Republic of Ireland head coach Giovanni Trapattoni isn’t exactly striking fear into the hearts of the Spanish national team ahead of their friendly with Ireland at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday evening.
“Sure, they [Spain] will win, but it will be a good test for us.”
Those were the words uttered by Trapattoni in the buildup to the international friendly in New York City.
Okay… however the Italian is certain his side have learned from the 4-0 drubbing they received at the hands of the Spanish during the European Championships last summer in Gdansk, Poland.
Ireland suffered three straight defeats at Euro 2012 and bowed out in the group stages. But Trapattoni believes the inexperience of his squad in tournament play was to blame.
Now tonight’s showpiece friendly comes after Ireland are unbeaten in 2013, with three wins and three draws, and gives Trapattoni the chance to assess how far his Irish side have come since their defeat to the reigning World and European champions last summer.
After this disappointment, I couldn’t understand why the team played well until the Euros, but I know this now. At that moment, only people like Robbie Keane and Richard Dunne had experienced this, and there was some anxiety among the players. If we could repeat our Euros without this great weight on our shoulders and without one or two silly mistakes, I think we could repeat this game and not suffer against Spain. It was important that we started a new attitude, a new mentality. That was our job.
And the Irish have certainly turned over a new leaf since that disappointing exit last summer. However after being demoralized by Germany early on in World Cup qualifying, the Emerald Isle have bounced back but haven’t faced a side close to Spain’s quality since the 6-1 defeat to the Germans. This will be a huge challenge for Robbie Keane and co.
As for Spain, they will be finishing up their US tour with the game at Yankee Stadium. The reigning World Champs defeated Haiti 2-1 in Miami on Saturday, with Santi Cazorla and Cesc Fabregas on the score sheet at Sun Life Stadium.
Fernando Torres, Jesus Navas and Juan Mata spearheaded Spain’s attack, with the EPL trio set for another run out at the home of the New York Yankees. Vincent Del Bosque will shuffle his side ahead of Spain’s Confederations Cup campaign starting in Brazil on Sunday against Uruguay. The game against Ireland will act as a worthwhile workout for Spain as they face three crucial World Cup qualifiers later this summer, against similar opposition in Finland, Belarus and Georgia.
On a different note, with the huge Irish population in New York City, I wonder if we will see a repeat of the incredible scenes in Gdansk last summer? ICYMI the video below shows the Irish fans in full voice, despite being 4-0 down to Spain. This display won their fans appreciation across the soccer world. Should be an electric atmosphere in NYC tonight, regardless of the scoreline.