First win for Blues?
Group C: Italy vs Croatia
Thursday, 14 June 2012
1800 (local time); 1200(EST); 21.30(IST)
Municipal Stadium, Poznań
Italy will be looking for its first victory in the Euro Cup when they will play against Croatia on Thursday. Italy had drawn their first game against Spain 1-1. Croatia, on the other hand, had obtained a 3-1 victory over the Republic of Ireland and hence placed at the top of the group. The Azzurri were heavily praised after their game with Spain. Prior to the last match, it was expected that it would be a cakewalk for Spain. However, Italy changed the notion, and even took the lead through Antonio Di Natalie, the top scorer of this season’s Serie A. Italy’s attack will definitely be a serious threat to the Croat defense, which had not yet been tested against strong forward line-ups.
Italy will be looking to start with Di Natalie instead of Mario Balotelli to accompany Antonio Cassano at the front. With both Andrea Pirlo and Thiago Motta in the midfield, it looks like the Croat defense will have a hard time to save a point. The primary problem of the Italian defense is the absence of regular center back Andrea Barzagli. Similar to the previous game, Daniele De Rossi will probably play as center back in his absence. The Croatian attack will consist of Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Luka Modric, along with Nikica Jelavic and Mario Mandzukic at the front. Croatia will be banking on them for placing the team in scoresheet tonight. Italy would want to win this game and improve their probability of propagating to the quarterfinals. On the other hand, before facing the mighty Spain in their next game, Croatia would probably be satisfied with a point from this game.
Although Italy had lost their last 3 games before coming to the Euro, they did a commendable job in holding World Champion Spain in their first game.
Last 5 games: WLLLD
Croatia have just lost one of their last 5 international games and would definitely want to continue that form.
Last 5 games: DLWDW
Italy (3-5-2): Gianluigi Buffon, Leonardo Bonucci, Daniele De Rossi, Giorgio Chiellini, Christian Maggio, Claudio Marchisio, Andrea Pirlo, Thiago Motta, Emanuelle Giaccherini, Antonia Di Natalie, Antonio Cassano
Manager: Cesare Prandelli
Croatia (4-4-1-1): Stipe Pletelkosa, Gordon, Schildenfeld, Vedran Corluka, Ognjen Vukojevic, Ivan Strinic, Darijo Srna, Luka Modric, Ivan Perisic, Ivan Rakitic, Nikica Jelavic, Marlo Mandzukic
Manager: Slaven Bilic
“Italy are strong, they think about us and about our play” – Slaven Bilic, Croatia manager
“I expect a very complicated game. Our aim is to win because I reiterate that this is a key match.” – Italy Manager Cesare Prandelli