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|Spain 4-0 Republic of Ireland: Five Observations|
SoccerAnchor's Daniel Quinn analysed the Spanish’s convincing defeat of the Irish and five things stuck out for him like a beacon...
TACTICAL SET UP
Spain Coach Vicente Del Bosque went with the usual 4-3-3, but this time with Fernando Torres given a start through the centre of attack instead of Cesc Fabregas. Meanwhile David Silva and Andreas Iniesta kept their spots out wide and created space for their fullbacks.
The Spanish midfield controlled the proceedings with Xavi and Xabi Alonso, with Sergio Busquets sitting deep in front of Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique.
Giovanni Trapattoni tried to match the Spanish with a 4-2-3-1, with Simon Cox given the nod to play behind Skipper Robbie Keane. Keith Andrews and Glenn Whelan sat in front of the back four, while Aidan McGeady and Damien Duff doubled up on the wings, but Alvaro Arbeloa and Jordi Alba still ran wild down the Irish flanks.
TORRES FINDS THE NET
Fernando Torres showed he still is a class forward with a brace, including an emphatic finish into the roof of the net in just the fourth minute.
The Spanish number-nine sealed his brace after running on the end of a brilliant Silva through-ball, before positioning his body perfectly, before finding the bottom corner.
The Chelsea forward linked up well with Silva and Iniesta on a number of times, whilst making some flicks and tricks to bamboozle the Irish defence.
Torres was replaced by Fabregas, who also got onto the scoresheet, and was deservedly cheered off from the Spanish support.
IRISH CONTINUE TO CONCEDE EARLY GOALS
Ireland’s poor starts continued in Gdansk as they once again conceded in the opening minutes of both halves, as the Irish seemed to be still asleep as both periods had kicked-off
Poor defending by Stephen Ward and John O’Shea out wide allowed La Roja to enter Given’s box on too many occasions, before shooting on target and eventually those chances were dispatched.
The lackadaisical starts gave the Spanish the momentum, but also dinted the Irish’s confidence, which in tournament football is a major factor.
SPAIN’s CREATION OF THE SPACE
The Irish wingers doubled up to add extra men behind the ball to thwart the Spanish pressure, however that was all to no avail.
Iniesta and Silva instead cut inside, on their favourite foot, to create space for fullbacks Arbeloa and Alba. Both fullbacks effectively added extra numbers in the attacking third to still outnumber the Irish, whilst moving the ball around swiftly.
On many occasions the Irish defence was caught out, especially early on. The luck was with the Irish, though, as Spain could not extend their lead until after the break, mainly down to Shay Given who made some great saves.
GIOVANNI TRAPATTONI GIVES SIMON COX A START
West Brom forward Simon Cox was given the nod to lead the line with Keane, and that was a huge decision and a questionable one.
The 25-year-old rarely played for during West Brom’s Premier League campaign and surely Stoke’s Jon Walters or West Brom’s Shane Long would have been better options, both who had decent campaigns.
Trapattoni’s decision wasn’t justified as Cox could rarely get involved. However the former Reading forward did have the first effort on goal, which Iker Casillas comfortably saved. But Cox was not involved later on, hence why Walters replaced Cox at half-time.
Follow Daniel Quinn on twitter @Quinby07