A match that Italy manager Ceasare Prandelli has claimed “will be the crucial game of the group.” Both sides were impressive in their first matches. Croatia beating Ireland 3-1 while Italy held World Champions to a 1-1 draw. Both sides played some nice football in the previous round so hopefully this match will see a continuation of that. There shouldn’t be any surprises with the two line ups as both managers are expected to start with the same personnel from their last matches.
- Danielle De Rossi will start again in the centre of defense. The Roma midfielder did a good job against the Spainish but was helped by the fact he had no forwards to mark. When Torres came on he started to look a little uncomfortable with marking him. It’ll be interesting to see how he handles the challenge Jelavic and Mandzukic.
- Upfront the only question for Italy is whether to stick with Balotelli or go for Di Natalle who scored when he came on in the last match. Despite his amazing miss against Spain when he was one-on-one with Casillias Balotelli did contribute well to Italy’s over all play. Prandelli will likely stick with the Man City striker.
- Croatia have no injury concerns and are not expected to make any changes. Niko Kranjcar may feel he should start but Persic preformed well against the Irish and should keep his spot near Modric.
- As always Modric is the focal point for Croatia’s play. He is a similar player to Pirlo except that he likes to play closer to the strikers. It’ll be an interesting contest between the two to see who influences the match the most.
- Corluka looked uneasy when challenged by the Irish. For that reason look for Balotelli to target him with his physical strength.
- The two Italian full backs remain vital to the teams attack. Look for them to get forward as much as possible to offer width to the Italian attack.
- Croatia manager Slaven Bilic will have recognized the threat of the full backs and will ask his wide players, Rakitic and Perisic to track there runs and try to pin them back.
- The two sides attacking attitudes may cancel each other out and a draw seems a likely result.