Completing a week of Euro 2012 football, Italy will take it’s defensive style and try to tweak and upgrade it a little after surviving the Spanish encounter, hoping to get their first ever win over Croatia. Spain, probably sticking to their 4-6-0 formation, will hope Ireland are as weak as the first match suggested.
Italy – Croatia
After five meetings between the two teams since 1994, Italy have yet to get a win over Croatia. Italy won’t be changing their 3-5-2 (or 5-3-2) formation from their match against Spain, but expect them to be much more daring and soley rely on counter attacking and long balls to their strikers. Having a midfield unit that’s more than slightly Ireland’s superior will present a new kind of difficulty for Croatia.
The Croatians enjoyed tons of possession and hardly any trouble from the very straight forward yet limited Irish offensive game, except for that one goal. Their ability to operate Nikica Jelavic and Mario Mandzukic against the forest of centre backs the Italians apply will probably be greatly hindered, which will force Luka Modric and Rakitic to provide a scoring threat as well.
Spain – Ireland
Vicente Del Bosque seems adamant that Spain’s ultra-midfield approach won’t change against a team that will probably play in the same way as Italy did in the opening match, just with less ability, quality and yes, intelligence on the pitch. Despite the pressure to include either Fernando Torres or Llorene, Del Bosque is certain that the passing game spearheaded by attacking midfielders will get the job done.
For Ireland, who last met Spain in the 2002 World Cup, making an exit after penalty kicks. No one in the Irish camp is delusional regarding their chances against Spain, only saying that anything can happen. It’ll just be more of the same – Strong and hopefully successful defending and try to find their front men, especially Robbie Keane who hardly touched the ball against Croatia, through the wings of Duff and McGeady.
Predictions – Before the tournament began I thought Croatia will finish as second in the group at the expense of Italy, but the Italians made it through their first game in decent fashion. I expect another draw between the two sides today. Spain and Ireland? Doesn’t seem like a fair fight, and all the fighting spirit in the world won’t save the Irish from a second loss.
Game Times – Italy and Croatia kick off at 18:00 in Poznan while the later show kicks off at 20:45 on the pitch in Gdansk.