The Spaniards try to get their first win of Euro 2012 as
they go toe-to-toe with Ireland. In the first playday of
Group C, Italy held Spain to a 1-1 draw while Ireland was completely outplayed by Croatia 3-1.
A valiant effort against the Croatians doesn't earn much
respect from soccer odds makers, who have priced Ireland at +1100 to get a shock win.
Spain is the heavy favorite at -450. Obviously, that's poor
value so you're going to be better off with a handicap pick or by taking Spain
to be leading at halftime. If the Spaniards are on top after 45 minutes, the
reward is -150. Much more reasonable there in a match we think Spain should
(No) Luck of the Irish
Spain's first group match was against Italy, and it was a
lively affair, both teams having quite a few scoring chances.
Spain did well to respond immediately after Italy's goal,
with Barcelona midfielder Cesc Fabregas finishing off a lovely team move to
even the score up. The Spaniards had numerous chances to get a winner, but
Fernando Torres missed a couple glorious opportunities and eventually time
simply ran out.
The day wasn't as successful for Ireland, who were
thoroughly outplayed by Croatia.
Sean St. Ledger had tied up the score at 1-1 after an early
goal from Mario Mandzukic (who later went on to get a second) but then the
Irish continued to drop deeper and deeper and would have trouble escaping their
own half as the game progressed.
Unfortunately for Ireland, now they have to play arguably
the most talented team in the entire tournament.
It will be interesting to see if Spain adopts the same
starting XI for this match. The backline should remain the same, but will
Torres be left out again? There simply may not be enough room for the Chelsea
striker in an attack that features Fabregas, David Silva, Andres Iniesta, Xavi
and Xabi Alonso. How do you take out any one of those players? You can't.
Too much talent
After a slow start against the Italians, the Spaniards
really started to play their trademark style as the game wore on. Xavi and
Iniesta were pulling the strings in the midfield, but Spain simply didn't have
the composure to finish the job.
Look for them to take out their frustration on the Irish.
Ireland has some solid players, but could be a little out of
their depth in this competition. We're not very optimistic about their chances
of containing Spain, especially after allowing in three goals against Croatia.
The Irish are always going to bring a passionate and
determined effort. That much we know. But the gulf in quality is going to show
itself here, with Spain owning numerous match-winners who are all going to be
eager to stamp out the crucial three points.
Vincent del Bosque's team is going to completely dominate
possession and the only way they lose this match is if they fall asleep on
counters or set pieces.
The Irish, after losing their first encounter, have to get
something out of this match if they want to avoid elimination, which means this
should be a wide-open game with plenty of chances.
And, as hard-working as they are, we're still expecting
another defeat for Ireland.
FREE Pick: Spain 3 Ireland 0