Croatia keeper Livakovic not on Bayern radar despite Neuer injury – Kahn

By Sports Desk December 13, 2022

Bayern Munich will not make a move for Croatia goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic as a replacement for Manuel Neuer, says Oliver Kahn. 

The Bundesliga champions are set to be without their first choice man between the posts after he suffered a leg injury on holiday following Germany's exit from Qatar 2022.

With Neuer out for the season, it remains to be seen whether Bayern will stick with Sven Ulreich as his understudy or look further afield.

Dinamo Zagreb keeper Livakovic has enjoyed an excellent World Cup with Croatia so far, and was the hero in their penalty shoot-out win over Brazil, but Kahn says they will not be looking at him as an option.

"The man who stopped Brazil will always be a hero to me," Kahn said. "Livakovic is worthy of praise. Such a goalkeeper must play at a top club.

"I have no doubt that this will be the case in the new season, but at the same time, he is not within the scope of our interests."

Kahn refused to comment on speculation Bayern will dip into the market in the new year in pursuit of a new goalkeeper, though he acknowledged the club needed to consider their options.

"We've lost our goalkeeper before the end of the season," he added. "It's terrible because he is one of the best in the world. It's a very serious loss for the team.

"We believe that the recovery will go well and his return too, but for now, we have to solve the problem of a replacement. This is temporary. Manuel will be back."

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    Luka Modric conceded he cannot go on forever as he was left to rue Italy's "cruel" last-gasp equaliser against Croatia, which leaves their hopes of progressing to the Euro 2024 knockout stages hanging by a thread.

    The 2018 World Cup finalists looked set to finish as Group B runners-up behind Spain after Modric's 55th-minute strike - just moments after Gianluigi Donnarumma saved his penalty - put them a goal to the good in Leipzig.

    However, there was to be a late twist when, in the eighth minute of stoppage time, substitute Mattia Zaccagni curled past Dominik Livakovic to snatch a share of the spoils - and second place from under Croatia's nose.

    Amassing just two points, having also conceded a stoppage-time equaliser against Albania, Zlatko Dalic's side failed to win any of their group games at a European Championship for only the second time - also achieving the feat in 2004.

    They can still qualify for the last 16 as one of the four best third-placed teams, but are relying on England beating Slovenia by a three-goal margin in Group C on Tuesday.

    That means Modric could well have played his final match at a European Championship where, aged 38 years and 289 days, he became the oldest scorer, and only the second player after Cristiano Ronaldo (five) to find the net at four editions.

    The Real Madrid midfielder is uncertain about his future.

    "I'd like to keep playing forever, but there probably will come a time when I must hang up my boots," he said. "I'll keep playing on, but I don't know for how much longer.

    "That was very stressful. We kept battling right until the end but, unfortunately, football was merciless with us tonight. It was cruel above all today, but also in our last match. when we also conceded a late goal.

    "But that's part and parcel of football. Often, it gives you plenty of smiles, but on other occasions, it makes you very sad as it did today, losing in the manner we did.

    "It's hard when you lose like this to find the words to describe how you feel. Of course, we need to bounce back. But that's the way it is.

    "And as I said earlier, perhaps it's unfair because we all really fought for Croatia right from the first whistle until the last, and the result is what it is.

    "The footballing gods don't necessarily always smile on us, but we should be proud of the way that we represented our country tonight."

    Team-mate Luka Ivanusec added: "I'm empty, we don't know what to say. Until the last minute, we have everything. We are disappointed."

  • Super sub Zaccagni and Italy eager 'to repay Spalletti' after sealing Euro 2024 progress Super sub Zaccagni and Italy eager 'to repay Spalletti' after sealing Euro 2024 progress

    Mattia Zaccagni says he and Italy are eager to repay head coach Luciano Spalletti, after the substitute's dramatic late equaliser against Croatia sent the Azzurri through to the Euro 2024 knockout stages.

    The reigning champions appeared set to finish third in Group B and face a potentially nervous wait for confirmation of their fate, as they trailed to Luka Modric's goal in Leipzig.

    However, in the eighth minute of stoppage time, substitute Zaccagni made himself the hero, curling a stunning first-time shot beyond Croatia goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic.

    Snatching second place from under the 2018 World Cup finalists' nose, Italy kept their title defence alive and will play Switzerland in the last 16 on Saturday.

    Spalletti is overseeing the Azzurri's fortunes at a major tournament for the first time and, following his last-gasp heroics, Zaccagni saluted the former Napoli boss.

    "[I feel] immense satisfaction," he said. "I'm excited, it's a beautiful evening. It was important to draw to qualify in second place.

    "We did well to stay in the game with a great second half. We deserved this draw. The coach did well to create this group, we will try to repay him on the pitch."

    Spalletti added: "There are things that happen in our matches that are illogical, but we need to take what the boys have in their qualities and put them in a position to express themselves at their best.

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  • Euro 2024 data dive: Modric makes history as Italy leave it late and Spain stay perfect Euro 2024 data dive: Modric makes history as Italy leave it late and Spain stay perfect

    Euro 2024 continued to deliver on the drama on Monday, as Group B came to a thrilling conclusion.

    Matters were relatively simple for Spain, as the group winners made it three wins from three by seeing off Albania 1-0 in Dusseldorf.

    Yet there was late chaos in Leipzig, as reigning champions Italy salvaged a 1-1 draw against Croatia to book their place in the last 16.

    We round up the best Opta facts from the day's action.

     

    Croatia 1-1 Italy: History-making Modric strike not enough

    Luka Modric, at the age of 38 years and 289 days, became the oldest player to score at the Euros when he lashed home in the 55th minute, and it looked for all the world as if that would be enough for Croatia to sneak into second place.

    Yet Italy, and specifically substitute Mattia Zaccagni, had other ideas.

    Zaccagni curled in his first Italy goal with just 41 seconds of stoppage time remaining to send Luciano Spalletti's team into the knockouts, with a tie against Switzerland up next. It is the latest goal scored by Italy at the Euros.

    Italy have now come from behind to avoid defeat in two of their three group games at Euro 2024, after also beating Albania 2-1 on MD1 – they had only done so in two group games previously in the finals of the competition (2-1 win against Bulgaria in 2004 and 1-1 draw against Romania in 2008).  

    Croatia, who were also pegged back late on by Albania last time out, have failed to win any of their group games at an edition of the European Championships (D2 L1) for just the second time, after previously doing so in 2004 (D2 L1).

    Each of the last four meetings between Croatia and Italy in all competitions have been drawn, since a 2-0 victory for Croatia in a friendly in August 2006.

    Modric's goal came just 33 seconds after Gianluigi Donnarumma had saved the veteran campaigner's penalty.

    Donnarumma has conceded just two of his last seven penalties faced at the Euros, saving four of them, with one hitting the woodwork. 

    Modric atoned with a brilliant close-range finish, making him just the second player to score at four different editions of the Euros, after Cristiano Ronaldo (five).

    Whether or not Modric has played his final game at the tournament is yet to be decided, with Croatia relying on England beating Slovenia by a three-goal margin to progress.

    Albania 0-1 Spain: Pretty perfect

    With Spain already through as group winners, Luis de la Fuente made wholesale changes, but La Roja got the job done thanks to Ferran Torres' goal.

    Spain have become just the second side to win all three of their group stage games at a Euros without conceding, after Italy also did so at Euro 2020.

    It is, in fact, the first time La Roja have not conceded a goal in the group stage of a major tournament, too.

    Torres has been directly involved in seven goals across nine appearances for Spain under De la Fuente (five goals, two assists), with no Spain player being involved in more goals under him.

    Dani Olmo released Torres with a sublime pass. He provided his fourth assist at the Euros on what was his seventh appearance in the competition, with only Cesc Fàbregas providing more for Spain in the competition since records began in 1964 (five).

    Bayer Leverkusen star Alex Grimaldo came in for his first start at Euro 2024, meanwhile, and delivered by creating five chances.

    That is the most of any Spanish defender in a single match at a major tournament on record (since 1980).

    Unlike Croatia, Albania's fate is sealed. They have been knocked out at the group stages of the Euros for a second time (alongside 2016), while this was the first edition that they failed to win a single game (D1 L2).

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