This game is deceptively underbilled; it's pretty huge, actually. If Australia earns a tie or a win, the Socceroos will advance to the next round; a win for Croatia does the same for them, barring something crazy from Japan against Brazil. It's rare that this round of games end up with two teams playing against each other for the last slot, but it looks like what we've got here.
Your live blogger with live blogging mostest? It's Jon Shurkin, from SFist.com, a pleasant enough fellow who's rolling up his sleeves and ready to put some shrimps on the Ken doll. Play with us in the comments, and enjoy.
Okay, all I can say is wow. That was just sheer bedlam at the end. There was the player who should have been called off, an offsides call that wasn't, a handball call that wasn't, and then the just utter confusion at the end. Not to mention shot after desperate shot by Croatia who really played well, but just not well enough.
I'd hate to be in Croatia right now as that loss was just devastating.
Mazel tov to the Aussies, who unlike a certain team who shall reamain nameless, just gave it their all. Just a great effort on their part, especially considering they could have just thrown ten in the box and played for the tie.
As for the game, as Smyth said it wasn't the best technical wise so lots of people will probably criticize it for it's lack of technique, but sweet fancy Moses that was fun. Shot after shot after shot and all that craziness at the end.
Anways, I'm outtie as I gotta go soak my wrists after typing all that.
93: Australia scores!!!! But after the whistle? Who knows. There's a yellow card and a red card and nobody knows what is happening or if the game is over or what the hell is going on.
Wait, it's over. Australia ties and advances, Croatia goes home. It's a 2-2 tie, the goal doesn't count.
92:50 They don't know how much time is left in the game....
92: They lost track of how many cards Siminc has and whether he should be off or not. Australia is just dithering with the ball right now.
91:20: Srna is mauled before getting a kick off. Two mmore minutes left in stoppage time.
91: Kovac just misses
90: We're in stoppage time and there's now announcement about the time. Croatia shot goes wide.
89: That sound you hear is millions of people screaming as the video feed just went out.
87: Emerton sent off for double yellow card-ness. It's now 10 on 10. Could this game be more out of control?
86: How does Croatia miss that? Someone (sorry, I can't remember who it was) had a wide open shot after a beautiful pass but he can't connect. The ball dribbles slowly passed the goalie but there's two Roos there to defend
85: Simic gets a red card. Or is it Srna? Simic did the tacky tackle, but Srna was doing a lot of close talking to the ref to protest the whole thing.
83:After showing the replay, it looks like Kewell was offsides on the goal and it shouldn't have been counted. Also, they showed on the TV the women Will should have used.
Kewell gets a ball knocked around after a free kick and hits a sideways launcher from the right side of the goal to the left side of the goal, right beyond the reach of the Croatian goaltender. The Aussies bust out a rousing rendition of "Ole!"
78: Goal by Kewell. It's 2-2!
75: On a free kick in front of the net, a Croatian defender gets his hand on it, but no call. Croatia isn't just knocking on the door, but trying to blow the mother up with dynamite.
73: A bunch of ic's get switched off for Croatia. The new Croatian player looks like Tommy Shaw of Styx.
72: There's a scrum match in front of the goal. The goalie has it, but where does it land? No goal is the call. Wow! There was like two Aussies right there and the Croatian goalie who gets it and falls pretty much right ON THE LINE.
71: Great play by the Aussies in front of the net. There's one great shot that was right at the goalie, then Kewell almost got a shot off of a corner kick that also misses.
68: Kalac is way off-side. Is it me, bu tin looking at Will's choice of pictures, is he showing that he is rooting for Australia? And does the Croatian dude look like a new wave Braveheart? And does the "slutty" girl in the picture really Australian? I thought Aussie women were all tall, leggy, and blonde. The girl in the picture looks more Croatian actually, or maybe it's because she looks like the girl in the sex video.
65: Leko in for Kranjar, the Croatian coach's son and source of much Croatian hullaballoo. That was Aloisi who came in for Australia.
62: First sub for Australia, Bruce for Bruce (and that's your obscure Monty Python reference for the day)
61: Yellow card on Siminic for stiff arming Kewell. Free kick for Australia.
58: The question has to be asked about why Hiddink started Kalac instead of Schwarzer. Schwarzer is the regular goalie and Kalac has pretty much been fumbling everything. If the 'Roos lose this, poor Guus is going to be hammered for that decision.
57: Goall!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! by Croatia. Kovac hit a little squibber from outside the box and the Australian goalie (Kalac) pretty much pulls a Buckner and let's it get right by him.
52: Nice free kick by Croatia, but Kovac's header goes over the net.
51: One more thing about this game, there doesn't seem to be much in the way of flopping, despite all the hard tackles that are going on. Australia doesn't seem like the team to do stuff like that but Croatia did. They've been playing without the dramatics also.
48: Some 'Roo (couldn't make it out) also made a great run downfield and had a great shot on goal but it was all work and no payoff as he got a weak shot off. Hey, it sounds like Fatso Ronaldo scored for Brazil.
46: And we're back. Neil takes the ball from the Aussie side all the way to the mid-section of the Croatian field, passed it to the left for a good opportunity but once again, Croatia gets back in time.
HALFTIME: Wow, what a half. I hate to use a football(American) analogy, but this is like one of those playoff games where each team just marches back and forth every possession. Except, of course, without as much scoring. Considering Australia had to just tie to advance (presuming Brazil beats Japan, which is iffy at this point), you gotta admire the fact that they came out and attacked and then kept attacking even after equalizing the game. Tommy Smyth even started criticizing the 'Roos for keeping up their frantic pace. Croatia feels a little overwhelmed right now but are holding tight fairly well. Considering they got to win, though, they need to get a move on.
Also of note is that while it's a pretty fast game and a pretty physical game, there hasn't been many fouls called and only one card has been issued. The ref seems to be just letting everyone play which is adding to the fun. For anyone who wonders how a 1-1 game can be any exciting, that half pretty much explained how. It was more foosball game than football game.
Expect things to slow down a bit the next half because, well, it has to. And I hope so because my wrists are hurting so much from having to type up something every thirty seconds. Also Australia has to realize they might be teetering on losing control of things and maybe getting a bit defensive about things. Also look for Croatia to pick things up, but they don't seem like the attacking type, more like the counter-attacking types. Guess that'll have to change.
HALFTIME after two minutes of stoppage time. It's a 1-1 tie.
45: Injury time starts. I think it's a minute, but I completely missed it. Austarlia on the attack once more.
42: Kewell makes a nice header straight on goal that's saved. A few seconds later, Prso on the other end gets a shot off that is also taken by the goalie. Not that they were difficult saves, but I swear, there's at least a shot or two a minute.
41: Once more, from the top of the box, Cahill tries an upside down bicycle kick type thingy and completely misses. Nice try, though.
40: On a Croatian corner, the Aussie goalie gets it, then drops it for a few seconds right in front of the goal before picking it up again. Ooops.
38: Croatia 1- Socceroos 1
36: Penalty kick for Australia for a hand ball on Croatia. Then there's a yellow card for some guy who looks like Joe Rogan (Tudor). Craig Moore hits a low shot to the right side of the goal and SCORES for the equalizer.
35: Viduka gets a nice clearing pass in front of the goal but dives so much going for it that he can't get up to kick it. He tries to get up but by the time he's up, Croatia is there to defend. The Aussies are really making me work.
34: Cahill hits another drive from the far-right of the goal that is also stopped. Viduka is mauled in front of the goal but once again, no call.
33: Aussie Kalina shoots one from the top of the box right over the Croatian goal.
31: Simic of Croatia gets a yellow card for, well, I'm not sure. Some unsportsman-like thing involving the ball and a blown whistle.
30 Cahill outleaps the Croatian goalie and heads it over the goalie, leaving an open shot but a whistle calls Cahill for a foul.
29: Cahill gets a header on goal and there's a save. About thirty seconds later, Kewell kicks a line drive from the left that the goalie also saves. Corner kick goes nowhere.
28: Prso again on the right side, doing some fancy dribbling with the ball but once again is shut down by the Aussie D
27: More attempts by Australia from around the box but nothing much going on. They have been pretty much on the attack since they gave up the first goal, playing with an intensity not seen by a certain team this morning (and yes, I'm still bitter)
24: Team Bob's Big Boy counters as Srna goes down the right-side but is stopped by the Aussie D. The Socceroos back on the attack.
23: Aussies still on the attack with lots of lobs towards the box but Australia can't do anything with it.
22: Corner kick by Australia is once again cleared wide by a Croatian header. They need to work on that.
20: Kewell dribbles clear towards the top of the box, passes to Viduka who is open for a second but Viduka just can't pull the trigger and the ball is passed back to the Croatian goalie by a Croatian defender
19: Neil goes up for a header against Prso and it looks like Neil yanks Prso's hair as they go up for the ball. No foul is called. Again, if this was the U.S. game, that would have been a penalty kick even if it was nowhere near the goal.
18:The Socerrros are definately on the attack and get off a bunch of shots on goal. Some even make it to the goalie. Note to the US team: it's called "shooting."
14: free kick by Australia to the left of the Croatian goal is cleared quickly by a Croatian header. Australia recovers and plays around for a bit in the mid-field.
12: A bunch of Croatian ic's pass it back and forth to the right of the Aussie goal, but finally gets stripped by a defender.
11: Kewell of the 'Roos takes the ball down and gives it up right outside the box, Croatia counters but gets just loses it at midfield.
10 And yes, I realize "fast break" is a basketball term. Sorry.
9: Viduka gets a fast break, trips up on the ball around the line of the box, passes it Cahill rather weakly and the ball is kicked out of bounds.
8:Croatia still on the attack. They are, as they say "stepping up" and "taking it to the next level" this game. They play around in front of the Aussie goal, but get nothing until it's finally cleared out.
6: Viduka is pretty much tackled, American football style, right in front of the Croatian goal, but nothing is called. If it was the US game, the Croatian player would not only have been red carded, but their male, first born son too.
1: Kovac and his Flashdance headband is tackled right outside the box. On the free kick, Croatia scores. Goallll!!!!!!!!!! by Srna on the free kick. All of this right after Smyth is talking about how Australia doesn't have their regular goalie (Schwarzer) in for no particular reason
0: For some reason, this game is on ESPN 2 (interrupting some sort of Domino's Championship- God love ESPN 2). And our announcers are Tommy Smythe (Smith?) and Adrian Healey which makes me feel like I'm watching actual real soccer announcers. Healey tells us to "buckle up" for the game. Australia is in there yellow unis, Croatia are in there Bob's Big Boy unis
We're coming to you liiiiiiive from my apartment on a beautiful San Francisco afternoon, perfect weather to spend the day indoors watching soccer. I hope everyone's not too burnt out and disillusioned after this morning's Matrix-sequels like buzz kill. I hate to say it, but as much as it sucked to see the U.S. lose, you have to be happy at least it was to Ghana. Basically any country that throws national holidays for winning a World Cup match probably deserves it more than we, the country that actually has something called NASCAR Nation, does. And it's not like they have much of anything else going for them and I don't mean that in a snotty kind of way, I just mean that it's not like Bono is running around trying to save our asses.
Anyways, today's Australia/Croatia game might look like one of those random World Cup pairings between two countries that have probably never been put together in the same sentence in like, ever, but it's actually a pretty big game. And not just for the obvious reason that it will decide who advances and who goes home. There's actually a bit of history between the two squads and even though ESPN will probably beat it into your heads by the end of this game, bear with me.
Turns out there are a lot of ethnic Croats living in Australia (Aussies call them "Wogs" and not in a nice way) all of whom seem to breed soccer players. A lot of Croatian Australians are playing today, and not all for the Socceroos. Three players on the Croatian team (Josip Simunic, Joe Didulica and Anthony Seric) were born and live in Australia but decided to play for Croatia thinking they'd have a better chance of World Cup advancement. Australia's captain, Mark Viduka, is also Croatian but decided to stick with the Socceroos out of patriotism. So what this means is that a lot of people are playing not just to advance, but to not look like idiots. If Croatia wins, there's probably going to be three soccer players who will be going to be looking for new homes in a month or so.
As for styles, since you're supposed to discuss soccer teams in terms of national character, the Aussies play a physical, defensive style but with an attacking style usually not seen in teams that play that kind physical football. Exactly what you'd expect from a country mainly descended from English convicts. As for Croatia, I have no idea what Croatians are known for other than fighting nasty little civil wars with their neighbors. So far their style has been sort of Italy-lite: good defense but not so good offense, great skills but not so great smarts, and an amazing array of haircuts.
Now to the game....