After failing to register a victory against an unfancied Italy, Spain take on Group C weaklings Republic of Ireland on June 14, 2012 at the PGE Arena in Gdansk. After being trashed 1-3 by Croatia in the first game, Ireland are virtually out of the competition, barring two unlikely wins over Spain and Italy. The two teams last met each other in the 2002 World cup where Spain emerged winners 3-2 on penalties.
It was abundantly clear that Spain were missing David Villa in the game against Italy and del Bosque’s strategy of playing without an established striker did not work wonders as his boys weren’t able to carry out their beautiful passing game to best effect. A goal against Italy was hard to come by despite the fact that they enjoyed good possession and completed twice as many passes as the Azzurri. They found themselves trailing the Azzurri on the hour mark, but fortunately Fabregas’ equalizer ensured a point from the game.
Ireland, playing in the European championships after 24 long years, couldn’t have asked for a worse start as the Croatians seem to have nipped their campaign in the bud. Ireland’s only goal in the game came from Sean St Ledger, who ironically has scored for his team only in losing causes.
Vincent del Bosque is likely to bolster the attack by including Fernando Torres in the starting eleven. The Spaniard, who came off the bench against Italy did not have much influence over the game and would be hoping to come up with an improved performance against Ireland.
Irish midfield, comprising Glen Whelan and Keith Andrews, is sure to have a torrid time chasing the ball as the Spaniards execute their quick one touch football to perfection. Ireland goalkeeper Shay Given missed training earlier this week but is expected to be fit and ready to play. Darren Gibson and Richard Dunne are also expected though the latter hasn’t fully recovered from fatigue yet. Giovanni Trapattoni, the Ireland manager, might replace Doyle with Long to partner Robbie Keane up front.
Spain’s probable lineup (4-3-3): Casillas, Arbeloa, Ramos, Pique, Alba, Xavi, Fabregas, Alonso, Iniesta, Torres, Silva
Ireland’s probable lineup(4-3-1-2): Given, Ledger, Dunne, Ward, O’Shea, Andrews, Whelan, Duff, Cox, Keane, Long
Despite looking unsettled up front, Spain are too good for Ireland and should have few difficulties in prevailing over their opponents.Ireland’s strike force will find it very difficult to pose a genuine threat to the Spanish defence.
Spain 2 Ireland 0
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Gokul is a software professional from Chennai, India. An avid sports fan, he is a keen follower of Cricket, Football, Hockey, Tennis and Formula One. He styles his articles as razor-edge analyses of all the hot and happening events in the field of sports.