KEITH Andrews has a singular memory of Luka Modric, Croatia's bogeyman who can run a game and destroy any team if he's in the mood.
The main responsibility for containing Modric will fall to Andrews and partner Glenn Whelan on Sunday.
"I faced him as a right-back, actually, when he was left wing for Spurs. I have to be honest, I didn't enjoy that afternoon," he said. "Right-back isn't my favourite position.
"He's moved into the centre of midfield over the last few years. He's a fantastic player and, if you give him time and space on the ball, he can hurt you.
"He's one of their main players, their playmaker, if you like, and we'll have to have a good look at him because he's a fantastic player."
Andrews and the rest of the Ireland squad are now focusing in on Croatia, but they have had plenty of time off in the last few days to refresh legs which were definitely pushed past limits in Montecatini.
"It's been well documented that we had a day off yesterday. I think it was needed. We've been training a lot and with the two games, obviously.
"It's really l\ifted the lads. Spirits are very high. It was nice yesterday to literally do nothing, have a walk around the town and sample the atmosphere. So, yeah, spirits are very, very high.
"I think it's been built up to be more than it is. You don't train every single day when you're at your club.
"It was a case of ... we have an itinerary and it was pencilled in as a day's training.
"But the lads spoke to the manager and came to the conclusion that a day off would be best for all concerned.
"It was just as simple as that, really."
Asked whether this was a sign of good management on Trapattoni's part, Andrews agreed.
"Yeah, I think so.
"He's Italian and they have certain ways, but the vast majority of us are used to the English system where we train for two or three days and have a day off.
"Italian football is a lot less intense. When we train, we can't seem to take it easy.
"Once we stick a goal and a couple of keepers, it becomes competitive.
"That's just our nature. I think it was just a clever call, to be honest."
Andrews has watched the ebb and flow of comment surrounding both teams grow and he hesitates to make a call on which team fears the other the most.
"I don't know. There's a lot of talk in the press. Both managers do their bits and bobs and stuff maybe gets lost in translation to a degree.
"I'm not entirely sure. For both teams, it's a massive game.
"They're a very neat side. The wide men don't particularly stay wide. They come inside, flood the midfield and normally play with one lone striker -- and get support up to him quite quick. I don't think it's going to differ too much from that.
"It doesn't matter if they start with a tricky front man and bring on, for instance, (Nikica) Jelavic, so that they can potentially go a bit more direct. And we have to cater for that as well.
"We're fully aware of their strengths. We'll be fine.
"I wouldn't be expecting ridiculous amounts of goals.
"By the nature of the game, I know we're worried that we don't lose it and I think they'll be the same."