Group C: It's Showdown Time
If Saturday night's dramatic Group A conclusion was anything to go by, we could well be in for a rollercoaster ride in the Polish cities of Gdansk and Poznan.
Croatia and Spain currently top Group C going into their final clash and both teams have the luxury of knowing that a victory, or even a high scoring draw, would see them through to the knockout stages of Euro 2012. The reigning World and European champions Spain are the undoubted favourites at a price of 8/11 while the Croats can be backed at 7/1 to defeat the Spanish and seal that elusive top-spot in the group.
Interestingly, the draw, which would suit both nations, is a shorter than usual 7/4.
A high scoring draw would be the worst result possible for Italy. The Azzurri are still reeling from their exit four years ago in Austria & Switzerland where they were eliminated in the group stages following a contentious 2-2 draw between Sweden and Denmark, which meant both Scandinavian teams advanced at the expense of the Italians. A repeat of that 2-2 scoreline in the Croatia v Spain game is 4/1.
Italy are expected to easily see off a lacklustre and downtrodden Ireland team that are yet to register a point and already have their bags packed and waiting in the hotel foyer. The Italians are a short priced ¼ to win the game while the Republic of Ireland are 10s to take it.
After trailing at half-time to a dominant Italian side in their previous Group C game, Slaven Bilic made a tactical adjustment in switching from a 4-4-2 formation to a 4-2-3-1, which allowed his side to score the crucial equalizer. Luka Modric (4/1 anytime goalscorer) was given the freedom to dictate play much further up the pitch and Mario Mandzukic (11/1 first goalscorer) was moved slightly to the right of Nikica Jelevic, a position in which he stooped to smash home the Croatia goal.
Fernando Torres (9/2 first goalscorer) bagged himself a brace as Spain eased past Ireland in their second game of the tournament. The Irish could not get anywhere near their Spanish counterparts, with the World Champions setting a new record with 860 passes at the tournament during their 4-0 win (33/1 correct score), beating the previous landmark of 778.
Spain's coach Vicente del Bosque may opt to inject some new blood into the team with Juan Mata, Fernando Llorente and Santi Cazorla all eager to get some game time.
If Italy do fail to qualify for the quarter-finals they will rue the leads that they surrendered against both Spain and Italy. However, they did perform well in both games and a similar level of performance against the Irish could see them bang a few goals in. Italy -2 goals on the Match Handicap market is priced at 21/10 while an Italy win and over 2.5 match goals is 3/4.
Despite a poor run of friendly performances in the build up to the tournament, Italy are undefeated in 12 competitive matches under Cesare Prandelli, winning eight matches and drawing four. Antonio Di Natale should start upfront for the Azzurri in place of Mario Balotelli and the Udinese man can be backed at 9/2 to open the scoring.
There will be two William Hill Match Winners available for this evening of football with Andrea Pirlo to score and Italy to win as well as David Silva to score and Spain to win, both enhanced to 9/2.