Euro 2012: Day seven preview
- Thu 14 Jun 2012, 2:44PM
- Posted by Mark Booth
After an engaging tactical duel in the opening match Italy and Spain resume their Euro 2012 campaigns on day seven of the tournament.
Italy face group leaders Croatia, whose dominant 3-1 win against Republic of Ireland caused Europe to sit up and take notice of Slaven Bilic’s unfancied side.
Cesare Prandelli’s 3-5-2 is an unusual system in modern day football but it seemed to do the trick against the world champions, who were unable to break down a defence that included Roma's Daniele De Rossi in a libero role.
Balotelli impressed in flashes before his withdrawal early in the second-half against Spain but Di Natale’s goal and Mario’s missed chance had left the 21-year old wondering if Prandelli would keep faith with him.
Fortunately, his coach had some encouraging words for him:
When he makes a mistake he must think that there will be other opportunities and find the conviction to make the right decision next time. The thing to underline is that he won the ball himself – when you have two choices it slows you down.
...Cesare Prandelli on Mario Balotelli's missed chance v Spain...
The major talking point concerning Spain coach Vincente Del Bosque’s selection for the evening match against Ireland is whether he’ll again field a team without a recognised striker.
Cesc Fabregas and David Silva took turns at functioning as Spain’s most advanced player but there’s a feeling that Spain might require a more physical, aerially-dominant forward like Llorente or Torres to combat the tough-tackling Irish.
"We have four options - the three everyone is aware of (Torres, Llorente and Negredo) and then that of Cesc," said Del Bosque.
"Those are all very good attacking solutions. I am not unhappy with the options we have.
"The only thing that interests us is what is in the interest of the team. The opinions of others surely have interests distinct from our own."
A Spain win will probably be enough to put the holders into the next stage while a defeat for Ireland will surely send Trapattoni’s men home.
You can follow the action as part of our live #Eurowatch coverage on Twitter and we'll have a full report on the site straight after the match.