Spain, Italy play in shadow of euro crisis
Italy needs to beat Ireland to stand any chance of progressing.
WARSAW - Three countries at the heart of the euro zone's economic crisis do battle for places in the Euro 2012 quarter-finals on Monday hoping to join Germany and debt-stricken Greece in the last eight.
Complicated permutations and conspiracy talk surround the last Group C matches with Italy needing to beat whipping boys Ireland to stand any chance of progressing ahead of either world champions Spain or a robust Croatia side.
Germany's victory over Denmark on Sunday set up a clash with Greece which has turned minds to a deepening crisis hanging over the tournament being hosted in eastern Europe for the first time by Poland and Ukraine.
Precious few Greek fans have made the trip due to the mix of searing budget cuts, tax rises and economic collapse which has crippled households in the country of 11 million people and left more than half its young out of work.
Ireland has already been bailed out, Spain has sought help for its banks and Italy is seen as next in line but Spanish supporters of the tournament favourites streamed into the Baltic coast city of Gdansk hoping to see their side secure the point they need against Croatia to advance.
There were fewer Italians in evidence in Poznan where a win over a leaky Irish side would lift them to five points with Spain and Croatia on four going into Monday's game.
Here the situation gets complicated. Should Spain and Croatia draw 2-2, an Azzurri win would be in vain, a scenario which has had Italian media conjuring up talk of a conspiracy, referred to as a "biscuit" in the media.