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Spain V Republic of Ireland : UEFA Euro 2012 Match Preview
Published : 14 Jun 2012 15:55:56
Trapattoni calls for belief, Spain ponder options
Ireland's veteran coach Giovanni Trapattoni has said his team must show belief against defending champions Spain on Thursday in Gdansk as the Irish fight to keep their Euro dreams alive.
Having suffered a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Croatia in their opening Group C game on Sunday, Ireland are looking at an almost certain early exit unless they can get something from their game with the world champions.
The Irish are making only their second appearance at a European championship and Trapattoni says his team must concentrate and show belief if they are to avoid exiting after the group stages, as they did back in 1988 albeit with the huge consolation of a celebrated victory over England.
"We have another 90 minutes coming. We have to believe. Every game in this Euro could be a surprise. We have to believe this," he said.
It has been a decade since the 2002 World Cup, the last time an Irish team appeared at a major finals, but Trapattoni's team now have their work cut out as they face Spain, then Italy, who drew 1-1 here on Sunday.
Having taken over at the helm in 2008, the 73-year-old Trapattoni has acquired cult status in Ireland having produced such gems as 'I am not Jesus Christ, I cannot work miracles!' during his reign.
Certainly an Irish win over Spain would be little less than miraculous, but Trapattoni's team will be at full strength as Aston Villa defender Richard Dunne was the only absentee from Monday's training with blisters.
Trapattoni is coming under pressure from the Irish media to blood in-form Sunderland wing James McClean who only made his debut in May's friendly win against Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Having played a 4-3-3 formation against Italy with Barcelona midfielder Cesc Fabregas up front, Spanish coach Vicente Del Bosque needs to decide whether to give striker Fernando Torres another chance after he impressed from the bench against Italy.
With Barcelona hitman and record scorer David Villa injured, it was Fabregas who scored the winner against Italy, but Spain noticeably raised their game when Torres came on for the final 17 minutes.
Del Bosque has other options at his disposal up front with Seville's Alvaro Negredo and Fernando Llorente of Athletic Bilbao waiting in the wings.
The pitch at the Gdansk Arena is certainly a talking point after the Spanish football federation complained to UEFA about the state of the grass.
Several Spanish stars complained about the condition of the grass, including Xavi Hernandez and Fabregas, who claimed the surface was "a disgrace" and bone dry.
Spain V Republic of Ireland - view commentary, squad, and statictics of the game live.