Given the historical week he has had, former Tottenham and Liverpool striker Robbie Keane might not agree, but it is hard to see quite what the rest of the Republic of Ireland squad can gain from their friendly tonight against Spain, Chelsea’s Juan Mata, Arsenal’s Santi Cazorla and all.
Even manager Giovanni Trapattoni says “sure, Spain will win” – so what exactly is the point of the Republic playing a match on June 12th after such a hard slog of a season?
Okay, the Irish are in very good form and have attacked their post-season programme with a brilliant attitude – you only have to see the way they performed in the 1-1 draw against England at Wembley to realise that there were not many players that had their towels on the beach.
And try telling Keane, who scored a hat-trick in his record-breaking 126th appearance for his country in the 3-0 win over Faroe Islands at the weekend, that playing for your national team is a non-event.
Nevertheless, you can’t help but feel that this is just one game too far in what is now summer time (no, really it is) and I think that Spain, looking towards their Confederations Cup campaign that kicks off on Saturday, will have the extra motivation and as they have the far superior footballers, you have to be on a Spanish win here.
But there is no value to be had whatsoever in a price of 11/50 and if you are touching that in a friendly game, especially when we are as of yet unsure what kind of side Vicente Del Bosque will field, then you’re a bit on the mad side.
Yet there is no appeal in the Irish price of 13/1 when you consider their poor record against Spain – they have won just one of the last 14 meetings – and the fact that the 4-0 hammering they received at Euro 2012 will still be fresh in the memory.
Ireland have improved since then and have lost just one of the eight fixtures that they have played since a 6-1 drubbing by Germany, but I’m still not even that tempted to go in for the draw at 9/2.
But what I will do is play the 11/10 that both teams score. Spain will score – you have to go back their 1-0 defeat to Fabio Capello’s England 20 games ago for the last time they didn’t – but a price of 11/10 suggests that Ireland won’t, and I’m not convinced that will be the case.
Spain’s defensive record in tournament football has been sensational, but in friendlies they tend to take their eye off the ball.
Del Bosque’s men have only kept four clean sheets in their last 13 meaningless internationals and have actually let in goals against Costa Rica, South Korea, Puerto Rico, Panama and Haiti.
You don’t need me to tell you that they are hardly powerhouses of world football and Ireland, who have scored in nine of their last 11 games, can profit from a possibly distracted Spanish backline.
And with Spain certain to score, the 11/10 might represent a bit of a value on a match that doesn’t seem to have a lot of it elsewhere.