Our resident betting expert is predicting a cagey match between Spain and the Republic of Ireland, and thus under 2.5 goals, while also backing Antonio Di Natale to score his second of the tournament in what should be an Italian victory against Croatia.
Thursday’s Euro 2012 fixtures:
Denmark v Portugal (1700BST) Poznan, Group C
Spain v Republic of Ireland (1945BST) Gdansk, Group C
Spain boss Vicente Del Bosque is set to name six midfielders – as he did against Italy – and that means the onus will fall on City’s David Silva to breakdown the Irish rearguard. The 26-year-old featured six times in Euro 2012 qualifying, scoring four times, and taking his tally to 16 strikes in 59 appearances for his country. So the Tipster’s opening bet for this edition is for Silva to score at any time against Ireland at solid odds of 8/5.
Spain may edge Ireland on past meetings but in their most recent encounter, Mick McCarthy’s side were only beaten on penalties to be denied a place in the last eight of the World Cup in 2002. On their way to the world crown in 2010, six of Spain’s seven games finished with under 2.5 goals. And The Tipster reckons under 2.5 goals between Spain and Republic of Ireland is a good bet at Evens.
Before turning 30, Di Natale failed to manage 17 goals in a single Serie A season. However, the Udinese captain, now 34, struck 23 goals for his side who finished in third place – the third successive season he managed over 20. Di Natale has scored 11 goals in 38 appearances for the national side, including his smart finish against Spain in their opening Group C game, and 21/10 for him to score at any time against Croatia is definitely worth a punt.
Italy are unbeaten in competitive internationals under coach Cesare Prandelli, a run which includes eight victories and three draws. Italy finished on 26 points in Euro 2012 qualifying, a national record, and perhaps unsurprisingly, finished with the best defensive record of all the teams at the European championship, conceding just twice. And The Tipster reckons Italy will build on their draw against Spain with a victory over Croatia at 5/4.
Spain struggled to find a way past a resilient Italian side and were saved by Cesc Fàbregas’ equaliser in the second half of their opening Group C game. Ireland have vowed to repeat the tactics used by England when the Three Lions beat Spain 1-0 at Wembley, plus replicate Chelsea’s defensive heroics against Barcelona in the Champions League. Trapattoni’s side will be well drilled and looking to contain Spain, so the Tipster’s audacious long shot for this edition is Spain and Ireland to draw at brilliant odds of 5/1.
MORE: Man United latest news
MORE: Arsenal latest news
MORE: Chelsea latest news
MORE: Liverpool latest news