England goes to fortress Maksimir

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Slaven Bilic sporting his Mads Mikkelsen look
It is a telling sign that Joe Cole, England’s best player has to fight for a starting spot in the squad. What perversity is this? I know Capello is a bit of a martinet and Cole might have ignored his instructions but his goals provided the victory against Andorra. So let it go.
Capello might conveya silent rage at England’s ineffectual display against Andorra which is infinitely better than the mottled look of bemusement of a Steve McLaren or the emotional register of a doormat that Sven Goran wore during their managerial career. But what good is it if you do not recognize which players give you your best chance in a match as important as this one. Joe Cole and Theo Walcott should start. There is art and craft in their game that should make Croatia ponder.
Croatia on the other hand has weathered the Eduardo injury well. Ivica Olic and Mladen Petric carry the brunt of the attack as Luka Modric skulks just behind. Slaven Bilic has the utmost confidence in his team. They had a decent outing in Euro 2008 before they were done in by giant killers Turkey in a Euro 2008 quarterfinal match that could provide a few answers for England.
Croatia had a number of chances but failed to capitalize on them. Turkey kept pegging away with undersized and quick Senturk and Turan slipping past the taller Corluka and Simunic to create chances. A lapse in concentration led to Semih’s equalizer. I like Cole’s craft and Walcott’s speed to soften up the Croatian defense. Some clever crosses should see Rooney in scoring position. This would require a certain amount of discipline on Rooney’s part holding a high line on attack. Modric’s playmaking ability can be disrupted by a well orchestrated offside trap and a tendency to keep the ball to himself. Squeeze his real estate while he dallies with the ball.
A draw would be a great result in the Maksimir which has been a tough venue for visiting teams. It would boost the English squad which at this point lacks self confidence and is on the run from their fans.
Here is an article that explains why Slaven Bilic is too canny to be West Ham’s manager. He is apparently after bigger fish.

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