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Spain vs Ireland - Match preview and team news

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By Gary-Jay Bourley

Thursday 14 June 2012

Group C kicks of their second round of fixtures tonight, the later seeing the might of Spain against the minnows of Ireland. The group is tentatively balanced after Spain and Italy drew 1-1 in their opening fixture whilst Croatia took all three points beating the Republic of Ireland 3-1.

Spain produced a surprising team sheet ahead of their first game, playing the phantom no.9, with Cesc Fabregas leading the line. The midfielder did get Spain’s only goal of the game, but there have been critics of the tactic. Spain’s No.9, Fernando Torres, did make an appearance as a second half substitute, but failed to capitalize on the two chances he got. It is yet to be seen whether Vicente del Bosque will continue with the formation that shared the spoils with Italy or if he will revert to a more familiar line-up.

Ireland will be hoping to cause the biggest upset in the tournament so far, needing a win to have a real chance of progressing to the knockout stages. To do that they will need to improve their shooting, managing only 3 attempts on target out of 13 on goal. They are unlikely to get that many chance against Spain, a team that dominate possession - taking 68% against Italy on Sunday. One thing on the Irish side is an impressive feat of never losing back to back at an international tournament.

The only injury concern for Ireland was Richard Dunne after he missed training on Monday but the key defender looks fit to play. Jon Walters could be the only change to the side that lost on Sunday, with Kevin Doyle making way.

Spain have a big concern over Cesc Fabregas, the midfielder turned striker picked up a thigh strain this week and could miss the Ireland game. If he isn’t ready to play, Fernando Torres is favourite to take his place.

The Spanish dominate the history between these two, winning 13 games to Ireland’s 4. But the Irish do have some hope, the two teams have drawn 7 times in their 25 games against each other including twice in the last 3.

See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Spain v Ireland

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