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Dec 2, 2011

Trapattoni upbeat over progress

The Republic of Ireland, currently ranked 21 in the world, will be one of Euro 2012's outsiders, but manager Giovanni Trapattoni was upbeat after the draw and pleased to be facing his native Italy, alongside Spain and Croatia in Group C.

• Euro 2012 draw
• As-it-happened

He told BBC Sport: ''I am happy. It is impossible to say which group was better because we know our position, the ranking. We have to think in football that all is possible.

''We have to play with the same mentality - obviously all the teams are very difficult. But I am confident.''

Spain boss Vincente Del Bosque saw his side lose 2-1 in August's friendly meeting against Italy and said he was wary of the 2006 World Cup winners.

"Italy have only just beaten us and they are strong opponents," he told Cuatro Television.

"It will be tough, in the European Championships there are 16 tough teams and every one poses their own threat. But the outcome that I wanted has come to fruition [avoiding Germany and playing in Poland]. We have to play a more renowned team like Italy, and two teams that made it through the play-offs. We will prepare carefully, we have to focus on our own game and get ready."

Croatia boss Slaven Bilic was not so pleased about the draw in Group C, but still harbours hope of progress.

"It is the cruellest sports championship," he said. "You can't get easy opponents. Of course we have tough group. We are privileged we are playing against the world champions [Spain], former world champions [Italy] and against the Republic of Ireland. I am big time looking forward to it. We are not the favourites but we have a chance."

GROUP A REACTION

Greece midfielder Nikos Liberopoulo was pleased with a draw that saw the Euro 2004 champions up against Poland, Russia and Czech Republic, but warned against complacency. "It is definitely a positive draw but we know how this can turn into a difficult one," he said. "If we don't prepare well it won't matter if it is an easy draw or a difficult one."

Poland coach Franciszek Smuda stressed the importance of his team's opening fixture in the group. ""This is a good draw, it's not a group of death," he said. "Greece have a good team. Everything will depend on the first game in the group against them and whether we win it."

GROUP B REACTION

Portugal coach Paulo Bento reacted to being drawn in a group with Germany, Netherlands and Denmark, by stating his team's intention to go out and win every game.

"We said even before the draw that we would be going to the finals to be competitive, that we would dispute every game with the objective of winning," Bento said. "We are well aware though that, very possibly, we have been put in the toughest group."

Germany coach Joachim Loew admitted were in for a serious test. "It is the toughest group. Netherlands and Portugal have world-class players. We can look forward to very interesting match-ups. Denmark are always difficult to play, a typical 'tournament team'. They have no fear of big names. That is what makes them dangerous."

Netherlands midfielder Wesley Sneijder stressed the importance of the 2010 World Cup runners-up getting off to a winning start. "It is a tough draw, but we know our opponents well," Sneijder said. "It is always important to win your first match, but with Germany and Portugal as our next opponents, the opener against Denmark will be crucial."

Denmark's 19-year-old star Christian Eriksen reacted to the draw on Twitter. "Revenge against Holland is coming. Go Denmark!" he wrote, in reference to the Danes' World Cup loss at the hands of the Dutch in South Africa.

GROUP D REACTION

Fabio Capello believes getting off to good start will be key to England's progress from a group including France, Ukraine and Sweden. ''Most difficult will be the first game against France. The first game is always difficult to play because of the pressure. A result will be very important," Capello said.

France coach Laurent Blanc urged caution, drawing on the lessons learned by the nation's dismal failure in South Africa last summer. "It's a much more complicated group that it seems. You must remember what happened in South Africa," he said.

Ukraine coach Oleg Blohkin believes partisan support for the co-hosts can help them spring a surprise in the group. "England and France can consider themselves to be our group's favourites, it's their right. But we and, I believe, Sweden have our own view of things," he told AFP.

"We have experience of successfully playing against France and England. And we will do our best to play with dignity in front of our fans. And I believe their support will give us strength in the matches."

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