Euro 2012 Group C has been nicknamed the ‘Group of Death’ as itbrings together World Champions Spain, Italy, Croatia and the Republic of Ireland. Much of the talk has been of Spain’s injury crisis.
Are Vincent Del Bosque’s side vulnerable this year?
The Spanish are the favourites in the betting oddds to lift the trophy this year which is no surprise given their domination over international football in recent years.
They showed no sign of anything changing during qualification where they won every game and scored plenty of goals.
With Captain Carlos Puyol and David Villa set to miss the tournament though, it could be a tougher test for the side. Spain do have a great deal of strength in depth however and will be confident of success again this summer, as once again the pressure will be on Xavi and Iniesta to pull all the strings in midfield.
Latest Group C Betting Odds (best price quoted)
- Spain 8/13 with Paddy Power
- Italy 7/2 with Paddy Power
- Croatia 9/1 with Bet365
- Republic Of Ireland 18/1 with William Hill
With David Villa out, the stage could be set for Fernando Llorente to shine, and he could be one to watch as the tournament progresses.
Moving onto Italy (7/2 with Paddy Power to win Group C) they are a side that have struggled since winning the World Cup in 2006 and seem to be more comfortable when not much is expected of them.
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The Italians did remain unbeaten during qualifying so are in good shape going into the tournament.
The way Italy play football could suit them perfectly this summer as they look to be solid at the back and win by the odd goal, although under coach Claudio Prandelli they are playing a more posession game, and the Italians could be ones to watch.
As for Croatia, they could be one of the surprise packages in Euro 2012. Slaven Bilic is taking charge of his final matches at the helm of the team as he will step down after the tournament so will want a successful finish to his time as manager.
With Luka Modric in midfield, Croatia have one of the best playmakers in Europe and he will certainly need a great run of performances to help his sides chances making it to the knockout stages.
The final side to look at are Republic of Ireland, who will be delighted that they have made it their first major tournament since 2002.
Ireland will, however, not be there to just make up the numbers. Although odds are stacked against them finishing in the top two of Group C, they will feel as though they have a point to prove. It should be a task they are relishing and will be looking to prove people wrong.
It should be a great battle in the race for the top two spots in this group and it may throw up a few surprises.