Beenhakker offers mother-in-law of all battles

Slaven Bilic does have a sense of humour, but does not necessarily strike you as a man who wants to trade mother-in-law jokes, especially not during the serious business of a tournament that he believes his nation can win.

Even though Croatia have qualified for the last eight of Euro 2008, and even though Bilic is set to rest virtually all his first-choice players, especially as five are on yellow cards, he quickly dismissed a quip by Leo Beenhakker, the Poland coach yesterday. "Maybe I can call my old friend Slaven Bilic and ask him to play his mother-in-law as a striker against Poland," Beenhakker said. Bilic's reply? "Well, I'm divorced," before adding of the Poles: "They have a chance and they have a team, so he doesn't need my mother-in-law."

Beenhakker is perhaps right to be fatalistic. Austria's controversial last-gasp equaliser against them on Thursday means that their chances of progressing are slim. A victory, and it needs to be a convincing one at that, against the Croats may not be enough. Asked whether his team are capable of winning by the three or four goals they need, the Dutchman said simply: "I don't know."

Beenhakker has also talked about ringing the changes, but scanning his squad list, and in the absence of the injured Jakub Blaszczykowski and Maciej Zurawski, his options are sorely limited, especially as striker Ebuzebiusz Smolarek has disappointed.

Bilic will shuffle his pack with ease and the story for Croatia will be the selection of veteran Dario Simic to win his 99th cap and captain the side, and the expected return of Ivan Klasnic after the 28-year-old striker recovered from a kidney transplant last year.

"We are going to field the strongest team possible, but we are not going to take risks," Bilic said. "I have no fear that they will embarrass us. I believe in this team, like I believe all 23 players in the squad."

That belief is shared, especially as Bilic has built the kind of "club" mentality and spirit within the Croatia squad that is so admired – and envied – by other coaches, including England's Fabio Capello, who spoke about it last week.

The Croat left-back Danijel Pranjic said: "Bilic is very important to us. He was a player for a long time and he knows everything about football. He's more like a colleague – there are periods when he's a coach and periods when he's a friend, though he hasn't played guitar for us yet. Maybe before the quarter-finals."

Croatia (probable, 4-4-2): Pletikosa (Spartak Moscow); Corluka (Manchester City), Knezevic (Livorno), Simic (Milan), Pranjic (Heerenveen); Leko (Monaco), Pokrivac (Monaco), Vukojevic (Dynamo Zagreb), Rakitic (Schalke); Kalinic (Hajduk Split), Klasnic (Werder Bremen).

Poland (probable 4-2-3-1): Boruc (Celtic); Wasilewski (Anderlecht), Jop (FC Moscow), Bak (Austria Vienna), Zewlakow (Olympiakos); Dudka (Wisla Krakow), Lewandowski (Shakhtar Donetsk); Krzynowek (Wolfsburg), Saganowski (Southampton), Guerreiro (Legia Warsaw); Smolarek (Racing Santander).

Referee: K Vassaras (Greece).

Misses next game if booked: Croatia Leko; Poland Wasilewski, Bak, Lewandowski, Krzynowek, Smolarek.

Poland v Croatia. Today, 19.45, Klagenfurt, BBC3

Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

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
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little