Group C: Croatia lead the way as we enter ‘Round 2′!
Posted on June 13, 2012 by Abdul Khaled
Probably a surprise to many, but after the opening round of games in Group C Slaven Bilic’s Croatia find themselves top of the group ahead of reigning champions Spain and former world champions Italy. Croatia’s emphatic 3-1 win over the Republic of Ireland gives them a great chance of progressing from the group, but the result also relegates the Irish to bottom position in Group C.
Spain and Italy started off favourites to qualify from this group, but after both teams drew 1-1 on Sunday, it left the door open for either the Irish or Croatia to sneak in and take advantage. And that’s exactly what the Croats did with some clinical and quality finishing against an Irish team who were making their first tournament appearance for a decade. The pressure evidently got to them in the opening game.
Despite playing reasonably well in the first half, a nervous defence cost them dearly. A goal within the first two minutes for the Croats threatened to ruin any Irish hope but instead it spurred Giovanni Trapattoni’s team into an impressive attacking display which allowed them to level at 1-1. But once again defence frailties cost them the match as they eventually lost 3-1.
Next up for the Irish is defending world and European champions Spain, and Trapattoni has acknowledged that his team will have to be a lot more compact and solid defensively, especially when coming up against the likes of Xavi, Iniesta and Silva. He has already indicated the inclusion of Jonathon Walters in attack in place of Kevin Doyle to add an extra man helping back in midfield.
A counter attacking approach may be the only way the Irish can deal with the Spanish game and they will take great hope from the way the Italians combated the Spanish in their first game. In what was a thoroughly exciting game, the Italians and Spanish put on a game of real high quality.
Spain had majority of possession, as expected, but Italy looked dangerous on the counter and exposed Spain’s vulnerability in defence. This will give Robbie Keane and Co belief heading into Thursday’s game, but I can’t see them getting a result.
The other game in Group C sees Italy take on Croatia in a game which has huge consequences for the group. If Croatia win they will book themselves a place in the next round, which would mean Ireland must get a result against Spain to have any chance of progressing.