When and where: The Group C encounter gets underway from the PGE Arena in Gdansk, Poland, at 2.45 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by ESPN2, with a live stream available on ESPN3.

Preview: Ireland face the most unenviable of tasks as they take on the World and European champions Spain needing to get something out of the game to avoid being the first nation to be eliminated form Euro 2012.

In what was always going to be a tough group for Ireland to progress from, they got off to the worst possible start with a 3-1 defeat to Croatia. That opening encounter was one that realistically needed to be won with games against Italy and Spain to come.

But a side built in the mold of coach Giovanni Trapattoni, with an emphasis on being tight at the back, were anything but. It took less than three minutes for Croatia to pierce their flimsy resolve and despite getting back on level terms it was another defensive disaster that allowed Nikica Jelavic to score a crucial second before half time.

Before they can even think about causing Spain problems offensively, Ireland will need to cut out the lapses at the back if they are to have any chance of getting the point that would at least keep hopes alive.

Unfortunately for Ireland they are likely to meet a Spain side desperate to ignite their tournament after an opening draw with Italy.

Much of the focus from that match was coach Vicente Del Bosque's decision to start without a recognized striker as Cesc Fabrgas played in a false-nine role. But, while it is the system itself that has attracted criticism as Spain largely failed to penetrate Italy's backline, it was perhaps the identity of the three players pushed further forward that should be scrutinized.

In Fabregas, Andres Iniesta and David Silva there lacks a player who likes to run in behind--an option needed to give Spain's creative players space to operate as much to create problems of their own.

Speculation is mixed as to whether Del Bosque will bow to pressure and pick a conventional striker against Ireland. Fernando Torres came on against Italy and was a big threat with his pace in behind, but still showed he is far short of his best in front of goal. The indications are that Del Bosque views Torres as a player to take advantage of a more stretched game late on. Both Alvaro Negredo and Fernando Llorente provide the other options to lead the line.

Spain (probable)

G: Casillas

D: Arbeloa, Ramos, Pique, Alba

M: Busquets, Alonso


F: Silva, Fabregas, Iniesta

Ireland (4-4-2)

G: Given

D: O'Shea, Dunne, St Ledger, Ward

M: Duff, Andrews, Whelan, McGeady

F: Keane, Walters

Prediction: Ireland froze on the big occasion against Croatia as they quickly undid all the defensive discipline and composure Trapattoni has instilled in the side in order to reach these finals. There is reason to believe that the side will be more settled here, especially faced with an underdog situation with which they have typically thrived.

One area that should encourage Ireland going forward is if they can get their two wingers Damien Duff and Aiden McGeady in behind Spain's pushed up full-backs. Antonio Cassano caused particular problems for Italy peeling off into the space vacated by Alvaro Arbeloa and, as one of the few sides that play two orthodox wide men, Ireland could be poised to capitalize.

That scenario may never transpire, though, with Ireland likely to see very little of the ball.

It might take some time for Spain to get the breakthrough against dogged Irish resistance, but once they do it's hard to envisage anyway back for Ireland. And Spain could add another as Ireland push forward late on.

Spain 2-0 Ireland