Dry run over as Spain face Ireland test
WARSAW, June 14 — European champions Spain return today to a Gdansk pitch they bemoaned as being “too dry” when a defensively-minded Ireland look to emulate Italy and frustrate the Euro 2012 favourites.
Spain hit out at the PGE Arena's surface after they laboured to an opening 1-1 draw against Italy, although they will fancy their chances of breaking down an Irish defence that was resilient in qualifying, but had an off night in losing 3-1 to Croatia on Sunday.
However, Group C underdogs Ireland are up for the battle, defender John O'Shea said yesterday, and with Spain coach Vicente del Bosque unlikely to field a recognised striker again there could be a sting in the tail.
Spain, 2010 World Cup winners, have the added pressure of looking to become the first team to win three successive international titles.
Croatia's meeting in Poznan with Italy (1600) in the earlier Group C clash should be an intriguing battle.
Bilic's in-form frontmen will give him no selection headache whereas all eyes will be on which strikers Italy manager Cesare Prandelli picks, the talented but unpredictable Mario Balotelli a possibility to drop to the bench. — Reuters