If Spain vs Italy ends in a draw, it will mean both these teams in Match 6 are going to have to go for a win else it is going to be hard to get out of the group stage. Ireland and Croatia will both be praying for a Spain win. This match pits teams whose key players – Modric, Jelavic, Corluka vs Keane, Given, O’Shea – know each other well from the English Premier League.
Why Ireland will win
- Trapattoni is a master tactically. He will set Ireland up to manage the game well and neutralize the playmaking ability of Modric.
- Karma. This will be payback for getting robbed of appearing in World Cup 2010 by a Thierry Henry handball that was never called during Ireland’s playoff against France. This Irish team is so proud to have qualified for a major international tournament after a long break – they will give it everything they have in front of a stadium full of traveling Irish fans.
- They have good depth, speed and creativity in midfield with McGeady, McClean and Duff. This is balanced with very good striking options in Robbie Keane, Long, Doyle and Walters.
- Modric and Jelavic are not mysteries to most members of the Irish team.
Why Croatia will win
- This is a well coached team that has been together for a while. They will play hard for Bilic as this could be his last tournament in charge of the national team.
- Modric. He pulls the strings all over the midfield. He has done it repeatedly in the English Premier League and the Irish team will not be able to stop him from doing it now if the individual players haven’t been able to do it during the tournament.
- It’s been a while since Ireland was in this position. The pressure could get to them.
Pre-match prediction: Ireland 1 Croatia 0
A goalless or 1-1 draw wouldn’t surprise me. However, I think this is Ireland’s time. I expect Keane or Doyle to get a goal for Ireland. Look for Dunne and O’Shea to put a lot of pressure on Croatia on dead ball situations.