Following their disappointing defeat to Croatia on Sunday evening, Republic of Ireland need to raise their game against the reigning European Champions Spain on Thursday, as patriotic bookmaker Paddy power announce free bets and refunds if Spain beat Trapattoni’s men.
In fact, Ireland need a point in this game against the mighty Spain and this is a tough ask for them.
They enjoy being the underdogs of course, but getting something from the Croatia game would have been massive for the boys in green.
Looking back quickly on Sunday evening’s defeat, it really was a poor performance from Giovanni Trapattoni’s men. They lacked that creative spark needed to win games at this level and defensively, they were too prone to individual mistakes.
Their hopes of qualifying are not over of course, but with games against Spain and Italy to come, they have it all to do.
Trapattoni’s team selection is going to be crucial on Thursday evening. He received plenty of criticism at the weekend for a reserved line-up and underwhelming substitutions, but will he change things against the Spanish?
As for the World and European Champions, they weren’t at their best on Sunday against Italy, but will be happy enough with a 1-1 draw in the end having trailed at one stage.
After losing the opening game of the 2010 World Cup, they are no strangers to starting slowly in tournaments and improving with every game they play.
If this is a pattern that continues, they should have too much for Ireland and there is no doubt the Spanish players will be confident of outpassing and generally outplaying their opponents on Thursday.
One thing they need to make sure they do is take their chances when they come along. The way they play means plenty is created, they just need to be clinical in front of goal when it counts.
With this in mind, it will be interesting to see whether they opt to play an out and out striker against Ireland, something they didn’t do against Italy on Sunday.
Overall, Spain are definitely the favourites for the three points, but Ireland will hope they play their part in a competitive and entertaining encounter.