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Busquets certain Spain will shine

Spain midfielder Sergio Busquets has promised that Spain will "remain true to their philosophy of football" against the Republic of Ireland on Thursday as they target a first win in Group C.

Sergio Busquets feels Spain deserve more credit
Sergio Busquets feels Spain deserve more credit ©AFP/Getty Images

There was a slight air of bewilderment about Sergio Busquets as he faced the assembled media in Gniewino, where Spain are continuing to bridge the gap between drawing 1-1 with Italy in their Group C opener and facing the Republic of Ireland side of revered Italian coach Giovanni Trapattoni.

'Why don't you show more faith and patience?' and 'How can you question the set-up in midfield?' was the general gist of his responses as the debate danced around whether or not Sunday's performance augured well for a strong defence of the title they won at UEFA EURO 2008.

His inquisitors wanted to pore over that hoary old chestnut of whether a double-pivot system – using both Busquets and Xabi Alonso as holding players – prejudiced Spain's capacity to play offensive, creative football. Broadly, the idea is that with just one of Alonso or Busquets controlling the middle of midfield and players like Xavi Hernández and Andrés Iniesta by his side, Vicente del Bosque could then use three outright strikers up front.

However, Busquets, always equable and articulate, would not hear of it. "The centre of our midfield isn't overcrowded; it's based on having players with a good touch in the centre of the field and seeking to gain an advantage like that," said the FC Barcelona man. "Moreover, Spain have been playing that way for four years.

"I think there is a lack of patience shown when Spanish international football is being analysed. That wasn't just anyone we drew against – it was a very strong Italy side. But if we don't win, there always seems to be a 'but' from somebody or other. It's precisely what happened in the World Cup."

Busquets simply raised an eyebrow upon hearing how Trapattoni has suggested that the manner in which Chelsea FC eliminated Barcelona during this season's UEFA Champions League semi-finals will be Ireland's template in Gdansk on Thursday.

Spain have grown accustomed to facing very few sides, particularly in the midst of a knockout competition, who dare to go toe-to-toe with them. Having watched the set of results which completed the first round of action here in Poland and Ukraine, Busquets has clearly calculated that getting the win Spain need will, again, cost as much patience as it will effort and skill.

"Really, we don't care if Ireland set up like that. Spain will remain true to the philosophy of football which has taken us this far and brought us success. But it will help us if we could get an early goal because that always means the opposition needs to open up a little more. Moving the ball rapidly and breaking tackles are important to us and, until that starts to happen, we will need to show patience.

"We've been watching the tournament so far and you can see how tight the games between England and France or Holland and Denmark have been. The field is very equal and we have said from the start that it will be hard work to win this EURO again."