Italy and Ireland will battle it out in a Group C matchup at the Municipal stadium in Poznan, Poland in each team’s final group stage match at Euro 2012. The two teams last met each other on the 7th of June last year and the boys in Green emerged surprise winners 2-0 , with Keith Andrews and Simon Cox among the goals. In fact, the Azzurri haven’t beaten the Irish in their last three meetings. However, past encounters will count for little in this clash as one team fights desperately for qualification and the other for pride.
Ireland, under the former Italian head coach Giovanni Trapattoni, worked so hard to qualify for the finals but have failed to make any impact in the competition. After suffering two crushing defeats against two highly competitive teams, the Irishmen have no chances of advancing and can at best hope to spoil Italy’s chances in the competition. Italy’s current head coach, Cesare Prandelli played under Trapattoni for Juventus thirty years ago and has immense respect for his former boss. But he wouldn’t be expecting any favours in return as Ireland aim to go home with their heads held high.
Italy have drawn both their previous group matches and even a win against Ireland might not be enough to guarantee a place in the quarter-finals. If the Spain and Croatia clash ends in a high-scoring draw, Italy may not be able to advance, even if they defeat Ireland. After two games, Spain have scored five goals, Croatia a total of four while Italy have scored only twice. Spain and Croatia have scored three points each while Italy two. If Italy win and Spain-Croatia match ends in a draw, all three teams would share the same points and therefore Italy must score at least three goals more than Croatia does against Spain in order to advance to the next stage.
Both the managers are not expected to make any radical changes in their lineups and would stick to their tried and tested formations. For the Azzurri, Balotelli could miss the game after suffering a knee injury in training on Saturday. Though the full extent of the injury is not known, he is likely to be replaced by the Udinese forward Antonio di Natale. Prandelli would be happy to welcome back the 31-year old centre-back Andrea Barzagli, after he recovered from a calf injury that kept him out of Italy’s first two games.
Italy’s probable lineup (3-5-2): Buffon, Bonucci, De Rossi, Chiellini, Giacherinni, Motta, Pirlo, Marchisio, Maggio, Cassano, Di Natale.
Ireland’s probable lineup(4-4-2): Given, O’Shea, St. Ledger, Dunne, Ward, Duff, Andres, Whelan, Mcgeady, Cox,Keane.
Italy’s ultra-defensive approach is both their strength and weakness. While their defence made life tough for their opponents in the last two games, their attack haven’t really had many goal-scoring opportunities. While the Azzurri are strong enough to see off the Irish threat, they might not win by a huge margin.
Italy 2 Ireland 0
Match time: Monday, June 18, 20:45 CET
About the Author (Author Profile)
Gokul is a software professional from Chennai, India. An avid sports fan, he is a keen follower of Cricket, Football, Hockey, Tennis and Formula One. He styles his articles as razor-edge analyses of all the hot and happening events in the field of sports.