Venue: PGE Arena, Gdansk Date: 18/06/2012 Kick-off time: 7:45pm
The final round of fixtures in Group C sees depending champions Spain taking on Croatia, in what could be a winner-takes all encounter, if Italy beat Ireland as expected.
A win for either side would be good enough to see them finish top of the group. However, a draw would see things get very complicated, as that combined with an Italy win would see the three sides separated by goal difference.
If Italy lose, both Croatia and Spain are through, but that will be n the backs of the player’s minds, as the look to be the masters of their own destiny.
Thanks to the performance of Fernando Torres against Ireland, it looks like Spain will keep the same players and formation for the encounter. They had experimented playing without a recognised striker in their opener, but Torres looks set to lead the line for the rest of the tournament.
Meanwhile, the injury crisis which plagued Croatia before the start of the tournament seems to have died down. Versatile defender Vedran Corluka got through the full game against Italy, and appears to have fully recovered from the injury that made him a doubt for the tournament.
Spain vs Croatia predicted line-up
Spain (4-2-3-1): Casillas; Arbeloa, Ramos, Pique, Alba; Busquets, Xavi, Alonso, Silva Iniesta; Torres.
Croatia (4-1-3-2): Pletikosa; Srna, Corluka, Schildenfeld, Strinic; Vukojevic, Rakitic, Modric, Perisic; Jelavic, Mandzukic.
Spain vs Croatia match odds
Not surprisingly, Spain are the overwhelming favourites for the encounter with the bookies. Any return on them will be small, with the best odds available coming from Bet365 at 5/6 (1.83).
Most of the talk surrounding the game will be about the “old” Fernando Torres. Although the Ireland defence was a shambles, Torres looked sharp, and produced two excellent finishes. He certainly looks in fine form, and William Hill are offering odds of 9/2 (5.50) to score first, and 5/1 (6.00) for him to score two or more.
Spain vs Croatia prediction
Croatia are in fine form, but I can’t see anything other than a Spain win here. It’s an awful match up for the Croatians, with their best player, Luka Modric, likely to be a non-factor in this game due to Spain’s monopoly of the ball.
Still needing a win to guarantee their own progress, the defending champions will be at their exquisite best, and Croatia will be praying for a miracle from Ireland to progress.
Score prediction: Spain 3-0 Croatia
Tip: Fernando Torres to score anytime at 8/11 (1.73) with William Hill.
by Daryl James
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