Group C kicks off on Sunday. I am very interested to see how this group plays out.
Spain vs. Italy in Gdansk
Spain begins their journey to win a second straight Euro against Italy. The team selections are still up in the air for both squads. Fernando Torres is likely to get the nod at striker over Fernando Llorente. Italy has many questions on their back line, and defensive midfielder Daniele De Rossi might start out of position at center back.
UPDATE: Cesc Fabregas is starting so Spain doesn’t have a starting striker.
Players to watch
Xavi- The Spanish midfielder has developed great chemistry with Barcelona teammate Andreas Iniesta. Xavi is so creative as a center midfielder and should give Spain’s center forward several chances.
Andre Pirlo- The veteran midfielder played great this season for Italian champions Juventus. Pirlo will be asked to do a lot on Sunday against the Spain midfield.
Prediction- Spain 2, Italy 0
Croatia vs. Ireland in Poznan
Croatia is a tournament dark horse, who must take three points against Ireland. The Irish will feel this is a must-win game too because it will be a challenge to defeat Spain and Italy.
Players to watch
Luka Modric- Many of Ireland’s players are employed in the English Premiership and are familiar with Tottenham’s Modric. The Croatian is very clever and must be contained by the Irish.
Robbie Keane- The Ireland captain will have a lot of freedom in a strict defensive-minded formation. He will look to create with the outside midfielders and play behind center striker Kevin Doyle.
Prediction- Croatia 1, Ireland 0
Here is Ireland’s official song for Euro 2012, which is much better than Chris Kamara’s song for England: