Pre-match Prediction : This is one were I will be watching from behind the sofa. Ireland against the defending European and World Champions Spain.
Ireland made a terrible start to the competition with a dire performance against Croatia.
Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. We conceded the 3 goals at the worst times possible, opening minutes, before half-time & just after half-time.
The goals themselves were very poor. The first was a weak header & Shay Given somehow let it get by him. There was a defender ahead of him who also seemed to leave the ball & let it go through.
The second was very poor from Stephen Ward. He had possession & for some reason let the ball beat him & it ran on too far & went to a Spanish player. We never regained possession & a minute or so later we had conceded again, after Ward sliced an attempted clearance into the path of Jelavic. Ward may have been clipped as he attempted to clear but it is still no excuse for the Irish defence to stop & hold their hands in the air.
The third was just a freak occurance when the ball rebounded off a post, off Given's head and into the net. You couldn't do that again if you tried.
It wasn't all bad for Ireland. In the 20 or so minutes between conceding the first and equalising we actually looked like a good side. At 3-1 down we also created a few, good chances. We also should have had a penalty when Keane was taken down but I am convinced the referee never gave out as their was a Croatian down injured at the time.
I thought Trap made a few bad decisions too. From early on it was clear the 4-4-2 wasn't working. We had no outball as McGeady and Duff were being forced back into playing like extra full-backs. That left us punting the ball up to Keane and Doyle who had no support as the midfield were camped back in our own box. I also don't understand why he brought Cox on to play out left. Surely James McClean would have been perfect for that role.
In tonights game we need to be better defensively & we also need to scrap 4-4-2. A variation of 4-3-3/4-5-1 or 4-2-3-1 would give us extra help in the midfield. We can't seriously expect Glenn Whelan and Keith Andrews to win a midfield battle against 5 or 6 Spanish & we need to give them as much help as possible.
Spain got a point in their first game against Italy & will be unlikely to take the Irish lightly. Any slip ups here would have them in danger of going out.
Against Italy Spain went with a controversial 4-6-0 formation with Fabregas & Silva sharing that false number 9 role. I wasn't entirely convinced by it & thought they looked a lot more dangerous when Torres came on. Albeit Torres' finishing was poor but there were chances created for him.
Barring a miracle Spain should have enough to comfortably beat the Irish & based on the first game it doesn't look like a miracle is just around the corner.
Ireland 0-3 Spain