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Sadlier confident Ireland can progress from group

Updated: Friday, 18 May 2012 14:57 | Comments

Richie Sadlier believes Ireland's team spirit can give them an edge in Poland and Ukraine
Richie Sadlier believes Ireland's team spirit can give them an edge in Poland and Ukraine

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Richie Sadlier believes the Republic of Ireland will once again have to call on their renowned team spirit if they are to progress from a tough group at EURO 2012.

Games against Croatia, Italy and World and European champions Spain are the stiff challenges facing Giovanni Trappatoni's squad in Poland next month.

Sadlier said: "Every player knows their job and what is expected of them to play in a certain position under Trapattoni. They’re all things that are in our favour.

"The players know each other. The team spirit is tremendous. I know that from talking to the players. In tournament football all these things matter.

"There are other countries who if you put them in a hotel for a month things don’t go to plan. That’s not the case with this group. Those things are in our favour, certainly in tournament football.

"We are very good defensively. It is very difficult to score goal against us. That would be a key feature of our play."

"It is a really tough group and I think we can get through, but that’s more in hope than expectation to be honest," added Sadlier, who was speaking at the launch of RTÉ's coverage of the tournament.

"Spain are the best country in the world and have been for years. It would be an amazing achievement to get any result against them.

"The big, big match in my view is the opening game against Croatia. If we were to lose that, we would go into the Spain game needing a result."

Another area where Sadlier sees positives for Ireland is in attack, where four strikers are vying to for a place alongside skipper Robbie Keane.

He said: “Robbie (Keane) obviously is the first name on the team sheet, but we have options. There are five strikers in the squad. I don’t know how many other teams are bringing five strikers.

“All of them can genuinely feel as if they have a chance of playing a decent amount of time on the pitch, which you can’t say for other squads.

“There’s five strikers there that are hungry to play and that’s another advantage. We might as well look at all the positives. We know the obvious negative is the quality of the opposition, but there is a lot going in our favour.”

Spain are many people's favourites for the tournament, but Sadlier believes it will be beyond them to add to their victories in Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup.

He said: "It would be a phenomenal achievement (to win three-in-a-row), but I don’t think they’ll do it. My hunch is that Germany will win the tournament.

"To play at the level that Spain play at in one 90 minutes is incredible to watch. To expect them to do it a third time would be a lot.

"I don’t think they’ll win the tournament, but they still are outstanding. They will qualify from our group, but I’ll think they’ll just fall short.

"Motivation and hunger, and things like that, if they count for anything, and in sport we know they do, there may just be a tiny percent or two lacking in that Spanish squad because they’ve all lifted World Cups and European Championships before.

"That’s not the case with the other nations they’re competing against."

After watching Ireland's last participation in a major tournament in England, Sadlier is excited about being at home for Euro 2012.

He said: "I’m really looking forward to it. This is the first time I lived in Dublin when the Irish team have been in a tournament since I was a kid.

"The place will be hopping … I just can’t wait to get the thing started."

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