Euro 2012 Group C preview
Published: 10.06.12 / Written by: David Gold
Spain will be clear favourites to make it through on top of this group.
They start though with a difficult game against Italy. The Italians preparations have been harmed by the match fixing probe taking place in the country, but a similar thing happened before the World Cup in 2006, which they won.
Spain miss David Villa and Carles Puyol for the tournament too, and there will be questions about the shape of the squad going into this tournament. With so many playing in the Barcelona side which seemed tired at the end of the campaign, as well as the potential division and tension between Real Madrid players and the Catalans, there are just questions to be posed.
But Spain have such depth of talent in their ranks that most will expect them to go all the way. The midfield is a who’s who of the world’s best. Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas, David Silva, Sergio Busquets, Xabi Alonso. It is veritable array of the world’s best passers of a football. And that is the challenge for many. Spain may be tired, but you have to get the ball off them first. That won’t be easy.
But where will the goals come from without Villa? Fernando Torres has not sparkled for Chelsea, and Roberto Soldado, the prolific Valencia forward, is not in the squad. Neither is Adrian Lopez. But Alvaro Negredo is. Much pressure will be on his shoulders, whilst Pedro will also look to chip in and help fill the void left by Villa.
Italy will pose a threat to all though. They can never be underestimated and have taken a more attacking course under Prandelli. Not the usual catenaccio that we are used to, this is a team built to supply the likes of Mario Balotelli, Antonio di Natale and Fabio Borini. Antonio Cassano also makes it to the Euros despite undergoing heart surgery this season.
Midfield is a strong point for Italy. Andrea Pirlo was superb for the unbeaten Juventus team which won Serie A this season, as was team mate Claudio Marchisio, likened to Marco Tardelli. Naturalised Brazilian Thiago Motta and Antonio Nocerino complete a talented but narrow midfield.
The defence is not what it once was, but Italy have enough talent going forward to ensure they make it through the group. They have a strong team.
Croatia will come into this tournament knowing Slaven Bilic is on his way afterwards. The former West Ham and Everton defender announced that he was quitting before the Euros, and will hope to sign off in style. Not much is expected of his team, and he has been criticised back home in the press. With Luka Modric pulling the strings in midfield, they will be a tough team to get the ball off and break down.
But then there is Giovanni Trapatonni’s Ireland. They have a good record against Italy and are the kind of team who can frustrate Spain with a defensive showing. They also have the talent going forward in Aiden McGeady and Robbie Keane to nick a goal on the counter attack. But a last eight place is probably asking too much
1 – Italy
2 – Spain
3 – Republic of Ireland
4 – Croatia