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Spain hopes to hit stride against Ireland

Spain striker Fernando Torres wasn't worried about a tie to open Euro 2012, because two years ago the Spaniards started the World Cup with a loss and "still managed to win the competition."

Although it would have been much easier to open Group C with win against Italy on Sunday, coach Vincente del Bosque also acknowledged that a 1-1 tie was good enough.

"Of course we wanted to win here, but I am not leaving feeling frustrated as I thought we put in a good performance; we will leave happy knowing that," said Del Bosque.

Spain will also be happy knowing that Ireland, which dropped its opener 3-1 to Croatia, is its next opponent Thursday at Arena Gdansk.

No Euro finalist should be overlooked, but Ireland is the weakest squad in the group, and will need an inspired - as well as lucky - performance against the Euro 2008 and 2010 World Cup winners.

Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni was ready for the challenge, though, as he turned his attention away from the Croatia loss and toward Spain soon after an uninspired performance in the first game.

"Spain only have one point, we need to react psychologically," Trapattoni said after the Croatia loss.

Croatia could emerge from Group C, and will provide a test for both Italy and Spain in the remainder of group play. So, it's possible Ireland could pull out a surprise against Spain or Italy, but it will not be easy.

Spain will continue to focus on first in the group, and "with two victories we can still get first place," said Spain's Cesc Fabregas, who had the tying goal in the draw with Italy.

"I think a draw is not that bad after having gone a goal down," Fabregas said.

"The way we responded after their goal was very important," said Sergio Ramos, a Spanish defender.

Ireland conceded a goal just two minutes into its loss to Croatia, so a better start against Spain could give the team some belief in its second match.

"We were ready for a good performance," Trapattoni said after the defeat, "but after two minutes we conceded a goal."

You can forgive Ireland for its early nerves, as it was making its first Euro finals appearance in 24 years. But it has to shake those problems, and get its offense - defender Sean St Ledger scored against Croatia - on track for Spain, or its hopes of advancing could be over after two matches.