2012 European Championships
2012 European Championships: Italy v Croatia

The 2012 European Championships has already seen its fair share of upsets, great goals and wonderful performances. We now arrive at the 13th fixture of the competition, to be played between 2006 World Cup champions Italy and Euro 98 runners-up Croatia, at the Poznan Municipal Stadium.

With the group stages fast coming to an end, nothing other than victory will be on the minds of both these teams.

The Build Up:

Italy - The Italians played some good football to draw their opening game against defending champions Spain, resorting to tried and tested catenaccio philosophy when faced with the slick passing of the Spanish. However, the Italians were by no means unable to fashion chances for themselves, suggesting Cesare Prandelli's side may have evolved their footballing sensibilities to include a smidgen of attacking football when required.

However, they will need to reshape formations and tactics once again, if they want to beat the energetic Croatians, if only because they need all three points... a draw will not do.

The midfield trio of Thiago Motta (Paris Saint-Germain), Claudio Marchisio (Juventus) and Andrea Pirlo (Juventus) will have to work hard to complement two talented strikers in Mario Balotelli (Manchester City) and Antonio Cassano (AC Milan), both of whom will prove to be a threat to the Croatian defence.

Although, Italy may find the Croatians a little easier to deal with than the Spaniards, Prandelli has told him team not to take Slaven Bilic's side for granted.

"It's going to be the decisive match of the group. I've been saying for a while that Croatia is the most dangerous squad because it's the most unpredictable one. They change the way they play all the time, sometimes even from one half to another," Prandelli was quoted by Sky Sports as saying.

Croatia - The Croatians, on the other hand, will be fresh after an impressive 3-1 victory over the Republic of Ireland. They played well in that game and were undoubtedly the better side with intelligent passing, inventive movement and sheer dominance in the penalty box. Croatia will set their eyes on a quarterfinal berth after a perfect start in their opening game.

"For me Italy is - they're not better than Spain, right - but you can't analyse them, they play with more options," said Croatia coach Slaven Bilic, according to a Sky Sports report.

"You know how Spain are going to play but Italy are so unpredictable. They can pass the ball. They can play the short balls. They can play through the middle. They can play counter attack, with long ball from (Andrea) Pirlo to the strikers. They can play down the flanks. They are for me one of the biggest favourites in this tournament," he added.

Team News:

Italy boss Cesare Prandelli, who will probably retain the same 3-5-2 formation used against Spain, will need to decide whether to retain Roma midfielder Daniele De Rossi in a central defensive position (where played very well against Spain) or return him to his favoured position and bring Angelo Ogbonna of Torino in as a replacement. Apart from this, Prandelli will also be pondering replacing Balotelli with Udinese's Antonio Di Natale, who scored against Spain.

Croatia, on the other hand, have been looking good despite injuries to defender Dejan Lovren and striker Ivica Olic. However, Bilic may choose to leave one of his strikers - either
Nikica Jelavic (Everton) or Mario Mandzukic (VfL Wolfsburg) - to make way for an extra midfielder to offer more stability.


Italy ended a three match losing streak after drawing with Spain

Juventus midfielder Emanuele Giaccherini made his debut for Italy against Spain

Di Natale, 34, became the fifth-oldest scorer in the history of the Euros, when he scored against Spain

Croatia have not lost to Italy since 1991

Mandzukic became the second Croatian player to score two goals in the same game at the Euros. The other player is Davor Suker

In the 2008 Euros both Croatia and Italy were knocked out of the competition after losing on penalties against Turkey and Spain respectively

Probable Teams:

Italy: Buffon; Bonucci, De Rossi, Chiellini; Maggio, T Motta, Pirlo, Marchisio, G'rini; Balotelli, Cassano

Croatia: Pletikosa; Srna, Corluka, Schildenfeld, Strinic; Rakitic, Vukojevic, Modric, Perisic; Jelavic, Mandzukic

Where to Watch Live:

You can follow the game live from 5 pm (BST) on BBC One and BBC Radio 5 live and the official UEFA Web site. You can also catch the live text commentary on the BBC Sport website.