Ireland couldn’t have picked tougher opponents for their game in Gdansk, with Spain looking to kick on from their 1-1 draw with Italy to ensure they are in pole position to qualify from Group C as winners of the section.
The bookies are happy to lay Giovanni Trapattoni’s side at fancy prices, with odds of 12/1 (BetVictor free bets) available that the boys in green stun the reigning champions with a win which would see them right back in the mix going into the final group game against Italy.
It’s certainly a nice thought, although their level of performance will have to be significantly higher than the one against Croatia if indeed they are to trouble Vicente del Bosque’s side who are looking for their own first win of the tournament.
The bookies know that there will be some huge bets pouring in for the Spanish to do a number on the Irish and a best price of 2/7 (William Hill £25 free bet) is on offer that the tournament favourites claim three points which would put them on the verge of the last eight.
Del Bosque did decide to play without any strikers against Italy and it was a decision which didn’t work too well for Spain, with the Azzrurri going a goal ahead before the holders rallied and levelled through Cesc Fabregas before Fernando Torres missed two great chances to win the match for his team.
Fabregas is likely to start in the so-called ‘false nine’ position and the Barcelona midfielder is 6/1 (Sportingbet) to score the first goal of the game, although Torres’ bright substitute appearance might encourage the manager to pick a striker for the match.
Perhaps Andres Iniesta is the best value at 8/1 considering he looked the most threatening during the first half of the match against Italy and this really is a match that Spain could win comfortably, especially if the Irish continue to defend so poorly.
Spain are a tempting 5/6 (Paddy Power) to lead at half-time and full-time, with Trapattoni’s men looking to keep things tight for as long as possible, although keeping possession was a problem against the Croatians and they need to be a lot better at doing this if they are to stand any chance.
Perhaps a set piece will be the underdogs’ best chance of scoring, with Richard Dunne a 50/1 chance to score the first goal of the game, while Sean St Ledger is a 100/1 shot.