Posts Tagged ‘ Lyon ’

Clubs Prepare For Champions League Draw

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The lineup for the 2013/14 UEFA Champions League group stage is complete and will feature no fewer than 14 previous winners of Europe’s premier club competition while FK Austria Wien will make their debut.

Eleven of the past champions were among the 22 automatic entrants, a number subsequently swelled by the progress of AC Milan, FC Steaua Bucureşti and Celtic FC through this week’s ten play-off ties. For the draw, which takes place from 4.45pm today at Monaco’s Grimaldi Forum, the 32 contenders have been split into four seeding pots (based on club coefficients), with each of the eight groups to contain one team from each tier. 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