While many are saying Group B is the Group of Death Group C may be just as difficult and while Spain is the major favorite to make it out, along with Italy, Croatia is a giant killer that is ranked 8th in the world according to FIFA and Ireland is no pushover.
Spain (1.54 Ladbrokes) not only has the best odds to win Group C, but the whole Euro 2012 as well and with good reason, as they are stacked. Spain won the 2008 Euro as well as the 2010 World Cup. They have a couple of the best midfielders in the world in Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez and 2010 World Cup winning G Iker Casillas. The Spanish still have a loaded squad, but the injury losses of Carles Puyol and David Villa will hurt.
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Fernando Torres ended the season with Chelsea with a bang and he is a dangerous striker. Spain is so good that they sometime have lapses on defense and they have to be careful with that playing in such a good group. Their first match is facing Italy, who they have only beaten 2 times in 11 in competitive matches.
Italy (4.30 Ladbrokes) comes into the Euro with a huge cloud because of a match fixing scandal in the domestic leagues. However, they came into the 1982 and 2006 World Cup with the same scandals and won both tournaments. The Italian squad is not as stacked as in the last few big tournaments, but they have a great midfield with the likes of Pirlo, De Rossi, and Nocerino.
The defense is an issue and they will need a great competition from G Gianluigi Buffon, who had a resurgence this season in leading Juvetnus to the Serie A title.
Croatia (9.20 Ladbrokes) did not look great in the Euro qualifying, but they are still dangerous, especially on the counter-attack. They will need a great tournament from MF Luka Modric from Tottenham and he is the leader of the squad. Playmaker Mario Mandzukic is solid and the Croats play tough soccer and have a good defense.
Italy and Ireland are not really attacking teams and those are the types of teams that Croatia struggles against since their offense is keyed on by the counter-attack. The opening match facing Ireland is crucial, as if they lose they may already be out of the running to make it out of the group.
Ireland (20.00 Ladbrokes) is in the Euro for the first time in over 2 decades and the major underdog to win Group C. The Irish are an extremely conservative squad that is led by their defense. They play a trap defense and do not attack often, as they wait for the counter. Because of this they really tend to struggle if they give up the first goal. For Ireland to progress they need to play great defense and get some scoring from the likes of Aiden McGeady and James McClean.
Here are the betting odds to win Group C at
Group C Match Schedule
June 10—Spain vs. Italy
June 10—Republic of Ireland vs. Croatia
June 13—Italy vs. Croatia
June 13—Spain vs. Republic of Ireland
June 18—Croatia vs. Spain
June 18—Italy vs. Republic of Ireland
Prediction: I think Spain should have no problem progressing and winning this group, but I also think Croatia will provide an upset against Italy and qualify for the knockout stage.