Spain 1-1 Italy
A match up of two world renowned footballing nations started the footballing publics' day with reigning champions Spain taking on Italy for the first match in Group C. Many, including Alexi Lalas feels as though Spain have peaked and their unraveling will begin in this tournament. Questions where raised when the starting line-ups emerged with Spain playing with no identified striker. All the talk about who would start up top due to the absence of David Villa, yet no Negredo, no Llorente, and no Torres. A midfield of Alonso, Xavi, and Busquets with Inesta, Fabregas, and David Silva in front of them. Exercising what's know as a "False nine" in the Biz, these midfielders can rotate, and interchange positions causing headaches to the defensive unit entrusted with stoping them. Did it work? Not really I would say as the attack lacked a focal point, Italy's unorthodox back-line remained un-stretched.
Danielle De Rossi played a sweeper role in front of a back two, aided by wing-backs Maggio and Giaccherni. Italy has always been renowned as a defensively sound team and it snuffed a few efforts from the outstanding Iniesta which threatened Buffon's goal. Italy started with Mario Ballotelli and Antonio Cassano up-top in which the latter had a fantastic game. Yet it was Balotelli with the clear cut chance to convert when he hustled and hurried Sergio Ramos into making a sloppy back pass to Casillas, that deflected of the Italian's foot falling right into his path. Bearing down on goal Balotelli, eyes for goal took to long and Ramos recovered with a sliding hook clearance. Italian Coach Prandelli amended this squandered chance by taking out the big man and replacing him with Antonio Di Natalie, who scored with literally his second touch.
Spain's goal came from a combo of those midfielders I spoke of as Xavi touched it to Silva around the arch, who controlled and deftly flicked the ball with the outside of his boot right into the path of the on rushing Fabregas, who powered it past Buffon. This is how it ended -deadlocked, while Croatia made heavy work of Ireland.
Croatia 3-1 Ireland
Precast as the whipping boys of the group, Ireland took on the team seen as their best chance of picking up three points, Croatia. An early goal to Croatia threw the green army's plan out the window. Having to chase Ireland got a goal back from a set play, due to their grit and determination. The wingers Damien Duff and Aiden McGeady where fairly anonymous and the likes of Robbie Keane and Kevin Doyle had to scrap to get anything in the way of service. Ireland didn't play bad, but suffered from some sloppy play and a run of bad luck. Directly after the half Everton's Ireland had a shout for a penlty after Croatian strikers Jelavic and