Germany Comes to Terms with its ′Croatastrophe′ | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 13.06.2008
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Germany Comes to Terms with its 'Croatastrophe'

The German press was in a state of shock following the 2-1 Euro 2008 Group B defeat by Croatia, with the mass-circulation Bild newspaper declaring it a 'Croatastrophe.'

Croatia's fans react after Croatia's Darijo Srna scored during the group B match between Croatia and Germany in Klagenfurt, Austria, Thursday, June 12, 2008, at the Euro 2008 European Soccer Championships in Austria and Switzerland

Croatia was stunned by its victory

"Jogi (nickname of German coach Joachim Loew), this debacle has made us afraid," it wrote on Friday, June 13.

"Now we have to hope and fear," it added, referring to next Monday's crunch match against neighbors Austria, where defeat would mean an early exit for Germany.

"Indecisive, heavy-legged, mentally not at the races," was how the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung explained the descent of the favorites. "It is not so much the result but the way the match played out which surprised and horrified us, and it is that which the coach must address."

It could have been a lot worse for the Germans, according to the Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

"Germany was lucky that the score wasn't a lot worse," it wrote.

For the Berliner Zeitung daily there was nothing but danger ahead for the three-time champions.

"Even if Germany reaches the last eight, lying in wait is a Portuguese side who won its second match with bravura," it wrote. "The question to pose is if Germany will succeed in getting back on the rails quickly. Because normally if the second match at a major finals goes badly then the third one is often the last one," it gloomily predicted.

Still optimistic

Writing in Bild, German football icon Franz Beckenbauer said that he had never expected a disaster on this scale, just four days after the team's 2-0 victory against Poland.

"I have rarely seen such contrasting showings," he railed. "I said after the Poland match that we don't have to fear any one if we play like this,” he recalled. "After this defeat it's the other way around: We have to be afraid of Austria if we play like this," he said.

Beckenbauer, who captained Germany to its first of three Euro titles in 1972, was nonetheless optimistic, predicting that Germans still have a good chance to advance into Thursday's knockout match with Portugal.

Proud Croatia

Franz Beckenbauer

Franz Beckenbauer thinks Germany could still make it

Meanwhile, Croatia's captain Niko Kovac insisted his team had earned their win, having dominated from start to finish.

Kovac, who patrolled the midfield with authority and vigor and, who alongside new Tottenham signing Luka Modric, got the better of Germany's much revered midfield pairing of Michael Ballack and Torsten Frings, said it was a fully deserved result.

"I do think we were the team that deserved the victory. We were the better team, we had better opportunities," he said. "We played the way the Germans played in their first game, with lots of discipline, with control."

Kovac explained that it was easier for the Croatians to play as underdogs against Germany rather than as overwhelming favorites against the Austrians, reported AFP.

"The Germans do play a different kind of football, more rational,” he said. "All victories are nice and Germany are one of the favorites for the Euro and when you beat Germany, it's obviously a big deal."

Another Cordoba

Archive photo of the Cordoba match

The Austrians still love to remember Cordoba

Together with her Austrian counterpart Alfred Gusenbauer, German Chancellor Angela Merkel will be attending the Germany-Austria game at Euro 2008 in Vienna on Monday.

Both teams are vying for a quarter-final berth at the Euro tournament.

Austria will be hoping for another Miracle of Cordoba -- which occurred in 1978 when the first time in 47 years Austria defeated Germany 3-2 at the conclusion of the second round of the World Cup.

"It was a piece of football history. We are proud that we beat the big brother Germany once in 49 years. We will always talk about that when there is a Germany-Austria game," Austrian footballing legend Hans Krankl told dpa in the run-up to the tournament.

The two neighbors have met on 34 occasions, with Germany holding the edge on 20 wins opposed to six draws and eight defeats.

This time around there will be more pressure on Austria because it can advance into the quarter-finals with a victory. In addition, it is co-host of the tournament which makes expectations in the country even higher.

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