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Defending champion Brazil will play its first match of next year's World Cup against 1998 semifinalist Croatia.

Croatia played Brazil for the first time in August in Croatia, a 1-1 tie.

It will be tough, but it will also definitely be memorable considering both teams like to control the ball,'' said Croatia's naturalized Brazilian, striker Eduardo da Silva.
Over the years I've come to believe that controlling the ball in soccer is indeed important.

Meanwhile, this summer, I was privy to that Brazil-Croatia game. They played in Split, and I was on the island Brac about 12 miles away. It was just a 'friendly' game, but the entire country was glued to their TVs. Although I was making bets with my cousins over either a 3 or 4 point spread, Croatia managed the 1-1 tie by an act of God almighty, and the Split arena was set ablaze by fireworks. I saw it all from the island. It made my face glow.

Oh, but Croatia, prepare to have your ass handed to you come June. (I don't care about soccer, but I haven't NOT been in Croatia for a World Cup since 1988, and Croatia as a politically independent entity didn't exist back then anyhow. It's a lot of fun to watch and allow yourself to turn into this. In 1998, when Croatia got third, I got elbowed in the face during a testosterone frenzy in Zagreb's main square fountain. A flare almost knocked out my eye. Good times.)


At 8:18 PM, Blogger joŇ°ko said...

PS. "In Mexico's group are Portugal, Angola and Iran. Joining Spain are Ukraine, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia.

The last time Portugal and Angola met in an exhibition in Lisbon four years ago, four Angolan players were ejected for brutal tackles and dissent and the game was stopped with 20 minutes to play. That match was supposed to be a celebration of the long-standing cultural ties between the European country and its former African colony."

At 1:06 AM, Blogger Andrew said...

From here:

"To be honest, the other teams don't have the depth to have a chance to win against Brazil but then I think it'll be decided on the last game."

That last game in group F will be Australia versus Croatia - a tasty prospect given the blended heritage between the two nations in football.

Australian captain Mark Viduka is of Croatian heritage, as are fellow Socceroos Tony Popovic, Zeljko Kalac, Josip Skoko, Jason Culina and Ante Covic.

Former AIS graduate Josip Simunic will line up for Croatia, with former Australian juniors Ante Seric and Joey Didulica also a chance to make the Croatian squad.

Australia had arranged a friendly against Croatia in Zagreb in the lead-up to the World Cup but that will now be scrapped, with the three friendlies likely to be against Hiddink's former charges Holland and South Korea, and possibly England.


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