We had our first upset of the tournament yesterday, when Denmark defeated Netherlands in the opening game of Group B. While the second game of the ‘Group of Death’ saw Germany scrap out a 1-0 win over Portugal. Today, it’s time for the likes of Italy, Croatia, Republic of Ireland and defending champions Spain to take the field in Group C.
Our first match of Group C is a mouth-watering affair which sees current World and European champions Spain take on the 2006 FIFA World Cup champions Italy in Gdansk, followed by the clash between Slaven Bilic’s Croatia and Giovanni Trapattoni’s Republic of Ireland in Poznan.
Date – 10th June, 19:00 GMT
Stadium – Arena Gdansk, Gdansk
Prediction – Spain come into this tournament as the favourites to defend their title, but they kickoff their campaign with their toughest group game against Italy. Like we saw yesterday during the Germany-Portugal match and have seen in the past, when two big teams clash against each other so early in the tournament, the game is always a cagey affair and don’t expect it to be anything better than it. Spain have by far the best midfield in the world, but at the same time Italians have Andrea Pirlo, who can single handedly change the game with one pass. If the game is to go by anything as expected then it’s going to be Spain dominating the possession with their tiki-taka style of play and the Italians to defend for the most of the game and try to hit on the counter. Spain’s domination and possession football will help them in taking the lead through their World Cup hero Andres Iniesta. But the Italians will attack more and finally get the equaliser in second half and it would be Mario Balotelli to do so. Spain will continue their domination but will fail to beat Gianlugi Buffon and the game will end in a draw. A fair result in the end.
Predicted Final Score – Spain 1-1 Italy (Iniesta ; Balotelli)
Date – 10th June, 21:45 GMT
Stadium – Municipal Stadium, Poznan
Prediction – Ireland are placed at 80-1 odds to win the finals, but there are very few teams who could match the passion of the Irish players and the fans. Ireland face a tough challenge in Croatia in their opening game. Both the teams are expected to go back home after the group stages and knowing both of them face Italy and Spain up next, expected this one to be an open game. Both teams would go for the win, knowing a win today will be huge for their chances of staying the tournament. Game is expected to be an end-to-end affair with both teams attacking. The Irish players have the passion which helped them qualify for the finals but the Croatian players have the experience of playing in the major tournaments. Robbie Keane will give the Irish the lead in the first half but Croatia will equalise just before the interval through Nikica Jelavic. Croatia will come out and dominate the game in the second half and former Tottenham man, Niko Kranjcar will make the scoreline 2-1 just after the hour mark. Keane and co will come close to finding and equaliser towards the end of the game, but in the Luka Modric and co will hold and grab an important win in their first game of the tournament.
Predicted Final Score – Republic of Ireland 1-2 Croatia (Keane ; Jelavic, Kranjcar)