Robbie Keane's confidence in the Republic of Ireland's prospects of emerging intact from UEFA EURO 2012 Group C has not been affected by Sunday's 3-1 defeat by Croatia.
Nor does the treacherous path ahead – Spain await for the Irish on Thursday, then Italy on Monday – cause Keane to watch his step. The Ireland captain fully believes in himself, his team, and their destiny. "We know it's going to be a tough task on Thursday," said Keane. "After all, they are one of the best teams in the world but there's no reason why we can't get something out of the game.
"In any case it's very difficult as a player to go into a game thinking you just want a point. But it wouldn't be the end of the world if we did." A defeat, by contrast, would mean the end of their quarter-final ambitions, yet there is a positive mood among the Irish players.
"We have done it in the past against the top teams and are good enough to get results," said defender John O'Shea. "
Our backs will be against the wall for probably the majority of the game, but that's normally when we come out and shine. Our team shape is going to be so important. We will have to stay with the runners and not follow the ball with one-twos. Clearly the Barcelona trait is evident through their team. We will have to be on our game but I am confident we can cause them some problems too."
One man who seems a likely candidate to cause problems is striker Jon Walters who impressed when introduced as a second-half substitute on Sunday and who excelled in training again today. While the same 4-4-2 system is guaranteed, the starting lineup may not be. Giovanni Trapattoni's main selection considerations surround the various merits of Stephen Ward and Stephen Kelly for the left-back position with Walters competing with Kevin Doyle and Keane for an attacking role.
O'Shea, meanwhile, is relishing the prospect of competing with the reigning world and European champions. "We are coming to an elite competition," he said, "meeting the cream of Europe, and we have a chance to play against some of the best players in the world.
Spain have proven how good they are, and it is great to have the chance to show our stuff against them."
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