Azzurri face prospect of agonising Group C exit
SPAIN’S 4-0 drubbing of Ireland on Thursday night has set up an intriguing finale in Group C and left Italy worrying about the prospect of an agonising exit from the tournament.
Spain and Croatia, who play each other on Monday, are both on four points, two points ahead of Italy, and if they draw 2-2 (or a higher-scoring draw) the Italians will be eliminated even if they beat Ireland.
The 2-2 scoreline is a 5-1 shot with Ladbrokes and as short as
7-2 with Boylesports.
A 2-2 draw between Denmark and Sweden sealed Italy’s fate in the group stages of Euro 2004.
The result had been backed down to 7-2 eight years ago but Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon said: “It’s different to the Sweden-Denmark case, because Spain are better than Croatia, not at the same level.”
Defending champions Spain are 1-20 to qualify, while both Italy and Croatia can be backed at 5-6 to reach the quarter-finals.
Italy coach Cesare Prandelli must also decide whether to keep faith with Mario Balotelli for the Ireland game. The Manchester City forward has been taken off in Italy’s first two games and Hills go 5-6 that he starts on Monday and the same price that he is left out of the starting 11.
Prandelli said of Balotelli on Friday: “He needs to be more ruthless and pay more attention. These are the areas he needs to improve.”
Balotelli is 9-4 with Hills to score from the bench against Ireland, 18-1 to be sent off during an appearance as substitute and just 10-1 to leave the Italy squad before they are knocked out of – or win – the tournament.
Russia are 6-4 with bet365 to outscore their three Group A
rivals this evening and the firm offer 4-7 that the two matches
produce five or more goals between them.
Denmark’s Nicklas Bendtner is facing disciplinary action for
revealing Paddy Power-branded pants after scoring a goal against Portugal on Wednesday.
The striker’s case will be dealt with by the Uefa Disciplinary Body next week but the Danish FA confirmed that Bendtner would not be wearing the offending underpants against Germany on Sunday.
RULES OF GROUP QUALIFICATION
If two or more teams are equal on points on completion of the group matches, the following criteria are applied to determine the rankings:
a Higher number of points obtained in the matches played between the teams in question;
b Superior goal difference
resulting from the matches played between the teams in question;
c Higher number of goals scored in the matches played between the teams in
d If, after having applied
criteria a to c, two teams
still have an equal ranking,
criteria a to c are reapplied
exclusively to the matches
between the two teams in question to determine the final rankings of the two teams. If this procedure does not lead to a decision, criteria e to i apply in the order given;
e Superior goal difference in all group matches;
f Higher number of goals scored in all group matches;
g Position in the Uefa national team coefficient ranking
h Fair play conduct of the teams (final tournament);
i Drawing of lots.