Euro 2012, Group C, Poznan, Sunday, 7.45pm
GROUP C is an interesting with Italy, Croatia and Republic of Ireland all targeting second place behind holders Spain.
Croatia and Ireland meet in Poznan and both will know the importance of win. Similarly neither will want to lose and this has the look of a draw about it.
Boss Slaven Bilic has some class acts in his squad but will they find enough goals to make a charge?
As for Ireland? They’ll be tough to beat as usual, they’ll struggle to score as usual but could they be surprise qualifiers?
Ireland did well to qualify for th first time in 24 years but that’s as far as it goes according to bookies.
Giovanni Trapattoni’s side have been written off as 100-1 chances to win the tournament and are generally available at 1-5 to be knocked out in the group stage.
Ireland have a big player in Robbie Keane up front but questions have to be asked about his sharpness after spending most of the season with LA Galaxy.
The stalemate pays 9-4 at boylesports and that could be the way to go in what is bound to be a cagey affair.
Everton’s Nikica Jelavic enjoyed an explosive end to the season at Everton but at international level he is yet to prove himself with just two goals in 19 appearances.
However, with Ivica Olic being ruled out of the tournament through injury, the former Rangers star could be handed a chance to show his worth.
You can back Jelavic at 5-1 (various) to be his side’s top scorer. Like other games I’ve looked at early on it has a feel of an unders game and under 2.5 pays just 1-2 with bookies also taking that opinion.
Croatia scored more headers (seven) than anyone in qualifying and a headed opener for either side pays 7-2 (sportingbet). The Irish of course are also good at set-pieces and a strike direct from a free-kick to break the deadlock is 14-1 at sportingbet.
So far the games we expected to be good have been bad and the ones we thought would be entertaining have been poor. Both team scored against the odds in the Group A matches and both teams didn't net in the Group B encounters.
It's 5-4 with William Hill that both hit the target in Poznan and I can see it maybe ending in a 1-1 draw.