Sunday, June 18, 2006

Croatia 0 Japan 0



Both teams entered desperately needing a win. Both left in dire straits.

For a game that slowed and withered in the midday heat, it was probably fitting that it resulted in a dull, scoreless draw with both teams left staggering with their backs against the ropes heading into the group finales. Both teams clumsily plodded along and showed little creativity in the final third of the field other than hopeful crosses into the box. It can't be said that one side or the other deserved the max three points.

The prospect of facing Brazil on Thursday had Japan knowing that it surely needed the maximum three points. Prior to the game, Japan coach Zico had said that did they not get the max points, then the last four years have been a waste. And now here Japan sits. While I'm sure the Japan camp, not to mention their fans, isn't conceding defeat to Brazil, surely they must fighthing the feeling that their World Cup is already over. Then again, Japan did tie Brazil 2-2 at last year's Confederations Cup and stanger things have happened so...

Meanwhile, Croatia must be feeling almost as desperate. Despite their loss to Brazil in their opener, the Croatian vibes entering were good. It was generally considered that Croatia outplayed Brazil for much of that match and were unlucky not to earn at least a point.

I'm guessing no such good vibes are present today. Darijo Srna missed a penalty kick in the first half and Croatia spent the rest of the afternoon coming well short of an opportunity nearly as good. Dado Prso is the Croatian's big-name gun up top, but has been a major disappoint, hardly making any impact at all. Even when Croatia went to the desperation mode of playing four strikers late in the game, nothing came of it. Now Croatia is left in the position of having to beat Australia in a game that could be interesting with all the ethnic ties between the two countries.

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