Italy will play Croatia in their final group stage match of Euro 2024

Croatia and Italy will square off on Monday night in Leipzig, Germany, as they compete for the second place in Group B at Euro 2024

(Football news) The Azzurri are aware that one point is sufficient to guarantee a spot in the round of 16, but they still need to win and hope that Albania does not defeat group winners Spain.

Croatia can yet advance to the European Championship knockout stages after suffering a severe blow on Wednesday when they gave up a late goal against Albania to sit on just one point after two Group B games.

If they beat Italy on Monday and Albania fails to shock Spain, they will undoubtedly go to the round of 16; if the Albanians win as well, the two teams will be tied on goal differential. 

Defeat will consign the World Cup bronze medallists to an early exit – or a draw and Albania avoiding defeat – as the two teams’ head-to-head record is level after events at Hamburg’s Volksparkstadion.

Having lost 3-0 to Spain in their opener, the Vatreni were held to a dramatic 2-2 draw by Albania four days later, scoring twice in the second half to turn the game on its head before shipping a stoppage-time equaliser.

Croatia have already had more shots and more attempts on target at Euro 2024 than they managed across three group games three years ago, but an ageing midfield and misfiring attack has not helped their cause this summer.

As his team have also conceded five goals so far – and face the prospect of failing to win at a major finals for the first time since 2006 – long-serving head coach Zlatko Dalic is left with some tough decisions to make.

Now, two nations split by the Adriatic Sea meet for a high-stakes contest in Eastern Germany, with Croatia holding the upper hand in terms of precedent: since gaining independence in the 1990s, they are unbeaten in eight games against their Italian counterparts.

Meeting Croatia for the third time at a major tournament – having lost 2-1 at the 2002 World Cup and played out a stalemate at Euro 2012 – Italy are armed with the knowledge that a draw on this occasion will send them through as Group B runners-up.

The reigning European champions could already have booked their place in the last 16, but suffering a 1-0 defeat to Spain last time out leaves the Azzurri in some danger of a disappointing exit.

Although only Riccardo Calafiori’s own goal separated the sides in Gelsenkirchen, La Roja were by far the better team in almost every metric, causing much consternation up and down the Italian peninsula.

With a 10-game undefeated streak at UEFA’s main event finally over, dreams of becoming just the second country to win successive Euros are now dependent on quickly turning things around.

Luciano Spalletti’s men have plenty to prove, after attempting their fewest shots in a European Championship game to date and looking shaky at the back: La Nazionale have never lost consecutive matches at the Euros, but their final group fixture seems far from straightforward.

Avoiding defeat to Croatia is a minimum requirement, because if Italy lose and Albania somehow shock already-qualified Spain, the Azzurri’s title defence would come crashing to a halt.

Also read: Spain will play Albania in their last group stage match of Euro 2024


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