One can forgive Slaven Bilić for not making any changes to the Croatia side that beat Ireland 3-1. They were fast-paced, attacking, and clearly got the job done. But what of Italy manager Cesare Prandelli? His side managed a respectable 1-1 draw against title-holders Spain, but his starting XI were not flawless, not by a long shot.
One of the most obvious weaknesses in the side he's trotting out against Croatia is the presence of Emanuele Giaccherini on the left wing. Yes, it's a rags-to-riches story, with Giaccherini, having been in Lega Pro just a few seasons ago, getting handed his first Italy cap at age 27. But it's time to let go of Cinderella. Although he wasn't entirely at fault for Cesc Fabregas' equaliser, Giaccherini was the weak link throughout the match. Give Federeico Balzaretti the chance. Please.Giaccherini will be eaten alive by Darijo Srna.
And for goodness sake, the strike partnership doesn't always need to be Cassano - Balotelli or Di Natale - Giovinoco. Live a little. Let Cassano and Di Natale start.
Ok, ranting over, but expect a few choice Croatian cursings in the coverage.
Italy (3-5-2): Gianluigi Buffon; Leonardo Bonucci, Daniele De Rossi, Giorgio Chiellini; Christian Maggio, Claudio Marchisio, Andrea Pirlo, Thiago Motta, Emanuele Giaccherini; Antonio Cassano, Mario Balotelli