Republic Of Ireland v Croatia Preview and Tips
To say that the Republic Of Ireland’s preparations for Euro 2012 haven’t gone smoothly is a bit of an understatement. Keith Fahey has already dropped out of Giovanni Trapattoni’s squad and experienced pair Shay Given and John O’Shea may both be struggling to make the Republic’s opener against Croatia, although both safely made it through a rain-soaked affair in Hungary.
Richard Dunne and Robbie Keane have also had injury scares recently and, having had the benefit of a good draw in the play-offs, the luck of the Irish deserted the men in green when the names came out of the hat for the group stages of Euro 2012, being drawn along side champions Spain, previous winners Italy and the dangerous Croatia. It’s going to take a massive effort from Keane and his team-mates to reach the quarter-finals for the first time in only their second appearance at the finals but, as underdogs, they should enjoy plenty of support and may be capable of taking a point off Slaven Bilic’s team at 9/4.
Spurs’ playmaker Luka Modric is the one who makes Croatia tick and Trapattoni has probably drawn up a plan to counter his effectiveness but they are by no means a one-man team. Daniel Pranjic plays with Bayern Munich, but his team-mate Ivica Olic has been ruled out, while Nikica Jelevic finished the season strongly at Everton and former Arsenal striker Eduardo has been rebuilding his career at Shakhtar Donetsk. Attacking-wise, Croatia certainly have the firepower to cause problems for any team in the finals but, defensively, they could be vulnerable and could easily self-destruct when the pressure is on, though that shouldn’t be the case in their opening match. The problem for both teams is that they know they must take something out of this game to stand a realistic chance of progressing beyond the group stages and that may lead to a tense encounter.
Ireland don’t concede many so backing a 1-1 correct score could pay dividends at 5/1. If anyone’s going to score for the Irish it will be probably be Robbie Keane who, apart from Germany’s Miroslav Klose, has more international goals to his name than anyone else at the finals and the LA Galaxy striker is 2/1 to score anytime.