Germany and Portugal joined Czech Republic and Greece in the quater finals in the last night from Group B. Lars Bender scored the winner as Germany defeated Denmark, while Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice to send the Dutch home without a single point in the Euros this year.
Today it’s time for Group C as Croatia, Spain and Italy battle out for two places in the quarter finals, while Republic of Ireland are already out and have just pride to play for. Croatia take on the defending champions Spain in Gdansk, while Italy will look to win against Ireland in Poznan. Here are the predictions for the two matches.
Date – 18th June, 21:45 GMT
Stadium – PGE Arena, Gdansk
Prediction – This will be the match to watch today, as both the team – Spain and Croatia have been in good form so far. Spain are at the top of the group with 6 points from their two matches, while Croatia are second with four points. A draw will be enough for Spain and will help them qualify as Group C winners. On the other hand, a win for Croatia and they win the group but a draw could be risky. A high scoring draw other than 0-0 and 1-1 would be good for Croatia but if they draw 0-0 and Italy win then they are out or if they draw 1-1 then Italy must beat Ireland 3-1 to progress. A defeat may also be enough if Italy fail to win against Ireland, but that looks unlikely. Spain will come out with a strong side and look to dominate the possession, while Croatia will look to contain the world champions and try to hit them on the break. Spain will play their tiki-taka football and mostly in the opposition’s half with Xavi dictating the tempo of his. Fernando Torres, who bagged a brace against Ireland, will open the scoring for the Spaniards in the first half after a brilliant through ball by Andres Iniesta. Spain will control the game and create many chances but will fail to make them count and double the lead. They will take the slender 1-0 advantage into half time. Croatia will come out looking to attack and look to get the scores level after the interval and they will succeed in doing so. Nikica Jelavic, who has been in top form this year, will equalise for the Croatians early in the second half with a powerful header. Vicente Del Bosque will make a couple of attacking changes to his squad and Spain will continue to control the game again and create a lot of chances. As the game goes into its final ten minutes, the Spanish pressure will tell and Andres Iniesta will score the winner to break all the Croatians hearts. The win means, Spain go on to win the group with a 100% record, while Croatia are knocked out of the tournament.
Predicted Final Score – Croatia 1-2 Spain (Jelavic ; Torres, Iniesta)
Date – 18th June, 21:45 GMT
Stadium – Municipal Stadium, Poznan
Prediction – This is a huge game for both the teams – Italy and Ireland. Italy play for a place in the last eight, while Ireland – who are already out – play for pride and for their brilliant supporters. Italy, who are third in the group below Spain and Croatia with two points – must win this game and hope the other game doesn’t end in a high scoring. If the other game ends 0-0 then an Italy win will be enough, but if the other game ends 1-1 then the 2006 FIFA World Cup winners must beat Ireland atleast 3-1 or more to advance. In simple words Italy must win today to stand any chance of making it through. As expected, the Italians will come out and look dominate the game from the first minute itself. The Italian midfield which has been very solid and organised in both the games so far will look to dictate the game. Ireland, on the other hand, won’t sit back and let Italy attack, but will themselves go on the offensive and hope to shock the Italians. The Italians will create a lot of chances in the first half, and the Manchester City hitman Mario Balotelli will give them after some good work by Andrea Pirlo. The Italians will take the lead in to the interval. After the break, Ireland will go on the attack and will have some good chances but will fail to trouble Gianluigi Buffon. Andrea Pirlo, who scored against Croatians with a brilliant freekick, will score again from long range which will send Italy through to last eight. With Croatia losing to Spain in the other game, Italy go through to the quarter finals as the second best team from the group and will face the winner of Group D.
Predicted Final Score – Italy 2-0 Ireland (Balotelli, Pirlo)