Mario Mandzukic may have got
lost in translation when he was quoted as saying that he likes
to "jump a lot" but the robust Croatia striker has left no
doubt about the threat he poses in the penalty area.
"I like to jump a lot, this is what I do best," Mandzukic
told reporters, according to the translation at the news
conference following their impressive 3-1 win over Ireland in
their Euro 2012 Group C opener.
"We are jumping well, we are very motivated," he added.
With his club future at Vfl Wolfsburg in doubt and his place
in the Croatia team also uncertain, Mandzukic was not the most
likely of heroes.
But the 26-year-old set Croatia on the way with an
unorthodox header and put the game beyond Ireland's reach with
another effort that rebounded from the post and went into the
net off goalkeeper Shay Given.
Although it was clearly an own goal, it was officially
credited to Mandzukic, taking his tally to seven goals in 30
Despite scoring in the 3-0 play-off win in Turkey, Mandzukic
was not considered an automatic starter for Croatia, where
in-form Nikica Jelavic, scorer of the other goal against Ireland
on Sunday, leads the attack.
But injury to Ivica Olic boosted his chances and the 2009
Croatian Player of the Year was selected to start ahead of
Brazilian-born Eduardo Da Silva against the Irish.
His livewire partnership with Jelavic provided the perfect
target for the craft of Luka Modric in midfield.
The former Dinamo Zagreb player has had an up-and-down
season in the Bundesliga with Wolfsburg.
At one point, he fell out of favour with their notoriously
hard-to-please coach Felix Magath but won back his place in the
second half of the season and finished with 12 league goals.
Despite this, Wolfsburg are unlikely to renew his contract
for next season and he is now looking for a new club. Croatia
coach Slaven Bilic was as baffled as anyone by that news.
"The year before it was thanks to Mario that Wolfsburg
stayed up and last season he was again their best player," he
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