Chris Coleman’s Welsh plans came unstuck in the Croatian mud
Wales manager Chris Coleman admitted after Tuesday night’s 2-0 defeat to Croatia that his thoughts before the World Cup qualifier had been the poor conditions in Osijek might work in his team’s favour.
In the end, quite the opposite proved the case, with the hosts’ dynamic passing game being in no way hampered by a boggy Gradski Stadium pitch and the surface only really making a significant impact by offering them a helping hand for their opening goal.
That came in the 27th minute when Wales captain Ashley Williams’ attempted pass-back appeared to be slowed down by a muddy patch. Wales goalkeeper Lewis Price came to try to clear the ball, but could only strike it against the onrushing Mario Mandzukic, who then calmly guided it into the net.
Coleman said: “We had been a bit worried because it was forecast as rain and we thought if it did rain, the game could have been in doubt. Up at the end that we made the mistake the pitch was really heavy. But, to be fair to them, it didn’t bother them [Croatia] at all – they still played their football.
“I thought it would have helped us more, but in the end [it did] not.”
While pointing out the surface had played a role in the build-up to the Mandzukic goal, Coleman acknowledged his team had ultimately been guilty of a defensive error and centre-back Williams took a similar view.
“The conditions played a part in the back-pass; the pitch was ridiculously bad,” said Williams. “But I probably should have hooked it out, knowing what it was like.”
Although Price was partly culpable for Croatia’s first goal, overall he had a good match, denying the home side with a string of saves. That earned him the praise of his manager, who was also keen to emphasise the number of Wales players that had been unavailable for the contest, with first-choice goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey, back-up Boaz Myhill, defender Neil Taylor and forward Craig Bellamy among those missing through injury. James Collins and Aaron Ramsey were both suspended.
Coleman said: “Pricey made a lot of good saves. But not a lot is made of that – that we came here with eight players missing. That would take it out of any squad, losing eight players.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Monday 20 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 20 C
Wind Speed: 7 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 8 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 10 mph
Wind direction: North west