Sixth encounter for Italy and Croatia
Saturday, 7 January 2012
Croatia are unbeaten against Italy since independence as the sides meet in UEFA EURO 2012 Group C, with Slaven Bilić having some fond memories of his previous encounters with the Azzurri.
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Italy will look to secure a first win against Croatia since the latter's independence when the sides meet in UEFA EURO 2012 Group C, with Slaven Bilić having some fond memories of his previous encounters with the Azzurri.
• Croatia are also in buoyant mood having opened with a 3-1 defeat of the Republic of Ireland, Mario Mandžukić scoring twice and Nikica Jelavić once. Antonio Di Natale gave Italy a 61st-minute lead against holders Spain, but that only proved enough for a draw after Cesc Fàbregas levelled three minutes later.
• Italy's record in five games against Croatia since the collapse of the former Yugoslavia reads W0 D2 L3.
• Italy first met a Croatian national team in a friendly game in Genoa on 5 April 1942, which Italy won 4-0.
• The first modern-day meetings were EURO '96 qualifiers, with Croatia taking four points en route to their first ever finals tournament. Current national-team coach Bilić played 90 minutes in the first match in Palermo on 16 November 1994, which Croatia won 2-1 with two goals from Davor Šuker (32, 57); Italy replied through Dino Baggio (89).
• Bilić was absent from the return match in Split on 8 October 1995, when Arrigo Sacchi's team, despite having goalkeeper Luca Bucci sent off after nine minutes, went ahead through current Italian Football Federation (FIGC) vice-president Demetrio Albertini (29), with Šuker earning a 1-1 draw in the 48th minute.
• The sides' next game was a 0-0 friendly draw in Zagreb on 28 April 1999. they then met at the 2002 FIFA World Cup finals, with Croatia winning 2-1 in Japan.
Selected previous meetings
16 August 2006: Italy 0-2 Croatia (Eduardo 26, Modrić 42) – Stadio Armando Picchi, Livorno, friendly
Italy: Amelia, Zenoni, Falcone, Terlizzi, Chiellini, Delvecchio (Di Natale 84), Liverani (Palombo 58), Ambrosini (Gobbi 75), Esposito (Semioli 46), Lucarelli (Caracciolo 65), Rocchi (Di Michele 58).
Croatia: Pletikosa, Sablić, Knežević, Šerić (Ćorluka 46), Šimunić, Srna (Kranjčar 46), N Kovač (J Leko 46), Modrić, Eduardo (Olić 77), Klasnić (Balaban 62), Rapaić (Petrić 57).
• The teams' most recent meeting marked Bilić's debut as Croatia coach, and a 20-year-old Vedran Ćorluka's first senior appearance, as Italy played their first game since winning the FIFA World Cup – though the members of that triumphant side were rested for this friendly, Roberto Donadoni's first match in charge of the Azzurri.
8 June 2002: Italy 1-2 Croatia (Vieri 55; Olić 73, Rapaić 76) – Kashima Soccer Stadium, Ibaraki, FIFA World Cup group stage
Italy: Buffon, Panucci, Maldini, Cannavaro, Nesta (Materazzi 24), Zanetti, Doni (Inzaghi 79), Tommasi, Zambrotta, Totti, Vieri.
Croatia: Pletikosa, Šimunić, Tomas, Šarić, Jarni, R Kovač, Rapaić (D Šimić 79), Vugrinec (Olić 57), N Kovač, Soldo (Vranješ 62), Bokšić.
• In the sides' most recent competitive contest – their first at a major finals tournament – Mirko Jozić's Croatia came out on top against Giovanni Trapattoni's Italy. However, it was to be a bittersweet success; Italy went on to the next phase, finishing second in the group, while Croatia missed out in third place.
• Croatia are competing at a third successive UEFA European Championship; they have missed only one of the last five – UEFA EURO 2000.
• Italy have not missed a major finals tournament – World Cup or EURO – since EURO '92.
• Whereas three members of Croatia's UEFA EURO 2008 squad were based in Italy (Dario Šimić at AC Milan, Dario Knežević at AS Livorno Calcio and Igor Budan at Parma FC), none of the current selection have Serie A experience.
• Šimić, the only player to have earned 100 caps for Croatia, spent a great part of his career in Italy with FC Internazionale Milano (1999-2002) and AC Milan (2002-08).
• Croatia's Mandžukić and Italy's Andrea Barzagli played together at VfL Wolfsburg during the 2010/11 season until the Italy defender joined Juventus in January 2011.
• Daniele De Rossi scored the only goal of the game as Italy defeated Croatia at the 2004 UEFA European Under-21 Championship finals. Niko Kranjčar played for Croatia, with Danijel Pranjić an unused substitute. Italy went on to win the title, beating Serbia 3-0 in the final.
• Eduardo scored against De Rossi's AS Roma as FC Shakhtar Donetsk completed a 6-2 aggregate win to reach the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals for the first time in the club's history in 2010/11.
• If two or more teams finish level on points, Articles 8.07 and 8.08 of the UEFA EURO 2012 regulations apply. In May Article 8.07 was amended after being approved by the UEFA Executive Committee. It now reads:
If two or more teams are equal on points on completion of the group matches, the following criteria are applied to determine the rankings:
a) Higher number of points obtained in the matches played between the teams in question;
b) Superior goal difference resulting from the matches played between the teams in question;
c) Higher number of goals scored in the matches played between the teams in question;
d) If, after having applied criteria a) to c), two teams still have an equal ranking, criteria a) to c) are reapplied exclusively to the matches between the two teams in question to determine the final rankings of the two teams. If this procedure does not lead to a decision, criteria e) to i) apply in the order given;
e) superior goal difference in all group matches;
f) higher number of goals scored in all group matches;
g) position in the UEFA national team coefficient ranking system (see annex I, paragraph 1.2.2);
h) fair play conduct of the teams (final tournament);
i) drawing of lots
• The Group C coefficients are as follows:
Republic of Ireland 28.576
• Article 8.08 reads: if two teams which have the same number of points, the same number of goals scored and conceded play their last group match against each other and are still equal at the end of that match, the ranking of the two teams in question is determined by kicks from the penalty mark provided no other teams within the group have the same number of points on completion of all group matches. Should more than two teams have the same number of points, the criteria listed under paragraph 8.07 apply.