In years gone by, Italy would have
settled for a draw after Croatia equalised to make it 1-1 in
their Euro 2012 game on Thursday but Cesare Prandelli's new
breed at least tried to win the Group C encounter - albeit
Part of the reason for the attacking intent after Mario
Mandzukic levelled on 72 minutes following Andrea Pirlo's
first-half opener is that the Azzurri defence is not as strong
as previous versions and going forward nulls the threat.
In any case, they have to go on the front foot in their
final group game with eliminated Ireland on Monday.
Only a win will do for Italy to reach the last eight and
even that will not be enough if Spain and Croatia play out a
scoring draw of two goals each or more - something
conspiracy-obsessed Italian media have already pointed out.
"We could have closed out the game with another goal,"
Pirlo, who netted the first free kick at a Euros since 2004,
"It was a game to win. We can still go through. We want to
grow and improve... it's not finished, we will try to win the
Strikers Mario Balotelli and Antonio Cassano had another
suspect game so Prandelli will be considering bringing in
Antonio Di Natale from the start.
Little else is expected to change in the lineup given his
midfielders on the bench are generally more defensive than those
on the field.
This alone should cheer suffering Italy fans, as well as the
fact Ireland have been the worst team at the tournament.
Several chances were created against Croatia in the first
half and in truth Slaven Bilic's side should have been buried
before they had the opportunity to equalise.
Another bright start against Ireland and Italy should be on
their way but the Irish will not want to bow out without a fight
and their Italian coach Giovanni Trapattoni will make sure his
team are properly motivated.
"We have wasted a really great chance," said midfielder
Thiago Motta, who came off as a precaution after a head injury.
"Now we will think about the next game knowing that against
Ireland it will not be easy."
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