s a similar squad to the one that failed to qualify for the 2010 World Cup. 

Bilic announced that he would be stepping down as manager of Croatia after this tournament and this may give his side extra incentive to perform to the best of their ability and give the manager a good send off. They are extremely compact without the ball, making them very difficult to break down, and play a pressing game, giving their opponents very little time on the ball. When they do have the ball they play an incredibly quick, counter attacking game, which relies on one and two touch play, pace and clinical finishing. 

Previous Meetings: The two sides most recent meeting was a nil all draw in a friendly last summer. Ireland have beaten Croatia twice in six meetings and only lost once in that time. Ireland will hope to continue their good record against the Croats when they meet at Stadion Miejksi in Poznan.

Strengths: Croatia have some very talented players and have a serious attacking threat with the likes of Modric, Krancjar, Olic, Jelavic and Eduardo tasked with firing them to glory.

 Weaknesses: Croatia lack real quality in their defence and an even further dent to their back line was the omission of Lyon defender Dejan Lovren who misses out through injury.

By Andrew Harte

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