Croatia face a crucial Euro 2012 clash with European and world champions Spain this evening.
The Croats are level with their opponents on points in Group C and know that only a victory will guarantee them passage into the quarter-finals of the competition.
A draw could be enough for both sides to progress depending on the result of Italy’s clash with the Republic of Ireland.
However the Spanish are unlikely to settle for a draw in Gdansk and will be looking to secure a quarter-final place with a victory.
It will be difficult for Slaven Bilic’s men to get the victory that they so desperately want. It won’t be impossible for Bilic’s men though. His side has made a really good impression in their first two games of the Euro’s and won’t want their tournament to end here.
I have to admit that Croatia is one of sides that have most impressed me at Euro 2012. Their victory over Ireland in the first game was achieved in very comfortable style and a draw with Italy was a decent result.
They were always going to be underdogs to Spain and Italy in the group but I have a feeling they may just go through to the quarter-finals.
If Croatia achieve the unthinkable and defeat the Spanish and Italy beat Ireland Spain could go out. That’s an unlikely scenario but we have seen it before at previous tournament and even at this one with favourites going out at the group stage.
It would be a massive shock if Spain were eliminated from the competition but anything can happen in football. The Croatians are certainly a far better side than the Republic of Ireland and won’t be as easy to beat as Spain’s last opponents.
Spain and Barcelona midfielder Xavi has revealed that he believes it will be a “beautiful game for the fans and players”. The Croatians definitely have quality players in their ranks such as Tottenham midfielder Luka Modric and Wolfsburg striker Mario Mandzukic.
The striker is joint-top goalscorer at Euro 2012 with three goals so far this tournament and is hoping to move on this summer. His German club is believed to want to sell the striker but might have second thoughts after his performances so far at the Euro’s.
Mandzukic has already been linked with a move to Premier League Everton, where he could link up with international teammate Nikica Jelavic. The striker is likely to be in-demand this summer.
Croatian boss Slaven Bilic will be leaving his position at the end of this tournament, with his contract expiring this summer. He won’t want his last game in charge of his national team to be a defeat and I’m sure he will do everything in his power to help his country progress to the knockout stages.
Bilic was heavily criticised in his homeland for the country’s failure to qualify for the World Cup in South Africa in 2010. There were even calls for his head from some of the media back home but the Croatian FA believed in the former-West Ham defender and refused to sack Bilic.
The Croatian FA don’t want Bilic to leave his position but it seems that he wants a new challenge this summer. It looks like a return to club management could be on the cards for the highly-rated coach. I’m sure he would love to go out on a high as Croatia boss though.
I think this will be a very tight affair and Spain won’t find Croatia an easy opponent. Should Croatia manage a 2-2 draw with the European champions then they would go through at the expense of the Italians.
I wouldn’t put it past Croatia to get the draw they need to progress. They have looked dangerous on the attack but I don’t think their defence is as watertight as Croat teams of the past. I don’t think they will beat Spain but if they do I think it would open the competition right up.
The way they have played so far Croatia don’t deserve to go home and I hope they get a good enough result to go through to the quarter-finals. Whatever happens though they have given a superb account of themselves and Slaven Bilic can be proud of his teams performances at Euro 2012.
Will Croatia progress into the quarter-finals of Euro 2012?
Italy Serie A – last round table
Juventus FC – Atalanta 1
Juve is new champion and will try finish season without defeat and will try to win and celebrate title in front of fans. There will be big ceremony
Juve out: Vidal (mf 32/7). Quagliarella (att 22/4) is not fully fit and probably will not start in first 11
Atalanta out: Consigli (gk 34/0), Capelli (df 11/0), Stendardo (df 16/0), Pinto (mf 7/0), Carrozza (mf 12/0), Brighi (mf 12/0) and Marilungo (att 18/4)
Milan AC – Novara
Milan has manny woes for this game but playing for nothing. Out are: Abbiati (gk 29/0), Thiago Silva (df 26/2), Abate (df 29/0), Bonera (df 19/0), Sciglio (df 3/0), Antonini (df 21/0), Muntari (mf 13/3), Ambrosini (mf 22/1), Van Bommel (mf 23/0), Emanuelson (mf 30/2), Pato (att 11/1)
Novara out: Ujkani (gk 24/0), Paci (df 26/1), Marianini (mf 13/1), Mazzarani (mf 22/1) and Mascara (att 15/3)
ACF Fiorentina – Cagliari
Fiorentina out: Gamberini (df 29/1), Kroldrup (df 0/0), Nastasic (df 25/2), Montolivo (mf 29/4), Vargas (mf 24/0), Amauri (att 13/1), Ljajic (mf 15/1) and Jovetic (att 27/14)
Cagliari out: Pisano (df 33/0), Cossu (mf 32/1), Sampaio (mf 7/0) and El Kabir (att 7/0)
SSC Napoli – AC Siena
Napoli need points for europe. Important players like Aronica (df 31/0), Dzemaili (mf 28/3) and Cavani (att 35/23) will miss.
Siena is safe and no ne missings, just long term Calaio (att 25/11) and Angelo (mf 13/0)
Catania – Udinese x2
Udine need point to secure Champions League (if equal points than looking h2h). Catania not need pts
Catania out: Potenza (df 9/0), Paglialunga (mf 0/0), llama (mf 14/0), Biagianti (mf 14/0), Lodi (mf 37/8), Lanzafame (att 11/1) and Bergessio (att 34/7)
Udine without: Isla (mf 21/3) and Ferronetti (mdf 15/1)
Genoa – Palermo 1x 100 % / 1 probably
Genoa need point and they will not loose against their sicilian friends. I must try here some crazy fix (ht/ft 2/1, 1/2 and over 5,5)
Lazio SS – Inter
Very important game for both, they can get much with this game (also other resaults are important) but they can loose much too. Both have some missings and it’s very important game, it’s derby and i will not take a bet on it
Lazio out: Marchetti (gk 30/0), Stankevichius (df 11/0), Radu (df 21/0), Dias (df 24/0), Matuzalem (mf 21/1), Broicci (mf 15/0), Hernanes (mf 32/8), Alfaro (att 8/0) and Rocchi (att 21/5)
Inter out: Chivu (df 14/0), Palombo (mf 2/0), J Obi (mf 26/1), Sneijder (mf 20/4), Stanković (mf 19/0), Forlan (att 17/2), Castaignos (att 6/1) and Zarate (att 22/2)
England Preier League – last round table
Manchester City – Queens Park Rangers 1
Clear situation, if City win they are new champs. If they not win, there can be big troubles. City with full-strength squad
QPR can relegate so it’s very important game for them. Out are Faurlin (mf 20/1) and Helguson (att 15/8). I am utd fan but there are just teoreticly chances for suprise..
Sunderland AFC – Manchester United 2
Man Utd must win and hope City will not.
Sunderland out: Brown (df 20/1), Richardson (mf 29/2), Larsson (mf 32/7), Bramble (mf 7/1) and Wickham (att 15/1)
Man Utd has long term injured Vidic, Pogba, Owen, Anderson, Fletcher, Evans and now Welbeck and Smalling
Everton FC – Newcastle United over 2,5
Everton plays for nothing, maybe just for fans. No new missings.
Newcastle will attack, try to won this game. They are 5th but could even catch 3rd, champions league place and if they loose they will keep 5th place so they have nothing too loose. Demba Ba and papis Cisse are deadly duo and they will help from Ben Arfa so i belive also goals are good option. For them out are Taylor (df 14/0), Simpson (df 35/0) and Best (att 18/4), Everton playing home, will have no mercy for Newcastle and their wishes and also will play for theor fans. Jelavic in good form
Tottenham – Fulham FC 1
Tottenham must win. If they win they can play champions league, if they not, they can even drop on 5th place na dmust play EL ql. They have no important missings
Fulham out: topscorer Dempsey (mf 37/17), Etuhu (mf 22/0), Ruiz (mf 27/2)Sidwell (mf 14/1) and Andy Johnson (att 20/3) is doubtful
West Bromwich Albion – Arsenal FC 2
Same situation as Tottenham. Arsenal must win
WBA out: Reid (df 22/1), Brunt (mf 29/2). Also very doubtful Odemwingie (att 29/10) and Thomas (mf 29/1).
Arsenal out: long term injured Wilshere, Arteta, Mertesacker and new one Sagna. Walcott doubtful
Stoke City – Bolton Wanderers
Stoke plays for nothing, Bolton hopes they can stay in league. For Bolton out Steinsson (df 23/1), Wheater (df 24/2), Moumba (mf 20/1). Also, Reo Cooker and Davies are doubtful. only good news is Pratley (mf 25/1) back
Chelsea – Blackburn
Chelsea can play CL next season only if they win in CL finale. If not, they will play Europe League, they won FaCup. For a week is biggiest game so maybe we can expect some rotations in this game, but for sure in squad will be CL finale suspensed players John Terry, Raul Meireles, Ramires and Branko Ivanovic. Alos 2ng gk Turnbull get chance last game vs Liverpool and they are destroyed.
Blackburn will be relegate, there is no chance for them.
Spain Primera División – last round table
Getafe CF – Real Zaragoza
Zaragoza was in very bad position on half of season but today they can stay in league. There is some story this two clubs are friendly and Getafe will let them to win today. Bookies also showed what they thing abouth that when they put 1,5-1,6 odds on away win
Getafe out: Ustari (gk 0/0), opo (df 16/0), Mano (df 22/0), Masilela (df 13/0), Diaz (df 36/0), Alexis (df 12/1), Gavilan (mf 17/1), Rodriguez (mf 17/0) and Castro (att 31/7)
Zaragoza out: Lanzaro (df 24/1) and Aranda (att 13/2)
Levante UD – Athletic Bilbao
Little clb but biggiest suprise wits some last games can even loose european place in last round so they have win imperative. Bilbao played EL finale, loose and now they will turn around to Copa del Rey finale vs Barca (25.5.)
Levante out: Del Horno (df 14/0), Kone (att 34/15). Cabral (df 15/1) is back
Rayo Vallecano – Club Granada
Rayo need relegation points. They have no woes, mf Fuego (30/0) is back.
Granada without Robero (gk 22/0), Diakate (df 12/0), Siqueira (df 35/6), Hurtado (md 18/0), Benitez (mf 29/0), Fran Rico (mf 18/2), Yebda (mf 14/0). Also Mainz (df 21/1) and Martins (mf 28/3) doubtful
Málaga – Sporting Gijón
Villarreal CF – Atlético Madrid
Both need points, host for relegation survive, Atletico for europe. No important missings, just Arda (mf 33/3) in Atletico and DE Guzman (mf 19/0) in Villarreal
Real Madrid CF – Real Mallorca
Today they will play attacking offensive football (as always) for fans to celebrate big title and they will play for Ronaldo to score much more goals he can
Russia Premier league – last round table
“Tom” (Tomsk) – “Rostov” (Rostov-na-Don)
Tom out: Nakhushev (df 16/1)i Sosnowski (df 22/0), Makhmudov (,mf 8/0), Ropotan (mf 18/1) Portnyagin (att 8/0), Andrey Ivanov (df 2/0), Klimov (mf 14/0) i Malyaka (mf 4/0)
Rostov out: Radić (gk 6/0), Elson (mf 16/0), Chesnauskis (mf 24/0), Papadopoulos (att 9/1) i Gatcan (mf 35/4)
“Krylya Sovetov” (Samara) – “Terek” (Grozni)
Krylya out: Verkhovtsov (df 11/0)
Terek out: Katzsaev (mf 26/0) Komorowski (df 6/0), Legear (mf 8/0) i Mguni (att 20/2)
“Amkar” (Perm) – “Volga” (Nizhny Novgorod)
Amkar out long ter injured: Popov (df 19/0), Smirnov (df 5/0) i Cherenchikov (df 29/0)
Volga out: suspended Bendz (df 10/1) i Belozerov (df 25/1) i Getigezhev (df 36/0) i Maksimov (mf 14/0) i Shulenin (mf 22/2) and injured Bondarev (df 12/0) i bizona.
“Lokomotiv” (Moskva) – “Spartak” (Moskva)
Lokomotiv out: Guilherme (gk 40/0), Tigorev (mf 0/0) i Caicedo (att 17/6) i Maicon (att 37/4) i Pavljučenko (att 9/2), Ozdoyev (mf 30/1)
Spartak out: Dikan (gk 32/0), i Parshivlyuk (df 19/0), i Makeev (df 35/1), i Kayumov (mf 3/1), i Ananidze (mf 15/1) i Welliton (att 21/7), Dmitrija Kombarov (mf 40/5) Emenike (att 22/13)
“Rubin” (Kazan) – CSKA (Moskva)
Rubin out: Aleksej Eremenko (mf 4/0), Smith i Carlos Eduardo (mf 0/0) Kasaev (mf 30/4) i Kislyak (mf 19/2)
CSKA out: V Berezutsky (df 36/0), s Mamaev (mf 33/1) i Gonzalez (mf 5/1)