Wahl_grant
Views
25396
Comments
27
  • 03:06 PM ET  06.12
Yowza—we finally have our first real upset of Euro 2008 (the Dutch win over Italy was only a stunner because of the 3-0 margin), and suddenly this tournament has a very different look to it. Three thoughts from Croatia’s 2-1 takedown of pre-tournament favorite Germany:

Can you say Portugal-Germany in the quarterfinals? It sure seems likely after today’s result. Portugal has already won Group A, and the Croatians can now avoid Cristiano Ronaldo and Co. in the quarters by getting at least a tie in their final group game against Poland. The Germans still have some work to do against Austria to clinch a knockout-round spot, but they can’t avoid Portugal if the Croatians can snag a tie on Monday.

Croatia’s first goal was an instant-classic teamwork strike. It wasn’t quite as lengthy as Argentina’s 24-pass buildup before scoring against Serbia in World Cup ’06, but Croatia’s first goal against Germany was a perfect example of the teamwork that can make this sport so great. From the moment Luka Modric won the ball in his own end, Croatia strung together 15 passes that involved every single one of its 10 field players before Danijel Pranjic hit a masterly cross onto the foot of Darijo Srna for the goal. You won’t see a more impressive 47 seconds of possession in this entire tournament—and the fact that it came against Germany only gives the Croatians bonus points. Go back and play this thing a few dozen times on your DVR and enjoy the magic.

The Euro’s first red card couldn’t have come at a worse time for Germany. Bastian Schweinsteiger’s stoppage-time red card (for a shove on Croatia’s Jerko Leko) was a harsh decision but a completely boneheaded move for the Melissa Etheridge look-alike to make. I was going to argue that Schweinsteiger should start in the next game, moving Lukas Podolski up front (in place of the massively disappointing Mario Gómez), but now the suspended Schweinsteiger won’t even be available for sub’s duty. If I’m Joachim Löw I’d still stick Kevin Kuranyi up top for Gómez and keep Podolski at left midfield.

Through-balls: The most stunning part of the game (other than the result): the way Germany’s Michael Ballack was totally dominated by the Croatian midfielders ... Croatian coach Slaven Bilic’s decision to insert 20-year-old Ivan Rakitic at left midfield (for Mladen Petric) was an inspired choice. Rakitic was involved in both Croatian goals and showed a ton of confidence on the ball ... Nice to see Purina getting the most out of its sponsorship of the Croatian jersey ... Clemens Fritz and Marcell Jansen were a disaster on the German left side, failing to produce any offensive danger and giving up chance after chance on the defensive end ... Looks like Podolski (whose three goals tie him with Spain's David Villa atop the tournament) is the only German forward who came to play. Gómez and Miroslav Klose have really struggled.

Post your thoughts below in the comments section, and come back later for reaction to Austria-Poland ...

Comment

Remember to keep your posts clean. Profanity will get filtered, and offensive comments will be removed.


Truth & Rumors

MOST POPULAR

  1. 1
    Clippers, Warriors exchange barbs
    Views
    686
    Comments
    397
  2. 2
    Time to penalize NHL's perennial losers?
    Views
    775
    Comments
    267
  3. 3
    Report: Raiders to release Terrelle Pryor on Monday
    Views
    1184
    Comments
    59
  4. 4
    Will NFL owners blackball Donald Trump?
    Views
    987
    Comments
    54
  5. 5
    Packers lovers have own dating site
    Views
    922
    Comments
    43

SI.com

SI Photos