Spain must not underestimate Ireland – Mendieta

Updated: June 14, 2012

Former Spain midfielder Gaizka Mendieta has warned his compatriots not to take Ireland lightly when the two sides clash in Gdansk this Thursday.

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Ireland need at least a point to stand any chance of progressing beyond the group stages but they know the task in front of them and the defending European champions will be confident of exploiting Ireland’s weaknesses on the night.

Trap’s men lie bottom following a 3–1 loss to Croatia on Sunday night, while the defending champions are only a point better off after drawing their first game against Italy.

Mendieta is well known to Ireland fans having scored the final penalty in the 2002 World Cup round of 16 shoot out in South Korea and he says that the Barcelona duo of Xavi and Iniesta could be decisive If Spain are to achieve their first victory in Group C.

The Barcelona midfielders orchestrated Spain’s capture of the 2008 European Championship and 2010 World Cup and are looking to win an unprecedented third major soccer tournament in succession.

The former Valencia star expects a stellar performance from his countrymen but says Ireland have Premier League quality throughout the side and can employ numerous weapons to hurt the Spanish.

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