Italy v Republic of Ireland latest news, odds and free bets

On Monday night, the Republic of Ireland play their final match of Euro 2012 before heading home for a summer holiday and Giovanni Trapattoni’s team will want to go out with a bang

Who knows when the Irish will next qualify for a major tournament, especially as several players are now getting long in the tooth including Robbie Keane, Richard Dunne, Damien Duff and Shay Given.

Even so, this quartet have all been selected for the match against Italy, with Trap making just one change from the team that started against Spain, with Kevin Doyle replacing Simon Cox as the Irish revert to a 4-4-2 formation.

It would be a major surprise if the boys in green win this match although they have nothing to lose and can be backed at 11/1 (Betfred free bets) to claim another famous victory over Italy, having beaten the Azzurri in the 1994 World Cup thanks to that Ray Houghton effort.

Cesare Prandelli’s team need to win the match in Poznan and then hope that Spain and Croatia don’t draw the match by a 2-2 scoreline which would render this match irrelevant. It’s highly unlikely that a Croatian side will score twice against a vibrant Spanish team so the objective of winning should be enough for a quarter final berth.

Italy are a 3/10 chance (bet365 £200 free bets) to record their first victory of the tournament, having draw 1-1 with Spain and Croatia despite leading both games. Perhaps Prandelli will opt to keep faith with Mario Balotelli, although Antonio Di Natale could be selected in place of the Manchester City striker and can be backed at 9/2 (Paddy Power bookmaker) to score first.

Andre Pirlo is an 11/1 chance to break the deadlock as he did against Croatia and the Juventus midfielder is a master when it comes to taking free-kicks, while he will also look to get forward in support of the front men.

Italy will be looking to get an early goal and hope that the floodgates open as they did for Spain, with the Republic having conceded seven goals in two matches thus far and the odds on a 4-0 Azzurri win is 14/1 although it’s open to question as to whether this Italian side is capable of scoring a bucketload of goals.

It’s a big night for Damien Duff who earns his 100th cap for the boys in green and the Fulham winger will wear the captain’s armband for the night with odds of 28/1 that Duffer breaks the deadlock and puts Italy under big pressure.

Perhaps Ireland will score a goal or two and the 50/1 about a 4-2 win makes appeal at 50/1 with Sportingbet.

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