• FT

    Italy

    1

    Croatia

    1

  • FT

    Spain

    4

    Rep of Ire

    0

EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP

Poznan Municipal Stadium, Poznan, Poland

Attendance: 37096

* Local time based on your geographic location.

Italy

  • Andrea Pirlo 39'

1 - 1

FT

Croatia

  • Mario Mandzukic 72'
Watch Live on: ESPN2, ESPNDeportes, ESPN3.com
  •  

    James Tyler: Thanks, everyone, for your participation and insights! Back in 15....

  •  

    James Tyler: Follow us all on Twitter if you enjoy that twittery business:
    @JamesTylerESPN
    @rogbennett
    @JamesHMartin

  •  

    James Tyler: Alright, it's 2pm and I need to help with the postgame. Join us back here on ESPNFC.com in FIFTEEN MINUTES for Spain v. Ireland banter. Leander Schaerlaeckens will run point, but I'll be in the mix, more Roger Bennett, hopefully a Statsie. A real Euro party, complete with bad techno music.

  •  

    James Tyler: Not a chance. Sadly. More chance of Kim Kardashian winning an Oscar.

  •  

    [Comment from Scouser]
    Any chance LFC picks up Modric? Love to see some of the mids get the boot this summer

  •  

    James Tyler: Goal difference would come into play there, mike. Croats' 3-1 over ireland could prove crucial.

  •  

    [Comment from mike]
    I see Spain and Italy advancing. Italy should get a result against Ireland and Croatia would need to take a point off Spain

  •  

    James Tyler: It does a bit Sean, doesn't it? I fancied Ireland as the Cinderellas prior to the tournament, but I did not pick Italy escaping this group. So I might get that right, at least.

  •  

    [Comment from Sean]
    So it's looking like Croatia and Spain will advance

  •  

    [Comment from PeterG]
    Biggest disappointment, we'll never know what was on Balotelli's shirt.

  •  

    James Tyler: More than you'll ever know.

  •  

    [Comment from GFOP Will]
    How badly do you want Xabi Alonso back at Liverpool?

  •  

    James Tyler: I'll say no, though "anything is possible"

  •  

    [Comment from Jim]
    Does Ireland have any realistic shot at winning today?

  •  

    James Tyler: I say no on Di Natale, but I would like to see Giovinco start. Just to see what he can do. Caused havoc down the flank in limited minutes today. Rog was chatting up the tiny playmaker in the pregame.

  •  

    [Comment from Morty]
    Should Di Natale be starting?

  •  

    [Comment from enri]
    I reckon we (italians) couldn't ask too much to this group, with all the scandals and everything, but we could me much better

  •  

    [Comment from SMT]
    Azzuri = drama

  •  

    [Comment from Morty]
    Frustrated

  •  

    [Comment from Alex]
    You help me get through my workday!

  •  

    James Tyler: Have a few minutes for a handful of questions before we segue into Spain v. Ireland.

  •  

    James Tyler: So, Azzurri fans: happy? Frustrated?

  •  

    [Comment from PeterG]
    Thanks alot James, makes work a little more bearable.

  •  

    James Tyler: Really appreciate the good words, everyone. Not to mention your quips and comments! They are why I do this!

  •  

    [Comment from SMT]
    Love the chats!

  •  

    [Comment from Morty]
    Thanks James. You do a great job!

  •  

    [Comment from Scouser]
    Solid work JT. YNWA

  •  

    [Comment from Rugger]
    Cheers once again for the chat James.

  •  

    James Tyler: As for other coverage: catch all games live on ESPN3.com streaming. Also live radio feeds at ESPNRadio.com

  •  

    James Tyler: In fact, the only game not with live chat is tomorrow's Ukraine-France (sorry).

  •  

    James Tyler: Have no fear, folks! Chat will happen! We have chats every day through the end of the group stage, then firing them back up for the knockouts.

  •  

    James Tyler: It will be Leander Schaerlaeckens kicking off our Spain v. Ireland coverage at 2.15pm ET. I will be around but not the main chat-master.

  •  

    [Comment from juan doe]
    JT, you starting another chat up for Spain v Ireland?

  •  

    James Tyler: So, Group C still neatly poised, pending Spain-Ireland later on.

  •  

  •  

    [Comment from PeterG]
    A 1-1 draw by Italy!?!? Shocking.

  •  

    [Comment from Tanto]
    Ill take it. One more Croatia!

  •  

    James Tyler: Full Time: Italy 1, Croatia 1. The Azzurri eased off the gas in the second half and Croatian pressure eventually broke Prandelli's rearguard.

  •  

    James Tyler: AND THAT IS IT

  •  

    James Tyler: De Rossi does well to block Pranjic's cross. Chance gone, but a Croatia throw deep in Italy territory is taken quickly and Buffon makes a smart save low at his near post.

  •  

    James Tyler: Giovinco's right-wing cross is cleared. Modric loses the ball to Pirlo but the Italians cede possession as well.

  •  

    James Tyler: Five mins is nearly up but Mandzukic's "injury" should yield a couple of extra minutes on top of that.

  •  

    James Tyler: Pirlo's free kick is woefully placed and cleared by the first defender.

  •  

    James Tyler: SUB FOR CROATIA: Mandzukic off, Niko Kranjcar on.

  •  

    [Comment from GFOP Mike]
    Sir Ian Darke paired with Sir Ian Darke

  •  

    [Comment from PeterG]
    Ian Darke and Gus Johnson! Best of both sides of the Atlantic.

  •  

    [Comment from Rugger]
    Andy Gray and Lawrence Dallaglio

  •  

    James Tyler: But Mario Mandzukic is down again, clutching his ankle. Time-wasting or genuine injury? Guessing the former. It's almost always the former.

  •  

    James Tyler: Free-kick for Italy inside the Croatia half following another sloppy foul. Too far for Pirlo to shoot as per his sublime goal earlier, but he'll loft it in nicely, I bet.

  •  

    [Comment from Pirloette]
    Martin Tyler and Ray Hudson!!!!!

  •  

    [Comment from Pirloette]
    Strike that - Martin Tyler, Ray Hudson, and Garry Neville.

  •  

    [Comment from stretch]
    Martin Tyler and Efan Ekoku.

  •  

    [Comment from Jan]
    I prefer Martin Tyler to Ian Darke.

  •  

    James Tyler: THREE MINS OF ADDED TIME REMAINING

  •  

    James Tyler: Now then, whistles galore as Mandzukic is chopped down by Chiellini in the right corner following fine hold-up play on the ball. Play resumes.

  •  

    James Tyler: Weirdly, I'd enjoy hearing Ian Darke and Gary Neville combined. I can't stand Neville (I'm an LFC fan) but have to admit he's full of insight and wit. A great color commentator and Darke's a master of the play by play.

  •  

    [Comment from Aaron]
    JT, what's your dream announcer/color commentary football duo?

  •  

    James Tyler: Pirlo with a pass upfield for Di Natale but the Croat defender just reaches the ball first with a header.

  •  

    James Tyler: FIVE MINUTES OF ADDED TIME REMAINING

  •  

    James Tyler: Strinic plants another probing cross into the box but Buffon catches it.

  •  

    James Tyler: Casey, I believe prior to yesterday, it was 2.55 per game. I will endeavor to get that updated info.

  •  

    [Comment from Casey]
    There's been no shortage of goals this tournament. What's the average so far, stat guy?

  •  

    James Tyler: I wish.

  •  

    [Comment from Goran]
    James Tyler? any relation to Martin Tyler? ;-)

  •  

    James Tyler: True, BP. But it's still an awful lot of fun.

  •  

    [Comment from Blazer Patch]
    Is that necessary James? Haven't the Dutch already mocked themselves?

  •  

    James Tyler: Strinic blazes over the bar. Shame.

  •  

    James Tyler: TWO MINUTES LEFT

  •  

    James Tyler: We'll then be doing all the knockout round games.

  •  

    James Tyler: Our live chat schedule:
    TODAY -- Spain v. Ireland, 2.15pm
    FRIDAY -- England v. Sweden, 2.15pm
    SATURDAY -- Group A finale, 2.15pm
    SUNDAY -- Group B denouement, 2.15pm
    MONDAY -- Group C doubleheader, 2.15pm
    TUESDAY -- Group D's thrilling conclusion, 2.15pm

  •  

    [Comment from JohnBrewinESPN via Twitter]
    RT @hipplegrubber: 'Croatia would love to get a winner here' #insight

  •  

    James Tyler: Yes, Jan. As a matter of fact, we do. It'll be Leander Schaerlaeckens running that one. I'll be in the shadows, lurking, mocking the Netherlands, etc.

  •  

    [Comment from Jan]
    Do we get the chat again for Ireland-Spain?

  •  

    James Tyler: Key word is "should" there, Mike.

  •  

    [Comment from JeffreyCarlisle via Twitter]
    Yes. Not sure either. RT @ravidev86: Does this means Fabregas will sit? I don't understand how the other Spain strikers don't get a shot.

  •  

    [Comment from GFOP Mike]
    A draw wouldn't kill Italy's chances to advance. Croatia still has to get through Spain and Italy should destroy Ireland.

  •  

    James Tyler: FOUR MINUTES LEFT

  •  

    James Tyler: Pirlo to whip it in from 25 yards, wide right. It's cleared.

  •  

    James Tyler: YELLOW CARD FOR CROATIA: Giovinco's trickery and pace forces Schildenfeld into a clumsy shove.

  •  

    James Tyler: SIX MINUTES REMAINING.

  •  

    James Tyler: Giovinco makes an immediate impact, earning a corner for the Azzurri. It's taken short but the far post cross is overhit.

  •  

    [Comment from JamesTylerESPN via Twitter]
    @JeffreyCarlisle wow. You should show him that "One In The Hole" 4-5-1 gif!

  •  

    James Tyler: SUB FOR ITALY: Antonio Cassano off, Sebastian Giovinco on.

  •  

    [Comment from JeffreyCarlisle via Twitter]
    Mick McCarthy in the Gdansk media center.

  •  

    James Tyler: SUB FOR CROATIA: Nikica Jelavic off, Eduardo on. Remember him, Arsenal fans? Remember him, Birmingham fans?

  •  

    James Tyler: He's a SNIPER.

  •  

    [Comment from JohnBrewinESPN via Twitter]
    Mandzukic is not free, then after all. He is, however, free to leave it seems. This year's Poborksy or Baros?

  •  

    [Comment from Tanto]
    Mario Mandzukic has had only four shots at Euro 2012 but has scored with three of them. - From ESPN Gamecast, I cant take credit. Shooting 75% certainly isnt terrible

  •  

    James Tyler: It's a joke, Morty.

  •  

    [Comment from Morty]
    how is Croatia winning "stunning the world"? especially considering Italy's form coming in.

  •  

    James Tyler: Now, the Croats break via Mandzukic... he plays it wide right for Jelavic in space but the striker's square return ball is cut out and cleared. Still, Croats applying pressure...

  •  

    [Comment from Tanto]
    My bold pick for the bracket this year is Croatia to the semifinals. A draw here certainly helps, but a winner would be glorious

  •  

    James Tyler: Free kick for Croatia is worked wide left, Strinic did well but his cross is half-cleared. Modric's follow-up cross to the far post is overhit. Goal kick. Buffon takes his time.

  •  

    James Tyler: Absolutely it could, ToddInTheShadows.

  •  

    [Comment from ToddInTheShadows]
    One more goal and Croatia are automatically through. COULD IT HAPPEN?

  •  

    James Tyler: YELLOW CARD FOR ITALY: Riccardo Montolivo sees yellow for leaping into Mandzukic a little late and with too much gusto.

  •  

    [Comment from NCCMick via Twitter]
    @celticRchamps @JohnBrewinESPN Wolfsburg still have him for 2 more years bud.Hes not available on a free but they are willing to sell him

  •  

    James Tyler: Tough crowd! Give him time, Marvin!

  •  

    [Comment from Marvin]
    Di Natale nowhere near as threatening as Balotelli in this game.

  •  

    James Tyler: Thirteen minutes left...

  •  

    James Tyler: I picked 2-1 Italy in the pregame. Sticking to that here.

  •  

    James Tyler: Hang about! Ball over the top finds Maggio inside the box but he's offside. Mistimed his run. For shame.

  •  

    James Tyler: Not terrible, really.

  •  

    [Comment from Jeff G]
    The Azzurri will continue their wonderful tradition of draws in the Euros, then be forced to beat Ireland to advance

  •  

    James Tyler: He is, Morty. he's there.

  •  

    [Comment from Morty]
    Get Di Natale in there.

  •  

    James Tyler: Montolivo with a ripping shot but Pletikosa gets his body behind it and parries it away. Phew.

  •  

    [Comment from benny_berger via Twitter]
    @JohnBrewinESPN Wrong! Two years left at Wolfsburg.

  •  

    James Tyler: right, smoke has cleared sufficiently so play resumes. What will the Azzurri do in response?

  •  

    [Comment from Aaron]
    Croat smashes in / Azzurri in disbelief / Rog needs to edit

  •  

    James Tyler: And Daniele "Charlie Day" De Rossi looks upset.

  •  

    James Tyler: Sixteen minutes left

  •  

    James Tyler: Lovely play by Mandzukic, really. A quiet game thus far but delivers when it counts.

  •  

    James Tyler: Now, flares in the stands and near the pitch, making it impossible to see what's actually happening around the Italian penalty area. Webb stopped play until the smoke clears a bit.

  •  

    [Comment from JohnBrewinESPN via Twitter]
    Mandzukic is available on a free, and will be writing out his own contract at this rate.

  •  

    [Comment from GFOP Mike]
    Speaking of improving your transfer value....

  •  

    [Comment from Jan]
    Mandzukic has upped his transfer value too.

  •  

    [Comment from SMT]
    Italia is stunned

  •  

    [Comment from Jay Jay Okocha]
    WOW

  •  

    [Comment from Marvin]
    You spoke too soon.

  •  

    [Comment from Bobby T.]
    You were saying JT???

  •  

    [Comment from Pirloette]
    GAME ON!!!

  •  

    James Tyler: Chiellini lost Mandzukic and took a gamble in going for the header. It falls to the big Croat and he buries it. Well, then.

  •  

    James Tyler: Lovely cross from the left side, Mandzukic is inexplicably unmarked on the edge of the six yard box. Almost ruins his chance as his first touch is poor but he recovers to smash it into the roof of the net from close range!

  •  

    James Tyler: Crowd goes mad!

  •  

    [Comment from JohnBrewinESPN via Twitter]
    Barry Davies spins in his bathchair.....

  •  

  •  

    James Tyler: MARIO MANDZUKIC!

  •  

    James Tyler: AS I TYPE THAT, GOAL CROATIA!

  •  

    James Tyler: Strinic's left-wing cross is cleared. Game's powering down a bit. 20 minutes left.

  •  

    [Comment from JohnBrewinESPN via Twitter]
    @tomEurosport Yes, not bad at all. How's Ukraine? Mr Lomas has clearly been having some fun. It is cold and wet here - warm there, I see.

  •  

    James Tyler: Max, I think his brief will be to provide width on the left.

  •  

    [Comment from Max]
    Pranjic is used at Bayern for sub to mock opponents who are beaten badly, what's his use now in this match?

  •  

    James Tyler: Seems very much like a pre-set Prandelli sub. Similar to Bert van Marwijk in the two Dutch games thus far.

  •  

    [Comment from JeffreyCarlisle via Twitter]
    Fernando Torres is starting. And his defenders can't wait to dish out the humble pie. ;) #Euro2012 #ESP

  •  

    James Tyler: SUB FOR ITALY: Balotelli off, Di Natale on. Whistles all around the stadium but Balo's played well today. Can have few complaints.

  •  

    [Comment from Charlie]
    More likely: Croatia equalizer or Italy insurance goal?

  •  

    James Tyler: Nah, Jeff. They already have Ibra, Robinho and Cassano. Balotelli would complete the cast of a National Lampoon's Animal House remake.

  •  

    [Comment from Jeff G]
    Question is if they are working so well here, does Milan sell Silva (can't believe they would let him go to PSG) and Ibra, do they go after Balo to link him with Cassano in Seria A

  •  

    [Comment from GFOP Mike]
    A part of my soul died when I only saw a glance of Webb's wink. I couldn't imagine receiving the full force of it.

  •  

    James Tyler: SUB FOR CROATIA: Ivan Perisic off, Danijel Pranjic on.

  •  

    James Tyler: Snra bombs down the right but his cross is blocked by Giaccherini.

  •  

    James Tyler: Sloppy passing by Croatia at the moment.

  •  

    Roger Bennett: Seeing Howard Webb wink in slo-mo. More or less gruesome that Joe Theismann's leg break?

  •  

    [Comment from JohnBrewinESPN via Twitter]
    @tomEurosport Yes, that was my misquote of him before. I loved that schoolmasterly tone.

  •  

    [Comment from Pirloette]
    Watching Buffon disposes Torres without leaving his feet...THAT'S hilarious

  •  

    [Comment from BKinBK]
    Fergie knows that wink all too well

  •  

    [Comment from Calvin]
    Howard Webb wink = serial killer look

  •  

    [Comment from Bobby T.]
    Watching Buffon actually run is hilarious.

  •  

    [Comment from JohnBrewinESPN via Twitter]
    Speaking of Barry Davies, Jonas Thern's return to public life reminds of this classic from Euro '92: "Thern...and does." Ah, the old days.

  •  

    James Tyler: It's like odd numbers and even numbers. Two odds = even.

  •  

    [Comment from PeterG]
    JT, any theory how that works? Crazy + Crazier = Sane?

  •  

    James Tyler: Giaccherini loses the ball on the left but Ivan Rakitic gives it away not long after. After a robust 10 minute spell from the Croats to open the half, Italy appears to be back on top. But not by much.

  •  

    James Tyler: I disagree, Robert H. Think Cassano and Balo have complemented one another wonderfully at the Euros thus far. More importantly, they seem to keep one another calm.

  •  

    [Comment from JohnBrewinESPN via Twitter]
    Now, if Barry Davies were commentating here he'd be complaining about the Italians locking this down. "When will they learn?"

  •  

    [Comment from Robert H]
    I think DiNatale and Cassano are a better fit. DiNatala has a bit more depth and finishes things a little more nicely than Balotelli.

  •  

    James Tyler: SUB FOR ITALY: Thiago Motta off, Riccardo Montolivo on. I'm guessing Thiago has a bit of a headache following his aerial clash with Srna.

  •  

    James Tyler: Yes, Jan. Really.

  •  

    [Comment from Jan]
    Woof? Really JT?

  •  

    James Tyler: Now, danger as Pirlo has plenty of room to skip towards goal, he opts to lay it off for Cassano on the left but the Milan forward loses possession.

  •  

    James Tyler: Woof! Great hit by Balotelli after fine link-up play with Cassano (those two make an outstanding pair) but it's over the bar! But only just!

  •  

    [Comment from JamesHMartin via Twitter]
    @melissah528 That is impressive. Disturbing, but impressive :)

  •  

    [Comment from Charlie]
    We need the magic spray!!

  •  

    [Comment from juan doe]
    GET THE MAGIC WATER

  •  

    James Tyler: And actually, Srna caught Motta rather strongly on the back of the head. Sorry to doubt you, Thiago.

  •  

    [Comment from Jan]
    There's the rolling around in agony that I'm used to.

  •  

    James Tyler: Thiago Motta is down, acting like his face has been caved in.

  •  

    James Tyler: Last couple of minutes: a series of long, misplaced passes by both teams. Croatia definitely getting more pressure, and Webb's got drama to deal with.

  •  

    James Tyler: Tottbot: Thiago Motta plays for PSG! And rumor has it that the Parisians have snared Thiago Silva to join the St. Germain cause.

  •  

    [Comment from TottBot]
    It must feel pretty bad to be the second best Thiago in Serie A.

  •  

    James Tyler: Of all of those, I'd say Shevchenko to the Ukraine.

  •  

    [Comment from Sputnik]
    Which player is most important to his team in this tourney? Ibra, Bendtner, Modric, Pirlo, Ashavin (I know it sounds strange), Rooney?

  •  

    James Tyler: Now, this is more like Howard Webb. The endless shoving prior to the corner has forced him to wield the yellow cards. Shown to Thiago Motta.

  •  

    [Comment from Jay_in_Essex via Twitter]
    I'm looking forward to watching this exciting young Irish forward Fernand O'Torres later this evening.

  •  

    James Tyler: Another corner for the Croats as Strinic's speculative shot is deflected.

  •  

    James Tyler: He's ruminating on his postgame report, Calvin. Fret not. Plenty of Rog all tournament long on ESPNFC.com

  •  

    [Comment from Calvin]
    We want more Rog!!!!

  •  

    James Tyler: Now, flares on the sideline. Not good. I nominate Howard Webb to dive on them.

  •  

    James Tyler: Jelavic wins another corner for the Croats. Turning the screws now...

  •  

    [Comment from JohnBrewinESPN via Twitter]
    Cesc Fabregas. A bit unlucky not to play in my opinion. It's not his fault he is not a striker.

  •  

    James Tyler: Maggio whistled for offside. Clever idea to sneak behind but Pirlo's pass finds him marginally behind the backline.

  •  

    James Tyler: Indeed, Cody. Though sadly a gulf in quality between Chiellini and, say, Oguchi Onyewu. And I feel bad for the Gooch; injuries have robbed him of his mobility.

  •  

    [Comment from Cody]
    Chiellini is just solid I was just thinking never a bad decision, it would be nice to see more of that on the US National Team!

  •  

    James Tyler: Plenty of nudges and shoves in the box prompts Howard Webb to have a word. Corner amounts to nothing.

  •  

    [Comment from JamesHMartin via Twitter]
    @melissah528 ha. Yes, true. I would like to see a best of five between Ireland and Greece, watch the ratings go through the roof

  •  

    James Tyler: Corner for Croatia as Vukojevic's long pass is well controlled by Jelavic inside the box, but the Everton striker's shot is deflected out.

  •  

    James Tyler: Chiellini again handles Mandzukic with ease. Such a classy defender.

  •  

    [Comment from Calvin]
    Rog- Who would you remove?

  •  

    James Tyler: Giaccherini has a crack from distance but it's in the stands.

  •  

    Roger Bennett: I would pull off a striker and go 4-4-1-1 to find him more room. This 4-4-2 is not having the impact it did against a ghastly Irish team

  •  

    James Tyler: Mandzukic chases a long ball into the corner but Chiellini expertly shepherds it out for a goal kick.

  •  

    James Tyler: Just needs to get in behind Italy's midfielders, really. Push up a bit and find that space.

  •  

    [Comment from juan doe]
    James, what does Modric have to do to see more of the ball this half? Like that last play...

  •  

    James Tyler: I know, Rog. He's so tiny.

  •  

    James Tyler: Chance! Luka Modric blazes a shot over the bar from 25 yards. Great effort.

  •  

    Roger Bennett: Huge power from that little Modric leg

  •  

    James Tyler: Cassano flops in the box. Not even Howard Webb would give that.

  •  

    James Tyler: Really is having a decent game.

  •  

    James Tyler: More good hold-up play by Balotelli to buy his teammate time to get out wide.

  •  

    James Tyler: Corluka and Giaccherini clash down the right flank. Free kick to Italy.

  •  

    [Comment from Pirloette]
    Rog - have you ever interviewed Xavi? He and Pirlo remind me a lot of each other.

  •  

    [Comment from Guest]
    FORZAAA ITALIAAAA

  •  

    James Tyler: Chance! Modric does well to elude one defender and shoot but he's distracted just enough by Thiago Motta and Buffon saves low to his right.

  •  

    [Comment from JamesHMartin via Twitter]
    Croatia scored 3 against Ireland, being outplayed here. We'll find out in a bit just how bad Ireland is agian (worst team in tournament IMO)

  •  

    Roger Bennett: The older Buffon gets, the more he looks like a Wilding

  •  

    James Tyler: Pirlo almost plays Balotelli through with a speculative pass but Corluka cuts it out.

  •  

    [Comment from PeterG]
    Pirlo scores / and the Croats mourn missing / Balotelli's shirt.

  •  

  •  

    James Tyler: Right, off again!

  •  

    Roger Bennett: One other thing about Pirlo. The Gent is one of the smartest gents I have ever interviewed. Talks about the game like a poet. Puts English players to shame with his articulate ability

  •  

    James Tyler: Be back in 60 seconds, folks. A live-chatter needs his sustenance.

  •  

    [Comment from JohnBrewinESPN via Twitter]
    @Kingkeir I am quite sure that he gave a full answer that was exceptionally revealing.

  •  

    [Comment from GFOP Mike]
    Gomez and it's not even close.

  •  

    [Comment from Francis]
    gomez currently best striker in world

  •  

    [Comment from Robert]
    Balotelli

  •  

    [Comment from Aaron]
    Gomez for both club and country

  •  

    [Comment from Josh]
    Gomez for lack of fireworks explosions in apartment.

  •  

    [Comment from Riley]
    Pirlo's cool is in remarkable contrast to Buffon's ridiculousness.

  •  

    James Tyler: Indeed, Cody. Plus, Jordan Henderson would somehow get selected and upset an entire universe.

  •  

    [Comment from Cody]
    Nice thought Jan but if you are Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales do you want to be UK team or represent Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland

  •  

    [Comment from Cody]
    Gomez from the results

  •  

    [Comment from Neo]
    Gomez

  •  

    [Comment from Jeremy]
    Better Mario: Gomez or Balotelli?

  •  

    Roger Bennett: Does any player have such a blithe cool as Pirlo. His countenance is remarkable. Not a big guy. But total swagger...

  •  

    James Tyler: NO. Jan. No. Absolutely not. Would just give John Terry more players and teammates to upset, insult, infuriate and ostracize.

  •  

    [Comment from Jan]
    Shouldn't England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales just all join together to be the UK? It's insane that we won't ever see Gareth Bale at the Euros or World Cup.

  •  

    James Tyler: Could easily see a Yarmolenko catching the eye but making a move to Western Europe before he's ready and ultimately losing his way.

  •  

    [Comment from Gudg]
    Follow up question: Who is destined to be the next Milan Baros?

  •  

    [Comment from JohnBrewinESPN via Twitter]
    I am going to hazard a guess. Has the TV coverage back home headed 'off to the England camp'?

  •  

    [Comment from SN]
    Michael Krohn-Dehli

  •  

    [Comment from Blazer Patch]
    Starting XI - Italian Strikers, Dutch Midfield, Portuguese defense, and Sczecezny

  •  

    [Comment from Josh]
    Balotelli weird / Pirlo still has magic touch / Viva Azzurri!

  •  

    Roger Bennett: Bendtner... I jest

  •  

    James Tyler: Easy shout, Gudg. Though Daniele De Rossi's CB switch has shown him to be even more titanic. Someone could have the ducats to pry him from Serie A.

  •  

    Roger Bennett: Dzagoev. Dehli. Debuchy.

  •  

    [Comment from Gudg]
    Here's a question, what one player has upped their transfer value the most this tournament? I would wager Dzagoev.

  •  

    James Tyler: Really, you could make an XI entirely of goalkeepers. Lehmann, Kahn, Boruc. There's three I couldn't possibly choose between.

  •  

    Roger Bennett: I would love to get a look at Giovinco in this game... to see him run at the Croatian defense would be a vision of wonder.

  •  

    James Tyler: Alright, here's a tasty Q.

  •  

    [Comment from GFOP Will]
    All crazy starting XI ? The Italians encompassing the strikers..

  •  

    James Tyler: Baines is as famously homesick as the Kardashians are famously useless.

  •  

    James Tyler: Just don't expect him to travel far from home to back you up, Rog.

  •  

    Roger Bennett: Oh... my back up. Leighton Baines. Only footballer I would ever trust with my life.

  •  

    [Comment from Alex]
    Andrea Pirlo / Has a magical right foot / More goals to follow?

  •  

    [Comment from Matt]
    @Roger -- I think its if you were walking down a dark alley and were to be jumped -- which player at the Euros would you want to protect you or help you fight them off... I think?

  •  

    James Tyler: Alright, we need a new question for the rabble. Who has an intriguing query?

  •  

    [Comment from Konstantin]
    A nice, open half / let's hope the second is too / Croats deserve more

  •  

    Roger Bennett: I dont understand the question. Is it who would we want to beat us up in an alley? Or who we think we stand a chance of surviving. I would like Skrtel as the end would be quick and painless. But the only bloke I think I could survive would be Andy Carroll. Bigger they come, harder they fall

  •  

    James Tyler: Now, let's all quiet down while Michael Ballack speaks.

  •  

    James Tyler: ESPNRadio.com is your spot for live radio feeds. ESPN3.com will serve you on the streaming video front.

  •  

    James Tyler: Rooney has two functions: he's aggressive and not afraid of a fight. Also, he's much shorter than me so I can always shove him into the melee while I scarper in the other direction.

  •  

    [Comment from GFOP Will]
    I think Roger would want Skrtel

  •  

    James Tyler: And I echo Rog. The participation in this chat is wonderful thus far! And a nicely poised 45 minutes yet to come.

  •  

    James Tyler: Indeed, Alex. Very lively and not at all unhinged.

  •  

    [Comment from Alex]
    Super Mario actually deserves to score in this game... as a United fan I never thought I'd say that he deserves to score, but he's been quite sharp.

  •  

    James Tyler: Absolutely not, Aaron. Give me Wayne Rooney.

  •  

    [Comment from Aaron]
    If you had to pick one player from this year's Euros to take with you down a dark alley, would Balotelli be the runaway choice?

  •  

    Roger Bennett: Thanks for all your comments and tweets in the first half. Magic work.

  •  

    James Tyler: We differ a bit, Rog. I think it's fun but feel like they should pay an expensive choreographer to give them a personal brand of in-the-stands self-expression. Sheikh Mansour can foot the bill. Perhaps Simon Cowell could get involved.

  •  

  •  

    James Tyler: Right, That's your lot for the first half. Some dialed-in brilliance from Andrea Pirlo separates the two sides at the interval. Croatia's front two looking lively but not the same as they were against Ireland. Similarly, Cassano and Balo looking sharp again.

  •  

    Roger Bennett: I love that Man City do the Poznan -- i see it more as a celebration by a long suffering set of fans of their return to Europe. Total glee.

  •  

    James Tyler: Zing, GFOPM.

  •  

    [Comment from GFOP Mike]
    ManCity actually purchased the Poznan from Lech fans.

  •  

  •  

    James Tyler: Croatia breaks upfield but Mandzukic drifts too far wide of goal and Buffon is equal to his low shot.

  •  

    James Tyler: Action's a bit frantic but nothing meaningful as we enter the one minute of added time in the first half.

  •  

    James Tyler: Because -- don't kill me -- they're a generation of fans without a definable style to call their own. So why not co-opt?

  •  

    [Comment from Jan]
    Why exactly do Man City fans do the Poznan? I never quite understood that.

  •  

    James Tyler: I guess I'm ignorant then, Jason.

  •  

    [Comment from Jason]
    Frank Lampard. And to deny that would be downright ignorant.

  •  

    Roger Bennett: The story with Pirlo is that he was dumped by Milan -- thought he was done. And he went and aided Juve to the title... this Euro performance is just the cherry on the Gelatto

  •  

    James Tyler: Well, CG, arguably, they're in the band. They're the professional wrestler and its their signature move. It's the "BAM!" to their Emeril. Allowable but still a bit corny.

  •  

    [Comment from Chicago Gunner]
    The Lech Poznan fans, though, they can do the Poznan.

  •  

    [Comment from Charlie]
    I'm torn in this match. The Italians have better hairstyles, but the Croatians have glorious facial hair. It's a toss-up...

  •  

    James Tyler: Jamie Carragher? don't laugh.

  •  

    James Tyler: Another good shout.

  •  

    Roger Bennett: Scholesey.

  •  

    James Tyler: Bingo, Rog. Another good comp.

  •  

    James Tyler: I'd say Maldini. Different position, but man did he have an age-defying brilliant career.

  •  

    Roger Bennett: Correct James. Dont do the Poznan in Poznan. Like calling French Fries French Fries in Paris

  •  

    [Comment from Aaron]
    Has there been a historical equivalent to Pirlo from a longevity, class, and positional standpoint?

  •  

    James Tyler: Anyway, Croatia awake now but more menace by the Italians: Cassano goes near post to meet a Pirlo corner but puts it over the bar.

  •  

    Roger Bennett: Howard Webb's clone is running the line. All Very Boys From Brazil

  •  

    James Tyler: Bit cheesy in this context, perhaps, Alex. Like wearing a band t-shirt to a concert involving the same band.

  •  

    [Comment from Alex]
    Should they do the Poznan?

  •  

    [Comment from JamesTylerESPN via Twitter]
    And another soccer "fossil" proving worth: Shevchenko. Di Natale. Pirlo.

  •  

    Roger Bennett: Finally... a set piece going right in the goal without a head intervening

  •  

    [Comment from Chicago Gunner]
    And there's Seven Nation Army from the Italian fans.

  •  

    [Comment from JamesTylerESPN via Twitter]
    Pirlo: silken hair. Silky with a set piece.

  •  

    [Comment from Chicago Gunner]
    That does it, I'm just finding moments to yell CAT LADY in the future.

  •  

    [Comment from Charlie]
    Pirlo has wonderful hair!

  •  

    [Comment from SMT]
    PIRLO --- I love you

  •  

    [Comment from Jay Jay Okocha]
    Pirlo is a magician.

  •  

    [Comment from Antonio]
    GOAL!

  •  

    [Comment from Marvin]
    Fantastic Pirlo

  •  

    [Comment from JohnBrewinESPN via Twitter]
    Pirlo, still peerless.

  •  

    James Tyler: Bends it up and over the wall, Pletikosa reaches it but not in time!

  •  

    James Tyler: Curls the free-kick in at the near post from 20-odd yards! Sumptuous strike! Silken shot! Marvelous mastery of the dead ball!

  •  

    Roger Bennett: CAT LADY

  •  

    James Tyler: GOAL FOR ITALY! IT IS THE MAJESTIC PIRLO!

  •  

    James Tyler: Now, free-kick for Italy just outside the box, left of goal.

  •  

    [Comment from Jay Jay Okocha]
    My God what a save.

  •  

    [Comment from Antonio]
    Amazing saves

  •  

    Roger Bennett: Movement of Balo, Marchisio, Cassano is exquisite. If they can keep things together off the field... Italy loaded with menace on it

  •  

    [Comment from Jwalk]
    WHAT A DOUBLE SAVE!!!

  •  

    James Tyler: Cassano's run opens up room for Marchisio to waltz on through but the midfielder can't get a shot past the Croat goalie despite having two solid shots at it. For shame, Claudio.

  •  

    James Tyler: Right up the middle they go but Stipe Pletikosa makes two wonderful saves to save Slaven Bilic's sanity!

  •  

    James Tyler: Huge chance for Italy!

  •  

    Roger Bennett: Corset comes in handy. Amazing double save

  •  

    James Tyler: True, but he's playing as one in name, anyway. De Rossi has license to stride up field, as classic sweepers Beckenbauer and Matthaus did back in the day.

  •  

    [Comment from fred]
    JT: but de rossi is not a central defender, right?

  •  

    Roger Bennett: three at the back also does not play well against teams playing 4-5-1 as you have 2 men covering one gent and leaving wings vulnerable.

  •  

    James Tyler: Now, back to the action, which is lulling a touch.

  •  

    [Comment from Mista]
    Cassano have an impressive game again.

  •  

    James Tyler: Plus center-backs by trade aren't the most agile players in a starting lineup, so using three is a dangerous ploy.

  •  

    James Tyler: Simply put, Jeremy, it's a gamble. Soccer is a numbers game. Three defenders doesn't match up well against teams playing with wingers. Too much room. That said, Italy's wing-backs are sliding up and down the flanks so when the Azzurri is without the ball, they sit in the backline giving a 5-man rearguard.

  •  

    [Comment from Jeremy]
    Why is it so uncommon to see 3 at the back in Int'l competition?

  •  

    [Comment from luca]
    Agreed de rossi is very good in the back but would they be better suited with his playmaking ability in the mid?

  •  

    James Tyler: Marchisio rides through a couple of tackles and finds Balotelli, but the striker's decision to shoot from outside the box is a poor one. It's wide.

  •  

    Roger Bennett: Marchisio starting to influence this game. at the heart of much that has been good last ten minutes

  •  

    James Tyler: Chance! Cassano drags his shot wide from a narrow angle to the right of goal. Lovely run by Cassano to get free. Great pass to set him loose, too. Bonucci with the pass.

  •  

    James Tyler: Chaos in the Croatian area! Balotelli played through, a Croat leg intercepts, eventually a shot comes in but deflected out for a corner. Pirlo takes it short but the final cross is still overhit.

  •  

    James Tyler: Plenty of Croatian passes on the right flank between Rakitic and Modric but the move breaks down. Italy surges upfield but Strinic takes out Balotelli, who'd already knocked the ball past the Croatian RB.

  •  

    Roger Bennett: Watching de Rossi play sweeper is magic. Appears to be growing into the position with every tackle.

  •  

    James Tyler: Italy's had 55% of the ball thus far.

  •  

    [Comment from JohnBrewinESPN via Twitter]
    Re Ireland and McLean: with a policy of Don't Play The Derryman, Giovanni Trapattoni has revealed a love of Chris De Burgh. (apologies)

  •  

    James Tyler: In the 30th minute and neither side flexing decisive muscle in midfield. Chances at both ends.

  •  

    James Tyler: Long cross from the right flank by Rakitic is overhit. Goal kick, Italy.

  •  

    James Tyler: Absolutely humiliates Schildenfeld -- who I said would be a liability -- but the defender regrouped in the end.

  •  

    James Tyler: Lovely play by Cassano! Marchisio finds him on the right flank, Cassano skips infield with a nifty bit of skill but his cutback pass is intercepted.

  •  

    Roger Bennett: Cassano channeling the Mad Professor from Streetball

  •  

    James Tyler: Now, Balotelli does well to skip to the edge of the box and find Marchisio, but the midfielder's shot is deflected and picked up easily by Pletikosa.

  •  

    James Tyler: Pirlo's much prettier than that.

  •  

    [Comment from ROB GREENS GLOVES]
    Pirlo looks like Steve Nash

  •  

    James Tyler: Maybe so, John, but it can't be ignored. As for clearing out stadiums or sections, difficult to do. Impossible, even.

  •  

    Roger Bennett: Pirlo is a fascinating looking bloke. Someone tweeted Men In Blazers last game and said he looks like her old aunt who lives with cats

  •  

    [Comment from Jan]
    Lot of empty seats in the corner there. Can they really not sell out these matches?

  •  

    [Comment from John]
    Fair answer. Just seems like people that think like that will do anything for attention.

  •  

    James Tyler: Corner is well delivered but header is right to Buffon.

  •  

    James Tyler: Srna's delivery is clever but it deflects off Maggio in the wall. Corner, Croatia.

  •  

    James Tyler: Free-kick wide right for Croatia. Will we see our first goal?

  •  

    James Tyler: Yes and no, John. I mean, it's the media's responsibility to report on it. Racism can't be kept quiet. If there are incidents, they must come out and be investigated.

  •  

    [Comment from John]
    Do you guys think that the racist stuff would be less of a problem if the media didn't report it? I feel like giving these extremists attention may just be fueling the fire.

  •  

    James Tyler: Media breathlessly await Balotelli's violent response but he shrugs it off.

  •  

    James Tyler: Now, Balotelli and Strinic go up for a high ball but Balo gets underneath the Croatian RB and puts a shoulder in.

  •  

    James Tyler: Are you surprised, Chicago Gunner? I know I am. No theatric rolls thus far. No fake agonized expressions. Lovely stuff.

  •  

    [Comment from Chicago Gunner]
    A lot of rough-and-tumble but the players are hopping right back up every time and we're getting plenty of football. Love it.

  •  

    James Tyler: Sad to hear, Roger. Our man in Poland, Brian Blickenstaff, witnessed it when sat among the Spain fans in the first Group C game.

  •  

    [Comment from KeirRadnedge via Twitter]
    "Monkey chants" from the Croat fans very clear when Balotelli had possession attacking 'their' goal

  •  

    James Tyler: A couple of overhit crosses for Croatia not troubling this stout Azzurri back four.

  •  

    [Comment from JamesTylerESPN via Twitter]
    @Busfield very true. I do hope he outgrows that truth/easy media narrative, though.

  •  

    Roger Bennett: Plenty of journos at game reporting regrettable "Monkey chants" from the Croat fans very clear when Balotelli had possession attacking 'their' goal

  •  

    James Tyler: Silly me, where are my manners. Scoreboard is up. 21 minutes in and little to yell about, really. Couple of good plays by Balotelli and Jelavic, plus Marchisio's long-range strike that whistled over the bar.

  •  

  •  

    [Comment from Misty]
    Balotelli's undershirt says "Ceci n'est pas une Balotelli"

  •  

    Roger Bennett: Jela only scores like that. a one touch shot around either corner of the 6 yard box. normally the left side.

  •  

    [Comment from Casey]
    It reads "Pull Over Head" upside down

  •  

    James Tyler: Now Buffon saves sharply after Srna's low right-flank cross is nearly toe-poked home by Jelavic!

  •  

    James Tyler: Seems like a fair call by Webb. Cross was so far ahead of the Croat striker.

  •  

    James Tyler: Big penalty shout for Croatia! Jelavic felled by Chiellini as the cross came in from the left but Webb waves it off!

  •  

    Roger Bennett: Balo's Tshirt says "Why Always Paddy Power?"

  •  

    [Comment from Alex]
    "Why always goals?"

  •  

    James Tyler: It's swung deep towards Bonucci but the Croats scramble it clear.

  •  

    James Tyler: Balotelli wins a corner despite slipping in the box and initially losing the ball. Good work and hustle there. So far, so good, Balo!

  •  

    [Comment from Chicago Gunner]
    "THIS IS MY TORSO"

  •  

    [Comment from Colin]
    Any guesses on what is written underneath Balotelli's shirt?

  •  

    James Tyler: Amazed by the poll results thus far: 29% expect a Balotelli red card, 37% expect one goal. This in a nutshell is Balotelli. At least our perceptions of him.

  •  

    [Comment from John]
    Balotelli looks like he's ready to play today. A goal seems imminent.

  •  

    James Tyler: Schildenfeld and Corluka are not picking up his runs at all.

  •  

    James Tyler: Indeed, Rog. Has justified his inclusion thus far with that kind of vision and enterprise.

  •  

    Roger Bennett: Balo peeling off all the time to find space on the edge of the area. his movement is great

  •  

    James Tyler: Shot from Balotelli at the edge of the box is parried by Pletikosa!

  •  

    [Comment from Green]
    Pirlo is playing well right now. Can't let him get too much on the ball

  •  

    James Tyler: Lovely ball into the box for Croatia but Mandzukic can't get on the end

  •  

    James Tyler: Now, the Croats try to break down the right but Chiellini sweeps the ball out for a throw-in.

  •  

    James Tyler: What a lofted pass for Balotelli behind Schildenfeld, the madman holds up the ball but instead of shooting, opts to lay it back for a teammate and the ball's banged clear.

  •  

    James Tyler: MMM delicious.

  •  

    [Comment from PirloFlop]
    Goodmorning lads! PirloFlop cakes, anyone?

  •  

    James Tyler: I have yet to break it to him.

  •  

    [Comment from PeterG]
    James, any report on how Cassano feels about that comparison?

  •  

    James Tyler: It's very good. Anything stonking is good.

  •  

    [Comment from Bobby T.]
    Is "stonker" good or bad? Trying to expand my soccer vocab.

  •  

    James Tyler: Jelavic bundles Pirlo down in full gallop. Scrappy start in the opening 13 minutes.

  •  

    Roger Bennett: Pirlo fell there like a horse that had been shot in a western movie

  •  

    James Tyler: If you believe the rumors, Gudg, then yes. Luka Modric.

  •  

    [Comment from Gudg]
    Are there any Manchester United players in the game today other than Howard Webb?

  •  

    James Tyler: So, it's settled then; Antonio Cassano is the Italian Craig Bellamy. Short, stocky, runs a lot, good crosser.

  •  

    James Tyler: Chance for Italy! Great cross from the right finds Balotelli in acres of space inside the box -- defender lost him -- but Balo's shot is blocked. Rebound falls to Marchisio but his long-range blast is narrowly over.

  •  

    Roger Bennett: Good lord. stonker from Marchisio. But what a cross from Cassano

  •  

    James Tyler: Yes, I do Matt. Shades of old school principals to it. Anything that takes the player down a peg or two is good in my book.

  •  

    [Comment from Matt]
    James -- do you like it when the refs call the players over and wag their finger at them or do an "incomplete pass motion" to the players?

  •  

    [Comment from Alex]
    Pirlo was great against Spain but his corners have been lacking big time thus far...not sure what's going on. Someone else should take them I think.

  •  

    Roger Bennett: I think Croatia's keeper might be wearing a corset

  •  

    James Tyler: Croatia clears and Nikica Jelavic wins a free-kick in the middle of the pitch as he tried to hold up the ball. Shades of Nemanja Vidic hauling down Fernando Torres a few years back.

  •  

    James Tyler: More pressure down the wings for Italy... Christian Maggio wins a throw-in and from that, Italy has a mild PK request when Maggio and Srna fall over in the box.

  •  

    James Tyler: Howard Webb is hilarious.

  •  

    [Comment from Andrew]
    does anyone else think that howard webb isn't the best ref england has to offer for european competitions

  •  

    James Tyler: Cassano's cross is dangerous, swinging in from the left but Perisic hoofs behind for a corner. Marchisio was at the far post waiting to head it home. Pirlo's corner amounts to nothing.

  •  

    [Comment from Nicola]
    cheesy

  •  

    [Comment from Jan]
    Cheesy

  •  

    [Comment from Simeon]
    cheesy

  •  

    James Tyler: Now, more scrappiness as Darijo Srna slides in to dispossess Ghiaccherini in the left corner.

  •  

    Roger Bennett: Very hard to make the case that it is cool. Sesame Street. Mission Control. Times Square New Years eve maybe

  •  

    James Tyler: Now, Croatia's turn to attack but Mandzukic is forced wide left on the dribble yet wins a throw-in. Strinic hoicks it into the box, it falls for Jelavic but the Everton forward can't hook his foot around the ball on the volley. Buffon collects.

  •  

    [Comment from Green]
    Countdown before kickoff over loudspeaker- cool or cheesy?

  •  

    James Tyler: Always will, Rugger.

  •  

    [Comment from Rugger]
    There's that Liverpool bias showing James...

  •  

    James Tyler: whistles as Webb gets his first call. Mandzukic late on Chiellini's foot as the big defender clears the ball. Free-kick, Italy, just outside its own box.

  •  

    James Tyler: Agreed, Jan L. He can't even get a game at Tottenham.

  •  

    [Comment from Jan L.]
    Corluka is garbage

  •  

    [Comment from Alex]
    Super Mario's in the mood it would seem.

  •  

    James Tyler: Italy is resplendent in its deep, luscious royal blue.

  •  

    James Tyler: CHANCE! And that's why Balotelli is in the side. Controls well in the middle of the box, spins off his defender and cracks it goalward with his left foot but it's narrowly wide. Had brushed off Corluka with ease.

  •  

    Roger Bennett: Someone once called Modric a man who looks like a small child dressed up as a witch

  •  

    [Comment from Dominic]
    Totally agree, I love the looks I get when I wear my Modric jersey around

  •  

    James Tyler: For shame, Dante! I think it's lovely. A real magic eye of a shirt.

  •  

    [Comment from Dante]
    Not down with the Croatia kit.

  •  

    [Comment from Charlie]
    Rog: What about USA's "Where's Waldo" jerseys? The ones that you couldn't read the numbers?

  •  

    Roger Bennett: Only better jersey in sports than Croatia? The Tour De France King of the Mountains

  •  

    James Tyler: True, Steve, though I bet orders will be to sit deep most, if not all, of the time.

  •  

    [Comment from Steve]
    That 4-4-2 can turn into a 4-1-3-2 awful quickly if he wants it to . . .

  •  

    James Tyler: Croats sporting their iconic picnic tablecloths.

  •  

    James Tyler: And we're off!
    Italy from left to right as we see it.

  •  

    James Tyler: @Cobs: I think the whole thing is silly. Note that UEFA wasn't mad that he flashed his underwear, but that it was an unauthorized -- note: didn't pay -- brand name getting free publicity.

  •  

    [Comment from cobs]
    JT, thanks again for bringing us the live chat. Do you think Nicklas B. will or should be fined for his goal celebration antics?

  •  

    James Tyler: Sure, why not.

  •  

    [Comment from Scouser]
    Jelavic to score today?

  •  

    James Tyler: So, Slaven Bilic has stiffened up a tough. Croats in a 4-4-2 instead of a 4-1-3-2. Clearly cognizant of Pirlo's threat in the middle.

  •  

    James Tyler: Pirlo's perennially under the radar. But rightfully earned widespread kudos for his efforts at Juventus last season.

  •  

    [Comment from Sputnik]
    Pirlo seems to be one of the most underrated players in the tourney. Flies under the radar but makes alot of plays.

  •  

    James Tyler: Howard Webb sighting!

  •  

    James Tyler: Italy in that flexible 3-5-2 set-up.

  •  

    James Tyler: Lineups!
    ITALY
    1-Buffon
    19-Bonucci, 16-De Rossi, 3-Chiellini
    2-Maggio, 8-Marchisio, 21-Pirlo, 5-Thiago Motta, 13-Giaccherini
    10-Cassano, 9-Balotelli

    CROATIA
    1-Pletikosa
    11-Srna, 5-Corluka, 13-Schildenfeld, 2-Strinic
    7-Rakitic, 10-Modric, 8-Vukojevic, 20-Perisic
    9-Jelavic, 17-Mandzukic

  •  

    [Comment from Alex]
    Rog- you finally graced us with your presence!

  •  

    James Tyler: Yes; dynamic midfielder and sure to trouble Italy's wing-backs.

  •  

    [Comment from jawatoss]
    I picked up Rakitic for fantasy, good gamble?

  •  

    James Tyler: Andrew: in Nicky B's mind, he's always the best player in the world. I bet he had a little celebration of his own after the 3-2 defeat considering he scored twice.

  •  

    Roger Bennett: Here's my bit about Poor Mario -- football's leading high-risk/high reward lottery ticket
    http://espnfc.com/us/en/news/1100170/bennettis-mario-balotelli-misunderstood.html

  •  

    [Comment from Andrew]
    so since Bendtner has more goals than CR7 this tournament means that Bendtners the best player in the world, right?

  •  

    James Tyler: Cheers, Antonio!

  •  

    [Comment from Antonio]
    James - here is a name of an up and comer in Milan's system Matteo Catalano....big strong and fast! You heard it here first!

  •  

    James Tyler: Matt, you want a draw. I think. An Italy defeat puts them on high alert to perform against Ireland in the third game. Croatia win likely puts them through.

  •  

    Roger Bennett: Buffon is FEELING it

  •  

    Roger Bennett: There was a scandal in Italy 8 years ago when the players were ripped for not knowing the words to this anthem...

  •  

    [Comment from Matt]
    As an Irish fan, what result should I be cheering for? Maybe a nervy draw?

  •  

    James Tyler: If you need a feed, check out ESPN3.com. Also on radio at ESPNRadio.com. And ESPN2 as well for those lucky enough to snag a TV!

  •  

    James Tyler: On the Croat side, Ivan Rakitic plays in Spain for Sevilla, there's the Spurs duo/trio of Vedran Corluka (out on loan last yr) and Luka Modric, plus the just-departed Niko Kranjcar. Nikica Jelavic plays at Everton.

  •  

    Roger Bennett: Croatians launch their THIS IS RUSSIA flag

  •  

    James Tyler: Morning, Rog!

  •  

    James Tyler: Anyone in particular, Brian? Balotelli's at Man City and Thiago Motta at PSG, but the rest of the Italy squad is largely split between Juventus, Roma, Milan, Palermo and the like. 20 of 23 based in Serie A.

  •  

    Roger Bennett: Hello JT. Can't wait for this game. Not just Italy and Croatia, but Taylor Twellman...

  •  

    [Comment from Brian]
    Which teams do the stars play for professionally?

  •  

    James Tyler: Cheer up, TottBot. You might get Moyes. He's way less drama. But yes, Modric talk off the table! There's a game afoot!

  •  

    [Comment from TottBot]
    Can we put the Modric transfer rumors on hiatus during this day or mourning?

  •  

    James Tyler: @Jason: that's a question for CONCACAF. They empower the member nations to negotiate their own TV deals and have little care as to who screens the games. As such, Guatemala sold its rights to some upstart PPV outfit. Nothing anyone can do.
    But back to the Euros...

  •  

    [Comment from Jason]
    What are your thoughts on the USA qualifier not being televised in the US except for paper view?

  •  

    [Comment from Nick Christie (GFOP)]
    He pays tax when he wants, he pays tax when he waaannnts. Harry Redknapp, he pays tax when he wants

  •  

    James Tyler: Croatia a "bogey" for the azzurri. But obviously in the Euros, all bets are off.

  •  

    James Tyler: Played 6, Won 3, Drawn 2, Lost 1.

  •  

    James Tyler: CROATIA'S RECORD VS. ITALY (including friendlies)

  •  

    James Tyler: Now, here's a fun stat:

  •  

    James Tyler: I'm plumping for a 2-1 Italy win, Nick.

  •  

    [Comment from Nick]
    good thing that man utd got kawaga, we needed a CAM badly. What is your prediction for tonight? i think its either a 1-1 draw or a 2-1 italy win

  •  

    James Tyler: I really do like what Fabio Borini has done at Roma. Young lad, needs to bulk up a bit. I also think Giuseppe Rossi -- not exactly a popular name in the US -- is more in line with what the Azzurri need leading the line.

  •  

    [Comment from Brooklyn Tom]
    James any players in the Italian system you believe can ever evolve into a dominant striker?

  •  

    James Tyler: Tell me more, Rijeka! More importantly, can you send me a plate? I'm starving.

  •  

    [Comment from Rijeka]
    Cevapi is a dish thats made out of beef links

  •  

    James Tyler: He got greedy and the fact that England turned his head in February meant that Levy had time to plan out the future for THFC. Redknapp's 65. Did some good things with Tottenham but not worth whatever he was asking for, contract-wise.

  •  

    [Comment from Stoyanov]
    What is your opinion on the Harry Redknapp 'firing' ?

  •  

    James Tyler: Like it, Mauro. Adds real grit and along with Giorgio Chiellini, is surely the scariest CB partnership in international soccer at present.

  •  

    [Comment from Mauro]
    What do you think of DeRossi at central defender?

  •  

    James Tyler: What's cevapi, then?

  •  

    James Tyler: Not sure, Nick. Would solve a lot of United's problems to have an assertive CM that can pass and create. Whether it happens or not remains to be seen. Redknapp leaving Tottenham might force Levy to resist any overtures in the transfer window.

  •  

    [Comment from nick]
    James, are you just as excited as me wanting to see more of the talented modric play, i'm a man utd supporter from australia, do you honestly think he will go to man utd?

  •  

    [Comment from Luisa]
    You have to try cevapi!

  •  

    James Tyler: Correct! That dynamic, versatile, reliable man leading the line. That said, it's a struggle for many teams; England sans Rooney, Spain has struggles up top. Hence why such a premium is placed on good strikers in the transfer market.

  •  

    [Comment from Antonio]
    The Rossi/Baggio type that makes everyone stand up when they touch the ball!

  •  

    James Tyler: Indeed. Love a good slice. Never tried Croatian food but assuming it's delicious.

  •  

    [Comment from Chris]
    Pizza? Clearly you are bias to Italian then!

  •  

    James Tyler: Pizza, Chris.

  •  

    [Comment from chris]
    James , So when watching games from the booth do you prefer hot dog or pretzel?

  •  

    James Tyler: I'll wager that its weakness is at striker. Balotelli's too inconsistent. Di Natale is old. Borini and Giovinco not seasoned enough. If they had a bonafide, lights-out frontman a la Lewandowski, van Persie (though not this summer, heh), Gomez, etc they would be a lot more formidable.

  •  

    James Tyler: Great Q, Antonio!

  •  

    [Comment from Antonio]
    James - What is missing from this Italy squad that would make it a contender?

  •  

    [Comment from Alex]
    Super Mario / Will score goals for Italia / According to James

  •  

    James Tyler: probably, Vin. Second half.

  •  

    [Comment from vin]
    Is Giovinco an option in midfield behind the forwards?

  •  

    James Tyler: Nah, Sputnik; Think Del Bosque played to Italy's defensive strength and didn't give too much away

  •  

    [Comment from Sputnik]
    Do you think Spain made a big tactical mistake starting those 46 midfielders vs Italy?

  •  

  •  

    [Comment from Litsa]
    FORZA ITALIA!

  •  

    [Comment from MARKO]
    Croatia will win 2-1

  •  

    James Tyler: You just never know. I'll say that he's going to score today. Just a bunch.

  •  

    [Comment from Jason]
    do you think Balotelli is going to be a positive or negative to the game?

  •  

    James Tyler: @Chris -- Di Natale's no spring chicken and has persistent knee trouble. Prandelli seems to fancy him as a super sub option.

  •  

    [Comment from Chris]
    Doesn't it seem like Di Natale should be starting ahead of Balotelli? He showed again against Spain that he is always underrated by Italian head coaches; he delivers whenever given the chance.

  •  

    James Tyler: No, Sputnik. I genuinely think Prandelli has use for him and sees his upside. Big muscular presence who plays well off Cassano. And he has a knack for redemptive goals.

  •  

    [Comment from Sputnik]
    Are you surprised Balotelli is starting? Is this an ego thing whereby if he doesn't start, you might as well write him off?

  •  

  •  

    James Tyler: Exactly, Ukie. He was culpable and wobbly against Robbie Keane! Robbie Keane!

  •  

    [Comment from Ukie86]
    Should have been a pk against him with Robbie Keane, so fair logic their James

  •  

    [Comment from Giancarlo]
    ITALIA!!!!!!

  •  

    James Tyler: @Marcus: absolutely. That backline was ruffled by the Irish in the second half, and Italy's front five present an awful lot more menace. Perhaps Pirlo will pick 'em apart with the pass. Definitely a point of note.

  •  

    James Tyler: Sputnik: think Bilic will go for it but unclear yet whether he's going 4-4-2 or sticking with the 4-1-3-2 that worked so well against Ireland. Bilic doesn't strike me as the sit-back/settling type.

  •  

    James Tyler: Alex: if anyone, I shall pick Schildenfeld. Dunno why. He and Balotelli will have a spat and the defender will err.

  •  

    [Comment from Marcus]
    Croatia will have some problems holding up against Italy tonight, wont you say?

  •  

    [Comment from Sputnik]
    Does Croatia go for the win or settle for a tie and take their 4 points to their game vs Spain?

  •  

    [Comment from Alex]
    So any bets on who gets red carded?

  •  

    [Comment from Alex]
    I'm part Serbian and Italian, so I think you know who I am rooting for tonight!

  •  

    James Tyler: ITALY
    1-Buffon
    19-Bonucci, 16-De Rossi, 3-Chiellini
    2-Maggio, 8-Marchisio, 21-Pirlo, 5-Thiago Motta, 13-Giaccherini
    10-Cassano, 9-Balotelli

    CROATIA
    1-Pletikosa
    11-Srna, 5-Corluka, 13-Schildenfeld, 2-Strinic
    7-Rakitic, 10-Modric, 8-Vukojevic, 20-Perisic
    9-Jelavic, 17-Mandzukic

  •  

    James Tyler: Here are your lineups... back in 60 seconds!

  •  

    James Tyler: Give me a moment to arrange myself, but yes, this one promises to be fantastic fun.

  •  

    [Comment from Alex]
    Hello!!!

  •  

    [Comment from Rugger]
    Morning James!

  •  

    James Tyler: Big Man Mandzukic up against the furry-faced brute, Daniele De Rossi

  •  

    James Tyler: Are we all set for Italy v. Croatia, then? Promises to be full of spittle and fury.

  •  

    James Tyler: Morning, all!

 
COMPLETE TEAM CLOSE X
Goal Shot Video
  •  
  • Shots (on goal)

  • tackles

  • Fouls

  • possession

  • Italy

  • 15(7)

  • 11

  • 15

  • 52%

    48%

  • Croatia

  • 10(8)

  • 20

  • 22

Match Stats

  • Italy
  • Croatia
15(7) Shots (on goal) 10(8)
15 Fouls 22
6 Corner kicks 3
3 Offsides 1
52% Time of Possession 48%
2 Yellow Cards 1
0 Red Cards 0
5 Saves 4