Saturday, September 06, 2008

Spain & Croatia September 2008

Its a bit warm for the human statues in Las Ramblas but i guess they make reasonable money from the fascinated tourists.
For the England fans its a re-visit to Montjuic to play Andorra and the expectation of a better performance than last time.

At least the weather is better with just a shower beforehand. This writer dodged the rain by
visiting the impressive Catalunya Art Museum , near to the stadium.

Andorra 0 England 2

Somewhat deja vu , goalless at the break and England going off to some booing. It could have been a lot different if the chances carved out by Walcott in the early minutes had resulted in a goal. But they didn´t and it was left to Joe Cole to score two at the beginning of the 2nd to secure the win. As usual Andorra never got close.

The real test will come next Wednesday in Zagreb - difficult to say how England will fare but at the moment a draw would look like an excellent result.

Not many locals would have been at this game , more enjoyed the musical fountains display on Montjuic (or the Coldplay concert)
Back in Las Ramblas the tourists and fans mingled - this mingler preferred the local ambience down the side streets were you could watch Spain play Bosnia in comfort whilst sipping a caipirinha.

An hour or so by train is Girona. Where the old town is relatively quiet and atmospheric on this Sunday afternoon.

Girona 3 Alicante 0
Over 5000 watched together with some on the grassy banks above the partially refurbished stadium. This was Girona's first home game back in the second division for quite a while.

Alicante stayed close up until about the last 10 minutes. They had a man sent off in the second half, somewhat harshly and did create some chances chiefly through Ismael.

But the main man was Gabri who had scored the first and completed the victory by scoring the final goal.
Girona thus top the division , albeit with only two matches played.

From Girona via Barcelona for a stop-over in Berlin and in particular the Kreuzberg area of the city where a Persian meal plus a caipirinha went down well.

Germanwings to the Croatian capital. Its warm and sunny in Zagreb ready for the England game.

First take in some culture - the Technical museum and the Naive Art Museum featured this time.

Croatia 1 England 4

So if nil-nil was considered a good result beforehand what about a 4-1 away win ?

The locals generated some atmosphere in the un-improved Maksimir Stadium. But England ran out easy winners. They'd quietened the crowd with Walcott's rather fortunate first goal and survived some scares in the first half.

Whilst in the dramatic second period , after Robert Kovac got sent off for his elbow on Joe Cole's head , England put together some impressive moves with Rooney usually involved. Walcott did the rest.

Maybe we had above average luck and Croatia had a bad night at the office. But it will give us great confidence for the rest of the World Cup campaign.

With no reports of any trouble as well presumably even the Bad Blue Boys had an early night.

for more pics see

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