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Croatia's Ivica Olic passes by the German team at Euro 2008
© dpa - Report
Germany blunder their way to loss

June 13, 2008

After a shockingly poor performance, the German international team suffered a major setback in the Euro 2008.

Instead of pushing ahead decisively toward the top of European football, the German coach Joachim Löw's side suffered a painful setback in falling to Croatia 1-2 (0-1).

Final against Austria?

Darijo Srna (24th min.) put Croatia in the lead and Ivica Olic of Hamburger SV capitalised on a blunder by goalie Jens Lehmann to make it 2-0 in the 62nd minute. Lukas Podolski scored a consolation goal in the 79th minute. The loss means Germany are under added pressure in their next match to make it into the quarter finals.

The deciding third match in Group B will be played next Monday (20:45 CET) in Vienna against tournament host Austria.

Schweinsteiger sees red

To add insult to injury, sub Bastian Schweinsteiger was red carded after a foul against Jerko Leko (90th min. +1). The Croatians, who have never lost a group match in the second round of a European Championship or World Cup, are in excellent shape to progress deep into the tournament after having already beaten Austria 1-0 in their opening match.

After a successful debut, the German side looked as if they had lost their way. In facing the more clever and more focused Croatian side, the decisive victor over Poland (2-0) seemed have forgotten how to play football in a span of four days. Löw's team were unable to execute their game plan and instead allowed the Croatians to dictate the course of the match.

Miserably inadequate

The German side were shockingly weak in their tactical play and in one-on-ones. Coach Löw's squad gave Croatia far too much space to work with and played slow, uninspired, unimaginative football throughout the match. Even Michael Ballack, who played his 50th international match as captain, and Torsten Frings were flat.

German coach Löw tried to turn the match around in the second half by subbing in Philipp Lahm for Marcell Jansen on the left side of the defence and moving Bremen's Clemens Fritz to right defender and by putting David Odonkor on the pitch. More measures were taken a little later when Schweinsteiger came on to replace Mario Gomez (65th min.).

Rakitic in the starting line-up for Petric

Croatia changed up their starting line-up for their match against Germany by sitting Mladen Petric of Borussia Dortmund and playing Ivan Rakitic of rival Schalke 04. Three other Bundesliga players, Robert Kovac, Josip Simunic and Olic, were on the pitch for Croatia when the opening whistle blew.

Löw chose to rely on the starting line-up that played in their opening match. But the German team were sluggish from the very beginning and Podolski, the standout and scorer of two goals against Poland, was not a factor for much of his 50th international match.

Slow start

The early phase of the match saw both sides playing cautiously and looking for a gap in the opponent's defence. The Croatians were first to find a weakness and exploited it successfully. After a cross into the box by Danijel Pranjic, Srna von Schachtjor Donezk beat Jansen to the ball and then drilled it past Lehmann.

The score enraged Löw, as the weaknesses of his players were all too evident. Pranjic was unmarked as he crossed the ball, and Per Mertesacker pulled it in in the centre of the defence.

Slow to warm up

It was only after a half hour of play that the German side seemed to come to life. Ballack gave the first warning shot. But Croatia's keeper Stipe Pletikosa was in position after the free kick by the German captain, as he was seconds later against Christoph Metzelder (33rd min.). Metzelder headed the ball over the goal minutes later (40th min.).

But the clear scoring chances belonged to Croatia - continually facillitated by the shockingly sloppy play of their opponents. Lehmann stopped another shot shortly before the half (42nd min.), when he defended against an attempt by Niko Kranjcar from a short distance. Olic and Vedran Gorluca, who had just duped Jansen, created the scoring chance without any opposition.

Croatia dictate course of match

Löw spared Jansen further humiliation after the break. Despited the substitutions, Croatia continued to dominate the match. After the second score by Olic, it wasn't until the 73rd minute before Germany's Schweinsteiger had the chance to score their first goal, but the ball sailed harmlessly past the far post.

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© 2008 DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga GmbH
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