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McCarthy mobbed as Irish dream of shocking Spain

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Steve Wilson | 11:59 UK time, Thursday, 14 June 2012

I might be eight days late but I have finally made it to Euro 2012.

I gather there are few people who have been wondering where I have been, which is nice, although there may have been many more enjoying my absence! Suffice to say that a lot of the last two weeks have been spent shuttling between home and hospital after a family emergency and I am just glad that I am able to get here at all.

The alarm went off at 03:45 BST on Wednesday to get me up in time for the early flight to Warsaw. A quick drive into the centre of the Polish capital took me past both Legia Warsaw's impressive new ground and the gleaming National Stadium where the Poles have played Greece and Russia in their first two group games.

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There was just time to get some zlotys from a cash point before picking up Mick McCarthy, soundman Phil Gibbens and floor manager Nick Bushell before heading off on the five hour drive to Gdansk where I will be commentating on the Republic of Ireland's game with Spain on Thursday.

Gdansk is a lovely city, whose old town on the Motlawa River is crawling with Irish fans.

As Mick and I headed to the river to record a preview chat of the game, which was shown on Wednesday night's BBC One coverage of the match between Germany and the Netherlands, he was practically mobbed by people wanting a photo or autograph, or mostly both. I felt like his minder, "Come on lads let him through, please!"

Many of the Spanish fans in the restaurant where we ate also smiled and waved at Mick, though it's fair to say that the sudden appearance of a tracksuited Cesc Fabregas, who scored in Spain's opening game, caused the biggest stir of the night.

So can the Republic of Ireland do it? Certainly they will need to play a lot better than they did against Croatia, and they will also need more luck. It seems likely that boss Giovanni Trapattoni will decide to play five across midfield and sacrifice a striker to avoid being swamped by the Spanish midfield.

That extra man seems unlikely to be Sunderland's James McLean, who would certainly get the vote of the majority of the Irish fans heading to the Baltic Arena for the game.

Spain may start without a striker again, as they did against Italy. They may be the World and European champions but they are not quite at the level they once were. In the four years leading up to the 2010 World Cup, they lost just two games - in the two years since they have lost four.

The Republic of Ireland may be talking about making that five, but they would be ecstatic if they could manage a draw and pick up the point that would definitely leave them with something to play for against Italy.

If there is anyone who knows how to beat the Italians, it must be one of the greatest Italian managers of all time.


  • Comment number 1.

    What a story it would be if Ireland could beat Spain!!!

    I can't see it happening, especially after their second half horrow show against Croatia. They spent so much time without the ball imagine what Spain will do to them!!

    In regards to McLean, I don't think he will play, I don;t know if he should or not. Very hard decision. Done very well in his opening season at Sunderland. But this the reigning World and European Champions. Their midfield will be compact and when ireland do get the ball they need to keep it. They may trust in the wise old fox Duff to be more careing of the ball when in possession. Duff will also give you a shift in defence which could be just as important.

    I hope Ireland win, let's not forget 2002. Same result tonight will do very nicely!!

    Come on lads, create the upset of upsets!!!

  • Comment number 2.

    Nice to have you back Steve also. Hope problems are now behind you and the family. Enjoy the rest of the show!!!

  • Comment number 3.

    ....pick Shane Long and it's in the bag!!!!

  • Comment number 4.

    COMON IRELAND!!!!!!! kEANE hatrick!!!!!!

  • Comment number 5.

    I'll never forget 2002, so epic as Keano walked his Labs at home.

    I see that same spirit coming alive again in this tournament. I think Ireland could get a result against Spain - wouldn't it be fantastic!?

    A draw would be brilliant, then Trap could mastermind a victory over the Italians.

    McClean reminds me in some ways of how the Ox was seen in England before the tournament. I think McClean could be the perfect pacey/powerful outlet Ireland need on the counter when the midfield is packed out.

    Dunn to handle anythig that comes his way tonight, striker or not.

  • Comment number 6.

    Good luck tonight from an England fan

  • Comment number 7.

    Ireland has bungled its way into the finals and will be stumbling off home soon.
    maybe when they go 2 or 3 down they'll bring on their best players and actually try to play football.
    New manager and Irish FA bosses please

  • Comment number 8.

    Regrettably, the ROI will work very hard and do their very best but will lose out to one of the best teams at the Tournament. Here's hoping though as it would be absolutely brilliant if they somehow conjured up an unbelievable result.

  • Comment number 9.

    Spirit alone wont be good enough for the Irish tonight! Sorry to say but they look like one of the worst sides in Euro 2012. The Spanish squad full of talent, and they will win comfortably by 2 or 3 goals!!

  • Comment number 10.

    I suppose its ok to dream.... Ireland going home early, tough group big ask, hope the supporters just enjoy their team being there.

    Anything can happen and wish them all the best, but its a mountain to high to climb.

    Dont think Spain can win it this year, Germany look far to strong.

  • Comment number 11.

    Against Spain you will spend long periods closing down while you try to regain possession so you need fit young players. I can see the old guard getting through 25 minutes but then gaps will start to show. As a left-field shout, perhaps it would be better to have O'Shea in central midfield (as he did on a few occasions for Man Utd) and put someone with more pace in at right back. This might create more opportunities for Ireland to break while bolstering what will be a congested midfield. O'Shea can't beat a left-back for pace so is unlikely to be much damage going forward. McClean should be left midfield with Duff at left back. It may be out of position but he has played there before - McLean's young legs can do the running and Duff can overlap.

  • Comment number 12.

    I lived in Sopot for 6 years up until a couple of years ago. You're a brave man taking on that drive from Warsaw to Gdansk. I'm also a Wolves fan and wouldn't want any harm to come to mighty Mick, an absolute legend!!!

  • Comment number 13.

    "The alarm went off at 03:45 BST on Wednesday to get me up in time for the early flight to Warsaw. A quick drive into the centre of the Polish capital took me past both Legia Warsaw's impressive new ground and the gleaming National Stadium where the Poles have played Greece and Russia in their first two group games."

    What complete cobblers - the route from Warsaw's Frederic Chopin airport to the city centre goes NOWHERE near either stadium.

    The airport, city centre and the historic Old Town are all on the western side of the river Wisła, while both stadia are on the eastern side.

    If your route even got within sight of them your taxi driver was taking you for a fool - if you made this up, as I suspect, you ARE a fool.

    Yours truly, Irish ex-pat, in Warsaw this last 4 years!

  • Comment number 14.

    Come on the Irish but I expect they're going to get caned tonight, to an extent they were lucky to draw Estonia in the playoffs and if Croatia can put three past them...they're in trouble.

  • Comment number 15.

    good luck to the Irish from an England fan, il be cheer you on tonight, i do fear for you, but id fear for most teams playing Spain, i hope its a good game

  • Comment number 16.


  • Comment number 17.

    I was glad the Irish lost 'cos Doyle was diving. And yes I know Gerrard did too.
    They are now just another team of also rans, home before the postcards!!

  • Comment number 18.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 19.

    Ireland haven't got a prayer. They're a team of agricultural, no-talent, pub footballers who are going to be given a lesson in ball control, passing and positional play by one of the best teams in the world.

    Long ball hackers versus the culture club.

    I hope they get one hell of a shellacking.

  • Comment number 20.

    Ramilas1, perhaps what he meant was that he went for a drive in the centre later, after getting to Warsaw and checking in or whatever. He doesn't actually write that he saw the stadiums on the way from the airport. Depends how you read it I suppose, could be interpreted differntly - as ever, not a huge ammount of attention to detail paid to the writing by the blogger.

  • Comment number 21.

    A miracle draw tonight and then put Rayo on for the Italian game - he's done it before.

    Then the reality function.

    If this match was based upon the principles of fiscal retrenchment in the face of economic crisis in line with EMF guidelines then clearly it would be an Irish victory. Why can't the use that instead of a penalty shoot out ( bad luck Greece ). Strangely enough the Germans would still end up winning the thing.

  • Comment number 22.

    18.At 14:44 14th Jun 2012, SuperLeedsSuperQuins wrote:
    Spain 6 - 0 England 'z'

    Please dont copy that moronic soul_patch by calling Ireland England z, your making a fool of yourself!

  • Comment number 23.

    Ramilas1, Wouldn't normally make a comment but seeing as you're being a tadge pedantic, the Legia stadium is actually on the city side (albeit not close to the centre) of the Wisla (I also spent 3 years in Warsaw before Sopot and my return to blighty!!!).

  • Comment number 24.

    @22 its the same for #19 as well. It was recently discovered that "Troll_Patch" has numerous accounts under different names. It's tiring but people keep taking his bait. Ignore him and he'll disappear.

    Thoroughly disappointing to see racist ignorance like England 'z' on here. Ireland are a Republic. They have nothing to do with England. Surprised #18 wasn't moderated.

  • Comment number 25.

    Steve, obviously the games on the other channel tonight, what's it like commentating on a game you know isn't being shown live?

  • Comment number 26.

    Few things to say;

    1) Glad to see Steve Wilson back, on other internet forums we were all wondering where you went but glad to see you back. All the comments about you were positive aswell.

    2) Good luck to Ireland from a Northern Ireland fan, they will need it tonight and maybe they should look at our victory against Spain in 2006 for inspiration

  • Comment number 27.

    Come on Republic of Ireland the football world seen bigger surprises than this.
    Get some points Good Luck

  • Comment number 28.

    Nope to be beaten 4-0 and that would be low-sorry

  • Comment number 29.

    Definately new MD of the Irish FA, they're making cuts all over the place, including the player's wages and the man's still paying himself 400k a year, which is fairly close to the cap most MD of major banks in Ireland are on — crazy. Trap's earned his crust, you'll find it hard to find anyone who'd ask the man to step down for the near miracle of getting this particular squad this far, and marginally missing out on the world cup..... The real problem is at academy level, there is none! That, and some serious attention given to the league of ireland, if they could just lift the standard to be comparable with the Championship, it might be interesting.....keep dreaming I suppose.

  • Comment number 30.

    TZM: To be fair this is one Soul Patch prediction that is likely to come true.

  • Comment number 31.

    The only way it can work in our favour tonight is if Spain go out expecting to be beaten and the Irish lads play the match of their lives. It would be the match of a lifetime IF the Irish won. Anything can happen in football. But I don't think we have the personel and even if we did Trapp wouldn't play them. Coleman and McClean should be in from the start... Hungry talented...not the old boys..and we haven't got a midfield so Spain will control that anyway. I dreaming for a win, hoping for a draw, and expecting a hiding...

  • Comment number 32.

    I've heard of attack versus defence but never midfield versus defence!
    Still see Spain winning 2-0

  • Comment number 33.

    1 - 0 Richard Dunne 89', Put your mortgage on it!

  • Comment number 34.

    Great to see you back Steve, we've really missed your commentary. Hope everything's fine, lots of chat about you on the net asking where you've been so welcome back, enjoy the match.

  • Comment number 35.

    Good luck to the Irish but I expect Spain will be too good for them

  • Comment number 36.

    "I gather there are few people who have been wondering where I have been, which is nice"

    Do you mean "few people" or "a few people"?

  • Comment number 37.

    Can the BBC tell me why Steve Wilson isn't our lead commentator? I cannot for the life of me understand why such a great commentator who calls it as it is isn't used for England matches and major finals. He does a fine job and is criminally under used.

  • Comment number 38.

    As a huge fan, I was expecting the Republic of Ireland to do well this week...I was thinking at least 2 draws or 1 win and 1 draw.

    I was SHOCKED and devastated at how bad they looked against Croatia.....probably the weakest I have seen any team look in this championship.

    I am NOT expecting anything tonight but I am HOPING for a miracle.
    The problem is that I can't see who is going to score for us.

    Anyway, COME ON IRELAND.

  • Comment number 39.

    I think the issue of Spain not having 'a recognised striker' misses the point completely. Theirs is a version of total football which is not constrained by 'position names' like 'centre forward', 'winger', 'target man' and so on.

    Spanish fluidity means that almost any outfield player can score - Fabregas, Xavi, Iniesta, etc etc etc.

    Tonight, I think, many of them will. Spain started slowly in this tournament - remember their opening game in South Africa? - but I'm confident that they'll triumph again.

  • Comment number 40.

    We are the underdogs and nobody is expecting anything from us. The lads will be hurting from the Crotia performance and I am sure will want to show they are better than their last showing. As long as we go out there and have a good go at the Spaniards I ask no more.

  • Comment number 41.

    s long as we go out there and have a good go at the Spaniards I ask no more.

    Ask Roy of the Snorers how to park the bus and you might do it

  • Comment number 42.

    @ 41 - we are to go out and take them on are we? If parking the bus gets us a point then bring it on.

  • Comment number 43.

    The Spanish defence is not magnificent and a good result for you is possible. England parked the bus and beat them. Scotland gave them a fight but still didn't take their chances and lost two qualifying games against them (2-3 and 1-3). Very cultured team Spain but no one is invincible

  • Comment number 44.

    This was nothing more than a training run for the Spanish. They hardly got out of second gear and were toying with Ireland at times. It's 4-0 as I write this.

    Ireland look like a team of rugby players trying to play football. Embarrassing to watch.

  • Comment number 45.

    As I wrote to my relatives - if my grandad and his ilk defended like Ireland did tonight back in 1920-1921 they'd be singing God Save the Queen and not Amrhan na Bhfiann.

    Ireland have never been hammered in the final stage of a major tournament before - but hammered they were last night. The second and fourth goals were terrible.

    I am not sure that previous Irish teams were over-flowing with star talent so it's difficult to see what has changed.

    They should stick with Trap though - get back to being hard to beat and try and qualify for Rio, that is essential for the co-efficient and future seedings. That will be tough given the Group they have got for the World Cup qualifiers.


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