Bobic relishes Croat clash

Derrick Whyte looks at the dilemmas facing Germany ahead of the quarter-finals

Fredi Bobic, the VfB Stuttgart striker, could have been playing for Croatia at Old Trafford today.

Instead, Bobic pledged his international future to Germany and is now determined to show it was the right decision.

Croatia's coach Miroslav Blazevic left out eight first-teamers in the final Group D game against Portugal, saying he was happy to come second and face the Germans.

But Maribor-born Bobic, whose mother is a Croat and father Slovenian, said: "I can't imagine that we are his favourite opponents because in the back of their minds they are really, really afraid of Germany."

And Bobic, whose best friend is the West Ham defender, Slaven Bilic, added: "It might be that as a team Croatia are not that strong because they are too individually minded."

But what individuals, in Spain-based trio Davor Suker, Nikola Jerkan and Robert Prosinecki, Derby defender Igor Stimac, and Zvonimir Boban and Alen Boksic, who play in Italy.

However, Bobic was not tempted to join a side born out of the ravages of war. "I have lived all my life in Germany and now I just hope to play and score a goal," he said.

Germany's coach Berti Vogts was giving no clues as to whether he will prefer Bobic, Oliver Bierhoff or Stefan Kuntz alongside Jurgen Klinsmann, while he also has critical decisions to make in midfield and defence.

The most contentious choice is between Thomas Hassler and the Bayern Munich midfielder, Mehmet Scholl.

Whatever side he fields, Vogts is sure of one thing: "We really must perform if we want to move on to London. We have to summon all our strength and play the game at our pace - otherwise there might be a nasty surprise."

Blazevic believes his team can upset the efficient Germans and he stoked up the rivalry when he claimed that his star striker Suker is better than Klinsmann.

Asked which German players he would like in his team, he named midfielders Scholl and Andy Moller, plus sweeper Matthias Sammer. "I don't need Klinsmann because I have a better player in Suker," he said.

Klinsmann has dismissed fears that a cluster of yellow cards could hinder Germany's quest to reach the semi-finals.

Both sides will be walking a disciplinary tightrope with a total of 15 players carrying cautions from the first phase of the tournament.

Another booking for any of them would mean sitting out next Wednesday's last-four clash against the winners of today's supercharged Wembley battle between England and Spain.

Vogts knows his stars would hate to be sidelined and reckons it could be in the back of their minds.

"Psychologically speaking, you have players who have already been booked once and a little piece of their mind is already in the next but one match," he declared.

Moller and Hassler, the wing-backs Christian Ziege and Stefan Reuter and the forwardsKuntz and Bierhoff are the men concerned.

The Croats have recorded three bookings in each of their three games so far, but they included only three first teamers in their final match against Portugal.

Blazevic wanted to protect key men from possible suspension and also give them a rest before playing Germany. Only Robert Jarni, Bilic and Prosinecki have started all of Croatia's Euro 96 games so far.

Klinsmann recognised: "The Croats have very good individual players, but we want to put pressure on them and play our own game. And we hope that we have learned from our mistakes against Italy. Our concentration must be right and from the first second onwards we will go full steam ahead. We have to dictate play. That is the key element."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Extras
indybest
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
News
Ronahi Serhat, a PKK fighter, in the Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Poet’s corner: Philip Larkin at the venetian window of his home in 1958
booksOr caring, playful man who lived for others? A new book has the answer
Arts and Entertainment
Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Metz - 23 May 2012
art
News
Matthew McConaughey and his son Levi at the game between the Boston Red Sox and the Houston Astros at Fenway Park on August 17, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.
advertisingOscar-winner’s Lincoln deal is latest in a lucrative ad production line
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'
film
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Support, Help desk)

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Learning, SQL, Brokerage)

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Lea...

UNIX Application Support Analyst- Support, UNIX, London

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: UNIX Application Support Analyst-...

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention