Trapattoni gets defensive over attackers

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.

DEFENSIVE TRAPATTONI

"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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