Ireland vs. Croatia Date, Start Time, Live Stream, TV Info and Preview
Group C opponents Ireland and Croatia are set to battle it out in their first group stage match at the Poznan Municipal Stadium.
A victory is a must for both sides. The remaining two teams in the group are World Cup champions Spain and Italy.
Neither Ireland or Croatia is expected to progress to the quarterfinal stage, but that is not to say that neither pose a threat.
Croatia come into the tournament ranked No. 9 in the FIFA World Rankings, four places better than group foes Italy.
Their Road to Euro 2012 however, was by no means an easy task.
Croatia finished second in their group behind 2004 winners Greece, meaning a dreaded two-legged playoff was the only means of qualification. The Croats convincingly thumped Turkey 3-0 away in Istanbul, then proceeded to close out the tie with a 0-0 draw in Zagreb.
Ireland barely missed out on automatic qualification from their group finishing just two points behind Russia.
They were then gifted a playoff outing with World No. 52 Estonia in which they strolled to a 5-1 aggregate win.
The match between these two teams should be exciting, and one to very much look forward to.
Who will win this match?
When: Sunday, June 10 at 2:45 p.m. ET
Live Stream: ESPN3.com
The sides have met six times before in their illustrious histories. The Republic of Ireland narrowly leads the series with a record of 2-1-3.
The three draws indicate that the meeting at this year's Euro should be a hotly contested one, and one with little between the teams.
Croatia's sole victory against the Irish came in 1999 when legendary striker Davor Suker scored the winner in the 94th minute.
We can only hope that it once again comes down to the wire like it did on that occasion.
Players to look out for:
Croatia will look to star midfielder Luka Modric for inspiration in their opening match. The little magician will try to thread passes through to his onrushing strikers, and maybe nick a goal or two himself.
A man also in top form at the moment is Everton forward, Nikica Jelavić. Following his January move from Rangers, Jelavić scored a remarkable 11 goals in 16 appearances, showing he can do the job in one of Europe's top leagues.
For Ireland, veteran goalkeeper Shay Given could prove the difference between an early exit and a successful cup run. Capped 121 times for his country, the Aston Villa man will hope to rediscover his boiling hot form at the Euro.
Prediction: Croatia wins 1-0
Croatia have to be considered favorites heading into this tie. They showed their mettle in the qualification stage, and their star-studded squad is now ready to show what they can do at a major international tournament.
It should be a close encounter as both sides have relatively stingy defenses, both conceding only seven goals in qualification.
Croatia however, should have the edge when it comes to offense and will score midway through the second half to secure their first triumph at Euro 2012.
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