Republic of Ireland coach Giovanni Trapattoni insists his team can still shock world champions Spain on Thursday at UEFA EURO 2012 as the Irish look to bounce back from their opening defeat to Croatia.
The Irish take on Spain in Gdansk, Poland, having already lost their opening Group C match 3-1 to Croatia in Poznan on Sunday after Mario Mandzukic scored twice.
The 73-year-old Italian coach said he has to rebuild some dented Irish confidence before taking on Vicente del Bosque's Spain, who were held 1-1 by Italy, and a second defeat would almost certainly put Ireland out. Trapattoni compared Ireland's chances against Spain to those of Chelsea who beat Bayern Munich in a penalty shoot-out in last month's UEFA Champions League final having equalised through their only genuine chance of the game.
"Spain are the world champions, they have ten players from Real Madrid and ten with Barcelona, they are only missing [Lionel] Messi," joked Trapattoni, whose side had kept 11 clean sheets in a 14-match unbeaten run before Sunday.
"We know they are technical, but I can also remember Bayern Munich dominating Chelsea, Chelsea only had one corner [which they scored from] and [went on to] win the game. Football is like that. We know they are good, we know they have confidence."
Spain are the world champions, they have ten players from Real Madrid and ten with Barcelona, they are only missing [Lionel] Messi.
Del Bosque played a 4-3-3 formation against Italy with Barcelona midfielder Cesc Fabregas up front before bringing on Chelsea's Fernando Torres for the last 15 minutes, who had several late chances for the defending champions.
Trapattoni says he suspects del Bosque may start with Torres against the Irish and shuffle his side. "I think after I saw the game, maybe he will play with Torres," said the Irish coach. "Vicente made the change when they needed a striker, he had a good opportunity, I don't know who he will play against us. I have ideas how they will play, but I must keep them to myself."
Trapattoni has come in for some criticism in the Irish media for leaving in-form Sunderland wing James McClean on the bench, but putting West Bromwich Albion striker Simon Cox on the wing for the last 35 minutes.
"You can understand how tense a young player can be," said Trapattoni. "It's important we give them the quiet opportunity, not when we need their performance under pressure. It's a heavy weight on his shoulders."
Having conceded a goal after just three minutes against Croatia, Trapattoni said his side must raise their level of concentration or risk getting punished again by the Spanish. "Maybe we were missing some concentration [against Croatia], there was a lot of tension early on because of the early goal, which put us on the back foot psychologically," he said.
"They played better then us in the first-half, but we improved after the break," the coach said. "Maybe we have lost some self-confidence."
The Ireland team trained on Monday, but Aston Villa defender Richard Dunne sat out with blisters from Sunday's defeat, while veteran goalkeeper Shay Given reported no reaction after having knee problems before the Croatia game.