Euro 2012 prediction: Ireland to be undone by “frightening Spain”

FOOTBALL writer Stuart Baillie gives his thoughts on tonight’s Ireland v Spain match in Euro 2012.

GIOVANNI Trapattoni’s Ireland face the daunting task of facing world and European champions Spain, as they bid to keep their Euro 2012 hopes alive tonight.

After defeat against Croatia on Sunday, the Irish will need more than their fair share of luck if they are to make it to the knockout stages, with La Roja and the impressive Italy still to come in Group C.

Many have already ruled out the Emerald Isle’s chances of progressing, and in reality it would take a very brave person to bet on the Irish causing a major upset against Vicente del Bosque’s Spanish ‘machine’.

Despite having record goal scorer Robbie Keane in their ranks, the Republic lacked a genuine attacking threat in Poznan and with their usually solid backline suffering a serious case of the wobblies, the omens look far from promising ahead of tonight’s clash in Gdansk.

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In typically defiant Irish fashion, captain Keane has insisted that his troops can cause the shock of the tournament at the PGE Arena tonight.

Of course, confidence and a no-fear attitude are crucial if Ireland are to somehow gain something from this impossible looking fixture.

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One problem could be Trapattoni’s reluctance to adopt an attacking line-up that could cause Spain a few problems; the 73-year-old insistent on setting up in a rigid 4-4-2 that is rarely seen in modern day international football.

On the other hand, the Italian’s resistance to change with the times and play a more expansive style of football could play into Ireland’s hands; the Spanish likely to grow frustrated with an inevitable ‘ten men behind the ball’ philosophy.

We saw Chelsea frustrate Barcelona on their way to an astonishing Champions League semi final victory at the Nou Camp, and Ireland will hope to replicate this model in equally successful fashion.

Unfortunately, a backline of O’Shea, St.Ledger, Dunne and Ward is unlikely to strike fear into Spain’s vast array of attacking talents.

Even without a recognised striker, Spain’s six midfielders with Cesc Fabregas playing the ‘false nine’ have the talent to pull Ireland’s back four apart in devastating fashion.

Add Fernando Llorente or even the mis-firing Fernando Torres into the mix and Irish fans could be forgiven for thinking their Euro 2012 campaign is over before it even got out of first gear.

As much as a Chelsea-inspired 1-0 win with a late header from stalwart Richard Dunne would send shockwaves across Europe (and that’s just the force of the ball hitting the net), the chances of that happening look highly unlikely against a frighteningly good Spain side.

Verdict: Spain 3-0 Ireland

What do you think? Can Ireland upset the odds? Let us know by posting a comment below!

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