• FT

    Croatia

    0

    Spain

    1

  • FT

    Italy

    2

    Rep of Ire

    0

EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP

Arena Gdansk, Poland

Attendance: 38371

* Local time based on your geographic location.

0 - 1

FT

Spain

  • Jesús Navas 88'
Watch Live on: ESPN, ESPNDeportes, ESPN3.com
  •  

    James Tyler: Thanks again! Back tomorrow!

  •  

    James Tyler: On Twitter:
    @JamesTylerESPN
    @JeffreyCarlisle
    @rogbennett
    @ESPNStatsInfo

  •  

    James Tyler: Thanks for joining! We'll be back tomorrow at 2.15 ET for Group D's exciting conclusion. At the very least, it will be more exciting than today.

  •  

    ESPN Stats and Info: Spain owns the top three passing days of the tournament. La Furia Roja completed 810 passes against Ireland, 675 against Italy and 649 today against Croatia.

  •  

    James Tyler: Alright folks, we have frantic postgame writing to do. Thanks again for joining us as Group C settled itself in, oddly, a predictable fashion. All the conspiracy theories eluded us and never came to pass. Spain and Italy rumble on to meet the table scraps from Group D.

  •  

    [Comment from Mike R.]
    Poor Ireland. One flippin' goal in three games.

  •  

    James Tyler: Controversial, Calvin!

  •  

    [Comment from Calvin]
    Spain are the Miami Heat of Football. Very talented, but hated by many for their attitude.

  •  

    James Tyler: Think we watched different games, Jose. Croatia didn't do that at all. Had three strikers on the field. Had better chances to score.

  •  

    [Comment from Jose]
    So Croatia play 60 minutes with 8 defenders, 10 behind the ball, waiting, waiting while out of the tournament, and they are courageous??? ok

  •  

    ESPN Stats and Info: Italy's first win in 2012, and the Azurri snap a six-game major tournament winless streak.

  •  

  •  

  •  

    James Tyler: It's all over.... Spain 1, Croatia 0 in Gdansk.

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: It's all over in Poznan. Italy win 2-0.

  •  

    ESPN Stats and Info: Spain in as group winner. Italy in as well.

  •  

    [Comment from Pog]
    Balotelli and Given with one of the more improbable jersey exchanges of the tournament.

  •  

    Roger Bennett: Irrespective of final score, what a committed performance by Croatia: organized, positive and courageous. Euro 2012 poorer for their absence

  •  

    James Tyler: Less than a minute left. Pletikosa hurries upfield to meet a free kick. Empty net!

  •  

    James Tyler: Crestfallen Croats, Smug Spaniards in Gdansk.

  •  

    [Comment from Nick Christie (GFOP)]
    Seriously, the linesman was 100% right on an immensely difficult play and deserves tons of credit!!!!

  •  

    [Comment from GreatGooglyMoogly]
    I am a Spain fan, love the way they play, usually, today was brutal. Actually feel bad for Croatia.

  •  

    James Tyler: Four added minutes in Gdansk.

  •  

    [Comment from James]
    GOODBYE CROATIA

  •  

    James Tyler: Yellow cards for Jelavic and Mandzukic in quick succession, presumably for dissent. They're right to be upset. Replays did look like Navas was offside as Iniesta's square pass went forward.

  •  

    [Comment from GFOP Mike]
    Why always Balotelli?

  •  

    ESPN Stats and Info: Balotelli's goal (while impressive) does not change the group standings. Should results hold (2-0 ITA, 1-0 ESP) Spain wins the group, with the Italians through in second.

  •  

    [Comment from Adam]
    Wow, now Croatia is officially out. They need two goals.

  •  

    [Comment from Neil]
    Balotelli!

  •  

    [Comment from GOOSE]
    2 late goal winners, one for italy and one for spain. madness!!!

  •  

    James Tyler: Croatians in stunned silence. Now comes the late-game panic. Bilic has his jacket off, sleeves being rolled up.

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Balotelli with a spectacuilar volley with O'Shea draped all over him!

  •  

    James Tyler: Spanish fans doing the vocal equivalent of the tiki-taka.

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: GOAL Italy!

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Whoa. Andrews is given his 2nd yellow for barking at the ref. Wow. Huge loss of composure there. Ireland down to ten men.

  •  

    [Comment from Patrick]
    Keith Andrews sent off with his second yellow

  •  

    James Tyler: Well, we have plenty to talk about in the postgame, don't we?

  •  

    [Comment from Wil]
    Iniesta was onside....navas was not.

  •  

    [Comment from Justin]
    Awful, AWFUL no-call. I don't think Croatia scores regardless, but you can't miss that as a ref at this level..

  •  

    James Tyler: SUB FOR SPAIN: Xavi off, Negredo on. Nice of Del Bosque to thumb his nose at the masses by bringing a striker-ish guy on with a 1-0 lead.

  •  

    James Tyler: Yeah, replay shows it a shade offside.

  •  

    [Comment from Charlie]
    How was that NOT offsides????

  •  

    [Comment from Bobby T.]
    THAT WAS THE LAMEST MOST ANTI CLIMATIC GOAL I'VE EVER SEEN.

  •  

    [Comment from Zenos]
    offsides on both of them...

  •  

    [Comment from Jason]
    Clear offside.

  •  

    [Comment from CB]
    Wow. Letoff for Spain.

  •  

  •  

    James Tyler: Iniesta breaks the offside trap! Squares it for Navas, and while the Croatian defense stands around begging for a flag, the sub taps it home. Iniesta looked onside, but what about Navas?

  •  

    ESPN Stats and Info: Navas' goal in the 88th minute is the latest goal scored in the tournament.

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Balotelli shoots on goal after a pass from Diamanti, but it's deflected straight at Given. Two--plus minutes remaining plus stoppage time.

  •  

    ESPN Stats and Info: Spain would be through as the group winner... Italy would be through in second place.

  •  

    James Tyler: GOAL FOR SPAIN!

  •  

    James Tyler: Epic, DC Gunner. More than the Dutch collapse.

  •  

    [Comment from DC Gunner]
    How much of a disaster would it be if Spain go out?

  •  

    [Comment from Carlito]
    I hope Spain pays for its insolence

  •  

    James Tyler: Corner for Croatia. Rakitic with a good delivery but Corluka can't direct his close-range header on target. Casillas nowhere near it.

  •  

    [Comment from Jwalk]
    Im sensing a late late winner

  •  

    ESPN Stats and Info: Italy with 60-40 possession and a 21-6 shots advantage

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Simon Cox on for Robbie Keane.

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Balotelli lays the ball back for Bonucci who had cheated up for the free kick but it goes wide.

  •  

    [Comment from Tony]
    theres no reason why del bosque shouldnt give llorente a chance at this point clearly the 4-6-0 isnt working

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: goes into the wall.

  •  

    James Tyler: Another shot on goal for Spain but Pletikosa not looking too troubled.

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Pirlo to take it...

  •  

    James Tyler: Again, Italy wins the group if results hold based on this:
    http://www.uefa.com/uefaeuro/news/newsid=1818000.html

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Balotelli wins a free kick near the top of the box. Ireland goes nuts but to no avail.

  •  

    [Comment from Jason]
    Rakitic miss looming large now..

  •  

    James Tyler: Chance for Spain! Iniesta shoots from a narrow angle but Pletikosa saves. Another corner for Spain.

  •  

    ESPN Stats and Info: Unfortunately we don't have that Nordy... My guess is pretty far.

  •  

    ESPN Stats and Info: Spain had the last 0-0 draw at the Euros, playing Italy to a scoreless draw in the 2008 quarterfinals against Italy and advanced 4:2 on penalties.

  •  

    James Tyler: Too much tiki-taka, Rob. Looked very inept around goal. Then again, maybe that's what happens when you refuse to deploy a striker post-Torres.

  •  

    [Comment from Rob (Chicago)]
    From the tone of the chat conversation, it sounds like Spain is doing the tiki-taka version of parking the bus....true?

  •  

    [Comment from Nordy]
    Statsie - what's the average distance ran by a player in EUR 2012 so far?

  •  

    James Tyler: Sergio Busquets should have done better with that. And now nerves should be setting in for Spain's backline. Three strikers on for Croatia.

  •  

    James Tyler: SUB FOR CROATIA: Vukojevic off, Eduardo on. Croatia going for it! And why not. 10 minutes left. More than Del Bosque has done...

  •  

    [Comment from GreatGooglyMoogly]
    Croatia 10 times more dangerous on 10 times fewer shots.

  •  

    [Comment from Nordy]
    Pretty sweet volley off the chest. Nice save.

  •  

    Roger Bennett: Whatever the score. Great respect for Croatia. This is the performance of the first round for me. Working so hard. Taking advantage of their slender possession. Using muscle only when they have to...

  •  

    James Tyler: Casillas collects with ease.

  •  

    James Tyler: Great volley but good save. Corner, Croatia...

  •  

    James Tyler: Now, Croats with space to run. Mandzukic down the left, he crosses wide right for Perisic but his shot is saved!

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle:

    Oooh! He tees it up for Andrews instead and Buffon has to make a sharp save to his right.

  •  

    [Comment from Ryan]
    Shoot the ball Spain!!!

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: It would be poetic justice for Duff to score on the day he got his 100th cap.

  •  

    James Tyler: Chance for Spain! But too much dilly-dally at the top of the box. Cesc squanders his window to shoot.

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle:

    Free kick for Ireland from about 25 yards directly in front of goal.

  •  

    ESPN Stats and Info: Correct, James. If results hold, Italy wins the group and Spain goes through.

  •  

    [Comment from Mike]
    I'd really like to see Sebastian Giovinco get some game time rather then Balotelli. He impressed me a lot against Spain.

  •  

    James Tyler: Italy and Spain advances if results hold. I think.

  •  

    ESPN Stats and Info: Xavi is 79-94 passing (84.0 pct)... He completed at least 101 passes in each of his first two games.

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Doyle comes off for Jon Walters.

  •  

    James Tyler: Fifteen minutes left in Gdansk.

  •  

    James Tyler: Yes and no. Croatia defending well and honestly, has had better scoring chances in the second half.

  •  

    ESPN Stats and Info: 9 for Spain, 2 for Croatia

  •  

    [Comment from Riki Tiki Taka]
    Has Croatia parked the picnic tables? Spain just getting balls deflected for corners it seems.

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Ireland launches ball into the box, high ball for Long, but is whistled for foul.

  •  

    [Comment from John Tucker]
    Statsie how many corners has Spain had....

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Di Natale comes off for Balotelli. Guess he wasn't injured after all.

  •  

    ESPN Stats and Info: Italy now has nine players on a yellow card in the tournament... Most of any team

  •  

    James Tyler: Chance for Spain, but not really. Throughball is blocked on the edge of the box. Fabregas then wins a corner off Perisic.

  •  

    James Tyler: Again, look to UEFA.com for Group C shakeouts:
    http://www.uefa.com/uefaeuro/news/newsid=1818000.html

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Wow. Free kick is cleared, Pirlo has tons of space in front of him, but ref blows whistle to treat De Rossi who was down injured. Buffon booked for telling ref what he thought of it.

  •  

    James Tyler: SUB FOR SPAIN: David Silva off, Fabregas on. Striker time! (Don't laugh)

  •  

    James Tyler: Corner is cleared. Modric wins a goal kick for Croatia.

  •  

    ESPN Stats and Info: Now 5 of 9 since the 55th minute...

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Dunn? Meant Duff.

  •  

    [Comment from Orr]
    Ref in Italy-Ireland far too whistle-happy for me.

  •  

    James Tyler: SUB FOR SPAIN: And Cesc Fabregas is ready to bring his goalscoring instincts to the fray...

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Italy playing with fire here, as Dunn earns another free kick.

  •  

    ESPN Stats and Info: Four of Croatia's eight touches in the box have been since the 55th minute.

  •  

    James Tyler: Navas wins another corner off Schildenfeld.

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle:

    Ireland with a rare breakout. Long puts Doyle into space, but he's hauled down by De Rossi and he is booked for a very professional foul.

  •  

    James Tyler: Spain really lacking in incision and execution today. Creating very little.

  •  

    James Tyler: To everyone in the comments asking about the Group C permutations:
    http://www.uefa.com/uefaeuro/news/newsid=1818000.html

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle:

    20 minutes left, Italy with the lead, and looking solid.

  •  

    Roger Bennett: penny for Llorente, Negredo's thoughts on the Spanish bench. Not to mention CESC!

  •  

    James Tyler: Deep cross from the right is volleyed wide by Perisic.

  •  

    James Tyler: Just over 20 minutes to play in Gdansk. Would love a goal. At this point, preferably a Croatian one just to liven things up.

  •  

    [Comment from cb]
    please, just put llorente in. Spain needs someone over 5 feet near goal

  •  

    ESPN Stats and Info: Touches in the box: Italy 24, Ireland 9

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Pirlo with a free kick, but hits it well over the bar. Ireland breathes a sigh of relief, then cheers.

  •  

    [Comment from Calvin]
    Rog, does Michael pay you when Chelsea buys Everton players?

  •  

    James Tyler: Pique is hurt a bit. Nope, he's fine. Spanish corner taken short to Xabi Alonso, his angled cross is dangerous but David Silva fouls in the box.

  •  

    James Tyler: Xavi's corner amounts to nothing, then Iniesta works well down the left and finds Busquets. He fizzes in a low cross but it's blocked out for another corner.

  •  

    James Tyler: Corner for Spain following decently busy work by Jesus Navas down the right flank.

  •  

    Roger Bennett: Calvin. It would be terrible. Yes we would get 3-4 million more for him when Bayern or Chelsea come knocking... but Everton need to keep hold of that man for at least another season...

  •  

    James Tyler: He's injured, Patrick. Or not quite fully fit.

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Corner is easily cleared. Ball is put back in by Ireland, but offside is called.

  •  

    [Comment from Patrick]
    Wait, why is Balotelli not playing?

  •  

    [Comment from Calvin]
    Rog, How great would it be for you if Jelavic eliminates Spain?

  •  

    ESPN Stats and Info: Completed passes: Croatia 137, Xavi and Xabi Alonso combined 130... Spain 495

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Long forces a corner for Ireland. Crowd really urging Ireland on here.

  •  

    James Tyler: Nice by Bilic. Assuming that Srna drops to right back, Perisic slots in wide midfield and Jelavic pairs Mandzukic in a 4-4-2.

  •  

    Roger Bennett: Croatia know they have to go for it. Jela is on. Second striker enters the fray. He likes to score, but only with his first touch from the left hand side of the six yard box.

  •  

    James Tyler: SUBS FOR CROATIA: Pranjic and Vida off, Ivan Perisic and Jelavic on.

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Diamante tires long shot, but Given handles it easily.

  •  

    James Tyler: Ball over the top for Jesus Navas is handled, kinda, by Schildenfeld. Corner to Spain.

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: McGeady comes off for Shane Long.

  •  

    James Tyler: Tiki-taka is even more fun with no striker.

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Cassano.

  •  

    James Tyler: Antonio Cassano, a near-post header from a corner.

  •  

    [Comment from Jeremy]
    Got busy here at work, who scored for Italy?

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Srange decision to bring Cassano off. I thought he was excellent today, and not just because of his goal.

  •  

    [Comment from Orr]
    Diamanti a real wild-card here. Can't say Prandelli has lacked in creativity.

  •  

    James Tyler: Just under half an hour to play in Gdansk. Still scoreless. Might we have our first 0-0 of Euro 2012?

  •  

    ESPN Stats and Info: Since the 1-0 defeat to Switzerland at the 2010 World Cup, Spain have been behind for just 43 minutes in competitive matches (40 mins vs Czech Rep in qualifying, 3 mins vs Italy).

  •  

    James Tyler: Fernando Llorente and Cesc Fabregas must be enjoying this...

  •  

    James Tyler: 50/50, Mickey. Decent header and decent reflex save. Lovely cross by Modric to set it up, too.

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Cassano off for Diamante.

  •  

    [Comment from Mickey]
    For those of us not watching, Was it a great save by Iker or a poor header?

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Free kick for Italy thanks to Balzaretti. He's really hurt Ireland today. Pirlo's free kick is too tall for Di Natale it looked like.

  •  

    [Comment from Calvin]
    It's official: Del Bosque hates strikers

  •  

    ESPN Stats and Info: Just for quick reference... If the Italian match ends 1-0, the loser of Spain vs Croatia would be out of the tournament.

  •  

    James Tyler: Striker off, another winger on. I'm guessing David Silva sits on Iniesta's shoulders and the pair plays striker.

  •  

    James Tyler: SUB FOR SPAIN: Torres off, Jesus Navas on. I'm flabbergasted.

  •  

    James Tyler: Direct play by the Croats, good run from midfield by Rakitic. As it is, Spain is hustling away at the other end, but Torres fouls to end the pressure.

  •  

    James Tyler: That could have blown this group to smithereens.

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle:

    Andrews ties luck from distance, but it's right at Buffon.

  •  

    [Comment from Nick Christie (GFOP)]
    What a cross by the way. Stunning outside right-foot.

  •  

    ESPN Stats and Info: Shots: Spain 8 (6 on goal), Croatia 3 (2 on goal)

  •  

    Roger Bennett: RAKITIC. good lord. the unthinkable was almost thought... a flying header makes Spain panic

  •  

    [Comment from Bobby T.]
    WOW! That is why Casillas is the best in the world.

  •  

    [Comment from Chewy]
    Casillas!

  •  

    [Comment from Charlie]
    Casillas is AWAKE!

  •  

    James Tyler: Dear oh dear, Ivan. That was a defining moment. And you blew it. Egads!

  •  

    James Tyler: Ivan Rakitic, unmarked at the back post, heads right at Iker Casillas!

  •  

    James Tyler: Now, then. Torres scampers in pursuit of an angled pass into the left corner. Loses the ball and Croatia breaks.... WHAT A CHANCE!

  •  

    James Tyler: Heartburn, surely.

  •  

    [Comment from Pog]
    Watching tika-taka is like eating Sour Patch Kids. After about an hour all you feel is a burning sensation.

  •  

    James Tyler: Good shout, Matt. Would be nice to see a different look. That said, Del Bosque clearly has his favorites. Even Santi Cazorla got minutes v. Ireland.

  •  

    [Comment from Matt]
    Has Mata had a run out this tournament yet? Seems like he should get some playing time at some point...

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Chiellini is coming off for Bonucci.

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Chiellini goes down injured, and an Italian teammate motions that he'll need to come off. Looked like an innocuous tussle with Doyle.

  •  

    James Tyler: Good question, Jay. Is there too much? I'd wager that there is such a point at which it becomes parody, or at the very least, ineffective.

  •  

    [Comment from jay]
    how much tika-taka is too much tika-taka?

  •  

    James Tyler: Long ball into the corner is well controlled by Darijo Srna, but replays show he used his arm. Naughty Darijo. Free kick to Spain.

  •  

    [Comment from SoCal]
    Wasted chance by Italy!

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle:

    Cassano tees up Di Natale, but shot from a bit of a tight angle is saved by Given.

  •  

    [Comment from Winlar]
    Spain=flair, Croatia=flare

  •  

    [Comment from dean]
    wayne rooney's hair takes offense

  •  

    James Tyler: David Silva crunched by a nasty Croat who hates this tiki-taka business. Ref has a word.

  •  

    James Tyler: Scott Parker's is better, Charlie.

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Dunne's header goes wide. Don't think it had enough power to really trouble Buffon.

  •  

    [Comment from Charlie]
    Someone should make a compilation of David Silva's hair in slow motion. It's a glorious thing...

  •  

    James Tyler: Ha ha ha ha, excellent stat!

  •  

    ESPN Stats and Info: Flares: Croatia 2, Spain 0

  •  

    James Tyler: Croatia attacks via Pranjic on the left but his centering pass is blocked. Spain breaks quickly but Iniesta threads a pass off-target too.

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle:

    Ireland with a corner. Duff to take it...

  •  

    James Tyler: I think Del Bosque would like a goal soon, Kevin. To ease any building tension.

  •  

    [Comment from Kevin]
    Lads, which team should be the most worried right now? I think Italy will be fine, but I think Spain can't be too laid back.

  •  

    [Comment from Patrick]
    Gym, Tan Azzurri

  •  

    James Tyler: Jeff: how's De Rossi look now that he's back in midfield. I thought he was great through two games in defense.

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Oooh, De Rossi goes close! Curling shot goes high/wide after cross field pass from Di Natale.

  •  

    ESPN Stats and Info: make it 14 for the Azurri

  •  

    James Tyler: Good defending by Darijo Srna to distract Jordi Alba from his shot. 50 mins in, still 0-0 in Gdansk.

  •  

    ESPN Stats and Info: Shots in Poznan: Italy 13, Ireland 2

  •  

    James Tyler: (puts hand in pocket)

  •  

    [Comment from GreatGooglyMoogly]
    JT 1000 fine from uefa for being late in returning.

  •  

  •  

    James Tyler: Alright, back with Gdansk action now too. Sorry about that! Moment of panic for Iker Casillas as Corluka gets in on a corner but the goalie prevails.

  •  

    ESPN Stats and Info: Spain's 367 completed passes are more than 17 teams have completed in an entire match. Portugal, Greece and Poland didn't complete that many in any of their three matches.

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Balzaretti tees up Cassano and shot is blocked. Ireland really under pressure here.

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Italy look to be firmly in control here.

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Balzaretti cross to Di Natale is knocked out for another corner. This one is half cleared to Pirlo, whose second cross is cleared again.

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Italy goes close.

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: And we're off!

  •  

    [Comment from GOOSE]
    yes yoda, possible it is

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Didn't see that Yoda, but it's possible.

  •  

    [Comment from Yoda]
    Didnt I read somewhere that UEFA fined Italy or another team 7500 for taking too long to get on the field?

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle:

    Doesn't look like any subs were made for either side.

  •  

    ESPN Stats and Info: Total touches for Spain's opponents have steadily decreased throughout the tournament. In the first half, Spain allowed Italy 303 touches, Ireland 227 and Croatia 177 today.

  •  

  •  

    James Tyler: Be right back... Jeff will surely have more to report on in Poznan anyway.

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Ireland is already back out on the field. Italy is taking its time.

  •  

    James Tyler: I thought it was an awful show, Guest.

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Sorry for the radio silence there guys. Just playing a bit of catchup.

  •  

    [Comment from Guest]
    Lost didnt make sense too you James?

  •  

    [Comment from stretch]
    Good column on Rooney Rog. As a United fan I would like to see him have a good game.

  •  

    [Comment from Conquistador]
    Soccernet site has an explanation in English: http://espnfc.com/en/features/1099715/group-permutations.html

  •  

    James Tyler: Indeed, SN. Rooney will make his triumphant return!

  •  

    [Comment from SN]
    Is Rooney available for the match?

  •  

    James Tyler: Word has it, James, that it was devised by the writing staff from "Lost."

  •  

    [Comment from James]
    That has to be one of the most insane systems ever.

  •  

    [Comment from Pog]
    Setting aside the injustice of the fine structure for a minute -- the Bendtner incident is going to make Balotelli invest heavily in custom underpants, right?

  •  

    James Tyler: Indeed, JA.

  •  

    Roger Bennett: Great stat from Opta: Only Casillas (11) touched the ball fewer times than Torres (13) for Spain in the first half vs Croatia (40 total vs Ireland)

  •  

    [Comment from JA]
    James, if these current results hold creating a three-way tie at 5 pts among Italy, Spain and Croatia, the three matches among the tied teams would be: Spain 1 Italy 1, Italy 1 Croatia 1, and Spain 0 Croatia 0. In a three-way tie the first tiebreaker is GD in the matches involving the deadlocked teams- because all three games would have ended in ties, all three teams would have a GD in the relevant games of 0. The next tiebreaker is goals scored in the matches involving the tied teams- if these results hold that means Italy wins the group with 2 goals scored in the pertinent contests and Spain and Croatia would be tied with 1 goal scored. The next tiebreaker would then be GD in all group games which would make Spain the runner-up.

  •  

    ESPN Stats and Info: As odd as drawing of lots seems, it's not exactly unprecedented in Euro history. The 1968 semifinal in Naples between Italy and the Soviet Union was level after extra time. The result was decided by a coin flip, with Italy moving on to face Yugoslavia in the final.

  •  

    James Tyler: They love it that way, Blazer Patch, sadly.

  •  

    [Comment from Blazer Patch]
    Read the UEFA site. That might as well have been written in Klingon.

  •  

    Roger Bennett: Thanks Scouser... and here's a bit of half time reading... my bit about Rooney's tournament performances -- all have ended with a serious injury or red card. Worth it just for the photo ESPN.com found of Wayne...
    http://espnfc.com/us/en/news/1106505/roger-bennett-wayne-rooney.html

  •  

    ESPN Stats and Info: Directly from UEFA's website...

    If two or more teams are equal on points on completion of the group matches, the following criteria are applied, in the order given; to determine the rankings:

    a) higher number of points obtained in the matches among the teams in question;
    b) superior goal difference in the matches among the teams in question (if more
    than two teams finish equal on points);
    c) higher number of goals scored in the matches among the teams in question (if more than two teams finish equal on points);
    d) superior goal difference in all the group matches;
    e) higher number of goals scored in all the group matches;
    f) position in the UEFA national team coefficient ranking system (see Annex I,
    paragraph 1.2.2);
    g) fair play conduct of the teams (final tournament);
    h) drawing of lots

  •  

    [Comment from Scouser]
    Hilarious and accurate comment Rog

  •  

    James Tyler: UEFA's explanations are here:
    http://www.uefa.com/uefaeuro/news/newsid=1818000.html

  •  

    James Tyler: Correct

  •  

    [Comment from Josh]
    Germany will be the only squad to collect all 9 points in group stage, right?

  •  

    Roger Bennett: Oddly paced game. English fans watching put on kettle at half time, think abut Spain, and say to selves, "Yeh, we can beat these..."

  •  

    James Tyler: arranged, rather.

  •  

    James Tyler: Check UEFA.com for permutations and combinations. Tiebreakers are amused with about as much logic as eyes and nose on a Picasso.

  •  

    [Comment from James]
    Now that it's halftime, can someone explain to me how Italy advances with these score lines? They would be tied with Croatia&Spain for points and have inferior goal difference. They (theoretically) would have all tied, so the head-to-head doesn't matter.

  •  

  •  

    ESPN Stats and Info: Just a reminder at the break... If current results hold (1-0 ITA and 0-0 draw), Italy wins the group with Spain moving on.

  •  

    James Tyler: Ref has had enough. Half Time in Gdansk, and try not to snore: Spain 0, Croatia 0. Good for Spain, not so for Croatia.

  •  

    [Comment from Kyle Beckerman]
    Rog, Is it true that the Spanish honed their tiki-taka playing hacky sack?

  •  

    [Comment from Enrique]
    Really no dangerous shots by Spain or Croatia in the first half.

  •  

    [Comment from Josh]
    Bring on Cesc!

  •  

    James Tyler: Spanish set piece amounts to nothing. Two added minutes to come in this one.

  •  

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: And that's half-time.

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Awesome. Great atmosphere they are providing here.

  •  

    [Comment from Winlar]
    What kind of voice are the Ireland fans in?

  •  

    James Tyler: YELLOW CARD FOR CROATIA: Darijo Srna executes one foul too many, this time forcefully dumping Sergio Busquets to the ground as the pair dueled for a high ball.

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Wouldn't say rampant, but the burst of energy that Ireland started the game with has eased quite a bit.

  •  

    ESPN Stats and Info: The Italians have never lost when leading at halftime (5-0-2), while the Irish are 0-2-0 when trailing at the break.

  •  

    James Tyler: Still more of the same in Poznan, Jeff! Italy rampant?

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Italy wins yet another corner as Dunne blocks Motta's shot.

  •  

    Roger Bennett: Torres being outmuscled by German Second Division player. Gordon Schildenfeld. tracking him wherever he tries to run.

  •  

    James Tyler: Iniesta with room to run but misplays a pass. An affront to the gods of tiki-taka!

  •  

    James Tyler: THREE MINUTES TO HALFTIME IN GDANSK

  •  

    [Comment from Jason]
    Agreed James. Sometimes he just needs to shoot when he's 12 yards out and has space for a shot but for some reason always holds back.

  •  

    [Comment from PeterG]
    Tyton Dempsey would've been a phenomenal name!

  •  

    James Tyler: Pog is an erstwhile chat fellow. And he shared his news with us a week or so ago.

  •  

    [Comment from GOOSE]
    is Pog a regular or does he work for espn? Because is he's a regular that is pretty cool

  •  

    James Tyler: Silva has another shot blocked. He's a great player but would be well served not to try and trick his way past four defenders at once.

  •  

    James Tyler: David Silva finding more room to run in midfield, but his pass for Torres is poor and is intercepted.

  •  

    ESPN Stats and Info: Croatia 2 shots (1 on goal), Spain 8 shots (6 on goal)

  •  

    James Tyler: Lovely to hear, Pog. A heartwarming story to add to another memorable European Championship.

  •  

    [Comment from Pog]
    @Joanna, James Thanks! Baby & mom are great, older son (3) is coping pretty well, and family leave is giving me tons of time to watch Euros while holding the baby. Tried to get TYTON DEMPSEY onto the birth certificate but got overruled at the last minute.

  •  

    [Comment from GreatGooglyMoogly]
    Statsie, what about shots(on goal)?

  •  

    James Tyler: Xavi tries to play Torres in behind Schildenfeld but the defender holds his ground and El Nino gives up the chase.

  •  

    James Tyler: Game in Gdansk yet to erupt beyond a dull murmur.

  •  

    ESPN Stats and Info: 284-84 passes advantage for Spain.

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle:

    Italy winning tons of set pieces. O'Shea called for foul, doesn't like, and is booked for dissent.

  •  

    James Tyler: Great memory, Joanna! That happened, right Pog? Was it last week you were in the delivery room, sending in comments? Impressive stuff.

  •  

    [Comment from Joanna]
    How is Pog's new baby? And what is Baby Pog's name?

  •  

    James Tyler: Nice interplay by Iniesta and Jordi Alba on the left side of the box, but Alba can't corral Iniesta's elegant scoop over the top. Croatia clears.

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Pirlo's free kick goes into the wall.

  •  

    ESPN Stats and Info: Italy is 10-1-4 in Euro history when scoring first, while the Irish are 0-3-0 when conceding the opening goal.

  •  

    Roger Bennett: Croatia repelling the Spanish by all means necessary... but now they have to score.

  •  

    [Comment from Jake Nazar]
    Delightful header from Cassano. Just lets it flick off of his head and creep past the line.

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Yellow card to Andrews for takedown of Pirlo.

  •  

    [Comment from Pog]
    Shades of the siege of Minas Tirith: Italy smashes against the city gates with their mighty battering ram GROND, and finally they shatter. 1-0 Azzuri.

  •  

    James Tyler: Now, will Croatia wake up a touch? Slaven Bilic looks extra anxious on the sideline.

  •  

    [Comment from ruprecht]
    Balotelli would've scored that better.

  •  

    James Tyler: Ten minutes to halftime in Gdansk. Spain 0, Croatia 0.

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Set piece goal by Cassano goes off Given's arm and into the net.

  •  

    ESPN Stats and Info: Should results hold, Italy and Spain advance with the Italians winning the group.

  •  

  •  

    [Comment from John]
    Fantastic shot from di Natale just now. Great save by the defender too.

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: GOAL Italy!

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Ball cleared off the line by Ireland! Close call!

  •  

    James Tyler: Shh, Aaron. You'll upset people!

  •  

    ESPN Stats and Info: The only outfield player not to complete at least ten passes for Spain is Torres, while the only Croatian is Modric with exactly 10.

  •  

    [Comment from Aaron]
    JT: pass-pass-pass-Poznan-pass-pass-pass

  •  

    James Tyler: David Silva takes on Strinic but comes off second-best. Good defending by the left back.

  •  

    James Tyler: We saw one in Poland v. Greece to start Euro 2012. TYTON saved it though.

  •  

    [Comment from Will GFOP]
    has there not been a penalty yet?

  •  

    James Tyler: Long ball by Pique is aimed at Iniesta on the left wing but the Barca man can't reach it.

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Have I seen penalties like that given? Yep.

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Di Natale tries to worm his way toward goal, but St. Ledger fends him off and clears.

  •  

    James Tyler: David Silva again looks menacing -- long ball over the top is well controlled but his spin and shot is not nearly as good.

  •  

    [Comment from Robert]
    C'mon Jeff, his arm was in on his side and he showed absolutely no intent.

  •  

    James Tyler: Thirty minutes gone in Gdansk, amazingly. Time flies...

  •  

    [Comment from Patrick]
    It clearly hit his shoulder. No penalty. Right call.

  •  

    [Comment from ToddInTheShadows]
    Looked like shoulder to me.

  •  

    [Comment from NY Gunner]
    Clear Penalty!!!!!

  •  

    [Comment from Morty]
    clear handball on Ireland in the box

  •  

    James Tyler: Arbeloa tries to nutmeg Strinic and skip past him but overhits his pass to himself. Pletikosa collects.

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Italians appeal for penatly. Di Natale's shot in the box is blocked by St. Ledger with a hint of hand ball, no call. Okay, more than a hint.

  •  

    James Tyler: Spanish possession magic, folks. Patiently seeking an opening but the Croat tablecloths are well-disciplined.

  •  

    ESPN Stats and Info: For all its passing advantage, Spain has only seven touches in the penalty area through the first 30 minutes, putting them on pace for 21. They had a tournament-high 48 against Ireland.

  •  

    [Comment from GOOSE]
    the irish are doing the poznan, AND THEY HAVENT EVEN SCORED!!!

  •  

    [Comment from PeterG]
    Balzaretti. Great name, or greatest name?

  •  

    [Comment from Church]
    Nice try with the rugby tackle there.

  •  

    James Tyler: Chance! David Silva gets through but shoots softly at Pletikosa.

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Ireland playing a high line and daring Italy to play the ball over the top. It's working. So far.

  •  

    James Tyler: Mandzukic is back on his feet but not happy. Spain tapping it around in midfield in their own loved/loathed way.

  •  

    [Comment from kalud]
    so....if i kick the ball before the guys face it's ok?

  •  

    Roger Bennett: Ramos followed through -- if it was not in the box, that kind of a tackle is a free kick every day of the week. Spain lucky.

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Balzaretti with a rubgy tackle on an Irish player, and is booked.

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Cassano pass for Di Natale in the box, but shot blocked.

  •  

    [Comment from Sandy]
    I am so glad Ireland is not laying down and giving up. Makes for a fun game

  •  

    James Tyler: Rog, if you touch the ball first, it's apparently OK. That's from Chapter One of the Jamie Carragher/Paul Scholes Tackle Technique manual.

  •  

    Roger Bennett: Ramos with a reckless challenge. touch of the ball first... seen 'em given.

  •  

    James Tyler: Now, we're exhausting ourselves on the philosophical chat a bit here. Croatia with another decent attack via Mandzukic down the right flank, he cuts infield and his chopped down by Sergio Ramos but the ref awards a corner. Good tackle, really. But catches the Wolfsburg striker on the ankle on the way through. Whistles abound as Mandzukic stays down.

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Duff wins a free kick on the left wing...all the big bodies forward for Ireland. St. Ledger called for a foul though.

  •  

    [Comment from Zenos]
    Andrew, there is a difference between the beautiful passing game, and just passing the ball around. Spain isnt using the passes for anything useful, they are just going backwards too often. if they were using attacking passes, it would be nice to watch.

  •  

    [Comment from Enrique]
    Possesion in football is nothing if it doesn't translate into shots and goals.

  •  

    [Comment from Yoda]
    A shot for Crotia on net! Stop the presses Roger!

  •  

    ESPN Stats and Info: Just to back up what everyone's seeing... Croatia has nine passes completed into the attacking third. Spain has 100.

  •  

    James Tyler: Croatia has a shot! It's saved low by Casillas.

  •  

    Roger Bennett: Cassilas dirties his kit for the first time diving low to stop a drive from Pranjic

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: I think Aiden McGeady has touched the ball morein this game than he had in the entire tournament.

  •  

    James Tyler: Andrew: not complaining. And passing it five yards to your left is hardly beautiful. Let's nip that in the bud right now.

  •  

    [Comment from Andrew]
    worked in 08' and 10' didnt it. waaaah waaaah jesus people complaining about beautiful passing and possession in football.

  •  

    Roger Bennett: Spain snipe twice from long range. Croatia will not mind that at all...

  •  

    James Tyler: Shot from Pique over the bar. More shots now for Spain's center backs than for Torres/David Silva.

  •  

    James Tyler: Well, it's six of one half a dozen of the other, Chris D. But fair point also. Not a bad game thus far, per se. Just lacking much given that these two teams are controlling Group C (for now)

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Quick counter for Ireland, but they wait too long to make the final pass and it's knocked out for a corner.

  •  

    [Comment from Chris D.]
    It's not so much how the Spanish play as it is how people defend them...which is to let them stay in the midfield and pass around while 10 people stand in front of them and channel their best Pink Floyd impression.

  •  

    James Tyler: Shot from Sergio Ramos from range but it's right at Pletikosa.

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Ireland beginning to drop too deep I think. Lots of space for Pirlo to operate.

  •  

    James Tyler: Chance! Tight angle for Fernando Torres on the left touchline but he shoots anyway. Pletikosa blocks it behind for a corner. Spain takes it short.

  •  

    [Comment from stretch]
    I don't like Spain's style either. You actually have to shoot to score.

  •  

    James Tyler: Croatian free-kick is swung into the box but headed clear.

  •  

    James Tyler: Again, Arthur, not hating on it. Just reporting on game action.

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle:

    Whelan cross looks promising but it's too high for Doyle.

  •  

    [Comment from Arthur]
    Not getting this "possession football=atrocious viewing" meme. After watching the US for over a decade, hoof and run is not much fun for the eyes.

  •  

    James Tyler: Not true, John. Not true at all. But I'm here to describe what I'm watching and that's more or less what it looks like.

  •  

    [Comment from John]
    You sure are bitter about Spain's style, James. We get it, you don't like it.

  •  

    [Comment from Jim]
    Statsie on fire today!

  •  

    James Tyler: Xavi's hawk eyes looking to pick out the next taka. Ends up swinging in a cross that amounts to nothing. Stand down, folks. Almost had a shot on goal.

  •  

    James Tyler: David Silva glides past Vukojevic and is fouled on his way through. Dangerous looking free kick here. If they elect to shoot, that is.

  •  

    Roger Bennett: Spain holding onto the ball like a child who does not yet know how to share

  •  

    ESPN Stats and Info: Spain as a whole is 34-40 (85.0 pct)

  •  

    ESPN Stats and Info: Passing in the attacking third: Croatia 9-15 (60.0 pct), Xavi 20-23 (87.0 pct)

  •  

    [Comment from Christian]
    Is it too early to fear a Spain-Germany final? Die Mannschaft's possession football yesterday was atrocious viewing, and Spain seems to be following suit today.

  •  

    James Tyler: pass-pass-pass-pass-pass-Srna fouls Jordi Alba-free kick-pass-pass-pass

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: No Chiellini is down after clash of heads with Doye. He's back up.

  •  

    [Comment from Yoda]
    Croatia seems to think the ball is a hot potato... here you have it, here you have it... no here you go Spain here's the ball again

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Balzaretti tries a long distance shot after the corner was played short. Waaaay high.

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Don't think so. I think Italy will get the result they need.

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Ward concedes another corner to Italy.

  •  

    [Comment from Sandy]
    Jeff, do you think Italy will suffer without Mario?

  •  

    James Tyler: pass-pass-pass-pass-pass-pass, Pique shrugs off a challenge, pass-pass-pass-pass-pass

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Pirlo is back up. Crowd boos.

  •  

    ESPN Stats and Info: Passes completed through the first 15 minutes: Spain 144, Croatia 18

  •  

    Roger Bennett: Fifteen minutes in: Croatia have touched the ball three times.

  •  

    James Tyler: Almost like an Iberian Wilford Brimley.

  •  

    James Tyler: Vicente Del Bosque looks very walrus-like. One of the best mustaches in sport.

  •  

    [Comment from Scouser]
    Ireland trying to pay their fans back.

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Doyle with a good tackle on Pirlo. Pirlo is down injured. Looks like on the replay that Doyle won the ball fairly and Pirlo kicked his leg.

  •  

    James Tyler: Maybe, JHBond. As great as Fabregas has been and can be, it's a 23-man squad. He should be a good lad and do what is asked. His desire to play is admirable but then everyone made the trip in order to play and contribute.

  •  

    [Comment from JHBond]
    How is it that Cesc is sitting the bench again? Think DelB just wants to get his fire stoked for the second half?

  •  

    James Tyler: Foul on Srna by Iniesta. First break in play for a while. The tiki-taka looking very comfortable.

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Brief opening for Keane, but he's crowded out by Barzagli.

  •  

    [Comment from ToddInTheShadows]
    Azzurri not completing. Ireland not being anywhere near as cooperative as Italy likely expected them to be.

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Keith Andrews is playing like his hair is on fire. Lots of effective running and tackling. Nice cross field pass there too.

  •  

    James Tyler: Croatia's five-man midfield making very little space for Spain's tiki-taka, as expected. Still, Xabi Alonso and Co are padding their passing stats nicely. Lots of lateral dinks and taps.

  •  

    [Comment from Jake Nazar]
    Brilliant ball from Silva. Would of like to seen Iniesta cut that inside then strike.

  •  

    James Tyler: harsh, John. The picnic kit is iconic.

  •  

    [Comment from John]
    Would still rather wear Spain's aways than that picnic table cloth design that Croatia wears.

  •  

    James Tyler: As I say that, Iniesta gets up the middle (lovely pass through to spring him) but the ball's overhit and Pletikosa collects.

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Ireland looks so much sharper defensively. Granted, that's not that hard.

  •  

    James Tyler: Arbeloa gets rattled by Strinic on the right flank. Still, game in Gdansk is settling into a rather soporific rhythm.

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Dangerous cross from Cassano, cleared by O'Shea for another Italy corner. Lots of set pieces now for the Italians. Dunne clears for another corner.

  •  

    [Comment from Winlar]
    First rule of team uniforms: At a moment's glance you should know what team you're watching. Croatia good, Spain not so much...

  •  

    ESPN Stats and Info: Since group play began in 1980, no team has conceded a goal in the first 25 minutes of all three group stage matches. Ireland has about 15 minutes to avoid making dubious history.

  •  

  •  

    James Tyler: tap-tiki-tap-taka-taka-taka-bitmoretiki-taka

  •  

    [Comment from ToddInTheShadows]
    They're called La Roja for a reason. Blue just looks wrong.

  •  

    [Comment from Pog]
    The spanish jerseys are a debacle. If you're going to go with sky blue, at least commit to it. This grey/blue looks like bad watercolor.

  •  

    [Comment from TN]
    Jury just got in Rog, they are ruling them atrocious.

  •  

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Italy starting to settle in. De Rossi wins a corner. Short to Pirlo, but cleared.

  •  

    James Tyler: I think the shirts are too un-Spanish, Rog. Very weird to see them in blue.

  •  

    Roger Bennett: Croatia up for this. Midfield working very, very hard. going to be interesting to see how their stamina holds up. Spanish jerseys -- jury still out...

  •  

    James Tyler: There are flares behind the Spanish goal. Ref stops proceedings for a minute.

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Scramble in the box, but Ireland finally clears.

  •  

    [Comment from Grant]
    Ireland would struggle to qualify on concacaf

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Abate cross is knocked out for a corner. Pirlo to take it...

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Long run by Doyle comes to nothing. Good defending by Barzagli.

  •  

    James Tyler: @JD: No.

  •  

    [Comment from JD]
    Does Ireland have a good enough squad to make the WC?

  •  

    [Comment from Pog]
    Jordi Alba looks like he has a serious speed advantage over whoever the Croatian right-back. Could be danger from that side in the future.

  •  

    James Tyler: Spanish tiki-taka slowly starting up... I think Gerard Pique has already had 1,501 touches. Sloppy control by Xabi Alonso (while I type) gives Croatia a throw-in.

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle:

    Ireland is clearly up for this. Tons of energy so far.

  •  

    James Tyler: Knowing his extracurriculars, Jake, I think Slaven would simply write a song about it. Something with lots of guitar distortion and fury.

  •  

    [Comment from Jake Nazar]
    Imagine having to tell Slavan Bilic that Croatia would be heading out of the Euros on "UEFA co-efficient".

  •  

    James Tyler: Good overlap by Jordi Alba and a decent cross, but Corluka nods behind for a corner. Torres was there to head on goal.

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle:

    Doyle's header from Duff's free kick is blocked, ball comes back out to Duff who goes down, but no foul called.

  •  

    James Tyler: Little sly trip on Darijo Srna by Iniesta. Free kick for Croatia just inside the Spanish half.

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Flick on by Doyle just to far for Keane. Ireland already looks 10 times better than in previous games. And they haven't conceded!

  •  

    ESPN Stats and Info: Michael, in that scenario described above (3-1 Italian win, 1-1 draw for Spain), Spain and Italy would advance based Italy on having a higher UEFA coefficient than Croatia.

  •  

    [Comment from John]
    Trappitoni looks like he wants this match over so he can catch an episode of Matlock

  •  

    James Tyler: Early giveaway by Vukojevic but Iniesta can't dribble through three Croats. Then Mandzukic crunches Sergio Busquets. Early free kick inside Croatian half.

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Di Natale with a cross to De Rossi that he volleys wide. Cracking start to this game.

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Doyle with a mazy run, but Buffon claims in the box.

  •  

    James Tyler: Spain playing in blue/grey, Croatia in picnic tablecloths. Let's do this! Spain-Croatia underway also.

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: We're off!

  •  

  •  

  •  

    [Comment from Duff Man]
    Duff Man says "oooh yeah!" for Damian's 100th Cap.

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Did I see 4:1 fan ratio for Ireland, I now think it's more like 8:1.

  •  

    [Comment from John]
    Italian players always do the best job belting out national anthem...as if someone were paying them

  •  

    James Tyler: Lineups from Gdansk one more time:
    Spain (4-3-3): 1-Casillas; 17-Arbeloa, 3-Piqué, 15-Ramos, 18-Alba; 8-Xavi, 16-Busquets, 14-Xabi Alonso; 21-Silva, 9-Torres, 6-Iniesta

    Croatia (4-2-3-1): 1-Pletikosa; 21-Vida, 5-Corluka, 13-Schildenfeld, 2-Strinic;
    8-Vukojevic, 7-Rakitic; 11-Srna, 10-Modric, 6-Pranjic; 17-Mandzukic

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: For those that missed, Damien Duff is captaining Ireland today in honor of his 100th cap.

  •  

    James Tyler: I think the nation might sink into the ocean, BP.

  •  

    [Comment from Blazer Patch]
    The Irish fans are incredible. What would happen if they hosted the Euros? I think Croake park might go plaid. Rog, get on this and make it happen.

  •  

    James Tyler: Not sure, Michael. Michel Platini will throw darts at a dartboard and make it all right.

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Italy to beat Ireland 2-0.

    Spain to beat Croatia 2-1.

  •  

    [Comment from MIchael]
    What happens if Italy beat Ireland 3-1 and Spain and Croatia tie 1-1? Then all three teams would be 0-0-2 and 2-2 in goals in games involving the three teams. Spain would have a 6-2 differential overall, but both Italy and Croatia would be at 5-3 exactly.

  •  

    [Comment from Josh]
    3-0 Spain, 2-0 Italy.

  •  

    [Comment from Bobby T.]
    I'm saying Spain 3 Croatia 3, so they can say, "well it wasn't a 2-2 draw".

  •  

    [Comment from Doug]
    I was 12 years old watching that Germany-Austria game. PAINFUL to watch and nearly turned me off for good. Best move FIFA ever made to have the last group matchday kick off simultaneously.

  •  

    James Tyler: Rog! No way! You're invoking the Anschluss!

  •  

    ESPN Stats and Info: Italy is winless in four games in 2012 with two total goals, and has not won in its last six major tournament games. However, Ireland has set tournament-worst totals in goals allowed (seven) and pass completion percentage (69.2 pct).

  •  

    [Comment from Jose]
    Italy 12 Ireland 0. Spain 2 Croatia 2.

  •  

    [Comment from John]
    Still can't believe "Danny Boy" is not Irish national anthem...

  •  

    Roger Bennett: Italy 2 Ireland 0. Spain 2 Croatia 2.

  •  

    James Tyler: My half-baked prognostications: Italy 3, Ireland 1. Spain 3, Croatia 1.

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Anthem time.

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: By my estimates, Irish outnumber Italians by 4:1.

  •  

    [Comment from John]
    Prediction on these games? High scoring, ect..?

  •  

    James Tyler: Croatia's kit makes me hungry for sandwiches.

  •  

    James Tyler: Neither. Both are exemplary.

  •  

    [Comment from cathy]
    worst shirts - Croatia or USNMT?

  •  

    James Tyler: We shall see, Valencia. It's why they play the games. Or in the case of the video link Rog just posted, it's why they kick it around for 90 minutes with no intention of scoring.

  •  

    [Comment from valencia]
    Croatia have no chance, they were very lucky to draw with the Azzuri and their inferior attack, no such luck shall prevail against the superior Spanish attack.

  •  

    James Tyler: Alright, so Jeff will give you insight from Italy-Ireland while I focus on what El Nino and co can muster against a feisty and well-bearded Croatia team.

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: History has shown that *anyone* is vulnerable to a smash and grab by Greece.

  •  

    ESPN Stats and Info: As Italy fights to move on, the disciplinary situation bears watching. Balotelli, Bonucci, Chiellini, Maggio, Motta, and Montolivo will miss the next match if booked today.

  •  

    Roger Bennett: If you want to see what fixed football looks like... Germany Austria World Cup 1982: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h55q-_l3UEI
    Hard to stomach if you are Algerian. The ball barely leaves midfield.

  •  

    [Comment from MGBout]
    How vulnerable is Germany to a smash and grab team like Greece? It seemed to me that Germany is either ruthlessly efficient and does just enough to get the result it needs or is hugely talented but can't stay on the gas for a full 90

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: "Come on You Boys in Green" being sung by the Irish fans as we speak.

  •  

    [Comment from Scouser]
    You have to think the Dutch have to be the most disappointed given that this was probably Robben, RVP, and Sneijders that chance at international glory.

  •  

    James Tyler: Honestly, because UEFA said so. Their system of tiebreakers and head-to-head distinguishments is as hard to understand as James Joyce's Ulysses

  •  

    [Comment from Guest]
    How is it that Italy will fail to advance with a 2-2 tie of Croatia and Spain?

  •  

    [Comment from stretch]
    Sputnik, I think the Netherlands might be the most disappointed.

  •  

    James Tyler: We'll have a longer piece looking into Russia's problems on ESPNFC.com on Wednesday, Sputnik. Plenty to discuss as Rog said.

  •  

    Roger Bennett: JT Keep that Glass HALF FULL...

  •  

    James Tyler: @Sputnik: I think Russia's most disappointed... so far. Could see Italy and/or England exit depending on results.

  •  

    Roger Bennett: The Russia story is a weird one... they started so strong and gradually fell apart... there is more to that story that may or may not come out... time will tell.

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Yep. Same formation as Italy had in qualifying.

  •  

    James Tyler: Indeed, Rog. No Ray Houghton, Paul McGrath, Roy Keane, etc.

  •  

    [Comment from Grant]
    Italy with 4 at the back now?

  •  

    [Comment from Sputnik]
    Which team is most disappointed about being eliminated thus far? Russia?

  •  

    James Tyler: Italy (4-1-3-2): 1- Buffon -- 6-Balzaretti, 3-Chiellini, 15-Barzagli, 7-Abate -- 21-Pirlo -- 16-De Rossi, 5-Thiago Motta, 8-Marchisio -- 10-Cassano, 11-Di Natale

    Ireland (4-4-2): 1-Given -- 3-Ward, 2-St. Ledger, 5-Dunne, 4-O'Shea -- 11-Duff, 8-Andrews, 6-Whelan, 7-McGeady -- 9-Doyle, 10-Keane

  •  

    Roger Bennett: On Ireland... this is their worst squad in forever... they did wonderfully well to get here... i think the only disappointment is they stuck stubbornly with the old guard... but that is Trap...

  •  

    James Tyler: Italy in a 4-1-3-2 with Pirlo in deep midfield.

  •  

    James Tyler: So, Croatia in a 4-2-3-1 and Spain in a 4-3-3. The kind of gripping formation battle that will have Jonathan Wilson giddy with glee.

  •  

    James Tyler: I think the Irish have been disappointing. That said, when you start the likes of Glenn Whelan and John O'Shea in international competition, there is a ceiling of expectations and accomplishment. I'm a bit frustrated with Trapattoni in sticking with the same useless XI and not using the final game to get some minutes into the lads on the bench. They've earned it, surely.

  •  

    [Comment from Jeremy]
    Has Irelande been a dissapointment so far this tournament? Or was their performance kind of expected?

  •  

    [Comment from Will GFOP]
    Prediction: Xabi Alonso to score a scorcher, flash to me crying under my cubicle clutching my 2005 Liverpool jersey

  •  

    James Tyler: Here, folks; fill your boots with official word from UEFA on the permutations, etc
    http://www.uefa.com/uefaeuro/news/newsid=1818000.html

  •  

    James Tyler: But to answer seriously, I think the tiebreaking criteria for two teams would simply be applied to three instead.

  •  

    James Tyler: A fight to the death, Mario. Thumb wrestling.

  •  

    Roger Bennett: Cant wait to hear the Irish fans singing. Hope they can handle the pressure of "that difficult second album"

  •  

    [Comment from MArio]
    What happens if there is a three way tie

  •  

    [Comment from Rps]
    Italy supporter here, but kudos to Irish fans...they will outnumber the Azzuri faithful it seems today (by alot)

  •  

    James Tyler: I guess in that poll, there's a chance that none of those things will happen. But Groups A and B have been kind to us thus far.

  •  

    Roger Bennett: On the topic of underwear... football's administrators show their true colors. Paddy Power have got money worth though. His photo -- or more accurately -- their underpants have been repeatedly broadcast on tv hihglight packages. They got superbowl style exposure for 100K. Cheap when you think about it.

  •  

    [Comment from Frogger]
    Fabregas needs to realize that playing for the best team in the world has its negatives. Pedro, Mata, Santi Cazorla, and others are all players that would start on 99% of national sides as well.

  •  

  •  

    [Comment from Aaron]
    Is this the last go around for Xavi as the focal point of the Spanish midfield? Or will he still be the same world class talent at Rio 2014?

  •  

    James Tyler: @Jason -- I don't agree really, but then look at Prandelli's XI -- he's going for it big time today. Tons of changes beyond the formation switch. All about what works best for the opponent.

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: I think we'll see Jelavic and Mandzukic together again by the end of the game, Jason.

  •  

    [Comment from Will GFOP]
    Curious about Rog's response to underwear-gate as I mentioned above?

  •  

    ESPN Stats and Info: Good afternoon, everyone! John from ESPN Stats and Information here...

  •  

    [Comment from jason]
    Do you agree with the decision to split up Jelavic and Mandzukic? I understand the thought process, but sometimes tinkering with an established system isn't the best idea.

  •  

  •  

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Fabregas didn't talk to reporters in the mixed zone last game, so I think he can't be happy, especially after scoring against Italy. He'll need to keep his frustrations in check.

  •  

    Roger Bennett: Hello America. @rogbennett reporting for duty. Monitoring Spain and Croatia, with one eye on the Asian betting markets...

  •  

    [Comment from Andrew]
    Fabregas can't be happy about his seat on the bench. How might his exclusions affect him & Spain going forward?

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Nope. Evidently, Bilic is going with two holding mids, Rakitic and Vukojevic, so Jelavic had to be sacrificed.

  •  

    James Tyler: @Grant -- Bilic is bunkering down. Might even have dug a trench around the penalty area and installed a drawbridge in front of goal.

  •  

    James Tyler: Absolutely absurd, Will. The fact that Bendtner gets a $125k fine for showing an unauthorized sponsor while Porto was fined $25k for racist fans in last season's Europa League is a disgrace.

  •  

    [Comment from Grant]
    No Jelavic for croatia?

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Absurd. UEFA is worse than FIFA.

  •  

    [Comment from Will GFOP]
    Thoughts on underwear-gate?

  •  

    James Tyler: I was eerily able to predict his goals v. Ireland, Andrew -- my psychic skills are going well this summer -- but I think he'll get another today. Gordon Schildenfeld is not the world's greatest CB.

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: So Cesare Prandelli goes back to the 4-3-1-2 (or 4-1-3-2 depending on how you look at it) for tonight's game. Motta will be the attacking mid (or trequartista) for Italy.

  •  

    [Comment from Andrew]
    How will Torres follow up his performance v. Ireland?

  •  

    James Tyler: Would seem that way. A 4-5-1 as best as I can tell for Croatia, James. Domagoj Vida is another defender likely to sit deep. I think Spain's in a 4-3-3 but we'll see soon enough.

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Indeed Balotelli did. He injured his knee earlier this week in training.

  •  

    [Comment from James]
    Pranjic in for Jelavic? interesting. I guess Croatia's playing for the draw.

  •  

    James Tyler: I believe Balotelli failed a late fitness test.

  •  

    [Comment from Aaron]
    No Super Mario today. Super Sub Mario??

  •  

    James Tyler: Patrick, I'll refer you to UEFA.com, for in their magical domain, goal difference is not the first tiebreaker. It's a labyrinthine series of predetermined tiebreakers including witchcraft, strength of national beer, and karate.

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Whoops. Forgot one name in there. Let's try Italy's again.

    Italy: 1-Gianluigi Buffon; 6-Federico Balzaretti, 15-Andrea Barzagli, 3-Georgio Chiellini, 7-Ignazio Abate; 21-Andrea Pirlo; 16-Daniele De Rossi, 5-Thiago Mott,a 8-Claudio Marchisio; 11-Antonio Di Natale, 10-Antonio Cassano

  •  

    [Comment from patrick]
    can someone explain how a draw from spain-croatia would necessarily keep italy out. Wouldn't Italy winning by a big goal difference trump a spain-croatia draw?

  •  

    [Comment from Brian in Atlanta]
    Sigh, Torres to score?

  •  

    James Tyler: Spain: 1-Casillas; 17-Arbeloa, 3-Piqué, 15-Ramos, 18-Alba; 8-Xavi, 16-Busquets, 14-Xabi Alonso; 21-Silva, 9-Torres, 6-Iniesta

    Croatia: 1-Pletikosa; 11-Srna, 5-Corluka, 13-Schildenfeld, 2-Strinic; 6-Pranjic, 7-Rakitic, 21-Vida, 8-Vukojevic, 10-Modric; 17-Mandzukic

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Here you go for Italy/Ireland.

    Ireland: 1-Shay Given; 3-Stephen Ward, 2-Sean St. Ledger, 5-Richard Dunne, 4-John O'Shea; 7-Aiden McGeady, 6-Glenn Whelan, 8-Keith Andrews, 11-Damien Duff; 9-Kevin Doyle, 10-Robbie Keane

    Italy: 1-Gianluigi Buffon; 6-Federico Balzaretti, 15-Andrea Barzagli, 3-Georgio Chiellini; 21-Andrea Pirlo; 16-Daniele De Rossi, 5-Thiago Mott,a 8-Claudio Marchisio; 11-Antonio Di Natale, 10-Antonio Cassano

  •  

    James Tyler: Let's get lineups, then:

  •  

    James Tyler: I don't think we'll get that outcome, honestly. Just a weird quirk -- and good news angle -- but I don't think it comes to pass. If Spain and Croatia draw, it'll be 1-1. But I do expect Spain to romp. Doesn't everyone?

  •  

    [Comment from Josh]
    If Spain don't demolish Croatia, I'm calling collusion.

  •  

    James Tyler: We'll give you lineups shortly. In the meantime, you know the drill: Croatia v. Spain on ESPN, Italy v. Ireland on ESPN2, both games available for live streaming on WatchESPN.com and live radio feeds at ESPNRadio.com

  •  

    [Comment from Gordito]
    This is going to be a good day of matches I think....

  •  

    James Tyler: Hi, Jeff!

  •  

    James Tyler: I'm thinking it will be a fun afternoon indeed. Croatia and Spain -- will they mysteriously get the draw that keeps the Azzurri out? Or will Spanish class overpower Slaven Bilic's boys and give Italy a lifeline?

  •  

    Jeff Carlisle: Greetings everyone, from muggy Poznan.

  •  

    [Comment from Guest]
    Good Afternoon

  •  

    [Comment from Jeremy]
    Good afternoon JT.

  •  

    [Comment from Rugger]
    Afternoon James!

  •  

    [Comment from Anthony]
    Good afternoon! Forza Italia!

  •  

    James Tyler: You bet, Aaron! (jumpjumpjumpjump)

  •  

    [Comment from Aaron]
    What up, JT? Ready to do the Poznan?

  •  

    James Tyler: Good afternoon, everybody....

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

  • tackles

  • Fouls

  • possession

  • Croatia

  • 5(3)

  • 16

  • 21

  • 35%

    65%

  • Spain

  • 14(9)

  • 19

  • 16

Match Stats

  • Croatia
  • Spain
5(3) Shots (on goal) 14(9)
21 Fouls 16
4 Corner kicks 11
0 Offsides 1
35% Time of Possession 65%
6 Yellow Cards 0
0 Red Cards 0
7 Saves 3