GIOVANNI Trapattoni will send his Republic of Ireland side out against defending European champions Spain tonight convinced they can produce a shock.
The odds are heavily stacked against Ireland as they attempt to open their Euro 2012 account in the wake of Sunday’s disappointing 3-1 defeat by Croatia.
A repeat at the PGE Arena will ensure a swift return to Dublin, but having seen Chelsea defy the odds to beat Bayern Munich in the Champions League final, Trapattoni is confident there is hope.
He said: “We have to believe in our quality, our attitude, our performance.
“Obviously, the last game, when any team concedes a goal after two minutes, it’s very difficult to change the tactical situation.
“We will play to win, but we know also it is difficult because we know Spain are the world champions and they have very important players.
“In football, over ten months, a strong team will win, but in 90 minutes, anything is possible.”
The comprehensive nature of the defeat by Croatia was a real slap in the face for Trapattoni and his players, and the mood was downbeat as they returned from Poznan.
However, the 73-year-old has seen enough on the training pitch in Gdynia since to believe they are ready to go again.
He said: “I think psychologically, we have overcome the defeat against Croatia. We are back to believing in ourselves and our quality.
“Spain is a team with a lot of good technical players, we know, and it will be very important not to give them much space, particularly in midfield.
“They are very good at passing, they play the ball very fast and I have to think about the best solution for us for this game.
“Our objective is to be offensive and try to win the game, but at the same time, we need also to find a way to help the midfield because sometimes, we have suffered in this situation.”
As ever, Trapattoni has studied tonight’s opponents in great depth and was planning to watch again their recent friendly victory over China in the search for something that could prove crucial. He said: “You learn something every day in life. You have to look at the small details which really determine the way games go and how goals go in.
“Once goals go in, that’s how games change tactically and psychologically. I have been looking at DVDs now for more than 30 years and in every game, I see small details which have proved to be key to the way a game turns out.
“I always say coaches can’t do miracles. Only players can do miracles. It’s important that the coach knows every little situation.”
Spain midfielder Xabi Alonso is expecting a major battle against the Republic. He said: “With Irish teams, you know they are very proud. They will fight from the first minute until the last and they will play together as a team,” he said.
“It’s going to be a very difficult match. They know us and they know our characteristics, but we also know them because they all play in the Premier League.
“We will have to be very patient. We will have to try to score early in the game because that makes everything easier afterwards.
“It’s going to be a difficult match. Anything can happen. We will have to fight from the beginning.”