Saturday 20 January 2018

Richard Dunne calls on the spirit of Paris to keep the qualification dream alive

Richard Dunne walks off dejected during the UEFA EURO 2012 group C between Ireland and Croatia
Richard Dunne walks off dejected during the UEFA EURO 2012 group C between Ireland and Croatia

RICHARD Dunne admits the Republic of Ireland have nothing to lose as they attempt to re-ignite their Euro 2012 campaign against Spain.

If Ireland lose to the reigning world and European champions in Gdansk tomorrow night, their first trip to a major tournament in a decade will be over with a game still to play.

However, Dunne and his team-mates will call upon the spirit of Paris once again in an attempt to extend their stay in Poland and Ukraine.

In November 2009, the Republic went to the Stade de France for the second leg of their World Cup play-off trailing 1-0 and produced a superb display which, but for Thierry Henry's controversial handball, might have taken them to South Africa the following summer.

Dunne said: "It's similar to the game in Paris a couple of years ago.

"We lost the home leg and it was all or nothing, and it is the same now for the next two games.

"We have to get points out of both games and we have to win one of them. It's imperative that we do, and we will do what we can to pressure them and push them."

Even a draw against Spain would leave Ireland needing to win their final Group C game against Italy next Monday evening to stand a chance of reaching the quarter-finals.

But having worked so hard to get to the European Championship finals for the first time since 1988, they are not about to give up without a fight.

Dunne said: "We are playing the best team in the world and that in itself is an exciting game and something to look forward to.

"There's the fact that we know that we can't afford to lose and have to get something out of it as well.

"We are pleased that we have qualified for the championship, but we want to come here and make a statement.

"We are in one the hardest groups possible, but regardless of what happens, we are going to give it everything so we can look back when it's over and know we've given it our best shot."

Giovanni Trapattoni's men arrived in Poland with high hopes, but Sunday night's 3-1 defeat by Croatia in Poznan left them fighting for their lives.

They know there will be no way back if they do not deny Spain victory tomorrow night, and despite the difficulty of that task, they are not about to throw in the towel.

Spain drew 1-1 with Italy in their opening fixture despite manager Vicente del Bosque opting not to field a single recognised striker in his starting line-up, but Dunne knows whoever lines up against the men in green, the challenge will be stern.

He said: "It's very hard no matter how they play. The will have a lot of possession, so whether they have strikers or not, they will have players around the area and it is just about us pressing them.

"It is still a major achievement for us to be here. There's no point sulking that we have lost a game.

"We have got to go and enjoy it and make sure we get a result."

Trapattoni is toying with the idea of making changes in a bid to revive his side's hopes with striker Jon Walters looking likely to be the main beneficiary.

However, that is of little concern to Dunne.

He said: "It's the manager's decision. We are squad of 23, so whoever plays plays.

"We just want to get out now and get playing the game. We have had three weeks here to build ourselves up for the opening game, and then we go and lose it.

"We want to get out and prove we are good enough side. Whatever team the manger picks, it's his decision."

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