by Tom Allen
Ireland have been desperate at Euro 2012 but they'll want to salvage
something from the finals and could just run Italy close on Monday.
Zero points and seven goals conceded sees Ireland rooted to the bottom of
Group C but, under Italian manager Giovanni Trapattoni, I think it unlikely they
will rollover in their final group game.
In truth Ireland were hopelessly outclassed in both defeats and, with Italy
still chasing a spot in the quarter finals, it will be a tough ask for them to
give their fans something to cheer about.
However, the pressure is now off and they have a decent recent record against
their upcoming opponents.
Italy have impressed me in Poland/Ukraine but lapses in both fixtures so far
has cost them valuable points and now qualification is out for their own hands.
A win should get the job done but a stalemate between Spain and Croatia in
the other Group C fixture would leave Cesare Prandelli and his players sweating
throughout the 90 minutes.
A pair of 1-1 draws could have been so much better for the Azzurri and there
is hope for Ireland if they can capitalise on some uncharacteristic defensive
errors which have marred otherwise very efficient Italian displays.
With Andrea Pirlo pulling the strings in midfield as well as ever, Italy have
an excellent platform in which to attack but their strikers have misfired to
date and Prandelli's team lack somewhat of a cutting edge.
I'm expecting Italy to win on Monday, they could still go all the way, but I
certainly don't rate them as 1.30 chances to do so and there must be some
mileage in opposing them at the prices.
Ireland have tasted defeat just once in their last five previous clashes with
the Italians and will have plenty of decent memories to draw upon as they bid to
salvage some pride from Euro 2012.
Ireland +1.5 (Asian Handicap) @ 10/13 (Bodog)