Lifford’s Shay Given is calling on Ireland to be direct when they meet Spain in a crunch tie in the Euro Championships in Gdansk this evening (7.45 p.m.)
After losing the opening game to Croatia, tonight’s game is a do-or-die clash and the Donegal man is calling on his teammates to give everything.
Given, who has been suffering from an injury in the build-up to the championships, feels Ireland can draw inspiration from an historic adversary. “We saw England beat Spain 1-0 at Wembley (last November),” Given said. “So we can take things from that … how they played and stuff. Hopefully, we can do something similar.”
It will mean being direct, trying to deny Spain time and space on the ball and seeking to profit from set-pieces. “One of the biggest things will probably be set‑pieces,” Given said. “They’re renowned for maybe not being the biggest team in the competition and we’ve got some big players in our team so if we get some of the right deliveries in there, as we saw against Croatia with the goal that we scored (Sean St Ledger’s header from Aiden McGeady’s free-kick), we’ve got the players who can get on to balls in the box.”
The meeting will stir memories of the 2002 World Cup, Ireland’s previous appearance at a finals tournament, when they were knocked out by Spain on penalties in the last 16, although the two countries have since gone in different directions. “Spain were famously known as the team that never achieved anything at major championships but they’ve certainly put that one to bed,” said Given, who played in Suwon that night, together with Robbie Keane and Damien Duff of Trapattoni’s current squad; Richard Dunne was an unused substitute.
“I mainly remember we should have won the game. I was disappointed with the penalty shoot-out but we had the better chances over the course of the game. Spain have come a long way since then and it’ll certainly be a tougher task for us now.”
“We hope that this situation will bring the best out of us,” Given said. “Sometimes in the past, when everyone has given up on us, we’ve come out fighting and proved that we’re a decent team. We have to do that again.”