Spain V Ireland – Euro 2012 Previews
Giovanni Trapattoni insists that the Republic Of Ireland still have a chance of qualifying for the knockout stages at Euro 2012, despite an opening defeat against Croatia. But it’s probably fair to say there aren’t many who fancy the Irish to turn around their fortunes with games against Spain and Italy, the last two winners of the tournament, still to come.
The Spanish, holders and current world champions, are up next for Trapattoni’s men and the coach is considering making changes after defensive errors cost his team dear against Croatia. The Croatians looked a decent side in Poznan, as their FIFA ranking suggests, but it was the game that the Irish were targeting as one that they had to take something from if they were to progress and emerging pointless makes the task of qualifying that more difficult.
A big area of concern for Ireland is the form and fitness of Shay Given. For so long Given has been the rock on which Irish success has been built but he came into the tournament with an injury and was arguably at fault with Croatia’s first goal. Doubts, too, surround the effectiveness of Stephen Ward at full-back while the Irish midfield never got to grips with the craft of Luka Modric in Poznan and they’ll have to do a lot of running against Spain, who keep the ball for fun and came from behind to take a point against Italy in their opening match despite playing far below their best.
The one consolation for the Republic is that Spain’s coach Vicente Del Bosque is continuing to persist with Fernando Torres up front even though the Chelsea striker rarely looks like scoring nowadays. The Spanish midfield is probably the best in the world, however, and they are going to be very difficult to contain unless Trapattoni has come up with a plan to track the runs of Iniesta and Fabregas from deep. Ireland’s coach must also decide which of his strikers are best suited to harassing the Spanish defence into mistakes. Both Gerard Pique and Sergio Ramos are prone to lapses of concentration and the Irish strikers must have the energy to make the most of their likely limited opportunities. That could see the iconic Robbie Keane left out in favour of Shane Long or Simon Cox.
Unfortunately for the Republic Of Ireland, Spain need a win as much as they do and the champions can’t be opposed at 2/7 to effectively end Irish interest in the competition. Spain/Spain is 5/6 in the Half Time/Full Time betting and they are 5/6 to overcome a one-goal deficit on the handicap.