EURO 2016 Qualifying: Italy, Croatia Remain Undefeated in Draw


Italy and Croatia met today in a clash of two teams that were undefeated and stood atop the Group H standings. After everything was said and done, that’s exactly how the standings remained.

Antonio Candreva is responsible for being the first person to score on Croatia in the competition as he fired a shot from about 20 meters out on top of the box to beat the keeper and give Italy a 1-0 lead in the 11th minute. Candreva’s goal was assisted by Simone Zaza, a player that has played very well the past few months for the national team. He is one of the prospective strikers that are above Mario Balotelli on the pecking order.

Just four minutes later, Croatia received their equalizer. Ivan Perisic scored on a shot that Gigi Buffon probably should’ve had and most likely miss-timed. Perisic’s goal would be the last of the contest as neither team could steal the three points.

Possession certainly isn’t the only reason that wins games, but Croatia’s clear advantage in possession is a bit worrying for Italy. Sure, the Azzuri are known for playing defense before anything else, but in front of their home crowd, they are still showing signs of a team that slipped up in the World Cup in Brazil.

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Simone Fontecchio shows his value as a scorer by not playing
Simone Fontecchio shows his value as a scorer by not playing /

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  • I am the first to complain about what happened in that final group game against Uruguay, but the fact of the matter is that they fell flat on their faces against Costa Rica and didn’t look overly impressive against England.

    So far, Antonio Conte has led this team in the right direction. In no way am I saying that this is a poor result. Croatia is a quality team that gave Brazil a run for their money in the opening game of the World Cup. Something the FIGC and Italy fans are looking for are more impressive results.

    In Euro competition alone, Italy defeated Norway, barely survived against Azerbaijan and edged Malta in a game where both teams received a red card. If anything, its cautious optimism. We’ve seen what a functioning Italy side can do, even if they seem to be the underdogs.

    There have also been plenty of good things to note. Zaza and Immobile have played very well and look to be worthy replacements to Balotelli if called upon in that role. They even have guys like Stephan El Sharaawy to back them up if need be.

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    Bottom line, Italy has still done what it has to do to get the results they need and it shows in Group H. Not everything has to be impressive. Bulgaria is the last team that Italy has to play before they have faced everyone and going 4-1-0 the first time around is a very good thing.

    As I said before, there is still cautious optimism there.

    For the other games in Group H, Bulgaria (fourth place, four points) drew with Malta (fifth place, one point), 1-1. Norway (third place, nine points) defeated Azerbaijan (sixth place, zero points) on the road, 1-0.

    Stay tuned to Playing for 90 for more EURO 2016 Qualifying matches.