HAJDUK DRAW ATHLETIC BILBAO AS THE CLUB WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP BECKONS IN CAIRO
P. BAŠI?, A. LOTINAC x2
It is perhaps the most ironic draw in the Champions League this year, as Europe's most home-based clubs have to face each other off in the final 16. Bilbao, who have played with only Basque players for decades, are facing off against the glory that is Hajduk, who have practiced almost
the same policy, albeit the occassional Slovenian/Brazilian. Athletic joins Spain's strong contingent this year, as both Barcelona and Real make it through. Meanwhile, all four of England's clubs (Tottenham/City/United/Chelsea) are in there, while AC Milan and Sampdoria are Italy's only representatives.
At the end of the day though, the only question is if anyone can stop Bendiš.
Meanwhile, Bendiš can only look forward to the Club World Championship final, where Admir Lotinac, 18, scored two goals in the semifinals. Lotinac played well, assisting once early as well, and, with a good performance in the finals against ES Tunis, could become the youngest player to win the Best Player award.
LOTINAC DEFIES HIS YEARS
HAJDUK 4-1 ES TUNIS A. LOTINAC x2, T. KIŠ, P. BAŠIĆ
Hajduk was celebrating finishing off its fifth championship, but there was an 18 year old who was the happiest, and most deserving of all.
This was the same 18 year old that was thrown into the fire last year against Manchester United, and who didn't start a single Croatian First Division match at all last season. In fact, while every one of his teammates picked up a treble, he captained the U19s to the Cup and the League, and then, as, perhaps an afterthought, picked up the Champions League Winner's Medal... at 17.
Since then, he has been absolutely magnificent, going from strength to strength.
And last night was no exception. Admir Lotinac scored what must be the goal of the tournament in the 21st minute, as he dribbled past two defenders on the wing before cutting inside, and from the corner of the box, chipped the ball into the corner of the net over the keeper. He wasn't done, as he assisted crossed the ball to Pero Bašić on the far post, before taking another one for himself.
And with that, he became the youngest "Player of the Competition" for the Club World Championship, beating out Leo Messi and Eden Hazard (both 22 in 2009, 2013 respectively).
Bendiš was the only one not on a plane for Split. Stijepan Andrijašević was the one who celebrated at the café, and Bendiš was not the one behind the piano. Instead, he went on a plane to South Africa, with his Fiat shipped down with him. It wasn't a cheap trip, but it was to be a fun one, as he met with his best friend in South Cape Town, at the harbour. The Fiat 500 was fitted with rally tires, a magnificent red and white checkered stripe down the hood, and a special edition Hajduk Croatian license plate: ST-1.
There were four weeks before Hajduk were going to play their first game of the Spring season. Four weeks, and a continent of desert, rivers, and an adventure ahead.
THAT'S HOW IT'S DONE
DINAMO 1-5 HAJDUK MAURÍCIO - P. BAŠIĆ, T. KIŠ x2, T. PEŠIĆ, F. ANDRIJAŠEVIĆ
The minutes before the match ticked by. The squad line-up had been taken care of weeks ago, and, with it already submitted, but without the manager, the press had already interviewed Bendiš's opposite number, Elvis Scoria, who went down his standard Bendiš and Hajduk hating commentary. But the press waited for Bendiš, and his assistant wasn't there to cover for him... because he was told it wouldn't be necessary. So the press just sat, and waited.
They smelled him before they saw him. A terrible smell wafted from the entrance to the press box. It was as if someone had taken a skunk out of the garbage and dunked it into used frying oil before throwing it through the window, and it carried like none other. The manager's door had been opened wide, and they heard Bendiš sprinting up the steps, making a racket. "I don't know which time zone we are in, and my phone hasn't had battery in weeks. Is the game in an hour? Was it an hour ago?"
Confused was one way to put it... but when they saw him for the first time in a month, they understood why.
Hajduk's manager was always dressed in a suit and tie, and he looked damn good doing it. 28, handsome, tall, and well dressed was a deadly combination with ridiculously charming and rich; but this was a different Bendiš. He had a shirt tied around his head like a bandana, and, it might have been white... perhaps a Hajduk shirt... when it was new, but what was there was just brown from dirt and soot. His chin, normally clean shaven, now sported a spectacular beard that was equally filled with dirt, while his hair was no exception. He sported an exceptional tan line where he wore his round sunglasses during the trip, and it was the only part of his face that was not covered in mud, like the rest of his person.
You could see his car from the press box, as it drove away. What had once being a black gleaming example of perfection was now in desperate need of a wash, perhaps a service or two. The tires couldn't have possibly held their grip on the tarmac any better than they would on ice, such was the amount of dirt that had collected in the grooves.
He ran down the aisle in between the journalists, before fielding the first question, which turned out to be the ever sarcastic comments from the Zagreb-based journalist, "Welcome back, how was the trip?" It was a relatively short press conference, considering it was the Dinamo/Hajduk derby, but that may have been on account of the smell that seemed to emenate from Bendiš's every pore.
He did manage to clean up before the match though. The game had already started and been going on for ten minutes before Bendiš finally stepped onto the field, clean shaven, and looking like absolutely nothing could stop him.
And nothing could.
As he stepped onto the pitch, the south stand cheered and simultaneously pointed at the scoreboard above them. It took Bendiš a couple seconds to catch what was going on, but when he did, he made a massive fist-pump, and pointed at the sky. DINAMO 0-1 HAJDUK. Pero Bašić had scored the opener, and it had taken only 7 minutes to do it.
But a quiet first half followed. Hajduk deserved to score one more, but there were no really clear cut chances after the opening goal. But in the second half, Dinamo went for a come-back, gambled the result, and lost. Kiš scored a beautiful running goal off a Josip Radošević assist to make it 2-0 in the 52nd, before Teo Pešić picked up the ball three minutes later to make it three. It took less than 10 minutes for Kiš to get his second, but a spectacular diving header off a weird counter attack gave it to him, before Franko Andrijašević closed the account: the captain/sub scored a close range effort, flying in with a karate kick off a cross, and smashing it into the net.
While Dinamo got one goal back, they never really stood a chance, and, as Bendiš climbed into his newly cleaned car, he only had one comment for the journalists chasing him there:
"That's how it's done"
Haha you show them journalists XD
Because that's fair... at least:
BARCELONA, CITY, CHELSEA, FIRST CASUALTIES
EUROPEAN CHAMPIONS LEAGUE 1ST KNOCKOUT STAGE
Barcelona, who spent 51 million euros over the summer on bringing Fermín Capellas from Betis, have been knocked out with, arguably, two of the best players in the world: with Leo Messi, who just recently picked up his 10th Balon D'Or in what has been called the greatest swindles of football history, as he has done absolutely nothing of note, except lose, will, once again, be excluded from the latter stages of the Champions League. The fortunate note of all of this is that, with Sevilla dominating in the Spanish league, and the Champions League out of reach, we can all be happy that Leo Messi will finally
not be Platini's little pet at the Ballon d'Or awards later in the year. Thank you Manchester United. Thank you Jürgen Klopp.
Meanwhile, United remains the only English club that has made it out of the draw, as Olympique Lyonnais (S. Bili?) smashed Manchester City with two 3-1 victories, at home and away... while Chelsea lost out to Massimiliano Allegri's spectacular win over Roberto di Matteo's Chelsea with his AC Milan.
Meanwhile, Real Madrid face Sampdoria later tonight, while Timmy Bendiš faces off against Athletic Club in the home-grown derby. Both matches had away goal draws. Hajduk and Real Madrid host.
(FRA) OLYMPIQUE LYONNAIS
- 6-2 - MANCHESTER CITY FC (ENG)
(ITA) A.C. MILAN
- 3-1 - CHELSEA FC (ENG)
(ENG) MANCHESTER UNITED FC
- 3-2 - FC BARCELONA (ESP) //scum
(ENG) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR FC - 2-4 - PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN
(UKR) SHAKHTAR DONETSK
- 6-4 - LOSC LILLE METROPÔLE (FRA)
(BEL) STANDARD LIÉGE - 3-6 - OLYMPIQUE DE MARSEILLE
(HRV) HNK HAJDUK SPLIT
v. ATHLETIC CLUB DE BILBAO
(ESP) - POLJUD - (2-2)
(T. BENDIŠ - J. M. LILLO)
(ESP) REAL MADRID C.F.
v. U.C. SAMPDORIA
(ITA) - SANTIAGO BERNABEAU - (1-1)
(J. MOURINHO - C. FERRARA)
HAJDUK, REAL MADRID, COMPLETE 2ND ROUND
4-0 ATHLETIC CLUB BILBAO
T. KIŠ ('11, '45+2), P. BAŠI? ('76, '85)
C. RONALDO ('10) A. DAS ('54)
Sampdoria held on a lot better than Athletic Club Bilbao, as the Croatian Treble champions absolutely slaughtered the opposition, as Tomi Kiš opened the scoring obscenely early, cutting through the Athletic. It was a beautiful double pass that gave the ball to Kiš: the forward punted it forward to the left wing, Pero Baši?, who, seeing the rushing forward follow the ball towards the center, give the ball to Kiš for him to smash it past the goalkeeper, and start the scoring. He waited until the dying seconds of the first half, before he took the ball for himself, and dribbling through the center on his own, sent the keeper the wrong way, took him for a ride.
The second half was as straightforward as the first, but Hajduk found it difficult to break the deadlock. Iker Muniain finally lost the ball though, at his own half to the marauding Josip Radoševi?, who ended up giving the ball to Pero Baši? and finishing up the match.
The last goal was simply a formality, as Hajduk took Bilbao to town. Tomislav Kiš, with 10 goals from 8 goals is the top scorer remaining in the competition, and with a rating of 8.16 is the 2nd best player in the latter stages, the first being Gaston Ramirez, 8.80 with Paris Saint Germain. Admir Lotinac, 19, has the most assists with 7 from 8 games.
CAN HAJDUK CRUSH MANCHESTER'S THEATRE OF DREAMS?
Thank you for 500 posts. The support I receive is absolutely incredible, and without it, I doubt I'd ever end up winning the Champions League at home. Whether that remains possible is another question entirely, but Thank you for the support anyway
KIŠ TOPS CHAMPIONS LEAGUE SCORING CHARTS, AS MADRID, UNITED BOW OUT
There are three seasons on record where their was a player who scored more than 12 goals in a single season of the Champions League. In 2016, Lionel Messi just stole the Golden boot from Tomislav Kiš when he scored 13 goals, and he scored 14 in 2012. In 1962, Altafini scored 14 for AC Milan, when the Italians lifted their maiden trophy and became the first club that wasn't from the Iberian peninsula to win.
Tomislav Kiš, having just lead Hajduk to their third consecutive final, has scored 12. With three matches to play, the prolific forward may come up with just enough to set possibly the most ridiculous record of all time: 15 goals in 13 matches against the best of Europe.
The only question remains: can he do it?
MANCHESTER UNITED 1-2 AGG. 2-5 HAJDUK SPLIT
SHAKHTAR DONETSK 3-2 AGG. 6-2 REAL MADRID
HAJDUK SQUEAK BY OLYMPIQUE LYONNAIS FOR THIRD CONSECUTIVE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL
SHAKHTAR DONETSK THROUGH PAST PARIS SAINT GERMAIN
France was so close to having two clubs in the final. It would have been the first time ever, but France nearly had it. Paris Saint Germain was the money club, they were thought to have the easiest draw of all time, as they faced 33 year old Dmytro Chygrinsky's Shakhtar. And meanwhile, Lyon had scored an early goal against the Croatian champions and were holding on strong, attacking at the fortress of Poljud, putting the Dalmatian club on the back foot throughout the match.
But the underdogs weren't having it. They never would. Shakhtar lost their home match against the Oil rich Parisiens, as PSG punted four goals past the Ukraine outfit. Realistically, the 4-2 result was kind on the Ukraine champions, as one of their goals came in the 91st minute, just barely before the final whistle. But when Paris came in front of its own fans, it was a disaster. Shakthar scored three goals, one in the 23rd, one just at the brink of half time, and the third in the 67th minute, as they finally made it to their maiden final. Gaston Ramirez just couldn't make the difference, as Tomislav Kiš looks to pick up the Best Player award... finally within a shot of taking it from the Barcelona striker, Leo Messi.
And, on the other side, Lyon took an early lead against Hajduk, which Hajduk simply couldn't take back. With a 4-4 draw on the cards in France, Hajduk deseprately needed the goal. But the minutes ticked by, and Lyon defended like no tomorrow. It was the 70th minute when Mirnes Trifković nearly opened the scoring, but managed to, from 2 meters, punt the ball way over the crossbar, and leaving Bendiš nearly in tears on the sideline.
5, 10 more minutes passed, before Poljud finally exploded. Pero Bašić rushed up the left side, the crowd started waving across, cheering him on, booing Šime Vrsaljko. Bašić waited for the last second, before jinking past Vrsaljko and found himself with a clear cross into the box. With 5 minutes left, Šozić lifted up, floating in the air for a second, and dinked the ball with his head in the opposite direction of the keeper. The stadium was silent as Baptiste Reynet could only look hopelessly as the ball crawled over the line.
Šozić was on the ground as he watched the ball go in. The whistle finally went though, and the Brazilian got up, and ran screaming for joy towards the crowd. The scoreboard said only one thing: Hajduk Split 1-1 Olympique Lyonnais. Hajduk held for 5 more minutes, before the final whistle blew, sending the Croatians to their third consecutive final.
HAJDUK SPLIT v. SHAKHTAR DONETSK - OAKA SPYROS LOUIS - 23.V.2020.g.
WHY THEY ARE UNSTOPPABLE:
ZAGREB 1-3 HAJDUK - M. KOVAČIĆ - M. OREMUŠ x2, J. ELEŽ - CROATIAN CUP FINAL, LEG 1
GORAN BLAŽEVIĆ INJURED AS HAJDUK GLIDE PAST ZAGREB IN THE CAPITAL
Goran Blažević, Hajduk's only senior goalkeeper, was out for two games in a row, this being the latter, and if nothing else, it proved why Hajduk were unstoppable.
Zagreb is currently Croatia's 5th placed team. Despite conceding 7 goals to Tomislav Kiš just a couple years ago, they have restructured under a new manager, and brought several former Hajduk players in: Miro Kovačić, Duje Špadina (loan), Josip Kožina (loan), and Dino Kluk all started against their former (and current) club, but, while they are strong, they were no match, as Mirko Oremuš, widely expected to leave in the summer, took matters into his own hands and scored two goals, reminding Bendiš why he was a club legend.
But the real reason Hajduk is unstoppable? They play like a team. Damir Jurakić, 19, made only one save in a match, where the entire team tracked back. Where the counter attack was swift, and deadly. Where Vardović, Croatia's 2nd keeper, didn't stand a chance against the marauding 2-3-1 midfield/forward combination that Hajduk have turned into their own. There was not a single instance where Zagreb looked like it even remotely posed a threat to the massively successful Hajduk squad, still holding an average age of 23, despite captain Mario Maloča (31) and Goran Blažević (33) holding first team berths. This was a Hajduk searching for back-to-back trebles, regardless of the team. Whether Shakhtar will let them have it is questionable.
MEANWHILE... IN ATHENS
"One ticket to the Champions League final, please."
A man scoffed, "Please, woman, we cannot trade in Champions Leagues tickets like nickels and dimes. Where do you think you are from? Mmm?" The Greek ticket-stand owner had sold his share of Champions League tickets long ago... He had not received many, but they sold out quicker than he could imagine. And now this person was here, a fortnight before the match, asking for tickets like she would a loaf of bread.
"Perhaps I was not clear..." The woman pulled an envelope out of her bag, and laid it on the counter... The man, who had already turned away, glanced downwards to see a green note poke out from the envelope. It was a thick envelope, and it could not have been what he thought it was.
"Find me a ticket. Find me a good ticket... and keep the change". She turned and left, there was a phone number in the envelope, and when the man realized what was at stake, he ran to the café down the street calling numbers on his mobile phone all the while... "Look, Kristos, I need a..."
Amazong performances mate, you're great, I'm waiting the final with Shakhtar!
KIŠ PICKS UP BEST PLAYER AWARD, GOLDEN BOOT; BENDIŠ PICKS UP #2!
HAJDUK 3-2 SHAKTHAR
Kiš, suspended for the final for the second year in a row, making him miss out on the Winner's medals, was at least awarded the Best Player and Top Goalscorer, as the prolific forward led Hajduk forward with 13 goals from 12 appearances in Europe's greatest competition. With 162 million viewers, it was, yet again, the largest TV audience in the world, but a bit of a let off from 2015, where Arsenal defeated Barcelona in front of 232 million people.
Hajduk were not favorites though. They were not guaranteed the win, in what was easily perceived as their easiest match of the campaign for a single simple reason: Shakhtar were damned good. Their policy on importing players from South America has matured over the years, and, with a potent mix of locals and Peruvians, Maxym Kalinichenko had transformed the team into a global, tiki taka force.
Common knowledge of football: Bendiš hates tiki-taka. And it shows.
Hajduk were lost. They were not used to not having the ball in their feet. They were not used to watching the ball make circles around them. The defense, so used to intercepting every cross in the book, were left hopelessly chasing the ball as Blažević had to make save, after save, after save, after save. But Hajduk broke the deadlock. They were lucky, but they broke it. Off a beautiful corner from Erik Janža, Josip Elež, Hajduk's magnificent center back, got in on a diving header to smash the ball into the top corner of the net. But Shakhtar took the goal back, and quickly, before winning a penalty off Fiorentini.
Taras Stepanenko went to get the ball, and was just setting the ball down when Bendiš thought he saw someone in the crowd. He waved it away. He had been looking for a year, and he hadn't found her... surely she wouldn't show up to watch him.
His mother saw the look though. Bendiš's family rarely came to watch his team play... but the Champions League final was an exception. They knew that, despite not understanding football at all, this was always big deal for their son. His mother noticed the glance that wasn't towards the net, and she felt the pang of his heart. She knew who he thought he had seen.
The Hajduk crowd was behind Blažević's net, and, with all the luck in the world, the Split born keeper dived in the right direction as Stepanenko couldn't get the power behind the ball. Still 1-1.
Willian wasn't having it though, and, just before the half, he scored to give Shakhtar the lead. It was an annoying goal, at best, as Shakhtar's damned passing ran circles around Hajduk's zonal defense, but it was the lead, nevertheless. For a second, Bendiš thought he saw her again, but the halftime whistle blew, and the crowd stood up. Shaking his head, the prolific manager, tried to concentrate and then remembered that they had just conceded on the brink of halftime.
He pulled it off though, whatever Bendiš said in the locker room, worked. Willian went down, injured, and the match became even. Even without the lead, Bendiš had the advantage, and Hajduk started making more use of the attack. Finally, on the 60th minute, Erik Janža grabbed the equalizer, taking a free-kick nicely and tucking it under the bar.
But the only thing that went through Bendiš's mind was that there was no way she could get seats that good without him knowing... and yet...
Pero Bašić finally scored the winner in the 80th minute, when Bendiš's ex-fiancée got up, and walked up towards the exit. Ten minutes later, the final whistle blew, and Bendiš, shaking Kalinichenko's hand, was flying through the door. He knew what he was looking for, and he wasn't going to lose her now... not again
10 minutes was a lot of time in a big city, but it wasn't stopping Bendiš. The little Fiat came careening around the corner, as the city started emptying out of the bars in the city, but Bendiš paid them no heed. All he had eyes for was the black Maserati that he knew she was driving. He called every person in the city, in Greece, that he knew. There was no stopping him. It took him 20 hours... twenty long, painful hours, before he gave up. He stopped in a café in Taranto, in Italy, nowhere near Athens, as he watched the sun set over the sea... sobbing.
20 hours in the wrong direction, she was turning in for the night, in the same room that they had once shared in Istanbul. As she stood on the balcony, with the moon hanging in the sky, a single tear came to her face, before she spun and slammed the curtains shut over the beauty of the Bosphorus.
Amazing performance mate, conrafuckinlations!
Congrats on the win! Nice writing and storyline too.
FRANCE GOES TO KNOCKOUTS, AS CROATIA/HAJDUK FAIL TO QUALIFY YET AGAIN
FRANCE 1-1 GREECE
FRANCE 2-1 UKRAINE (ISTANBUL, TURKEY)
Bendiš is one of the greatest managers in the world... if not the greatest, so when France announced their appointment of the Croatian, the entirety of France blew up in cheer. Yes, this was a foreign national. Yes, his knowledge of international football was limited at best, but he was, without question, one of the best, and, still only 28, one of the most exciting managers in the game. At the time of appointment, Bendiš had taken the 4th team in the world. Now, France, 2nd, look forward to their first ever European Championship ranked as the top team in Europe (Brazil #1, France #2, Spain #3, Germany #4)
Bendiš, on the other hand, wonders why his own homeland, now 63rd on the rankings, barely entertains the motion of one of its greatest sons managing the national team, mostly composed of his Hajduk team... with a whopping 12 of them making the cut.
No matter... a European Championship should give him a shoe-in for the long-coveted Croatia position... and that was all that mattered to him. He told himself this every night, on the balcony of his café. A Champions League title at home, and a World Cup title won at Poljud... raising the cup in front of his own fans. But then he remembered what had happened not a month ago, and, without fail, a single tear came to his eye, before he went back inside to work.
It was difficult to watch... the brilliant manager had been tearing himself to pieces in the last few months, working way too hard for his position. The results were showing... Hajduk's training was more coherent than ever, the team working as if it was one person. But the club was worried. His secretary made sure to check with him every hour, and it hadn't happened only once when someone had to take him home, simply from exhaustion. This was the Bendiš that they had a few years ago, and it was important they fixed him quickly; for Hajduk intended to keep this manager for a very long time. Him dying from exhaustion would hardly help their cause.
FRANCE MAKES IT TO THE QUARTERFINALS
FRANCE 3-0 SERBIA H. BEN ARFA x2, Y. BENZIA
Hatem Ben Arfa, 33, is trying to pull a Zidane. The Chelsea player has been prolific in his entire career, making 353 appearances for Chelsea since he moved there, 8 years ago. But earlier in the year, he announced his retirement, making the next few games he plays, his last.
To his credit though, he's making sure they count.
Playing on the right flank, Ben Arfa floated towards the center, to receive a ball in the 17th minute, and, showing that he had earned every single one of his 57 apps, curled a ball around the keeper, and off the post into the net. Yassine Benzia, Olympique Lyonnais' fantastically fast forward, got the second one, 20 minutes later with an incisive finish, before Hatem Ben Arfa finished it off with a beautifully taken penalty in the 2nd half, to seal the Man of the Match award, and move one step closer to collecting an unlikely Golden Boot. (Ben Arfa has 3, the leaders (playing for England, Romania [OUT], Austria [OUT], and Portugal [OUT] are on 4)
SLOVENIA 2-0 AUSTRIA
FRANCE 3-0 SERBIA
GERMANY 1-0 RUSSIA
ROMANIA 1-1 [Pen] SPAIN
UKRAINE 1-2 [A.E.T] ENGLAND
IRELAND 3-1 [A.E.T] PORTUGAL
GREECE 0-1 ITALY
TURKEY 2-4 WALES
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