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On this week’s main listening report we look ahead to this summer’s European Championships in Poland and Ukraine and focus on Croatia’s chances. You can listen to the report by clicking on the link below, while vocabulary support (in bold) appears at the foot of the report. There is also a worksheet (see right) for learners who wish to improve their English.
Like the Republic of Ireland, Croatia had to qualify via the play=offs after finishing two points behind Greece in Group F. They then easily defeated Turkey to progress to the finals after they won 3-0 on aggregate with a 3-0 away win in Istanbul making the second leg at home in Zagreb a formality. It was not always so as Croatia could only manage one point against group winners Greece and also surprisingly lost to Georgia in a rather lacklustre campaign but they hit form at just the right time.
Without a doubt the standout player from the Croatian side is playmaker Luka Modrić who, along with his Tottenham Hotspur team mate Niko Kranjčar, forms part a strong midfield that also includes captain and Shakhtar Donetsk player Darijo Srna. Where Croatia may suffer is their lack of a proven goalscorer – Bayern Munich forward Ivica Olić works hard though his return of 15 goals in 77 appearances is not enough, though Everton striker Nikica Jelavić may make an impact from the bench.
Former national team player, Slaven Bilić has been manager of Croatia since 2006 and will be the second youngest coach at the tournament at 43, though with 55 games as manager (and only 6 defeats) he will bring a wealth of experience that may prove to be invaluable. This will be his second European Championship tournament in charge of Croatia after helping his team reach the last eight in 2008 and he for one at least feels that they can go further this time round.
In a group that includes Ireland, Italy and Spain few expect Croatia to progress to the knock-out stages and the first game of their campaign against the Irish is vital – the will need to beat the Republic to stand any kind of a chance of making the last eight. Their lack of a top striker means that despite showing flashes of brilliance the Croatians will end up with a solitary point and finish bottom of the group.
via: Through (by)
on aggregate: In total
a formality: Something easy
lacklustre: Not playing well
his return : His total
a wealth of experience: A lot of experience
they hit form: Started to play better, started to win