Though yesterday’s Group of Death final day had the potential to surprise like Group A’s did on Saturday, it ultimately worked out according to form. Germany finished off the group with 3 victories, while Portugal showed how pathetic this edition of the Oranje were–sending them to their third straight defeat, and back to a very unhappy Holland.
On to Group C. Ireland is out of contention, but any two of out of Spain, Italy, and Croatia could advance. Remarkably, Croatia advances with a win or a scored draw–and a Croatia win combined with an Italy win would send defending World Cup and Euro 2008 champions back to Spain.
Here are today’s fixtures, current group standings, the scenario matrix, and some preview notes:
|Referee: Wolfgang Stark (GER) – Stadium: Arena Gdansk, Gdansk (POL)|
|Italy||Republic of Ireland|
|Referee: Cüneyt Çakır (TUR) – Stadium: Municipal Stadium Poznan, Poznan (POL)|
|Republic of Ireland||2||0||0||2||1||7||-6||0|
Republic of Ireland has been eliminated.
If: Croatia win draw Spain win Italy win Croatia; Italy Spain, and Croatia or Italy1 Spain; Italy draw Croatia; Spain Spain; Croatia Spain; Croatia Ireland win Croatia; Spain Spain; Croatia Spain; Croatia
- Positions determined by game scores:
- if Croatia-Spain draw 0–0, Italy; Spain
- if Croatia-Spain draw 1–1
- AND if Italy wins by one goal or 2–0, Spain; Croatia
- OR if Italy wins by two goals and scores at least three goals, Spain; Italy
- OR if Italy wins by three goals or 4–0, Spain; Italy
- OR if Italy wins by four or more goals and scores at least five goals, Italy; Spain
- if Croatia-Spain draw 2–2 or higher, Spain; Croatia
The match to watch is Croatia-Spain. It will be a huge surprise if Italy doesn’t beat an Ireland squad that doesn’t have anything to play for (and hasn’t played well at all in their first two matches).
For Spain, it looks like Fernando Torres has solidified a spot as striker in Spain’s starting XI. Here’s how Vincente del Bosque lined them up (and the subs he used) in their 4-0 roll over Ireland:
Iker Casillas, Gerard Piqué, Jordi Alba, Sergio Ramos, Álvaro Arbeloa, David Silva, Xavi, Xabi Alonso (Javi Martínez, 65), Andrés Iniesta (Santiago Cazorla, 80), Sergio Busquets, Fernando Torres (Francesc Fábregas, 74)
We were heartened to see Javi Martínez and Santi Cazorla get some minutes. The next generation of Spanish football, and playing outside the Madrid-Barcelona hegemony (Javi Martínez at Athletic Bilbao, Santi Cazorla at Málaga; read this piece in Run of Play comparing Martínez to the incomparable Redondo). We’d also like to see Fernando Llorente, also of Athletic Bilbao, get in the game and lead the line. See below for video of El Rey León.
For Croatia, we wrote up the following sketch of their squad prior to their 1-1 draw against Italy last week:
For Croatia, most of the focus is on Tottenham Hotspurs midfield playmaker Luka Modrić. But their squad is peppered with players who have made names for themselves at relatively “big” clubs abroad: strikers Nikica Jelavić (Everton), Mario Mandžukić (Wolfsburg), and Eduardo (now Shakhtar Donetsk, previously Arsenal); midfielder Niko Kranjčar (also Spurs), Ivan Perišić (Borussia Dortmund), Ivan Rakitić (Sevilla), and Danijel Pranjić (Bayern Munich); and defenders Darijo Srna (also Shakhtar) and Vedran Ćorluka (Bayer Leverkeusen).
The standout performer has been Mandžukić, with three goals in the first two games. Cf. “Mario Mandzukic masks madness to strike right for Croatia.”