Taking biscuit Italians fear plot
GIVEN THEIR league is mired in another match-fixing scandal, Italians assume others indulge in underhand tactics and the fear that Spain and Croatia will contrive a 2-2 draw to knock the Azzurri out of Euro 2012 is growing apace.
Not among the players and coach Cesare Prandelli, it must be added, but in a media obsessed with soccer conspiracy theories that they bizarrely call “biscuits.
A win over Ireland in the final Group C game on Monday would be enough for Italy to make the quarter-finals in second place if Spain or Croatia win the other match. However, a draw makes the situation complicated because all three teams would be level on five points and head-to-head record is the deciding factor, with Italy having drawn 1-1 with both.
All three would have the same points in the mini-league and a zero goal difference so goals scored becomes all important. A 0-0 stalemate between Spain and Croatia means Italy are through with a win against the Irish, while a 1-1 draw brings goal difference in the entire group into the equation.
A 2-2 or higher scoring draw between Spain and Croatia, though, and Italy can do absolutely nothing as on the head-to-heads the other two will have scored more goals.
Almost every player was asked by reporters about the chances of a fix after Thursdays draw with Croatia, even before Spain had even beaten Ireland to set up the possibility, which both teams deny could ever happen.
I dont fear the biscuit, goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon said.
Thiago Motta added: They are professionals. It wont happen, everyone will do their own jobs.
At Euro 2004 Giovanni Trapattonis Italy went out in the group stage in exactly the same sort of scenario they fear now, when a 2-2 draw between Denmark and Sweden prompted their exit.