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The Azzurri need a win against the Boys in Green and, with the Irish only playing for pride, expect goals. Adam Bate thinks they'll be harder to come by when Spain face Croatia

Republic of Ireland may be the only team in Group C with no chance of reaching the quarter-finals but it is unlikely to feel like they have nothing to play for when they face Italy in Poznan.

The Irish supporters sang their way through Thursday’s 4-0 defeat to Spain and will try to inspire their players to produce at least one positive memory from a disappointing tournament.

Giovanni Trapattoni’s men have looked crippled by tension thus far and perhaps those nerves will be gone now that their fate has been sealed. Whether that is a positive remains to be seen.

Despite having qualified for a major tournament for the first time in a decade, this may be the least talented Ireland team in a generation.

Playing with more freedom could make them loose and leave a slow back-four exposed. Italy know a win is needed and it would be little surprise to see Andrea Pirlo pick the pass that opens Ireland up.

But 14 of the 20 matches so far at Euro 2012 have seen both teams score and, with nothing to lose against an expansive Italy side, expect Ireland to have a moment to celebrate.

Back both teams to score at 21/20 (2.05) with William Hill

As good a side as Croatia are, the challenge of finding the net could prove trickier for them against the world and European champions Spain in Gdansk.

A 2-2 draw would eliminate Italy and see both teams through to the quarter-finals but that’s a scenario that seems unlikely to emerge when facing Vicente del Bosque’s all-conquering side.

Spain are a frustrating team to try and chase the game against and that is what will be required of Croatia should they concede first.

The passing dominance of La Furia Roja could prove difficult to deal with for Slaven Bilic’s team. The Croats are a surprisingly direct outfit and this could prove a suffocating experience for them, starved of the ball.

Spain kept five clean sheets in winning the World Cup two years ago and expect a similarly controlled display here now that they have got into the swing of the tournament.

Both teams to score? Back ‘no’ at 6/4 (2.5) with William Hill

A double tipping both teams to score between Italy and Ireland, and betting against both teams scoring when Spain face Croatia pays over 4/1

Sign up with William Hill for a £25 free bet.

Adam Bate is a professional freelance journalist who specialises in football and betting. He is editor of GhostGoal which can be found here - you can also follow Adam on

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