Italy worry over fate in tight Group C
Complicated permutations and talk of a conspiracy surround the final matches in Uefa Euro 2012™'s Group C on Monday, with Italy needing to beat whipping boys Ireland to stand any chance of progressing ahead of either Spain or Croatia. Live on SS5, SS HD2, Maximo and SuperSport.com
Text Commentary: Italy v Ireland
Text Commentary: Croatia v Spain
An Italy win against a leaking Irish defence in Poznan (1845 GMT) would lift them to five points, while Spain and Croatia meet in Gdansk at the same time with both sides on four points.
Here the situation gets complicated. Should Spain and Croatia contrive a 2-2 draw an Azzurri win would be in vain, a scenario which has had domestic media conjuring up talk of a conspiracy, referred to as a "biscuit" in Italian.
There is some historical justification for their fears. At Euro 2004 the Italians left the tournament at the group stages when a 2-2 draw between Denmark and Sweden sent them packing.
With Spain the most probable group leaders after Monday's matches the onus is on Croatia to force the issue by scoring goals as a 0-0 draw in Gdansk coupled with an Italy win would send Cesare Prandelli's men through.
Croatia and Spain have never met in a competitive match but both attacks are scoring freely, while Italy have not beaten Ireland since 2005 and most of the pair's meetings are close affairs.
Spain and Croatia will both go through
if Italy fail to beat Ireland, themselves already eliminated, in
the final match.
If Italy do take all three points, they would go through
with the winner of the Croatia v Spain clash.
If that game is drawn it would leave all three on five
points with head-to-heads coming into play. That situation would
favour Spain, who go through whatever the scores, but whether
Croatia or Italy would join them is complicated.
A goalless draw would favour Italy but a 1-1 draw would make
the score of the Italy v Ireland match vital. Italy would then
have to at least match Croatia's 3-1 victory over Ireland to
reach the last eight. If they win 3-1 the Italians would be
favoured due to a higher UEFA coefficient.
A 2-2 or higher draw between Croatia and Spain is Italy's
nightmare as that would take both Croatia and Spain through and
eliminate the Italians.
It is a scenario Italy remember all too well. At the Euro
2004 finals, they were in exactly the same position when Sweden
and Denmark met in a final group game. Curiously, that match did
end in the 2-2 draw required to send the Scandinavians through
and put a fuming and somewhat suspicious Italy out.