Advanced Motta role may cause Italy Euro 2012 knockout stage spot

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Italy have to beat Ireland to have any chance of advancing from the group stages of Euro 2012 and speculation is that Cesare Prandelli is going to boldly make four changes in personnel and another in formation in the hope of securing the three points.

It is 3/10 that Italy gain their success, but their result will be irrelevant if Spain and Croatia draw 2-2 in the other Group C encounter as this would see both progress.

The Italians have not played badly in their draws with Spain and Croatia, with their formation including three central defenders seemingly working well.

Prandelli has also previously stated that his squad are happy playing 3-4-1-2, but 4-3-1-2 is likely to be employed against Ireland, which may offer more from an attacking perspective.

This means that both full backs will be changed, with Christian Maggio and Emanuele Giaccherini largely unfamiliar with a four-man defence.

In will come Ignazio Abate and Federico Balzaretti to replace them, while Andrea Barzagli has returned from injury and will come in for Juventus teammate Leonardo Bonucci at the heart of the defence to play alongside Giorgio Chiellini.

Furthermore, Daniele De Rossi will move back into his familiar midfield position after playing at centre back in the opening two games and this is where the game may be won or lost.

As a result, Thiago Motta will push into the advanced midfielder slot behind the front two, but he is hardly known for his creative tendencies.

Motta is a hard worker who can put his foot in, but influencing the game in the final third is not something that arguably comes naturally to him.

Instead, the role would be far better suited to Sebastian Giovinco, Alessandro Diamanti or Antonio Cassano.

Mario Balotelli is to be the fourth change, with Antonio Di Natale gaining a first start of the tournament alongside Cassano in attack.

This could make Di Natale a decent bet at 9/2 to score first against Ireland, while Motta may be a tempting price at 16/1 if starting in an advanced role.

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Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.