Republic of Ireland face Croatia in a Group D game, on Sunday, June 10, 2012; a loss in the match could mean the virtual end of the losing team’s Euro campaign, with football giants, Spain and Italy, the other teams in the group.
With their better showing in past tournaments, Croatia have a slight edge ahead of Sunday’s match but they cannot afford to complacent against the Irish who will be desperate to prove their credentials on the international stage after being denied entry to the FIFA World Cup in 2010 on the back of a ‘hand of God’ goal by Theirry Henri.
Though it will be tough for Croatia to trump either Spain or Italy to qualify from the group, don’t put it past then Vatreni who have earned a reputation for big performances on the big stage. Croatia can ill afford a slow start against a team they must beat though Bilic’s wards are unlikely to repeat their Euro 2008 exploits where they won all three group games.
Playmaker Luka Modric will be key to Croatia’s Euro campaign and with assistance from skipper Darijo Srna and Niko Kranjcar, the Tottenham star will be raring to prove naysayers wrong and cause an upset or two.
The Irish last played in this competition in 1988 when they came within a whisker of qualifying past the group stage. Despite their obvious talent and being ranked 18th by FIFA, coach Giovani Trapponi’s wards haven’t featured in International tournaments in recent times. The team relies on players who have earned their stripes in the English Premier League; the likes of Shay Given and Robbie Keame, along with young talent answering to the names of Darren Gibson and James McClean, can give any team a run for their money.
To their advantage, there won’t be any pressure of expectation on the Irish and if they can pull off an upset win on Sunday, they would have already done enough to justify their trip to Eastern Europe for the continent’s primary football tournament.
This promises to be an intriguing game with both teams likely to play attacking football as they seek to score goals and seal full points ahead of he tougher matches with Spain and Italy.
Republic of Ireland’s probable eleven: Given, O’Shea, Dunne, St Ledger, Ward, McGeady, Whelan, Andrews, Duff, Keane, Doyle
Croatia’s probable eleven: Pletikosa, Corluka, Schildenfield, Simunic, Strinic, Srna, Dujmovic, Modric, Kranjcar, Mandzukic, Jelavic.
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Jinxatious is the Chief Editor of SportingAttitude.com
An avid writer, on an eclectic range of subjects, he brings to bear editorial experience garnered with a national newspaper in South-East Asia. He also has sportscasting experience, as a cricket commentator, and his passion for sport extends beyond Cricket, to Football, Tennis, and Olympic Sports.