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Croatia's fan form a human swastika

WORLD champion Italy began life under new coach Robert Donadoni with a shock 2-0 friendly defeat by Croatia today (AEST).

Donadoni, who replaced Marcello Lippi after last month's World Cup triumph, picked only one player from the Germany squad, but it was hardly an auspicious homecoming for the Azzurri.

Croatia's victory was overhadowed by unsavoury scenes at the beginning of the match, when its fans formed a human swastika in the stand, which is even more pointed given the "Ultra" Livorno fans are known for their left-wing political leanings.

The home fans responded by chanting tributes to the thousands of Italians who were massacred by the Yugoslav partisans, led by Marshal Tito, during World War II.

On the pitch the Croats had the match wrapped up by half-time, goals by Brazil-born striker Eduardo and midfield player Luka Modric giving new coach Slaven Bilic a dream start against an inexperienced Italy side.

But Donadon did not blame his players for the defeat.

"I cannot blame the players," said the 43-year-old, whose previous coaching post was with Livorno.

"They did what they could at this stage of the season.

"We knew that the Croats would be in a lot better shape than us

"I am disappointed to have lost, but I am not disappointed by the performances of the players. They all did their best and they paid for two mistakes."


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