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Ireland in Spain's sights

Published: Saturday 7 January 2012, 21.45CET
Republic of Ireland were knocked out by Spain in their last major finals appearance, and will hope for better when they meet the European champions in their second Group C match.

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Published: Saturday 7 January 2012, 21.45CET

Ireland in Spain's sights

Republic of Ireland were knocked out by Spain in their last major finals appearance, and will hope for better when they meet the European champions in their second Group C match.

Gdansk is the venue for the UEFA EURO 2012 Group C match between Spain and the Republic of Ireland, with the teams having not played since a 2002 FIFA World Cup round of 16 tie decided by penalties. Ireland are looking to bounce back from a 3-1 defeat by Croatia in their first Group C fixture, while Spain opened with a 1-1 draw against Italy having rescued a point with Cesc Fàbregas' 64th-minute goal.

Head-to-head record
• Spain's 24 meetings with Ireland have ended W13 D7 L4. In competitive fixtures, that record reads W8 D4 L2.

• Spain have yet to lose in six UEFA European Championship fixtures against Ireland – all of them qualifiers – with their record in those games reading W4 D2 L0. This will be the sides' first meeting at a EURO finals.

• Their most recent contest was at the 2002 World Cup finals, with Spain beating Ireland 3-2 on penalties after a 1-1 round of 16 draw.

• Spain first met a side from the Irish Free State – the predecessor of the Republic of Ireland – in a friendly at Barcelona's Estadi Olímpic de Montjuïc on 26 April 1931 which ended 1-1.

• Spain beat Ireland 6-0 in a friendly game in Madrid on 1 June 1952 – that matched their heaviest international loss until they were defeated 7-0 by Brazil in another exhibition fixture on 27 May 1982.

• The sides' first competitive ties were in the 1964 UEFA European Championship quarter-finals; Spain won the two-legged tie 7-1 on aggregate en route to winning the four-team final tournament on home soil.

• Ireland's first competitive win against Spain came in qualifying for the 1966 World Cup; they beat them 1-0 in Dublin on 5 May 1965 but lost 4-1 in Seville on 27 October the same year. With the only other side in Group 9 – Syria – withdrawing, the section was settled by a third encounter, on neutral territory in Paris, which Spain won 1-0.

• Their paths crossed again during Spain's run to the 1984 UEFA European Championship final against France. Meeting in qualifying, they drew 3-3 in Dublin before Spain won the return 2-0 through goals from Santillana (49) and Hipólito Rincón (89).

• In 1990 World Cup qualifying, the sides swapped home victories (2-0 to Spain in Seville, 1-0 to Ireland in Dublin) as both went on to reach the finals in Italy.

• They also met en route to the next edition of the World Cup, a goalless draw in Seville preceding a 3-1 away win for Spain in Dublin. Again, both teams progressed to the United States finals.

Selected previous meeting
16 June 2002: Spain 1-1 Republic of Ireland (aet, Spain win 3-2 on penalties) (Morientes 8; Robbie Keane 90pen) – Suwon World Cup Stadium, Suwon, FIFA World Cup round of 16
Spain:
Casillas, Juanfran, Helguera, Puyol, Hierro, Baraja, De Pedro (Mendieta 66), Valeron, Luís Enrique, Raúl González (Luque 80), Morientes (Albelda 72).
Republic of Ireland: Given, Finnan, Harte (Connolly 82) Staunton (Cunningham 50), Breen, G Kelly (Quinn 55), Holland, Duff, Kilbane, Kinsella, Robbie Keane.

• José Antonio Camacho's Spain got the better of Mick McCarthy's Ireland, Iker Casillas saving Ian Harte's spot kick in normal time and then denying David Connolly and Kevin Kilbane in the shoot-out.

Form guide
• The draw with Italy ended Spain's run of 14 straight competitive victories since they surprisingly lost 1-0 to Switzerland in their opening game of the 2010 FIFA World Cup finals.

• The reigning world and European champions, Spain have not missed a major finals tournament since the 1992 UEFA European Championship. Ireland's last finals campaign was ended by Spain, at the 2002 World Cup.

• The Irish are competing in a UEFA European Championship final tournament for the first time since making their debut in the 1988 event. In West Germany, they beat England 1-0 in their opening fixture, but missed the cut for the semi-finals, drawing against the Soviet Union then losing to the Netherlands.

Team ties
• Ireland's Robbie Keane played alongside Spain's Pepe Reina, Álvaro Arbeloa and Xabi Alonso at Liverpool FC during the 2008/09 season.

• Gerard Piqué counted John O'Shea and Darron Gibson among his team-mates during a four-year spell at Manchester United FC (2004-2008).

• Alonso spent a summer in Ireland as a 16-year-old, studying English as an exchange student in Kells, County Meath. While in Ireland he tried his hand at Gaelic football, and also credited the kickabouts with local players with opening his eyes to the more physical style of football played in the British Isles.

• Shay Given's Newcastle United FC beat FC Barcelona 3-2 at St James's Park in the UEFA Champions League on 17 September 1997, when Sergio Busquets' father, Carles, was reserve keeper for the Catalan club.

• When the clubs met in the second group stage of the 2002/03 competition Given's Newcastle, led by former Barcelona coach Sir Bobby Robson, lost 3-1 at the Camp Nou on 11 December 2002 to a team featuring Xavi Hernández. They also went down 2-0 at home on 19 March 2003, Given facing Víctor Valdés and Andrés Iniesta on Tyneside.

• During the 1999/2000 UEFA Champions League group stage, Giovanni Trapattoni's ACF Fiorentina side was beaten 4-2 at Camp Nou by a Barça side which featured Xavi Hernández as a second-half substitute. Xavi also appeared in the return leg in Florence, a 3-3 draw.

• Fernando Torres scored past Given in the 90th minute of Chelsea's 4-2 win at Aston Villa FC on 31 March, Juan Mata also featuring. David Silva's Manchester City FC beat Villa, featuring Given and Richard Dunne, 4-1 and 1-0 in the 2011/12 Premier League.

• Ireland beat Spain 1-0 in Stirling, Scotland, in the 1998 UEFA European Under-16 Championship. David McMahon beat Iker Casillas in the 63rd minute on 30 April 1998 to earn a 1-0 victory. O'Shea was in the Irish team that day, as he was when Brian Kerr's team beat Italy 2-1 to take the European title.

• Former Irish internationals with Spanish league experience include:
John Aldridge (Real Sociedad de Fútbol 1989-91)
Liam Buckley (Real Racing Club 1986-87)
Alan Campbell (CD Logroñés 1986-87)
Steve Finnan (RCD Espanyol, 2008)
Ashley Grimes (CA Osasuna 1989-91)
Ian Harte (Levante UD, 2004-07)
Kevin Moran (Real Sporting de Gijón 1988-90)
Michael Robinson (CA Osasuna 1987-89)

• Former Spanish international defender Álvaro Rodriguez briefly represented Shelbourne FC in 1965.

Competition format
• If two or more teams finish level on points, Articles 8.07 and 8.08 of the UEFA EURO 2012 regulations apply. In May Article 8.07 was amended after being approved by the UEFA Executive Committee. It now reads:
If two or more teams are equal on points on completion of the group matches, the following criteria are applied to determine the rankings:
a) Higher number of points obtained in the matches played between the teams in question;
b) Superior goal difference resulting from the matches played between the teams in question;
c) Higher number of goals scored in the matches played between the teams in question;
d) If, after having applied criteria a) to c), two teams still have an equal ranking, criteria a) to c) are reapplied exclusively to the matches between the two teams in question to determine the final rankings of the two teams. If this procedure does not lead to a decision, criteria e) to i) apply in the order given;
e) superior goal difference in all group matches;
f) higher number of goals scored in all group matches;
g) position in the UEFA national team coefficient ranking system (see annex I, paragraph 1.2.2);
h) fair play conduct of the teams (final tournament);
i) drawing of lots

• The Group C coefficients are as follows:
Spain 43.116
Italy 34.357
Croatia 33.003
Republic of Ireland 28.576

• Article 8.08 reads: if two teams which have the same number of points, the same number of goals scored and conceded play their last group match against each other and are still equal at the end of that match, the ranking of the two teams in question is determined by kicks from the penalty mark provided no other teams within the group have the same number of points on completion of all group matches. Should more than two teams have the same number of points, the criteria listed under paragraph 8.07 apply.

Last updated: 05/12/13 4.45CET

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