Irish 'heart' to pull off shock win, says coach


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The Independent Online

Giovanni Trapattoni, the Ireland coach, is taking a more secretive approach this time around and not revealing his team to face Spain in the European Championship tonight.

Trapattoni announced his starting line-up more than a week in advance for its opening 3-1 defeat to Croatia, but he has decided against repeating the tactic for today's match in the PGE Arena in Gdansk. "I can't give you the line-up. I have an idea, but we can't always give our opponent the line-up in advance," Trapattoni said. "I won't change three or four or five players, I can assure you. Maybe one or two. Maybe."

Trapattoni said he expects Spain's coach, Vicente del Bosque, to play with a striker such as Fernando Torres or Fernando Llorente unlike their previous Group C match, the 1-1 draw with Italy. "The game against Italy was a very technical game," Trapattoni said. "But [Del Bosque] could see that Torres was missing. He could see they lacked a figure up top."

Trapattoni said his squad had recovered after the disappointment of losing against Croatia: "We are back to believing in ourselves. Spain are a team with a lot of technique. It will be very important not to give them much time, particularly in midfield. They are very good at passing, they move the ball very fast."

Trapattoni again referred to Chelsea's surprise Champions League triumph over his former club, Bayern Munich, as a source of inspiration for his team of underdogs, who are rated 11-1 outsiders by some to beat the defending champions.

"Having nothing to lose does not mean we are not aware of the capabilities of our opponent. We are going to play our own game in the knowledge of how good Spain are," he said.

Spain's squad boasts players renowned for their ball-playing skills, but the Ireland coach said matches are not always decided on talent alone: "I am proud to be the manager of the Irish players, because they play with heart. We play our football. It's creative enough, it's also technical enough. Football is not only about creative players. Football is also about balance on the pitch, with strength, attitude and a bit of luck."

Ireland need at least a draw to keep alive hopes of reaching the quarterfinals, but have a full-strength squad going into the match.

"We have a very delicate situation. Now, we play against a strong team, but if we win tomorrow we can have a different attitude, another hope," Trapattoni said. "At this moment we still have hope."

We play a strong team, but if we win tomorrow we can have a different attitude, another hope