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European Championship

  • 18 June 2012
  • • 19:45
  • • INEA stadion, Poznań
  • Referee: C. Çakιr
  • • Attendance: 38794
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Italy - Ireland Preview: Three points or bust for the Azzurri

Cesare Prandelli's men need a win and must hope that the clash between Spain and Croatia does not end in a 2-2 draw or higher in order to progress to the quarter-finals

  PROBABLE LINE-UPS

ITALY

Buffon
Maggio, Bonucci, Barzagli, Chiellini
De Rossi
Marchisio, Pirlo, Giaccherini

Di Natale, Cassano
IRELAND

Given
O'Shea, Dunne, St Ledger, Ward
Duff, Andrews, Whelan, McGeady
Keane, Long


Italy boss Cesare Prandelli will be keen to welcome back Andrea Barzagli into the mix after the Juventus defender missed the first two games of the tournament with a thigh injury. Prandelli will likely revert back to a four-man defence, should the centre-back passe a late fitness test.

Mario Balotelli limped out of Saturday's training session with a knee problem and will undergo further tests to determine the extent of his injury. If the Manchester City man is not passed fit then Antonio Di Natale will likely be given the nod up front alongside Antonio Cassano.

Meanwhile, Ireland have already been eliminated from the tournament following their sorry showing in the 4-0 loss to Spain on Thursday and will have only pride to play for.

Goalkeeper Shay Given could make his final appearance for the Boys in Green on Monday after admitting that he is contemplating retirement from international football.

  DID YOU KNOW?
  • Italy are undefeated in 12 competitive matches under Cesare Prandelli (W8 D4).
  • The Azzurri have held leads in their opening two Euro 2012 encounters only to concede in the second half of both games.
  • Maggio, Balotelli, Chiellini, Bonucci, and Montolivo are all one booking away from a ban.

  • La Nazionale have only lost twice to the Irish in their last 11 matches (W7 D2 L2).
  • Ireland have been outscored 7-1 in their first two games of the tournament.
  • Damien Duff is set to make his 100 appearance for the national team on Monday in Poznan.
  • Trapattoni previously coached Italy at Euro 2004 where his team was knocked out in the group stage despite not losing a game (W1 D2).

  • James McClean made his competitive debut for the Boys in Green when he came off the bench in the 76th minute against Spain.

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Last Five Matches
Odds
Team News
Available Squads
Players to Watch
Andrea Pirlo
Andrea Pirlo
Position: Midfielder
Squad Number: 21
Games Goals YC RC
6 1 0 0
The midfield metronome has kept things ticking for the Azzurri so far in the tournament. The Juve playmaker provided the assist for Di Natale’s goal against Spain and then scored an exquisite free kick in the Croatia clash and he will be asked to do more of the same on Monday against the Irish.
Robbie Keane
Robbie Keane
Position: Striker
Squad Number: 10
Games Goals YC RC
3 0 1 0
The LA Galaxy veteran has yet to find the back of the net at the tournament and would love to play the spoiler role against the Azzurri. The Irish have nothing to play for but the striker will be keen to add his name to the score sheet before the Boys in Green return home.
Prediction
The Azzurri have everything to play for and desperately need all three points but Ireland will not make things easy for them. Still, it's hard to see Prandelli's men losing this one with so much at stake. Balotelli leads the way as Italy finally put a complete 90 minutes together.
Editor's Prediction
Italy 3

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