Gdansk: Spain are wary of Ireland's fighting spirit, Spanish midfielder Xabi Alonso said ahead of their crucial Group C clash in Gdansk. The reigning champions drew 1-1 with Italy in their opener last week and will expect all three points against an Ireland side looking to bounce back from a 3-1 defeat to leaders Croatia.

'If Ireland play with two banks of four players it will be difficult to find spaces but we are working on those things,' the Real Madrid player told

'The first goal will be key, we hope to score it and to control the game from there,' he said, adding 'We know about their fighting spirit'.

Defeat to Spain will almost certainly spell the end of Ireland's campaign.

Alonso has ties to Ireland, a country he visited in his youth to learn English.

'I played some Gaelic football when I was there at 13 years of age. I really like the Irish culture,' he said.

The 30-year-old former Liverpool and Real Sociedad midfielder is three caps short of 100 for his country.


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