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Euro 2012 Results: Croatia Controls Own Destiny After 1-1 Draw with Italy

POZNAN, POLAND - JUNE 14:  Mario Mandzukic of Croatia gestures during the UEFA EURO 2012 group C match between Italy and Croatia at The Municipal Stadium on June 14, 2012 in Poznan, Poland.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Clive Mason/Getty Images
Wes ODonnellFeatured ColumnistJune 15, 2012

Other than having to play Spain in their Group C finale, Croatia couldn't ask for much more.

The surprise Group C leaders currently sit on four points after rallying to level with the Italians and earn a point in their second match.

Unfortunately, they saved their toughest test for last, but they have a lot going for them.

For starters, they could flat out defeat the reigning Euro and World Cup champions Spain and win Group C outright. This is obviously their plan, but Spain are the champions for a reason.

According to Grant Wahl, who cites UEFA rules and @BrianDalyNJ, a 2-2 Spain-Croatia draw automatically eliminates Italy from advancing:

If Spain beats Ireland, a 2-2 Spain-Croatia tie would put Italy out no matter what Italy does vs IRL… (via @briandalynj)

— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) June 14, 2012

Spain beat up Ireland yesterday, eliminating the Boys in Green from the competition altogether.

Croatia, Italy and Spain, however, have a score to settle.

Italy will take on Ireland and will likely find a result to their liking. With the Irish eliminated from contention and simply trying not to be embarrassed, the Italians should finish on five points.

That leaves Croatia to figure out either how to defeat the Spanish, or notch a 2-2 draw that would render the Italians' effort futile regardless of outcome.

Remember, these teams will all be playing at the same time on the final day of group play, so the only bit of knowledge they'll have is the scoreboard.

So for Croatia, a nation with reason to be confident, their fate lies in their own hands.

Again, they can't ask for much more.

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