Italy are facing an all too familiar situation as they prepare to meet Ireland in their final Group C match on Monday.
At the 2004 European championships held in Portugal, the Italians were eliminated from the group stages following Sweden and Denmark’s 2-2 draw.
That was the score the Danes required in their final group game, and they booked their passage to the knockout phase at the expense of Italy.
And the same scenario again confronts the 2006 World champions.
If they beat the already-eliminated Ireland at the Stadion Miejski in Poznan and either Spain or Croatia prevail in their clash, Italy will progress, but a 2-2 draw between their fellow Group C sides would send Cesare Prandelli’s men home.
However, if the Spain and Croatia encounter ends in either a 0-0 or 1-1 draw, the circumstances become complicated.
A goalless stalemate would favour Italy but a 1-1 score would make the score between Italy and Ireland vital. The Italians would then have to better Croatia’s 3-1 victory over Ireland to reach the last eight.
Interestingly, Italy have not won any of their last five matches and have scored just two goals, both at Euro 2012, and they have also failed to beat Ireland in any of their three previous competitive fixtures.
Ireland secured a memorable 1-0 victory at the 1994 World Cup and played out draws both home and away during the 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign.
Having conceded only three goals in a 14-game unbeaten run ahead of the championships, it has been a tournament to forget for Giovanni Trapottoni’s team.
Ireland were comprehensively beaten 3-1 and 4-0 by Croatia and Spain in their opening matches and it is now a question of pride.
They lack a regular goal scorer. In 12 fixtures played last year, only captain Robbie Keane hit the target more than once. The La Galaxy striker scored two, and they both appeared in a 4-0 triumph over Estonia.
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