Both teams were impressive in their opening matches, with the Italians taking a surprise lead against Spain before being pegged back, although Cesare Prandelli’s team were clearly happy with a 1-1 draw at the final whistle.
Meanwhile, Croatia managed to penetrate the Republic of Ireland defence on three separate occasions to win 3-1 in Poznan and they will now be confident of a second victory at the same stadium.
The bookies predictably make Italy favourites at 13/10 (Paddy Power free bets) which doesn’t seem like a bad price when you consider they really served it up to Spain and could have been ahead through Mario Balotelli before Antonio di Natale scored as a second half substitute.
Prandelli is likely to continue with Balotelli and Cassano in attack considering they caused untold problems for the Spanish defence and the Manchester City forward is a 7/1 chance (Sky Bet bookmaker) to break the deadlock in this match.
It could be quite a spicy affair considering that the Croatians like to put their foot in, although there is plenty of quality in Slaven Bilic’s team who are powered by Tottenham’s Luka Modric and the little playmaker largely controlled the match against Ireland from a sitting midfield position.
You can back Croatia at odds of 13/5 (Coral) and they will want to secure their place in the quarter final before a final game against the Spanish who are likely to be sitting on four points after their game against Ireland.
The Croatian front two are both pretty handy and broke their tournament duck in Poznan, with Everton’s Nikica Jelavic a 15/2 chance to score the first goal, although Mario Mandzukic was the brace scorer against the Irish and it’s a surprise to see him on offer at 9/1.
Perhaps this is a match where Italy’s class might tell and they have a different yet effective formation which will see the wing backs bombing forward to flank the likes of Andrea Pirlo and Thiago Motta.
While a 1-0 win for Italy is the leader on the correct score market at 11/2, it might be worth going for something a bit more fancy, especially as the Croatian defence might start to creak if Pirlo manages to slot the ball behind them.
An Italy 3-1 victory is a 22/1 poke with Sportingbet, while a 3-2 win is 40/1 and we might see both teams go for broke, with the Azzurri hoping to have four points on the board before playing a Republic of Ireland team who could be the whipping boys of the tournament.