Day 7 - The EURO 2012 Crystal Ball
June 14, 2012 @ 18:00 pm
With Croatia leading Group C, Spain and Italy have to wage war to come out on top. Here's our prediction for tonight's games.
Spain v/s Rep. of Ireland:-
Spain's experiment against Italy, when Cesc Fabregas started as a striker, had mixed results; Fabregas scored but Spain struggled to penetrate the Azzurri. Against a defensive Ireland side Vicente del Bosque is expected to bring in a recognized striker, with Fernando Torres favored to get the nod ahead of Fernando Llorente and Alvaro Negredo. Despite his goal, Fabregas appears the man most likely to drop out.
The Ireland coach is likely to resist the public clamor for Sunderland winger James McClean, keeping faith with wide men Aiden McGeady and Damien Duff. Jonathan Walters could replace Kevin Doyle as Trapattoni opts for work rate against Spain, while Stephen Kelly could come in at right-back in place of Stephen Ward, with John O'Shea shifting from right to left.
Few can intimidate opponents as the Spaniards can with their incredible passing game. Despite an opening-game draw against Italy, Spain has not lost any of their swagger, nor will they lose any confidence in their footballing philosophy. They face an Ireland side that is pretty much their antithesis in terms of ability and style.
The Irish rely more on grit and organization, rather than technical ability and fluid build-up play, to stop goals from going in and score the odd one themselves.
But the difference between the two sides is that almost every player on the pitch for Spain can pick a glorious through ball to unlock the opposition's defence, while Ireland suffers from a lack of inspiration.
This match will not just play a large part in Spain's progression to the Round of 16—it will provide another test for Vicente del Bosque's controversial tactics and will go a long way toward proving their feasibility or stupidity.
Italy v/s Croatia:-
Cesare Prandelli has two major decisions to make; the first will come at the back as he must choose whether to retain Daniele De Rossi, who was impressive at the heart of the defence in their last match, or opt for Angelo Ogbonna and move the Roma star back into midfield.
His other dilemma is up front as he must pick between Mario Balotelli and Antonio Di Natale to lead Italy in attack. Balotelli looked frustrated and wasted a golden opportunity to open the scoring versus Spain, while the veteran Udinese star came off the bench to replace the youngster and netted the opening goal. However, Di Natale may not have the stamina at his age, to pull off a full ninety minutes of game play.
Croatia, meanwhile, are sitting in pole position in the group after their 3-1 win over Republic of Ireland and despite injuries to key players such as defender Dejan Lovren and striker Ivica Olic before the tournament, they did not miss any chances in their opener with the midfielders and strikers looking particularly bright.
Croatia is likely to be unchanged following a brilliant performance against the Republic of Ireland. Their only concerns is over Luka Modric, who is one booking away from missing the final game against Spain, as is his likely understudy Niko Krancjar. However, there is no question of the Tottenham man being left out.
Previous: Day 6 - The Euro 2012 Crystal Ball
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