As all squad rosters for Euro 2012 have been made official to UEFA, so have Italy’s Group C adversaries: SPAIN, IRELAND, and CROATIA. If you want to find out who Del Bosque, Trapattoni, and Bilic have selected to feature in this Summer’s tournament, look no further!
With one month and a half to go before Euro 2012 officially begins this Summer, the design of the match tickets was revealed at Kiev’s Olympic Stadium (the venue for the final) and Warsaw’s National Stadium (where the tournament will get underway on June 8th) this week.
The ticket, beautifully colored, is horizontal with a large flower on the front, the leaves of which depict the stadium hosting a match and the flags of the two countries involved. The front also features the number of the match (in a top-right flower bud), along with seat details. Instructions on how to reach the stadium can be found on the reverse, along with a security strip.
Mission accomplished for Italy’s U21 team. In order to qualify for the Euro 2009 knock-out round, a win or a draw against Croatia was necessary for Casiraghi’s boys Tuesday, a task which the Azzurrini completed with brio.
In truth, the final scoreline doesn’t really reflect how this match played out, because of over 83 minutes the blue youngsters completely dominated their chequered-shirt opponents, after having taken the lead by a great Marco Motta goal in the 37th. Only a ballistic exploit in the final quarter (signed Ante Kulusic) could tie the game for the home team, but alas it was too little too late. Italy will move on, Croatia’s run will stop here.
The playoff draw will take place in Malmo (Sweden) at 12.00 CET on September 12, while the playoffs themselves will be played on October 10/11 and 14/15 on a home/away leg basis. The victors from each two-legged tie will join hosts Sweden in the competition proper from June 15 to 29, 2009.
(From Gazzetta): Compared to the 1-1 draw vs. Greece, manager Pierluigi Casiraghi decided to make several changes to his formation: take out Salvatore Bocchetti, backtrack Paolo De Ceglie in defense, and insert Antonio Candreva in midfield. Against a Croatian team overwhelmed by their opponents’ technical superiority, this was a match in which concentration and experience would be the determining factors.
After a good start to the match, the Vatreni (nickname for the Croatian football team, meaning “fiery ones”) considerably dropped in rhythm, thus allowing Italy to progressively get their heads of their shells and put the technique of Giovinco, Balotelli (and a surprise: Motta) to full use. Counter-attacks were flocking in the Croatian box, and it was only due to a serious lack of cynicism that the Azzurri could not capitalize on their domination. Until minute 37 that is…
At the heart of the action, there was once again Sebastian Giovinco: after a daring shoot-straight-from-the-corner-kick attempt, “La formica atomica” tried his luck again from the other corner and delivered a perfect cross for Marco Motta. The right-back’s header was as powerful as it was accurate: ball below the bar and 1-0 Italy.
In the second period, Croatian coach Dražen Ladić attempted to give his team a “boost” with the insertions of Tomasov and Vida, but it had little to no effect on the course of the game. The Azzurrini central defense had litterally built an iron wall to defend Consigli’s goal, while on the other end scoring chances continued to multiply for the Italian strikers. Giovinco however was having some accuracy problems today (dribbling well but shooting wide), while someone had apparently replaced the Balotelli we saw against Greece Friday with an injured dummy. Thus, Casiraghi insert Osvaldo and Dessena into the mix, and the two immediately combined to give Giovinco yet another opportunity to close the match. Once again however, the Juventus trequartista blanked out.
And so, amidst all these wasted chances (and a scary 60%+ ball possession statistic for Italy), Croatia managed to grab the equalizer. Almost fortuitously I might add, stemming from a free-kick and a general massive brain-freeze of the Azzurrini defense. The 1-1 was however too late. Casiraghi replaced Giovinco with Bolzoni, and held the fort until the full-time whistle. The next rendez-vous will be on September 12, to find out the Azzurrini’s playoff round opponent.
Ten group winners: Italy, Turkey, England, Spain, Switzerland, Finland, Austria, Serbia, Germany, Wales.
Four best runners-up:
Belarus, Israel, France, Denmark.
Euro 2008 kicks off on Saturday 7 June 2008. mCalcio will of course be covering the entire Azzurri progress through the tournament, as well as any major game I fancy writing about (with the quality of teams present, expect plenty of excitement).
Here’s the full list of Euro 2008 matches: feel free to bookmark this page and share it online. Once the tournament starts, this page will updated daily to post results as well.