Ireland's Giovanni Trapattoni
has built a coaching career on sound defensive principles but
the tactical wizard said he would never play without a
recognised striker as Spain did against Italy on Sunday.
Some would suggest no forwards and 10 defenders might be
Ireland's only hope against holders Spain in their second Group
C match at Euro 2012 on Thursday when defeat would all but end
their chances of reaching the quarter-finals.
Bristling at the very notion of sending out a team without a
frontman, the 73-year-old Italian suggested that his Spain
counterpart Vicente del Bosque got his line-up wrong in the 1-1
draw with the Azzurri in Gdansk.
"After I saw the game [against Italy] maybe he will play
with Fernando Torres," Trapattoni, his hair matching his white
spotless tracksuit top, told reporters after taking training at
Ireland's Gdynia base on Poland's Baltic coast.
"Maybe he did that against Italy for tactical reasons
because he wanted small, fast players but he changed when he
understood the necessity to put in a striker at the front and in
fact Torres had two good opportunities."
After spending the first part of his news conference reading
from pre-written notes, Trapattoni loosened up and engaged in
some mischievous banter with reporters.
"I personally have never [played without a striker]," he
said before waxing lyrical about his glory days with Juventus
who he led to six Serie A titles.
"In Italy the fashion is defensive, I'm a defensive coach
they say but [with Juventus] I worked with Platini, Boniek,
Rossi and Bettega, four great strikers.
"We scored more goals, conceded the fewest but it was always
Trapattoni is defensive. I can buy you a souvenir to show you.
"Now with Ireland I play with Damien Duff, Robbie Keane and
Kevin Doyle but they still say I play defensive. How many
offensive players do I need?"
With a day to reflect on the 3-1 defeat by Croatia,
Trapattoni, who has taken the Irish to their first European
finals since 1988, said the performance had looked better when
he watched it back on a DVD.
The Italian also said he would remain loyal to one of the
oldest squads at the tournament and is likely to resist the
clamour for Sunderland winger James McClean to start.
"Are you a friend of James?" he suggested to one reporter
who posed the question of McClean. "Experienced players feel
tension so imagine how much more a young player would feel.
"He will have an opportunity but I will give him a quiet
opportunity. Not when we need a performance under this pressure.
It's a heavy weight on his shoulders."
Ten defenders or no strikers, Trapattoni, one of the game's
most decorated coaches, now needs to find a way to stop Spain -
a daunting task even for him.
"Spain are the world champions they have 10 players from
Real Madrid and Barcelona, all they are missing is Messi," he
said with a smile.
"We know of their quality but it's 90 minutes and I can
remember the Champions League final when Chelsea beat Bayern [Munich] despite having just one corner."
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