Giovanni Trapattoni has reverted to the players that got the Republic of Ireland to the European Championship, despite hinting at possible changes in the build-up to this game, writes Glenn Mason.

The 4-4-2 selection shows that he cares little for the opinions of analysts or fans who have been screaming for a change in approach after two morale-sapping defeats to Croatia and Spain.

The recall of Kevin Doyle is perhaps though a sign that he knows he got it wrong against Spain by including Simon Cox as an extra midfielder.

A victory tonight would provide some shine to an otherwise dull tournament for Ireland.

The three points would lift them above Italy into third place in Group C and may change some people's perspectives on the tournament.

A draw against one of the world's best teams would restore some of the pride the players feel they have lost over the past week.

Despite some of the tactical blunders from the manager, notably playing only two central midfielders against Spain, the players know they have not done themselves justice, particularly in the concession of early goals.

On the flip side, another heavy defeat could leave Ireland as the worst team ever to play in a European Championship and make life much tougher for Trapattoni and FAI Chief Executive John Delaney on their return.

Yugoslavia (1984), Denmark (Euro 2000) and Bulgaria (Euro 2004) ended with three defeats and -8 goal difference.

It is a record Robbie Keane and co will be happy not to have as they currently sit on two defeats and a -6 goal difference.

The Italians love a good conspiracy theory and much of the pre-match press conferences were taken up with questions about a possible draw of convenience between Spain and Croatia.

A 2-2 draw in that game in Gdansk will send those teams through and eliminate Italy on the basis of their head-to-head records, no matter what result they achieve against Ireland.

It did for Trapattoni in 2004 when he lost his job after Italy went out in the group stages after a similar result between Sweden and Denmark.

The questions were put in numerous ways to both coaches, with Trapattoni stating that the "bodies will keep a close eye on what is going on".

Prandelli insisted his focus was on the game against Ireland and not the conspiracy theories fascinating the Italian media.

He said: "I said it all depends on us and I have to prepare for this game solely focussed on the result in our game. I'm not really concerned about what everyone else is saying. It doesn't bother us.

"We need to think of our own game. But I am also convinced we have the means at our disposal to go ahead and win this game."

If Italy are to exit the tournament along with Ireland tonight they can only really blame themselves. Prandelli had a pop at his players after failing to finish off Croatia and it could back to haunt them if they are eliminated.

They made a positive attacking start in both games but have only two points to show for their efforts.

Expectations may not have been all that high in Italy, despite an unbeaten qualifying campaign, but Prandelli will be hammered if they do not get through.

He gave little away yesterday about his tactics so we will have to wait for the team sheet to see if he will stick with his 3-5-2 formation or if Mario Balotelli is fit enough to keep Antonio Di Natale out of the team.

Prandelli, who played under Trapattoni at Juventus from 1979 to 1985, said when the draw was made that he did not want to face his old master's team.

Ireland's performances in the opening two games may have made him change his mind and Italy will be confident of getting the win they need.



Ireland are unbeaten in the three games they have played against Italy under Giovanni Trapattoni.

A side missing several key players beat Italy 2-0 in a friendly in Liege last June, thanks to goals from Keith Andrews and Simon Cox.

The two games in the 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign both ended in draws: 1-1 in Bari and 2-2 in Dublin. Alberto Gilardino's late equaliser put Italy through in the game at Croke Park.

The only other two games at major tournaments where the famous games at Italia 90 and USA 94.

Ray Houghton's goal in New York on this day in 1994 gave Ireland their first win over the Azzurri. The win in Liege was only the second in 11 meetings.


Ireland's confidence-boosting unbeaten run of 14 games came to a shuddering halt against Croatia in the opening game. Things got worse against Spain but their recent run of results against Italy should give them some hope.

Italy impressed in holding Spain to a 1-1 draw but there was less praise at home for their performance in achieving the same result against Croatia.

They have not won for five games as their two draws at Euro 2012 were preceded by three defeats in friendly games.


Damien Duff on being captain for the game:

"It's obviously an awful proud moment, but I'd take three points tomorrow ahead of 100 caps at the minute. I know how much it means to myself and my family and what have you, but I am not trying to make a big deal out of it."

Giovanni Trapattoni on getting back to basics:

"After the defeats in the opening two matches in which we conceded in the first minutes of the game it is necessary to go back with same attitude, mentality, commitment we had in the qualifying matches."

Robbie Keane on wearing black armbands for the Loughinisland victims:

"It's only right that we do wear the armbands in respect of everyone's families to let them know as a team and as a nation, that we are thinking of their families."

Jonathan Walters on the fans:

"We have got to go out there and get a result, especially for pride and the fans, who have been right behind us.

"After the Spain game, we got back and they were there cheering at the hotel. They are unreal fans and we have got to give them something to shout about."

Cesare Prandelli on Ireland:

"They are a strong team and we need to be wary of them. They have got a lot of national pride and they have got a great ability to fight in games.

"As [Trapattoni's assistant] Marco Tardelli has said, they always go out for the win, and they want to give this gift to their many fans."


There were thousands of blue seats visible when Italy played Croatia here last Thursday. That is unlikely to be the case this time with a sell-out crowd of 40,000 expected for the final game at this venue.

There were heavy downpours in Poznan area over the weekend and pools of water remain in the car parks around the stadium but the playing surface is fine.


Italy's Sebastian Giovinco is the smallest player at Euro 2012. The Parma forward is just 1.64m tall or just under 5'4" in old money.


Cuneyt Cakir

The 35-year-old Turkish official is the youngest referee at this championship but has been handling senior internationals since 2007.

Tonight will be the second game at Euro 2012 for the insurance broker from Istanbul, as he took charge of Ukraine's 2-1 win over Sweden last Monday.

Fellow countrymen Bahattin Duran and Tarik Ongun will be his assistants.


Ireland 1-2 Italy.