By Paul Mallon | Paddy Power Blog editor
Group C betting preview: Ireland v Croatia Sunday, 19.45pm (ITV1 and RTE2)
Giovanni Trapattoni’s team qualified against expectations thanks largely to Richard Dunne turning in one of the great Ireland performances in a 0-0 draw against Russia. Ireland’s record in European Championships stands at P3, W1, D1, L1, F2, A2. Average stuff, it must be said. Despite being a love/hate figure in Ireland, Robbie Keane remains the most realistic hope of a breakthrough. In an impressive qualifying campaign, he scored seven times in 11 appearances. In the qualifiers Croatia finished second to Greece with a W8, D2, L2 record and got to Euro 2012 via a play-off win over Turkey. Manager Slaven Bilic fancies beating Ireland. But he’s always been a cocky git.
Ireland are unbeaten in 14 games, mainly thanks to Dunne and Shay Given. Another clean sheet may be stretching it, but Croatia aren’t blessed with firepower. So with misguided national passion, a 16/1 on Ireland to beat Croatia 2-0 is an outside shot. Ireland’s famous 12th man will have to play a part.
A Correct Score stab in the dark
Being more realistic, this game has ‘draw’ written all over it. We may eat those words. Expect odds of around 6/1 with Paddy Power for a 0-0 while Ireland’s specialty, 1-1, is around 5/1. Tasty.
A goalscorer bet to look out for
Moany Aiden McGeady (26) is 11/1 to score first for Ireland. His form in the qualifying campaign was impressive. And, with a place under threat from both James McClean and Stephen Hunt, the Spartak Moscow midfielder has upped his game. He’s only scored twice for Ireland, against Macedonia and Andorra, but don’t let solid facts like that get in the way of our optimism buzz affecting you. If you’re looking for something a bit more grounded Keith Andrews to score any time against Croatia is 9/1. (We’re thinking he might do a Matt Holland). Elsewhere, 40/1 is available at Paddypower.com for Sean St Ledger who’s due a header from a set piece or corner.
Something a bit random
Free-kick specialist Darijo Srna, of Shaktar Donetsk, is 16/1 to be first goalscorer. He’s got 19 goals in 90 games for Croatia. His inspirational life story is enough to make you want to throw a quid or two on him.
Robbie Fowler says
Ireland scored five goals against that Tuscan XI in a warm-up for the Euros but I’d read nothing into that. Croatia will be a tough game for Ireland but I fancy Ireland to beat them. Ireland are, by far, a better team.