Originally written on Fox Soccer  |  Last updated 11/10/14

MADRID, SPAIN - MAY 14: Real Madrid soccer player Xabi Alonso watches Rafael Nadal of Spain against Gael Monfils of France in their quarter final match during the Mutua Madrilena Madrid Open tennis tournament at the Caja Magica on May 14, 2010 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Spain midfielder Xabi Alonso is expecting a major battle as the Republic of Ireland attempt to stage a Euro 2012 smash and grab raid. The holders face Giovanni Trapattoni's men at the PGE Arena in Gdansk on Thursday night having taken a point from their opening game against Italy , but desperate to claim a first victory to ease themselves towards the quarter-finals. Ireland will do everything within their powers to deny the Spaniards the win they crave with their own need even more pressing, and Real Madrid star Alonso is preparing himself for a fight. "With Irish teams, you know they are very proud. They will fight from the first minute until the last and they will play together as a team," he said. "It's going to be a very difficult match. They know us and they know our characteristics, but we also know them because they all play in the Premier League. "We will have to be very patient. We will have to try to score early in the game because that makes everything easier afterwa...
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