Euro 2012: Italy aim to down Group C leaders Croatia

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Italy face crucial tie against Croatia
Poznan, Jun 13: Former World Champions Italy will aim to down Euro 2012 Group C leaders Croatia when the two sides clash at the Stadion Miejski in Poznan.

Another win for Slaven Bilic's men will seal their place in the knockout stages but they face a tuff Italian side who will be boosted after managing to draw against the reigning European Champions.

Cesar Prandelli is likely to retain the same 3-5-2 formation which frustrated the Spaniards while the two forwards upfront threatened the back-line. Five in midfield will allow the Azzurri to control possession as well as deny the Croats from counter attacking.

Slaven Bilic's men had dashed the hopes of Ireland in their opening match, beating them 3-1. But the upcoming task against the clever Italians will test Bilic's so-called 'attractive football' tactics.

Croatia's style of play may have reaped rewards against the Irish but their centre-back combination of Verdan Corluka and Gordon Schildenfeld struggled to deal with long balls and looked unconvincing against the likes of Robbie Keane and Kevin Doyle.

Although Italy lost a few games prior to this tournament they tend to swing into action at the last moment. But the Azzurri could be troubled with Croatia's pace and quick passes while Andrea Pirlo's inch-perfect diagonal balls can split the opponents defensive line.

But the Italians are the second best team after Spain to patiently build up from the back and force the opposition inside their own penalty area. But the Croats will try to fancy a chance against the best defensive line in the tournament.

A crucial clash is expected between two of the world's best play-makers Luka Modric and veteran Pirlo while make-shift central defender Daniele De Rossi will be tested against striker Mario Mandzukic.

Statistically the Italians have a poor record against the Croats, losing three games and earning two draws since 1991.


Italy: Buffon-Bonucci, De Rossi, Chiellini-Maggio, T. Motta, Pirlo, Marchisio, Giaccherini-Di Natale, Cassano.

Croatia: Pletikosa-Srna, Corluka, Schildenfeld, Strinic, Rakitic- Vukojevic, Modric, Perisic-Jelavic, Mandzukic.

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