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European Championship

  • 14 June 2012
  • • 19:45
  • • PGE Arena Gdańsk, Gdańsk
  • Referee: Pedro Proença
  • • Attendance: 39150
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Spain - Republic of Ireland Preview: Holders target first win at Euro 2012 against Trapattoni's men

The Irish are precariously placed bottom of Group C and need a victory against Vicente del Bosque's side to keep their tournament hopes alive

  PROBABLE LINEUPS

SPAIN

Casillas
Arbeloa, Ramos, Pique, Alba
Busquets, Xabi Alonso
Silva, Xavi, Iniesta
Torres
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND

Given
O'Shea, Dunne, St Ledger, Ward
Duff, Andrews, Whelan, McGeady
Keane, Long

Vicente del Bosque has come under criticism for his decision not to field a recognised striker in the opening match against Italy, which left Spain without a focal point to channel their attacks.

It is likely the Spaniard will opt to play with a forward in the central role against Ireland, with Fernando Torres in line to be given the nod ahead of Alvaro Negredo and Fernando Llorente, despite missing two good chances to defeat the Azzurri after coming off the bench on Sunday.

Cesc Fabregas will make way for Torres in the starting XI, as the 25-year-old may not be fully fit after carrying a thigh injury into the tournament.

Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique will continue their partnership in defence in the absence of Barcelona captain Carles Puyol, who misses the championship after knee surgery.

Ireland have some slight injury worries going into the match against the current European champions. Richard Dunne is suffering from blisters and fatigue after the 3-1 defeat to Croatia, although the central defender will play through the pain barrier to partner Sean St Ledger in defence.

Shay Given and Darron Gibson also missed training early in the week but head coach Giovanni Trapattoni has stated that the pair are fit and ready to play. Shane Long is also in contention to start.

James McClean may also feel aggrieved not to have featured against Croatia in the opening match, but Trapattoni has spoken of not putting too much immediate pressure on the 23-year-old in the tournament, so if he does play it will likely be as a substitute.

  DID YOU KNOW?
  • The last encounter between Spain and Ireland was in the 2002 World Cup. The last-16 match finished in a 1-1 draw, but the Spaniards managed to qualify for the next stage by winning 3-2 in the penalty shoot-out.
  • Spain's draw with Italy in the opening match of Group C ended their run of 14 straight competitive victories, with their last defeat coming at the hands of Switzerland in the 2010 World Cup.
  • The reigning world and European champions have not missed a major finals tournament since the 1992 European Championship.
  • Vicente del Bosque's side made 672 completed passes on matchday one, compared to Italy's 341.
  • Ireland are making their first appearance in a European Championship finals since making their debut in the 1988 event in West Germany.
  • The Republic of Ireland had gone 14 matches unbeaten, since a 3-2 loss to Uruguay, before the reverse to Croatia on matchday one.
  • Aiden McGeady won his 50th cap against the Croatians; Kevin Doyle could reach his half-century versus Spain.
  • Sean St Ledger has scored three international goals for Ireland, including the header against Croatia. However, none of these goals resulted in a victory for the Irish.

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Last Five Matches
Odds
Team News
Available Squads
1Iker CasillasGoalkeeper
3PiquéDefender
15Sergio RamosDefender
-Arbeloa
6Jordi AlbaDefender
6Andrés Iniesta LujánMidfielder
8XaviMidfielder
14Xabi AlonsoMidfielder
16BusquetsMidfielder
21David SilvaMidfielder
9Fernando TorresStriker
-Víctor Valdés
23Pepe ReinaGoalkeeper
2Raúl Albiol Defender
5JuanfranMidfielder
-Javi MartínezMidfielder
10Cesc FàbregasMidfielder
20Santi CazorlaMidfielder
-Jesús Navas González
11PedroStriker
-Negredo
13Juan MataStriker
-Fernando Llorente
-Shay Given
2Sean St LedgerDefender
3Stephen WardDefender
4John O'SheaDefender
5Richard DunneDefender
6Glenn WhelanMidfielder
7Aiden McGeadyMidfielder
-Keith Andrews
-Damien Duff
10Robbie KeaneStriker
20Simon CoxStriker
16Keiren WestwoodGoalkeeper
23David FordeGoalkeeper
12Stephen KellyDefender
13Paul McShaneDefender
18Darren O'DeaDefender
15Darron GibsonMidfielder
-Stephen Hunt
21Paul GreenMidfielder
22James McCleanMidfielder
9Kevin DoyleStriker
14Jonathan WaltersStriker
19Shane LongStriker
Players to Watch
Andrés Iniesta Luján
Andrés Iniesta Luján
Position: Midfielder
Squad Number: 6
Games Goals YC RC
6 0 0 0
Spain's most impressive player in the last match and the man who looked most likely to cause the Italian defence problems. Expect Iniesta to drift into pockets of space in front of the Ireland defence and be a massive danger with the ball at this feet.
Robbie Keane
Robbie Keane
Position: Striker
Squad Number: 10
Games Goals YC RC
3 0 1 0
Ireland's talisman may be getting on in years now but he will need to come out of his shell if he is pose a threat to Spain. Keane was ineffective against Croatia so he must aim to provide more movement in the box and link up better with strike partner, Kevin Doyle.
Prediction
Spain go into this match as massive favourites to take three points and Ireland will make it all too easy if they defend in the same manner as they did against Croatia. The high tempo movement in the penalty area by the Spain attackers will prove too much for the Irish so expect a comfortable victory for Vicente Del Bosque's side. Giovanni Trapattoni's rigid formation and the likely negative play from the Republic of Ireland are probably the only factors that will keep the score respectable.
Editor's Prediction
Spain 3

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