Fast start key in strong Group C

Xavi Hernández, Giorgio Chiellini, Shay Given and Ivica Olić stressed the importance of their opening UEFA EURO 2012 Group C games in what looks to be a particularly tight section.

Fast start will be key in strong Group C

UEFA EURO 2012 Group C kicks off with holders Spain taking on Italy in a repeat of the UEFA EURO 2008 quarter-final. Los Rojos triumphed on penalties that day and there is once again likely to be little to choose between the two sides on 10 June in Gdansk. A fast start is high on the agenda of Spain's Xavi Hernández and Italy's Giorgio Chiellini but neither are taking anything for granted with Croatia and the Republic of Ireland making up a particularly competitive section.

Xavi knows all too well what it takes to triumph at a European Championship having done so in 2008, but the FC Barcelona midfielder is in no doubt Spain must be at the top of their game. "We'll have to be at our very best and give everything, because nothing is easy at this level," he explained. "I've always said we have to do our best and start well in this group." These sentiments were echoed by Italy's Chiellini. "It will be a difficult group for everybody," said the Juventus defender. "All four teams play at a really high level. There are no weak sides so you can't relax."

The Republic of Ireland take on Croatia in the second Group C game, a match which goalkeeper Shay Given knows is crucial ahead of a tough test against Spain. "We start against Croatia, and I know it's a football cliche, but we've got to take the first game; hopefully we can get a positive result, and that will stand us in good stead to face Spain," said the Ireland No1. "We know how good Spain are. On their day they can rip you apart with the players they have."

Meanwhile, Croatia's Ivica Olić reiterated how vital victory in their opener in Poznan would be. "The game against Ireland is the first match, and that's why it is going to be the most difficult," he said. "If you can get three points it means you're already very close to the next round."

Watch the full interviews in the video above.