Italy and Croatia put their Euro fates on the line today with matches against Ireland and Spain.
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Italy: 1-2-0, advances to elimination rounds
To say the hype surrounding the Italian side heading into Euro 2012 was high would be an understatement of epic proportions; they were perfect in the qualifying matches, conceding just two goals over ten games, advancing easily. But it wasn’t foreseen; it may have been a fluke. Midfield they’ve got a lot of star power in Montolivo and Pirlo and upfront they’ve got Balotelli and Borini, leading many to believe this should be a side that can score but they’ve drawn their first two games in the group stage at one a side and relied, perhaps too heavily on an inexperienced albeit successful defense to get this far. Unless their offense can pick it up, they’ll struggle in the knockout rounds.
Croatia: 1-1-1, fails to qualify
With a win and a draw in their first two games, Croatia needs a either a win or an Italian loss to secure a berth in the knock out rounds but they’ve got tough draw in Spain and Italy’s got an easy one in Ireland. The Croatian side is competent by most standards but that’s about it; they’ve lost the Kovac brothers and AC Milan defender Dario Simic, their backfield lacks both quality and depth and while their midfield is a bright spot, their overall attack lacks consistency. Seeded in a weaker group, Croatia may have had enough talent to squeak by, but the quality of Spain and Italy might just be too much for them.
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