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UEFA Euro 2012 Group C Betting Tips & Predictions
Group C features reigning champions Spain with European heavyweights Italy and Croatia looking to offer a challenge. Republic of Ireland will feel unfortunate to be pitted against such strong teams, but they do have a fight and they will at the very least offer a stern test against teams in Group C.
Spain will be looking to make history as the only side to win the European Championship two consecutive times. They swept their qualifying assignments as if to stamp their intent in winning the Euro trophy back-to-back, but with the likes of Italy set to stand in their way as early as the group stages, there is certainly a lot of work to do before they bring the bacon back home.
Spain won the 2010 World Cup with the likes of Xavi, Iniesta, and David Silva pulling the strings in the middle of the park. Xavi most especially, has been the side’s most dominant side. But with injuries and age, the Barcelona star has been off as of late – perhaps why Barcelona failed to retain the title and exited the Champions League at the semi-final stage – and so another midfield maestro could be needed to step up.
Speaking of stepping up, Barcelona midfielder Cesc Fabregas has been filling in the role of Xavi well in the last months. He could be asked to do so again, this time in the national team. Fernando Torres’ inconsistency in the 2012 EPL season could also see another Fernando – Llorente is the surname – to step up. Torres was a gem in the World Cup but given Llorente’s recent exploits with Athletic Bilbao, he could be given the nod to start up front.
The 2006 World Cup winners won this prestigious tournament only once, and that is in 1968. They did make it to the quarter finals last time out, only to be stopped dead in their tracks by no other than Spain. They get their early shot at revenge in this summer’s group stage, and if ever they do so, they might just be favourites to win it all at the end.
Will Mario Balotelli finally make it to the starting line-up? This question would have not been possible if not for issues surrounding Antonio Cassano and Guiseppe Rossi. Cassano anyway is likely to play in the hole in a 4-3-1-2 formation preferred by Cesare Prandelli, with Super Mario likely to pair-up with Antonio di Natale up front.
More worthy of attention is Italy’s defense. They only conceded two goals in the qualifying round of Euro 2012. With Andrea Barzagli, Giorgio Chiellini, Domenico Criscito, Christian Maggio likely to form a rock-solid back four, expect Italy to frustrate opponents all tournament long.
Republic of Ireland
The last time Ireland qualified for the Euro finals was way back in 1988, and they never made it past the group stages. Amusingly, 2012 is only the second time Ireland will be showing up in the finals. This time around, Irish fans will be hoping that they make it to the knockout stages.
Robbie Keane is, time and again, the face of this team. This could be the captain’s last European Championship, with age playing a factor. The now-Major League Football based star will be aided by Aiden McGeady and Shay Given among the many others in the line-up.
Still the man to watch is Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni. The cunning Italian will surely have surprises up his sleeve for the tournament, and it remains to be seen how he will play his cards this summer. Can he masterfully replicate a 2004 Greece magnificent maneuvering? Let’s wait and see.
Could this finally be Slaven Bilic’s last tournament as Croatia manager? He is debatably not as wily as Trapattoni, but Bilic is able to pull off what most national head honchos cannot. Over the years Bilic has built a tough Croatia side that made the quarter finals in 2008. He has been courted by a number of clubs since then, but before he leaves Croatia as manager, he will certainly hope that the leaves with a bang – a trophy is optional but it will certainly add flavor to his already-brilliant managing career.
Stars like Luka Modric – who by the way played another great season with English side Tottenham – and Darijo Srna will be at it once again. But the man to watch for Croatia this tournament is Everton striker Nikica Jelavic. The 26-year old striker scored 25 goals in 34 appearances (in three competitions including a stint in the Scottish Premier League) last season. His movement and clinical finishing caught the eyes of many Premier League managers that even Bilic couldn’t resist but give him a call-up.
Group C Betting Tips & Prediction
Spain is undoubtedly the top contender to win this group; they are at a measly 1/10 to advance as Group C winners. The defending champions have what it takes to steamroll past their opposition, even against the likes of Italy.
Between Italy and Croatia, Italy looks better as a prospect. They are at 8/13 to advance, most likely as runners-up in the group. Defense will definitely show them the way, and so if they stop Croatia and Spain from pouring in the goals, then they definitely have a chance to advance.
All odds are from Bet365.com (£200 FREE BET!).