Spain Gain or Pain for O'shea

  • Last Updated: June 12 2012, 16:11 BST

John O'Shea will only start enjoying Euro 2012 if the Republic of Ireland upset the odds and deny Spain victory.

John O'Shea: Looking forward to Spain game

The 31-year-old Sunderland defender has waited a long time to go to the finals of a major tournament, and Sunday night's 3-1 defeat by Croatia was not the way he had envisaged his first taste of action on the big stage turning out.

But the mood in the Irish camp would alter dramatically if Giovanni Trapattoni's men could either hold, or even beat, the champions on Thursday to rekindle their own hopes of making the last eight.

O'Shea said: "You can't enjoy it when you are not winning football matches, unfortunately.

"If we get a positive result against Spain, that will put a different complexion on it."

In truth, Ireland were well beaten by Croatia in Poznan and it did not help that they contributed to their own downfall with some less than effective defending, something which has not been part of their make-up under Trapattoni.

However, they believe as a squad that they can play much better and that they can emerge from the game with some tangible reward.

O'Shea said: "Yes, without a doubt. We have done it in the past against the top teams and were good enough to get results and we will have to do that again.

"Our backs will be against the wall for probably the majority of the game, but that's normally when we come out and shine.

"We are going to have to keep our shape - the team shape is going to be so important against Spain because they can cut you open - and staying with the runners, not following the ball with the one-twos, is a massive thing.

"Obviously, the Barcelona trait is very evident through their team, but they have got some great attacking players.

"We will have to be on our game, but I am confident we can cause them some problems too."

The stakes could hardly be higher for the Republic, who know defeat would book them an early flight home and make their final Group C game against Italy a dead rubber, from their perspective at least.

O'Shea said: "We can't lose the game, we know that, depending on the other results.

"We can beat Spain, but we are going to need a lot of luck along the way and we are going to have to play better too."

With what is at stake and the nature of the opposition, O'Shea and his team-mates could be forgiven for approaching Thursday night's game with some trepidation.

But it is rather with relish that O'Shea will pull on his green shirt ready to mix it with some of the best players in the world, just as he has done for his country and for former club Manchester United for much of his career to date.

He said: "That's the reason you play football and why you look forward to going to training every day.

"If you can't test yourself against the best... We will certainly be doing that against Spain.

"Look, you are coming to an elite competition, the cream of Europe, and you have a change to play against some of the best players in the world.

"Spain have proved it - they have won the European Championships, they have won the World Cup, so they have proven how good they are, and we have got the chance to show our stuff against them.

"What more is there to look forward to than a game like that?"