Conditions likely to favour Spain


Euro 2012:It appears Giovanni Trapattoni can add meteorology to his long list of talents, for the rain has drifted into Gdansk just in time to grease the pitch at the PGE Arena ahead of tonight’s second Euro 2012 Group C game against Spain (7.45pm Irish time).

After Spanish complaints about the state of the pitch last Sunday, the Italian was asked yesterday whether he would agree to surface getting a watering – he has every right not to - and he deflected the question with a weather forecast that rendered the point moot.

He was also asked for a team but that was not forthcoming, for the first time in his four year tenure, leading many to speculate what he has up his sleeve.

Rumours were abound this morning and afternoon that Simon Cox would be drafted into the starting line between captain Robbie Keane and the usual midfield. That word came from a reputable source but the nature of the change has still made some sceptical as to whether the Italian would depart that far from his well-worn script.

The atmosphere in Gdansk is, as is always the case when fans of these two countries congregate, one of harmony with, though the Spaniards are in a confident mood, while the Irish are optimistic to the point of delusion. Sure, we wouldn’t have it any other way. They believe there’s a performance like the one in Paris in 2009 in this team yet. They have to and there has to be.

Worryingly, however, ‘redemption’ has been a term bandied about both camps in the last few days after the Spanish salvaged a draw after going behind to Italy here on Sunday.

They began that game with six midfielders and no recognised striker. One of those tasked with getting forward, Cesc Fabregas, did get the equaliser after Antonio Di Natale scored for Italy but they didn’t look themselves and the feeling here is that Vicente Del Bosque will start with either Fernando Torres or Fernando Llorente up front.