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Eduardo Injury Cripples Croatia's Euro 2008 Hopes
Guardian, February 26th, 2008 3:45PM

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The Guardian's Jonathan Wilson agrees with Croatia's newspapers that without Eduardo Croatia do not stand a chance of winning Euro 2008. After ending England's bid to qualify for the finals in Austria and Switzerland, Croatia had become everyone's favorite dark horse to pull off the unthinkable -- just as Greece did in Portugal four years ago -- and bring the trophy back to former Yugoslav nation. Wilson says Croatia's inexorable march toward qualification largely came down to three men: Coach Slaven Bilic, playmaker Luka Modric and Eduardo, the team's talismanic Brazilian-born striker. Bilic supplied the tactics, Modric anchored the midfield, and Eduardo supplied the finishing. Without a key marksman, Croatia will struggle for goals.

Eduardo's injury was enough for Croatian soccer officials to tell Jutarnji List that the team's chances of winning Euro 2008 are effectively over. "When I heard what had happened I started to cry," said Vlatko Markovic, the president of the Croatian Football Federation. "It is a huge blow for Croatian football. It's a curse. We haven't anybody who can cover for his absence - that is a fact. The only sure thing is that [the national coach Slaven] Bilic will have to change our play and find a new answer. With Dudu [Eduardo's nickname] and without Dudu is not the same. All our play depended on Dudu."

Bilic will now have to change the team's tactics. Eduardo's replacements are likely to be Mladen Petric and Ivica Olic, who between them have scored 21 goals in the Bundesliga this season.

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