Can Croatia qualify for the quarter-finals of Euro 2012?

Croatia face a crucial Euro 2012 clash with European and world champions Spain this evening.

The Croats are level with their opponents on points in Group C and know that only a victory will guarantee them passage into the quarter-finals of the competition.

Draw

A draw could be enough for both sides to progress depending on the result of Italy’s clash with the Republic of Ireland.

However the Spanish are unlikely to settle for a draw in Gdansk and will be looking to secure a quarter-final place with a victory.

Difficult

It will be difficult for Slaven Bilic’s men to get the victory that they so desperately want. It won’t be impossible for Bilic’s men though. His side has made a really good impression in their first two games of the Euro’s and won’t want their tournament to end here.

Impressed

I have to admit that Croatia is one of sides that have most impressed me at Euro 2012. Their victory over Ireland in the first game was achieved in very comfortable style and a draw with Italy was a decent result.

They were always going to be underdogs to Spain and Italy in the group but I have a feeling they may just go through to the quarter-finals.

Unlikely

If Croatia achieve the unthinkable and defeat the Spanish and Italy beat Ireland Spain could go out. That’s an unlikely scenario but we have seen it before at previous tournament and even at this one with favourites going out at the group stage.

It would be a massive shock if Spain were eliminated from the competition but anything can happen in football. The Croatians are certainly a far better side than the Republic of Ireland and won’t be as easy to beat as Spain’s last opponents.

Quality

Spain and Barcelona midfielder Xavi has revealed that he believes it will be a “beautiful game for the fans and players”. The Croatians definitely have quality players in their ranks such as Tottenham midfielder Luka Modric and Wolfsburg striker Mario Mandzukic.

The striker is joint-top goalscorer at Euro 2012 with three goals so far this tournament and is hoping to move on this summer. His German club is believed to want to sell the striker but might have second thoughts after his performances so far at the Euro’s.

Mandzukic has already been linked with a move to Premier League Everton, where he could link up with international teammate Nikica Jelavic. The striker is likely to be in-demand this summer.

Swansong

Croatian boss Slaven Bilic will be leaving his position at the end of this tournament, with his contract expiring this summer. He won’t want his last game in charge of his national team to be a defeat and I’m sure he will do everything in his power to help his country progress to the knockout stages.

Bilic was heavily criticised in his homeland for the country’s failure to qualify for the World Cup in South Africa in 2010. There were even calls for his head from some of the media back home but the Croatian FA believed in the former-West Ham defender and refused to sack Bilic.

The Croatian FA don’t want Bilic to leave his position but it seems that he wants a new challenge this summer. It looks like a return to club management could be on the cards for the highly-rated coach. I’m sure he would love to go out on a high as Croatia boss though.

Close

I think this will be a very tight affair and Spain won’t find Croatia an easy opponent. Should Croatia manage a 2-2 draw with the European champions then they would go through at the expense of the Italians.

I wouldn’t put it past Croatia to get the draw they need to progress. They have looked dangerous on the attack but I don’t think their defence is as watertight as Croat teams of the past. I don’t think they will beat Spain but if they do I think it would open the competition right up.

The way they have played so far Croatia don’t deserve to go home and I hope they get a good enough result to go through to the quarter-finals. Whatever happens though they have given a superb account of themselves and Slaven Bilic can be proud of his teams performances at Euro 2012.

Will Croatia progress into the quarter-finals of Euro 2012?

Yemen – Palestine

Yemen – Palestine

Difficulties

The Palestinian Football Federation faces problems in organising even training sessions for the entire team because of travel restrictions placed by Israel upon people in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and the difficulty in obtaining an exit visa from Israel. Many players in the team are drawn from the Palestinian diaspora, from as far away as Chile and the United States.

Recently, Israel’s refusal to issue exit visas has resulted in players, or in some case the entire team, being unable to represent the country. In November 2006 (the last match of 2007 AFC Asian Cup qualificationgroup stage is scheduled), all players based inside the West Bank and Gaza Strip were denied exit visas. The AFC cancelled the match since both teams had been eliminated from the competition by virtue of their previous results against China and Iraq.  In October 2007, the second leg of a crucial 2010 World Cup qualifier between Palestine and Singapore was not played due to Palestine’s inability to obtain exit visas. The AFC and FIFA decided not to reschedule the match despite protests from the PFA, and Singapore was awarded a 3–0 win in a walkover match. In May 2008, the team was not allowed to travel to the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup. After a 2011 World Cup qualifier against Thailand, two starters, Mohammed Samara and Majed Abusidu, were refused entry to the West Bank and therefore could not travel back with the team from Thailand. 

Some of the athletes have been directly affected by the Arab–Israeli conflict. Tariq al Quto was killed by the Israel Defense Force, and striker Ziyad Al-Kord was banned from travelling and had his house destroyed. During the 2008–2009 Israel–Gaza conflict three Palestinian footballers, Ayman Alkurd, Shadi Sbakhe and Wajeh Moshtahe, were among the Palestinian casualties.

In 2012, Olympic Team goalkeeper, Omar Abu Ruways was arrested by Israel for allegedly being a member of a terrorist cell.

A film, Goal Dreams, was made about the team attempting to overcome obstacles in the qualification for the 2006 World Cup, who were also featured on the BBC documentary series Frontline Football.

 

euro

Ukraine – France

Sweden – England

Torres slashed to 7/4 (from 20/1) for Euro top scorer

Torres slashed to fire Spain to Euro glory

FERNANDO TORRES looks set to fire Spain to European Championship glory according to Ladbrokes.

The bookies have slashed him from 20/1 (before kick off) to 7/4 to be the top tournament goalscorer and have also cut him to 9/2 from 8/1 to win the same award domestically next season.

Spain are trimmed to 9/4 for outright glory and remain heavy favourites to both win their group (1/5) and qualify (1/20).

Ireland are also introduced at 3/1 to qualify for the 2014 World Cup.

Alex Donohue of Ladbrokes said “Torres has hit us for six. As soon as punters saw his name on the team sheet they got stuck into him across all markets and it didn`t take long for them to be paid.”

Ladbrokes Bingo information

Euro 2012 winner

  • Germany 9/4
  • Spain 5/2
  • France 9/1
  • Russia 11/1
  • Italy 11/1
  • England 12/1
  • Portugal 12/1

Euro 2012 top scorer

  • Mario Gomez 6/4
  • Fernando Torres 7/4
  • Alan Dzagoev 5/1
  • Mario Mandzukic 8/1

Group C Winner

  • Spain 1/5
  • Italy 8/1
  • Croatia 5/1
  • To qualify
  • Spain 1/20
  • Italy 8/13
  • Croatia 8/11

Specials

  • Fernando Torres 2012/13 Premier League top scorer 9/2 (from 8/1)
  • Ireland to qualify for 2014 World Cup 3/1
  • Fernando Torres to be top scorer and Germany to win Euro 2012 9/2 (from 25/1)
  • Fernando Torres to be top scorer and Spain to win Euro 2012 5/1 (from 33/1)