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Friday 15 December 2017

Robbie's focus firmly on keeping Spain at bay

ROBBIE Keane is facing up to the challenge of facing world champions Spain with his customary confidence even though he is currently in the firing line for a poor opening performance against Croatia.

The Ireland skipper has been identified as the weak link in Giovanni Trapattoni's system, but his mind is now firmly focused on defence and, in particular, Cheslea's backs-to-the-wall Champions League semi-final against Barcelona.

"It is a similar situation because Barca were the clear favourites. What helped Chelsea was getting a man sent off and, as a result, they defended for the whole game.

"We don't want someone sent off but we want to defend as well as we can and you never know," he said.

"We know it will be a difficult game but we go into every game believing we can win. It will be tough against the world champions, but we've got a good team with a strong mentality in the team."

Keane is not surprised by Italy's emergence as a team to be reckoned with in Euro 2012 despite all the problems Cesare Pranelli had to deal with in the build-up.

"It is no surprise to me that Italy are a good team in this tournament and they showed that very clearly against Spain.

"Look, these are the two heavy-hitters in Europe and everyone expects them to do well.

"Everyone expects Spain to win every game they play. In football, sometimes that doesn't happen."

Keane will renew a brief friendship he had with Fernando Torres during his ill-fated spell at Anfield.

"Fernando is a great player and I had the great pleasure of playing with him at Liverpool," he said. "He's not only a great player but a really good guy as well."

Keane expects to see Torres at some point in proceedings in Gdansk tomorrow night but he believes, like everyone else, that Vicente Del Bosque is so spoiled for choice that he could again start without a recognised striker.

"If he plays five or six midfielders it doesn't matter because he has quality throughout the team, but if Fernando is playing, I look forward to seeing him," he said.

Keane once again doffed his cap to the phenomenal support he and his team received in Poznan from the estimated 25,000 supporters who turned up.

"What can I say, we keep saying it. They turn out in numbers to support the lads. The atmosphere was something I haven't seen for a long time and the lads appreciate it."

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