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Friday, 6 December 2013

Croatian Countdown To World Cup 2014 Officially Starts Today

Now we officially know where, when and especially who Croatia will be battling with in the preliminary round of the 2014 World Cup come June. The different groups were announced just minutes ago, and all in all, not a bad position for Croatia. it was a fairly fair process in deciding the pots and groups, so that no team will get away with playing all weaker teams. The top 2 teams in each group will qualify to advance to the play-offs. Croatia will also play Brazil from their group as the very first match of the World Cup, which will mean hundreds of millions of people in 200 countries (when you factor in repeats and highlights etc, that number could reach over a billion) ..will be watching on television sets and screens this important opening kick-off match to the whole tournament.

 The starting 11 from the Croatia - Iceland match in Zagreb last month. Images: Croatian Football Federation.

What do I think? Well, there's nothing that really needs to be said. I'm not going to analyze or predict anything really. I'm probably not even going to post another World Cup post until the summer.  (I'll leave all that analyzing, scrutinizing, think through game talk-isms, inspective rehashing, rephrasing, getting down to brass tacks palaver, cajolery and flummery debate dialogue to all the professional jock sniffing cumwads) Everything is up for grabs and the only thing that matters is what the score is when the whistle blows after 90 minutes. Croatia's play has been sub-par the past few matches, underachieving against teams that a year ago would be guaranteed wins. A number of players on the national squad are productive goal scorers and play makers in the best leagues in Europe and Russia, so that should not have happened,  however they importantly redeemed themselves with some solid play in the last home-away series to make it to this prestigious world championship. I'll chalk it up as a temporary rut. (If they wouldn't have shown up to that one, it would have be an excruciating long 2 years until Euro 2016)

My only complaint from the match, which I watched live, was that they should have scored about 3 or 4 more goals. Those close but missed opportunities will have to be rectified in 6 months time. From now until the official first match of the World Cup, Croatia and their new coach Niko Kovač, (More on that Here).. will have plenty of time to correct wrongs, fine tune, iron out the details, gel and then hopefully peak at the right time. One of Croatia's more productive and important players will not be playing against Brazil however. Bayern Munich striker Mario Mandžukić received a red card during the Iceland match and so will have to sit out the opener, a definite blow to the offense, but manageable. (Brazil media have written that a Brazil victory is guaranteed, even Joao Francisco is preparing a World Cup victory video already) Also, Croatian fan representation will not be non-existent come June either, there are plenty of diaspora Croats in South America as well, 400,000 Croatian-Chilean's alone. (Although personally, given the choice between an all expenses paid trip and free tickets to Brazil, I would rather spend twice the dough out of my own pocket and go watch it on the big screen in Argentina., Prague, Moscow, Berlin, Madrid or even Australia, but that's just me. I'm particular with ambiance when and where I decide to watch soccer and when I use washrooms)  Only Croatia and Belgium advanced from the qualifying campaign group stage, so the Serbian team will at least be able to enjoy their Serbian Trumpet Festival with no distractions)

Related: croatia-football-federation-celebrates-100yrs


Long version highlights from Zagreb last month between Croatia and Iceland which sent Croatia to the World Cup.

Full match if you have the time to watch it.

Bayern Munich striker Mario Mandžukić will be sitting out the Brazil match because of a red card during the Iceland match. He will return to the lineup for the remainder of the tournament.

I'm sure that come June, the Croatian team that shows up on the field will be different than the one that was showing up the past few qualifying matches. Playing on the world stage raises the intensity. I'm really not too worried about how the team representing little 4.5 million population Croatia will do against a nation for whom soccer is a religion practically, (it's true, kicking a ball is many times preferred to be taught before reading or writing)...they will make Croatians proud I'm sure. The only thing that I think may be a factor however, would be the fans and what takes place off of the field. As everyone knows, the stadiums will be overwhelmingly filled with Brazil fans, that's a given,  but there's more to it than just that.....

Remember, this is not going to be Germany, Italy, Spain or the European Championships. What I mean is, how much will all those whistles, flags and the noise be a factor?  (Will those annoying vuvuzela's be used again like the last world cup in South Africa? Lot's of players, managers and even commentators had issues with them)  My only worry is that the Croatian players may become distracted by the off-field goings on. (I'm not going to get into the the topic of some Serbs with their fingers signs, using the same signs when they were raping and pillaging in the 90's, blasting schools, hospitals and everything. I'm not even going to get into the issue over the years of some soccer players displaying taliban gestures right there on the field during during play. I kid you not, words and slogans during a soccer matches that are the exact same ones they use before rocket attacks and bombing civilians, mortaring European troops in Afghanistan, and 9-11 etc. I'm not going to get into it here or add the images I came across, but I've seen images of Bin Laden and lots of his supporters doing the exact same motions and slogans before promising destruction and death to various nations and people. Saying the exact same words and motions they did even during the centuries of Jihads into Europe come to think of it, Those raping and pillaging attacks, a little thing called the Ottoman Empire and the Ottoman Wars in Europe perhaps might ring a bell. Well, that's an affront to....well...lots of people) Anyway, back to this topic.......

I dunno, don't even ask.

You know, the heat will be bad enough, but then all those glittery yellow and green wigs, balloons, clanking and banging drums, all those overweight men dancing and jumping around in those bright tight yellow speedos shaking their rears, waving around  large yellow feathers and wearing large wigs and bushes on their heads, and then waving around even more yellow and green balloons, fruits and vegetables everywhere. Combined with the heat, this very well could affect the outcome of the match. A visually induced distraction that will probably be affecting other teams also, maybe even viewers on television.

More images Here.

Rumours are swirling that there already are Pletikosa, Srna, Rakitić, Kranjčar and Olić voodoo dolls being made. (Above is a Messi voodoo doll from a previous Brazil-Argentina match)

Soccer is very popular with psychopaths in Brazil I guess.

I also read an article where some soccer players warned the Croatian team (and other teams) to be on the lookout for huge wasps and bees, as they are found everywhere around there. (Seriously, I looked it up, it's true, they swarm and everything, killer bee's come from there too)  I also know that the Croatian goaltender Stipe Pletikosa is afraid of mini-buses and has a phobia about spiders. (arachnophobia, as well as cyprinophobia and cannibals/empanadas)  So now the questions becomes, what if he's distracted because of it. What if he's always constantly looking back over his shoulder and at the goal mesh to make sure there's no frikin huge poisonous spiders, swarming bees or cannibals/empanadas? That could be a factor which would distract him on top of the other mentioned points. All it takes is just a second or two of not concentrating on the ball or the play on the field, and any team can score an easy goal....

Evening soccer victory celebrations in Rio.

Many Brazilian soccer players have gone on to become ticket scalpers, will this have an effect on the ticket prices for the Croatian football matches resulting in a lower Croatian fan turnout?

Early line ups have already started for World Cup tickets in Rio.

During the last World Cup there were various instances of swastika tee's being worn, will this also be the case next summer?

What if Prince Harry attends the World Cup?

What if these Rio Carnival performers show up to the match and throw spears at the soccer ball?

What if the Rio Carnival king shows up and eats the soccer ball? How are they going to play the soccer match then?

What if this guy tries to fuck Luka Modrić, Dario Srna or
Niko Kovač up the ass when they're not looking? It's going to be hard to score a goal then I'll tell you.

You don't wanna know what could happen if this Brazilian specimen shows up in a pissy mood, now that's a serious soccer fanatic. He looks pretty upset already and that's just because the price of those kazoo things went up.

What if the 2 Girls 1 Cup actresses show up and start performing some kind of ice cream eating performances? 

What if these creepy Oktoberfest freakos show up and leave schnitzel and spatzle all over the stands and seats? The horror, just so many scenarios and conundrums that could ruin the success and ambiance of the World Cup.

Anyway, besides these last few mentioned points, (of which at the bottom of this post I propose a solution)..which will remain to be seen, I think Croatia will do a good job on the field.  Considering that Croatia is a small country and fairly recent newcomers on the world soccer/football scene, even back in 1996 during a friendly, the unknowns from that small European country Croatia almost pulled an upset against the at the time soccer behemoth during a match that ended 1-1. Video below. If they can do the same again and score first, that would help alleviate the above mentioned points, or at least lessen their effect.....

 Sometimes Croatians are mental psychopaths too. Foto: Goran Stanzl/PIXSELL

....Lastly, as already mentioned, one solution to alleviating the mentioned distraction points, may have to be a spontaneous Croatian distraction to counter. One scenario would be to have Croatian singer Jelena Rozga (pictured below) to perform some kind of distraction at the matches. I don't what kind of distraction, just throwing it out there, a final distraction plan can be figured out before the tournament starts. If the Brazil fans in turn become distracted, it might very well affect and prevent the Brazil fans from distracting the Croatian players. Again, this is just one scenario. Anyway, that's about all I'm going to add here until the tournament officially starts, I think Croatia should be able to make it interesting on the pitch, which is the main thing anyway. I will get back to this topic come next June.

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