Euro 2012: Ireland will relish the chance to beat Spain, says O’Shea

John O'Shea insists the Republic of Ireland are looking forward to taking on world and European champions Spain on Thursday

john o'shea
Giovanni Trapattoni's side lost their opening Euro 2012 game against Croatia Photo: Kelvin Gillmor

john o'shea

John O’Shea has warned Spain that the Republic of Ireland will relish the chance to beat the world and European champions on Thursday.

Ireland need at least a point to keep their hopes of reaching the last eight of the European championship alive after Giovanni Trapattoni’s side suffered a demoralising 3-1 defeat by Croatia in their opening Group C tie.

O’Shea, who was part of the Manchester United squad beaten by Barcelona in two Champions League finals in 2009 and 2011, dismissed the suggestion that Ireland would be overwhelmed by the prospect of taking Vicente del Bosque’s men.

“Look, you are coming to an elite competition, the cream of Europe, and you have a chance to play against some of the best players in the world, like Spain, who have proved it,” said O’Shea.

“They have won the European championship, they have won the World Cup, so they have proven how good they are.

“We have got the chance to show our stuff against them. What more is there to look forward to than a game like that?

“That’s the reason you play football and why you look forward to going to training every day.

“You want to test yourself against the best, and we will certainly be doing that against Spain.”

Pre-match facts: Spain v Republic of Ireland

• Spain have yet to lose in six European championship fixtures against Ireland – all of them qualifiers – with their record in those games reading W4 D2 L0. This will be the sides’ first meeting at a Euro finals.

• The reigning world and European champions, Spain have not missed a major finals tournament since the 1992 European championship. Ireland’s last finals campaign was ended by Spain, at the 2002 World Cup.

• The Irish are competing in a European championship for the first time since making their debut in the 1988 event. In West Germany, they beat England 1-0 in their opening fixture, but missed the cut for the semi-finals, drawing against the Soviet Union then losing to the Netherlands.

• Their most recent contest was at the 2002 World Cup finals, with Spain beating Ireland 3-2 on penalties after a 1-1 round of 16 draw.

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