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The Croatia coach has nothing but respect for his side's first opponent at this summer's European Championship, and has praised their defensive strength

CROATIA
GROUP C
HOW THEY QUALIFIED
P
PTS
 GREECE 10 24
 CROATIA 10 22
 ISRAEL 10 16
 LATVIA 10 11
 GEORGIA 10 10
 MALTA 10 1
*Croatia secured qualification with a play-off victory over Turkey

Slaven Bilic has insisted that Croatia will not underestimate Republic of Ireland in their Euro 2012 opener on June 10.

The national team coach feels that the Irish are 'unbelievably competitive' and is certain that they have what it takes to trouble Croatia on the counterattack.

"I have big respect for Ireland - I played against them last summer. They're an unbelievably competitive team," Bilic was quoted as saying on the official Fifa website.

"They are very solid, they play very simple football, and they don't take a lot of risks.

"But they are still dangerous enough with some really good forwards - two strikers and two wide men who are very quick. One on one, they can decide a game."

After their opening match of Euro 2012, Croatia will meet Italy on June 14, before taking on Spain four days later in their last fixture of the group stage.

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