Andrews in awe of Spain
Ireland midfielder Keith Andrews has branded Spain "one of the best teams in living memory", even though coach Giovanni Trapattoni has told his players not to obsess about their Euro 2012 opponents.
With 2006 World Cup winners Italy also in their group, it is little wonder Trapattoni does not want discussion to stray beyond acceptable limits. After all, in Poland next year, the wily 72-year-old must convince the Irish squad of their ability to overcome such highly rated foes.
"We cannot think about the names of these famous teams," said Trapattoni.
"We have to think about our attitude, our mentality and our performance. Only with this thinking can we go on. Every game is 90 minutes and a lot is possible in football during 90 minutes."
Yet it seems those words may take a little while to seep through. By the time they tackle Croatia in their opening game on June 10, a decade will have passed since Ireland last appeared in a major tournament.
In that period, Spain have emerged as a true giant of the international scene, boasting so many star players it is impossible to look beyond them for favouritism.
Indeed, should Vicente del Bosque's side emerge victorious when the final is staged in Kiev on July 1, they will have become the first nation ever to win three successive major competitions.
So Andrews is fully justified in making his assessment, even if Trapattoni might have preferred him not to articulate in such a glowing manner.
"Spain are one of the best teams in living memory," Andrews told the Irish Independent.
"There's no denying it, it's a tough draw but to pit ourselves against a team like that is fantastic. If you can't look forward to games like this, against the best players in the world and one of the best teams to have played over the last 20 or 30 years, then there is something wrong."