Trap eyeing Spain shock

Ireland have 'heart' to beat Spain, insists boss

Giovanni Trapattoni: Firmly believes his Ireland players can spring a surprise against Spain on Thursday

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Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni believes his side have all the attributes required to defy the odds and beat reigning world and European champions Spain.

The Irish crashed to a 3-1 opening game defeat against Croatia on Sunday, meaning defeat to Spain in Gdansk on Thursday will see them eliminated with a game to spare.

They face a formidable challenge against a Spain side that has not lost a competitive match since their opening group game against Switzerland at the 2010 World Cup and has not lost to Ireland in a competitive fixture since 1989.

Trapattoni accepts the odds are stacked against his side but in a passionate defence of his players, he stated his sincere belief that they have both the desire and ability to spring a surprise.

"I am proud to be the manager of the Irish players because the Irish players have heart," said the 73-year-old.

"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.

Creative players

"It's creative enough and it's technical enough. Maybe Spain have one or two more creative players, but football is not only about creative players.

"Today, football is about balance on the pitch and strength with attitude and also luck.

"We have attitude, mentality, commitment, technical ability. We don't make bets, but I think we can win. Why not?"

Trapattoni received some criticism for his tactics against Croatia in Poznan and many are predicting changes in both formation and personnel for the Spain game.

The former Bayern Munich and Italy coach broke with his usual tradition of naming his starting line-up the day before the game and was equally guarded when quizzed on his possible selection.

"I can't give you the line-up because as I have said to you, I have to think very well about it," he added.

Idea

"I will watch the [friendly] game, China v Spain, again. I have an idea, but we can't always give our opponents the line-up when we don't know theirs.

"Having nothing to lose does not mean we are not aware of the capabilities of our opponents.

"When I first came to Ireland, I said if having nothing to lose means everyone just pouring forward gung-ho, all-out attack and conceding five goals, that means you are not really aware of the fact of who you are playing.

"To aim for the best result is the most important thing. If I can't play this football, I'm not going to give a present to a side like Spain.

"I'm not going to let them just take the ball and go up the other end and score a goal."