Spain will be looking for their first win of Euro 2012 on Thursday evening when they take on an Ireland side that can ill afford to lose, as Paddy Power announce that they will refund bets if Spain win the game!
The reigning European Champions were held 1-1 by Italy in the opening game of Group C and although this was a solid start for them, it makes the remaining two matches even more crucial.
Against the Italians, Spain opted not to play a recognised striker and this led to plenty of criticism. Then, their performance going forward was lacking something, so it would be interesting to see if they change it on Thursday.
Vincent Del Bosque will look to Fernando Torres to improve in front of goal, and he could target this game as the perfect opportunity for the Chelsea striker to replenish some lost confidence.
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As ever, Spain’s passing game was superb at times with Xavi, Fabregas and in particular Iniesta all pulling the strings, and there is no doubt that they will have the majority of possession against the Irish. It is just about whether they make the most of it by finding the back of the net.
This means that Ireland will need to be solid at the back, show tremendous spirit and be patient when it comes to going forward. They cannot afford the defensive lapses that were apparent in the 3-1 defeat to Croatia.
If Spain get themselves ahead, Ireland need to be positive going forward too. They need at least a point in this one to keep their qualification from Group C hopes alive and this means they must pierce the Spanish defence.
To help them do this, they may make a couple of changes from what was an uninspiring opening performance. James McLean, a young and fearless winger, could come in to give them an attacking spark, while Jon Walters is another man who could work his way into the starting line-up.
Ireland will be backed by passionate fans once again of course and there is no doubt that they owe them at least one massive performance in this tournament.
If it comes against Spain on Thursday, this could be quite the contest. It gets underway from 7.45pm.