Saturday June 16 2012
Italy suspicion 'insults' Croatia

Croatia’s Coach Slaven Bilic and players insist it is an “insult” to think they’ll draw with Spain to knock Italy out, while mocking the betting scandal too.

The Azzurri will be out of Euro 2012 regardless of their result against Ireland if Spain-Croatia ends 2-2, an identical situation to the one that saw them eliminated from Euro 2004 by Denmark and Sweden.

Italian media have focused more on the fear of a ‘biscotto’ – slang term for fix – than their own game with the Republic of Ireland.

“I can guarantee that I and my players are men of sport,” blasted a furious Bilic in La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“We will never take an option like this into consideration. Never! To claim the contrary is an insult to me, to my players and my country. We are Croatian and we are proud.

“Besides, 2-2 is a result, just like a victory or a defeat. It means nothing more than that. I’d hate to be in Italy’s place right now. They have to beat Ireland and that is not a given, as nobody wants to go home with three defeats.

“We are athletes, parents and children. It’s out of the question we would agree a result with Spain. Don’t forget Italy are far weaker a side than Spain...”

The Croatian players were also offended by the suggestion they’ll aim for a 2-2 draw against Spain and mocked Italy’s own issues with match-fixing.

“If Gianluigi Buffon likes betting on games, that doesn’t mean we do,” noted Darijo Srna.

“I’m sure Buffon was joking when he said he’d bet on our result ending 2-2. I doubt he really thought we’d fix the match.”

Daniel Pranjic was eager to point out a high-scoring draw is not beyond the realms of possibility.

“Our objective will be to win the game and therefore the group. Clearly, the game could then finish with any result, including 2-2.”

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