Hoping For Better…
So far thanks to a dud day on Monday we are down overall for the tournament so far. There’s a few antepost bets still in play, I would say that only the Czech and Ukraine To Finish Bottom bets are dead in the water. Hopefully now everyone has played I will be able to make a better assessment of everyone’s chances, although I still seemed to hugely underappreciate how poor Greece’s defence was!
Italy v Croatia, Thursday 1700
This ought to be an interesting match up with both sides looking impressive in parts in their first matches. Italy ended up drawing 1-1 with current European and World champions Spain. There had been pre-tournament fears that the new match-fixing charges being laid in Italy would affect the squad, but they seemed perfectly fine to me. Well, apart from Mario Balotelli anyway. The Man City striker certainly has ability, and his movement and hold-up play at times was exemplary, but his mental state was again called into question. He had a tantrum when a nothing incident failed to result in a penalty for him and then got booked for a late challenge before doing nothing at all with Italy’s best chance before their goal. I would probably expect him to start most matches before making way for Antonio Di Natale. This would be presumably as Di Natale’s finishing is a huge asset, but with his dodgy knees he is more effective as the game wears on in the heat and he can expose any defensive lapses. I actually think it’s brilliant tactics if that is the thinking.
Croatia showed Ireland up by beating them 3-1 in their first encounter of the tournament. However, Ireland could consider themselves a tad unlucky as many decisions went against them, including what looked a certain penalty for Robbie Keane. Croatia’s biggest positive for me is the fact manager Slaven Bilic is open to changing formation at any time, and his players all buy into this. He was expected to stick with Eduardo in attack as he has done for the past