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."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
On set of the Secret Cinema's Back to the Future event
filmBut why were Back to the Future screenings cancelled?
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Lewis Hamilton walks back to the pit lane with his Mercedes burning in the background
Formula 1
Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con
comic-con 2014
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
Arts and Entertainment
No Devotion's Geoff Rickly and Stuart Richardson
musicReview: No Devotion, O2 Academy Islington, London
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

BI Developer - Sheffield - £35,000 ~ £40,000 DOE

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

Employment Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - Senior Employment Solici...

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Day In a Page

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride