GDANSK, POLAND - JUNE 10: Gianluigi Buffon of Italy gestures during the UEFA EURO 2012 group C match between Spain and Italy at The Municipal Stadium on June 10, 2012 in Gdansk, Poland. (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
The first 2 groups have gone through their second cycle of matches, with the situations starting to become a little more clear. Russia and Germany lead Groups A and B, respectively, and Greece and Netherlands are at the bottom of their respective groups and basically both in need of a miracle. Mario Gomez and Alan Dzagoev are making their cases for Golden Boot / Man of the Tournament honors, the Polish have done enough to stay alive but haven't been able to put together 90 solid minutes of great play, and the various stars of the Netherlands have struggled even more mightily than anyone might have guessed.
Today, we move on to Group C. The heavyweights, Spain and Italy, fought to a draw in the first cycle that probably left them both somewhat satisfied. But today, they both really need a win. Italy vs. Croatia is up first at 6 PM local time, 12 Noon Eastern here in the USA. The second match is Spain vs. Ireland.
Things to look for today:
- Spain will be heavy favorites vs. Ireland, but keep in mind they didn't look too sharp vs. Italy, and they haven't settled on an answer to Villa's absence. Spain fans would love to see a multiple-goal performance, both to ease their fears and to put themselves in a position to win a tie-breaker.
- Italy and Croatia both looked pretty tough defensively, and space wasn't easy for their opponents to come by in their first matches. That could portend a defensive match today.
- That Croatia-Italy match is huge for our Blogger Bracket Challenge, with a majority of people picking Italy to come out of the group, but a solid number liking Croatia. Although the results won't be completely clear after today, this match will go along way towards determining the outcome of the group. A loss for Croatia would be especially tough, as it would leave them on 3 points with only Spain left to go.
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