Euro 2012: Group C Preview: Spain chase history


Euro 2012: Group C Preview: Spain chase history
Gdansk, Jun 8: Dominant Spain rule Group C of Euro 2012 which also include tricky customers Italy and Croatia while Ireland have been the surprise package in the tournament.

Spain - Reigning World and European champions have the 'unique' chance of winning three consecutive international trophies. Most of their goals have been scored by all-time scorer David Villa, but he is ruled out. Another massive blow for the Reds is absence of talismanic defender Carles Puyol. Minus the Villa-Puyol duo, Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque stuck to his same old troops including champions league winners and La Liga champions.

Recent form: DWWWW

Best EURO performance: Winners 2008

Key Players: Xavi Hernendez, Andres Iniesta, David Silva and Gerard Pique.

Italy - Former world and European champions themselves, Italy are known for their distinct style. After cruising through the qualifying stage with eight wins and two losses, the Azzuri are never behind to make an impact the continents biggest tournament. Despite miserably crashing out of the World Cup two years ago, coach Cesar Prandelli has brought in a mix of old guards and new guns. Conceding just two goals in the qualifiers, they possess one of the best defensive back line in the competition.

Recent form: WWLLL

Best EURO performance: Winners 1968

Key Players: Andres Pirlo, Antonio Cassano, Mario Balloteli and Giorio Chiellini.

Ireland - 'The boys in Green' have to thank their Italian manager Giovanni Trapattoni for their success in recent years. Ireland last emerged in Europe's elite competition back in 1988. More than two decades on, Trapattoni, who took over in 2008, has transformed the side to challenge the world's best. Nearly missing out against France prior to the World Cup, Ireland managed to avoid another play-off tragedy against Estonia. Moreover, Ireland went eight matches without conceding and are unbeaten in 14 matches, a new national record. Trapattoni has suffered just two competitive defeats since taking over in May 2008.

Recent form: WDDWD

Best EURO performance: Quarter finals 1988

Key Players: Richard Dunne, Robbie Keane, Damien Duff and Aiden McGeady.

Croatia sneaked through to qualify at the expense of Turkey during the play-off stage. The Croats have shown promising signs of improvement during the qualifying stage. Finishing below Greece against whom Slaven Bilic's side earned just 1 point in two games. Their success has come against weak opposition, but a mix of youth and experience will test their tactics and strategy against two teams who have won both the World Cup and European Championships.

Recent form: WDLWD

Best EURO performance: Quarterfinals 1996, 2008

Key Players: Darijo Srna, Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Nikica Jelavic.

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