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Italy v Croatia Euro 2012 Preview & Tips
Italy and Croatia meet for their second Group C game on Thursday, 14th of June. The game in Poznan starts at 17:00 GMT.
Starved for possession in their game against Spain, Italy was innovative enough to prevent the Spaniards from running riot in front of them. They drew first blood in fact with an Antonio Di Natale goal in the hour-mark before Cesc Fabregas quickly pulled one back for the La Roja four minutes after. The resulting draw didn’t seem to bother both sides especially the Azzurri, a team that broke its international losing streak at the expense of World Cup and Euro defending champions.
Andrea Barzagli’s absence due to injury forced Cesare Prandelli to play with a 3-5-2, playing with Daniele De Rossi in the middle of Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini. Rossi and Chiellini were the side’s top performers in a night when defensive stability was the sole savior for the Italians. Andrea Pirlo was in good show too, making good with the limited chances they had with a beautiful through-ball for Di Natale to drive home.
Croatia opened their Euro 2012 with a bang, wining over the Republic of Ireland 3-1. The dynamic duo of Mario Mandzukic and Nikica Jelavic had three goals in between them, the former scoring a brace. Mandzukic’s third-minute header killed the game for the Irish. Ireland leveled the score after 19 minutes but two goals on either side of the half allowed the Croatians to enjoy a comfortable lead en route to the win.
The attacking trio of Jelavic, Mandzukic, and Luka Modric is already looking like a match in heaven. This gives the prospect of an epic battle against the Italian defense. Dario Srna too might join the attacking party from the back. Italy’s makeshift defense is yet to be tested by a bombing full-back in the mold of Srna.
Italy v Croatia Betting Preview
Croatia is a win against a much coveted knockout stage slot and they have the perfect opportunity to do so against Italy before facing Spain in the last group stage match. Italy meanwhile will have to win in order to keep up with the pack; Spain is threatening a comfortable win against the Republic of Ireland and dropped points in this fixture could haunt the Italians back later in the tournament.
Italy has not won against Croatia in the last decade – two games have gone the way of the Croatians, one in a friendly six years ago, and one in the 2002 FIFA World Cup. Form-wise both teams will be going into this match with a slight differential; Italy has never won a game since the turn of the year while Croatia is coming off a scintillating win. A draw is looking imminent here.
Verdict: Italy and Croatia to draw, 2-2.
Tip: A draw at 3.20 is a good price, not too far from a 3.40 Croatia win that sounds like a steal. We’ve been treated to a low-scoring tournament so far, with only Russia and Croatia scoring beyond the two-goal mark, so it’s not likely that we’ll have a blowout here. Add to this the fact that Italy boast a strong defense and you would have expected this game to go under 2.5 goals at 1.53.
Quite frankly, the likelihood of a high goal-scoring affair is looking good, so aside from the game to go over 2.5 goals at 2.40 (a better punt), expect Mandzukic and Jelavic to rattle the back of the net. They are at 4.33 and 3.60 to score anytime respectively. Mandzukic’s 4.33 odds is a must-punt; we never had to point that out really but in case you missed his performance in the last game, you really should give this guy a go against Italy.
All odds are from Bet365.com (£200 FREE BET!).