Republic of Ireland: 1-1-1, misses elimination round
The Emerald Isle hasn’t seen major tournament play in ten years but that hasn’t diluted expectations; it’s raised them. The Irish side have a lot going for them on both sides of the ball; up front, striker Robbie Keane stands out, having put together impressive international campaigns previously (53 goals in all), and their defense will be anchored by veterans Richard Dunne, Stephen Kelly and goaltender Shay Given. The problem will be connecting the two ends; the Irish don’t have much going for them midfield, making a sustained attack or transition difficult.
Spain: 2-0-1, advances to elimination round
What to say about Spain; they’ve won the past two major international tournaments (Euro ’08, World Cup ’10) and are the favorite to win again. But a draw against the not-as-strong-as-before Italian side in their first group game shows some cracks in a national team with essentially the same roster they had in 2008. Four years can be a lifetime in soccer; it’s safe to say everyone’s a little older, a little slower, and you can bet most teams have spent plenty of time watching videos and working out strategies to break down Spain’s fast-moving play. That said, they’re coming out alive in the group stages and should be sitting pretty until the semi-finals.
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