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Wednesday 13 December 2017

Maggio: We must command Croat clash

MIDFIELDER Christian Maggio expects Italy to be put to the test by a strong Croatia side in today's European Championship Group C encounter in Poznan.

The Azzurri held holders Spain to a 1-1 draw on Sunday and face a Croatian side that beat the Republic of Ireland 3-1 to lead the group.

"Croatia are a tough team to face," said Maggio, who plays his club football at Serie A side Napoli. "They never give up.

"We have studied them and they are physically superior to us so we will have to be very careful about that.

"But we go into the encounter more charged up than before."

Italy disappointed in their warm-up game against Russia, a 3-0 loss in Zurich on June 1, but showed promising signs against Spain.

"We can do well," Maggio said. "We played a great game against Spain and that is a sign that we can do well against anyone."

The pressure will be on Cesare Prandelli's Italy that need a win to keep up their hopes of progressing to the next round.

"It's true that a draw would be a good result for Croatia while we have to play for a win," Maggio said. "We have to go out and get three points.

"We need to take command of the game and make the most of our chances.

"It will be difficult but we have the quality to do it."

Croatia defender Vedran Corluka, meanwhile, has warned the Azzurri his side will not settle for a point.

Slaven Bilic's men know that victory over Italy would see them progress to the quarter-finals of the competition.

The Croats take on Spain in their final group match on Monday.

"We are going into every game with the mentality that it is a must-win," Corluka said. "But especially this one, because if we win, we will go to the next round with a game to spare. But even if we draw we are still in it."

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