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Euro 2012 Group C preview: Spain v Ireland

SoccerNews in English Premier League, La Liga 13 Jun 2012

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Spain coach Vicente del Bosque has not ruled out continuing his striker-less experiment against Ireland at Euro 2012 on Thursday.

The sides clash in a crucial Group C encounter in Gdansk, with both teams failing to taste victory in their first matches of the tournament.

Spain – who played out a 1-1 draw against Italy on Sunday – have been criticised for playing without a recognised striker in their 4-3-3 formation.

Despite having the likes of Fernando Torres, Fernando Llorente and Alvaro Negredo at his disposal, del Bosque opted to use Barcelona midfielder Cesc Fabregas at the top of a three-man attack that included David Silva and Andres Iniesta.

It was a controversial move and Italy – who played a 3-5-2 formation that crowded the midfield – successfully stopped Spain, increasing the importance of this fixture for del Bosque’s men.

“We have a lot of confidence in what we did. We have three fantastic forwards but Cesc is also a good forward,” del Bosque said as Spanish fans continued to dissect their 1-1 draw against Italy.

“Cesc has a lot of composure on the ball, he links up well with everyone and he gets into good scoring positions. We did what we thought was best, even if we risked being mistaken. We have players who are very difficult to control and it was the right time to do it.

“It’s possible we’ll play the same way. I don’t rule out putting someone up front but playing without a striker is an option we have. I believe they are good players to do it, Silva, Fabregas and Iniesta, and I believe they are forwards.”

While del Bosque may choose to stick to playing without a striker, the form of Torres when he was introduced against Italy is sure to have the Chelsea forward considered.

The clash is also huge for Giovanni Trapattoni’s side, who suffered a disappointing 3-1 loss to Croatia in their opening match.

Ireland were expected to be difficult to break down, but sloppy errors in defence cost them any chance of victory against Slaven Bilic’s men.

Forward and captain Robbie Keane was unable to make an impact against Croatia, while Trapattoni will be hoping Damien Duff and Aiden McGeady are more influential out wide.

Trapattoni appears likely to ignore calls for highly-rated Sunderland winger James McClean to be given a starting spot against a star-studded Spanish outfit.

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