Giovanni Trapattoni has warned Italy not to expect any favours as the Republic of Ireland attempt to bow out of Euro 2012 with pride restored.
The two sides will meet in Poznan on Monday evening with the Republic’s fate already decided, but with Trapattoni’s native country knowing only a win will give them a chance of reaching the quarter-finals after drawing their first two Group C games.
Even then, a draw between Spain and Croatia could send Cesare Prandelli’s men home, a similar fate to the one which befell Italy under the current Ireland manager at Euro 2004.
However, Trapattoni said: “I need to think about the Irish team. I have to think about how disappointed our players are and the Irish people, who deserve a lot of respect.
“We came here with confidence and enthusiasm, they cheered us when we were behind and the players mustn’t forget this. We have to make sure that Ireland finish with our heads held high.
“If Italy go through, it has to be because they played well and with the right attitude.”
Spain boss Vicente Del Bosque was equally adamant his side would be looking to take any risk out of the equation by beating Croatia to book a place in the quarter-finals without having to resort to mathematics.
Del Bosque said: “We will try to win, we will not try for a draw and that is totally not what we are going to concentrate on. This is not of interest to us.
“We don’t want to make any calculations, we will play for a victory.”
Spain eased themselves to the brink of qualification with a powerful display against an Ireland team which wilted in the face of a relentless assault.
Once again, they conceded early as Fernando Torres marked his return to the starting line-up with a fourth-minute opener, and they were made to pay for defensive fragility as David Silva and then Torres extended the lead.
Substitute Cesc Fabregas wrapped up the points seven minutes from time with his second goal of the tournament to ensure the Republic’s involvement will come to an end on Monday night. Trapattoni said: “Spain demonstrated, even if we knew it already, that they are a team that can win, they showed they are a side which because of their technical ability, they don’t actually use up a lot of energy at all.
“It’s like an orchestra – they involve everyone in the way they move the ball.
“Vicente knows his players very well and they all play for the two biggest sides in Spain and that’s a huge advantage for them.
“When I was in charge at Juventus and the national team took seven or eight players from Juventus, Italy won the World Cup.
“That Italy team was great because the players knew already what they had to do.
“They could do it with their eyes closed, and that’s exactly what Spain are like at the moment.”