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Preview: Croatia – Germany

SoccerNews in European Championships 11 Jun 2008

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Group B continue their Euro 2008 campaign on Thursday with Croatia facing Germany in Klagenfurt.

The smallest town of this tournament hosts the winners of the first round of matches in this group. Croatia beat Austria in the opening match and Germany were too strong for Poland.

Croatia star player Luka Modric, who scored the deciding penalty against Austria, has been dealing with a small Achilles tendon injury this week but is expected to be fit for his side’s second match.

Striker Ivan Klasnic seems ready to make an appearance against Germany after a fifteen-month recovery following a kidney transplant last year. It’s not impossible that Klasnic replaces Mladen Petric, whose performance against Austria was anything but convincing.

Germany will once again rely on the skills of attacking duo Lukas Podolski and Miroslav Klose, and the abilities of midfielder Michael Ballack.

If it’s up to Ballack, Germany will have to do better than they did against Poland on Sunday: “I’m expecting a tougher task than against Poland because Croatia want the title and will give us a real game.”

“They will be more pro-active and push hard for victory. After all, they beat England twice.”

Speaking of getting beaten, that is exactly what happened to Germany when they faced the Croatians at the 1998 World Cup in the quarter finals. Croatia, with the likes of Davor Suker, won 3-0.

Thursday’s match in Klagenfurt will be led by Belgian referee Frank De Bleeckere, with linesmen Peter Hermans and Alex Verstraeten and fourth official Stéphane Lannoy of France.

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