Giovanni Trapattoni already planning for possible England meeting

 

Wily Republic of Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni has already begun planning for a potential Euro 2012 meeting with England.

The 72-year-old will learn later this evening who will stand in Ireland's way at their first major tournament since 2002.

Given a choice, Trapattoni would prefer to avoid his native Italy, the team he took to the World Cup in 2002 and the Euros two years later but suffered huge disappointment on both occasions.

Fabio Capello has the same feelings about an England meeting with Ireland, mainly due to the familiarity of both the players and the coaches.

Trapattoni has no such reservations. Indeed, he has already started to think about tactics.

"Psychologically, I would like to avoid Italy," he admitted.

"Also, from a technical standpoint, the Azzurri should always be avoided.

"I would prefer to measure up against Capello's England. In fact, I have already got some counter moves ready."

The prospect would be enticing to the Irish, who will never forget how Ray Houghton gave them victory over a side managed by Bobby Robson in Stuttgart during the group phase of Euro 88.

History does suggest such confrontations tend to become a sterile war of attrition.

Yet, for Trapattoni, there is danger at every turn.

The Republic's status as fourth seeds turns Pot Two into a hazardous area, that also contains a highly-rated German outfit and the talented Russians in addition to Italy and England.

Like most nations, they would prefer one of the co-hosts, Poland or the Ukraine, to one of the World Cup finalists, Spain or Russia, from the highest seeds, whilst a meeting with Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal is one to approach with relish and trepidation for Richard Dunne and company.

Not that Trapattoni will be admitting he is at all fearful.

"We have respect for the other countries, bigger countries, but I have always said we must also think we have the possibility to beat them," he said.

"We have shown that we can play well against bigger countries; against France, Italy, Russia, also Brazil and Argentina.

"We can not only dream, we can believe we can play against bigger teams.

"Two years ago, we had something that was not 100% ready. Now we can have confidence."

PA

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