Spain must not underestimate Ireland – Mendieta

Former Spain midfielder Gaizka Mendieta has warned his compatriots not to take Ireland lightly when the two sides clash in Gdansk this Thursday night at 7.45pm.

It’s the second round of Pool C matches and Ireland need at least a point to stand any chance of progressing beyond the group stages.

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.

Spain’s slick passing was on show throughout the match against the Azzurri in what many observers are calling the game of the tournament so far.

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 the Xavi/Iniesta axis will be crucial for this game.

The Barcelona wizards have 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 country men but says Ireland have premier league quality throughout the side and can employ numerous weapons to hurt the Spanish.

Mendieta has a particular word of caution about the threat posed by Ireland from set pieces as evidenced by Sean St Ledger’s headed goal against Croatia; the boys in green have scored consistently from set plays in Giovanni Trapattoni’s time at the helm.

Gaizka Mendieta was appearing as a Carlsberg Ambassador