UEFA Euro 2012: Poland & Ukraine
Group C
Spain vs Republic of Ireland-  Match Preview





Group C                Euro 2012               Second round of fixtures 

Thursday 14th June-                Italy vs Croatia                                      KO 5pm           BBC1/HD
                                     Spain vs Republic of Ireland                     KO 7:45pm         ITV1/HD 



Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni has hinted that he is unlikely to give James McClean his competitive debut in Thursday's vital Euro 2012 Group C fixture against Spain.

Calls for McClean's talents to be used have intensified since Sunday's 3-1 opening game defeat against Croatia but Trapattoni appears to have ruled out including the Sunderland winger in his starting line-up for the crucial fixture in Gdansk insisting that the former Derry City man, who scored six goals in twenty-five appearances for the Black Cats, will "get his chance".

Trapattoni has hinted that Stoke City striker Walters may start in Thursday's game. While, Richard Dunne trained on Tuesday morning after missing Monday's session because of blistered feet while Everton midfielder Darron Gibson also took part after shaking off a thigh strain- he did not feature against the Croats.

Walters replaced Kevin Doyle in the second half of Sunday's match in Poznan and the 73-year old Republic of Ireland boss praised the ability of the 28-year old, scorer of seven goals in 38 Premier League appearances last season, at his press briefing on Monday evening. The Italian added: "I was waiting for this question. Remember when you asked me why five strikers? I said Cox is also a winger and he can also play in a three as an attacking striker. Cox is one of the strikers but also at his club, can play right or left. He is also a striker in fact and in the past, has scored goals. Jonathan (Walters) has shown us with his physical strength the way he can help both the strikers and the midfield."

Winger Aiden McGeady has dismissed suggestions that Republic of Ireland's Euro 2012 campaign is already over after the opening night defeat to Croatia. The former Celtic man said: "We're not done with this tournament yet. We had positives to take from the result against Croatia. Mainly that we were able to come back right after they scored but we were all disappointed that in the end we lost. We are hoping that our spirit will come through for us now. We have two massive games ahead of us. Obviously Spain is going to be very difficult for us, but hopefully we can beat them. Obviously we were really disappointed with the other night but we have to pick ourselves up. Here we have three games to play. It's not just one game and then you're off home. We're a close knit group of lads so the mood is okay."

Spain coach Vicente del Bosque says the world and European champions could again line up without a recognised striker against Republic of Ireland. Barcelona's attacking midfielder Cesc Fabregas played in a more advanced position as Spain drew 1-1 against Italy in their Euro 2012 opener.

Del Bosque said ahead of the game: "Against Ireland we will play a number nine - though it depends what you understand by a number nine. David Silva is a forward; Andres Iniesta plays like one, so does Cesc. We have four options - the three everyone is aware of (Negredo, Torres and Llorente) and then that of Cesc. Those are all very good attacking solutions. I am not unhappy with the options we have. The only thing that interests us is what is in the interest of the team. The opinions of others surely have interests distinct from our own."

The Spain boss's decision not to start with one of his three traditional strikers - Alvaro Negredo, Fernando Torres or Fernando Llorente - surprised many on Sunday, including opponents Italy. Spain complained about the quality of the Gdansk pitch following their clash with Italy and they decided to train at their practice ground, rather than the stadium, on Wednesday.

Republic of Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni thinks his team can cause a major upset by beating Spain in their vital Group C clash. The Irish know they must avoid defeat to stand any chance of advancing into the quarter-finals after the Croatia defeat. The 73-year old said: "Maybe Spain have one or two more creative players, but football is not only about creative players. I think we can win. Why not? I am proud to be the manager of the Irish players because the Irish players have heart. But we have achieved results not only with heart because we have met France, Bulgaria, Italy, many other teams and we played the same. We play our football. It's creative enough and it's technical enough. We can hope. We have a very delicate situation now. We are playing against a very strong team [in Spain] but if we win, we can have another attitude. Italy and Spain after the first game each have one point. At this moment, it's all open. Only after Thursday can we say if we have an opportunity or not."

Click here to listen to ROI boss Giovanni Trapattoni talk tactics ahead of match

Click here for the latest report from the Irish camp on Wednesday

Click here for the latest report from the Irish camp on matchday (Thursday)

Ireland unlikely to beat Spain says former manager Mick McCarthy





This is a dangerous scenario for Giovanni Trapattoni's men whereby It could be a real thrashing for the Republic of Ireland if they are not careful. After the disappointment of the 3-1 defeat to Croatia which was their must-win fixture in the group, it makes their last two matches just ones to enjoy with freedom and without fear if they are being brutally honest. The Spanish are renowned for racking up on average 70% of possession in each match, keeping the ball for long periods and tiring the opponents by wearing them down- to play against Spain, you need to stay disciplined, focus, solid in defence and midfield, track the runners and press at the right times in the correct areas of the pitch. The Italians were successful at keeping the threat of the midfielders of Spain to a minimum although the formation played by Vicente Del Bosque was strange with no strikers named in the starting line-up. The Irish made several defensive mistakes which cost them dearly against the Croats in Poznan in their first game and Trapattoni will know that these must be ironed out against the Spanish if they are to have any chance of getting anything. The Irish need to keep the match tight following suit from Italy who didn't allow the likes of Iniesta, Xavi, Alonso and Silva to dictate the tempo and rhythm early on which set the tone for how the rest of the game panned out. Spain will know that they are huge favourites to win the game- its David vs Goliath although an upset in this one would be as about as great as shocks and surprises come. After a draw in game one, Spain will know the task facing them and they will be looking for an early goal to settle down- they have to be careful about complacency. You know that no matter who the opponents are or what the circumstances, the Irish will compete for every ball, show spirit and determination. Spain have world class players while the Irish have distinctly average ones. They have waited so long for this moment in terms of turning out for a major international tournament, the squad has healthy competition for places and they will relish the chance to rub shoulders with the holders of the trophy and reigning world champions- even though they will come out on top as easy winners in this one scoring three at the very least without reply.

Adam predicts Spain 3-0 Republic of Ireland

Alex predicts Spain 2-0 Republic of Ireland

Jordan predicts Spain 2-0 Republic of Ireland



Last meeting:-

Sunday 16th June 2002                World Cup Last 16 match                Spain 1-1 Republic of Ireland                 (Spain win 3-2 on penalties)

Venue-  Suwon World Cup Stadium (North Korea)

Spain knocked the Irish out of the 2002 World Cup in the last sixteen phase of the tournament despite Mick McCarthy's side fighting back in the final minute of normal time to take the game to extra-time. Fernando Morientes gave the Spanish an eighth minute lead as they looked to go on to win the match by a comfortable margin. Irish left-back Ian Harte, who has just gained promotion to the Premier League with Reading, missed a penalty earlier in the match after Damien Duff was tripped by Juanfran before Robbie Keane equalised in the last minute of the regulation ninety with a penalty of his own after Fernando Hierro was adjudged to have tugged at the shirt of inspiring Irish substitute Niall Quinn from a free-kick. Spanish substitute David Abelda had to go off in extra-time injured as they had already made their three substitutions meaning they played with ten men for the remainder of the game as Keane and Gary Breen missed chances to snatch the match late on before going out on spotkicks. Matt Holland, David Connolly and Kevin Kilbane missed their penalties allowing Gaizka Mendieta to strike the winning penalty past Shay Given into the bottom corner to send the Spanish through to the quarter-finals. It was a heartbreaking end to a fabulous journey for the Irish who had qualified comfortably for the tournament but the Spaniards were fortunate considering the chances that the Irish had to make history with the woodwork hit three times during the match by the men from Dublin.

Click here to watch highlights of the game from 2002




Manager-  Vicente Del Bosque



Available squad:

Goalkeepers-  Casillas (C), Reina, Valdes

Defenders-  Arbeloa, Sergio Ramos, Pique, Javi Martinez, Juanfran, Raul
                 Albiol, Jordi Alba

Midfielders-  Sergio Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Fabregas, Xabi Alonso, Silva, 
                   Mata, Jesus Navas, Santi Cazorla, Pedro

Forwards-  Torres, Llorente, Negredo 


Likely starting line-up:


Casillas (captain)
Sergio Ramos
Jordi Alba
Xabi Alonso





Manager-  Giovanni Trapattoni 



Available squad:

Goalkeepers-  Given, Westwood, Forde

Defenders-  O'Shea, Kelly, McShane, Dunne, St Ledger, O'Dea, Ward

Midfielders-  Duff, McGeady, McClean, Hunt, Andrews, Whelan, Gibson, 

Forwards-  Keane (C), Walters, Long, Doyle, Cox 


Likely starting line-up:


St Ledger
Keane (captain)


Xavi Hernandez (Spain) vs Glenn Whelan (Republic of Ireland)

Adam's comment:
  "Well, Spain boss Vicente Del Bosque may have been pinpointed Iniesta as the key player in the tournament for the Spanish but Xavi for me is the one that makes it click and glues everything together. He is at the forefront of their play at all times and there is rarely a move or passing spell created by the Spanish that Xavi doesn't participate in. He has great experience at club football and international level with slightly more about him than Iniesta in terms of physicality. He weaves together some great passes, his touch is exquisite, his speed of passing delightful and is top of the statistics charts all the time. If someone beats Xavi in terms of passing rates, they are nothing more than a genius. Against the Republic of Ireland, the system will probably be more attacking including a striker of some description which will suit Xavi's game as during the match against Italy, the midfield was far too packed and congested whereby the Barcelona player's full canopy of gameplay couldn't become effective as he wasn't be able to pick out many runners or thread a through-pass to a forward becaue there were precious little being made. He will be up against Whelan who will have to stay on his feet when attempting to tackle while staying with him at all times which is a very difficult job for the Stoke midfielder who has done similar work against some of the Premier League's best creators in the middle of the park. If Xavi is allowed time and space, he can do a lot of damage as he can spot the impossible passes. Whelan needs to stay in position across midfield in the bank of four whilst focusing on containing Xavi rather than motoring forward himself. He has the tendency to switch off once or twice which can be suicidal in matches of this magnitude- he cannot let the mercurial man out of his sight for the entire game."




The Republic of Ireland were 14 matches unbeaten, since a 3-2 loss to Uruguay on 29th March 2011, before their first group game of Euro 2012. The 3-1 defeat by Croatia was the first time Ireland have conceded three goals in a game at a major tournament.  

Spain are 15 competitive games without defeat, since their 1-0 loss to Switzerland on 16th June 2010 in their first group game of the World Cup two years ago, however they have lost four of their 14 friendlies in that time.

Spain won eight out of eight in their group for Euro 2012 qualification becoming one of only five sides to go through a qualifying campaign with a 100% record in the history of the European Championship finals.

Wolves striker Kevin Doyle could make his 50th international cap for the Republic of Ireland against Spain.



Pedro Proenca (Portugal)

Pedro Proenca is a financial advisor as well as a FIFA and UEFA referee. The 41-year old, born in Lisbon, has been officiating in the top-flight Portuguese Liga since the beginning of the 1998-1999 season while being promoted to FIFA's elite international list in 2003. Pedro was named Portuguese referee of the season for 2006-07 as voted by his fellow colleagues after a string of excellent performances which was rewarded with the appointment to a Portuguese cup semi-final. Another accolade picked up was best referee of 2010-11 as spotted by the Portuguese Football Federation. Last season, he officiated in 42 games in total brandishing 114 yellow cards while handing out nine red cards. He took charge of five Champions League games during the campaign including three group stage matches: Marseille's 1-0 defeat of Olympiakos in September where he dismissed French defender Rod Fanni, Manchester City's 3-0 victory over La Liga side Villarreal in November and a goalless draw between Lille and Trabzonspor in December. In March, he was the man in black for the last 16 second leg between Inter Milan against Marseille at the San Siro where he awarded the Italian outfit a last-minute penalty whilst sending off Marseille's goalkeeper Steve Mandanda but the French side went through on the away goals. Proenca was presitigiously selected as man in the middle for last season's 2011-12 UEFA Champions League Final between Bayern Munich and Chelsea at the Allianz Arena, awarding the Bundesliga runners-up a penalty in extra-time for Didier Drogba's foul on Franck Ribery which was saved by Petr Cech from Arjen Robben. The Premier League side went on to lift the trophy for the first time in their history after being victorious on penalties. This is his first match at the Euro 2012 tournament in Poland & Ukraine while it is the first time that he will take charge of Spain while he has taken charge of Republic of Ireland twice before.


Pedro refereed his first Champions League match in September 2007- overseeing PSV Eindhoven's 2-1 victory over CSKA Moscow in the group stages.

Match Officials:

Referee-  Pedro Proenca (Portugal)

Assistant Referees-  Ricardo Santos (Portugal) & Bertino Miranda (Portugal)

Fourth Official-  Marcin Borski (Poland)

Additional Assistant Referees-  Manuel De Sousa (Portugal) & Duarte Gomes (Portugal)

Reserve Assistant Referee-  Marcin Borkowski (Poland)



PGE Arena, Gdansk (Poland)
(picture taken before a Polish cup match in 2012)


Fixture Details:

Thursday 14th June 2012              KO 7:45pm (BST)             Coverage-  Live on ITV1/HD, BBC Radio 5Live & match highlights on BBC1 at 11:35pm


Make a Free Website with Yola.