Klinsmann searches for some good news

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The Independent Online
Berti Vogts and his players wished first to "rejoice" in their quarter-final victory over Croatia before contemplating the semi-final with England, the interpreter said at Old Trafford. Clearly there had been something lost in translation. Never has there been a team who looked less like rejoicing than the Germans on Sunday.

The tears which welled up in Jurgen Klinsmann's eyes as he hobbled off the pitch and out of the tournament with a torn calf muscle gave way, at the after-match press conference, to a sad demeanour, the like of which we never saw during his all too brief stay in this country with Tottenham.

Whatever good his absence will do for England - and it will be considerable - is far outweighed by his loss to a tournament which is long on competence but short on such individual greatness. Croatia's cynical, calculating role in his demise has undone much of the sporting goodwill extended to that nation since its struggle for independence.

As befits a captain, Klinsmann, despite his misfortune, searched hard for a silver lining. He found a similarity between their present predicament with injuries and that of morale during Italia 90. "We only just scraped by against the Czechs in the quarter final, winning 1-0 with a meagre performance, and there was some insecurity within the team, but we went on to become world champions," he said. "You have to be positive, positive orientated - that's what I am, that's what my team-mates are. Maybe this calf of mine will be okay for Wednesday. We shall have to wait and see."

Assuming that neither Klinsmann nor his fellow striker Fredi Bobic, who dislocated his shoulder, will make miraculous recoveries, Vogts will have to mend and make do. With Jurgen Kohler and Mario Basler long since out of the running, and Stefan Reuter and Thomas Hassler barely able to run at all, it was hardly surprising that Vogts should recoil at the suggestion of a further "battle" with England, who, it should be remembered, have the benefit of an extra day's rest.

Since Vogts has struggled throughout this tournament to find an adequate partner for Klinsmann, he may not field two sub-standard strikers but deploy just one with Andreas Moller, originally a striker, in support.

Miroslav Blazevic, Croatia's coach, resigned last night, following his side's Euro 96 quarter-final loss to Germany. "I obviously haven't succeeded and that's why I will leave this job to somebody else," he said. He was criticised for fielding a weakened team against Portugal in Croatia's last group game.