All the matches from Group C's second round analysed:
Spain V Rep. Ireland
Ireland are expected to succumb to the might of Spain in a match that is already being ruled a no-contest. While Ireland's oft-mentioned tenacity may stave off Spain's clinical passing game throughout the first half, their inability to keep up with the Spaniards' pace should see a similar outcome to their 1-3 defeat against Croatia.
The most interesting facet of this game will be seeing whether Spain manager Vicente del Bosque will stick to the unorthdox 4-6-0 formation he played against Italy.. If Del Bosque's notorious stubborness gets the better of him once more and he refuses to try out an attacking formation following his squad's underwhelming performance against the Italians, then Spain will find themselves in a difficult position when faced with group-leaders Croatia, who have lost just one of six games against Italy.
However, Ireland's reliance on counter-attacking (or 'punting the ball up the field and hoping') may mean that a Spanish striker is brought on to the field, with Del Bosque's loyalty to Fernando Torres making him the most likely candidate. Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni has stated that he will make only "one or two" changes to the line-up he played against Croatia.
Spain 1/4, Draw 5/1, Rep. Ireland 12/1
Italy V Croatia
A much more exciting prospect than Spain V Rep. Ireland, if Italy find themselves defeated by Croatia then it would make escaping the group stage a lot more difficult than they perhaps anticipated. As previously mentioned, Croatia's track record against Italy is an impressive one, and with the Italian squad currently not firing on all cylinders a loss could effectively signal their exit from the competition.
Croatia are expected to keep the same line-up they had in their victory over Rep. Ireland, while the underwhelming performance from strikers Balotelli and Cassano will likely see goalscorer Di Natale brought on instead. Croatia coach Slaven Bilic has stated that Italy are "not weaker than Spain" and that they are expecting a difficult match.
Italy 7/5, Draw 11/5, Croatia 11/5
Header image: FA