Bilic plays down Ireland threat: 'I don't see how they can trouble us'

Croatia coach Slaven Bilic has revealed he does not expect Republic of Ireland to pose much of a threat when they do battle in the Group C opener of Euro 2012 on Sunday.

The Balkan nation's team landed in Poznan ahead of tomorrow's game at midday on Saturday and after resting this afternoon, the players began training in the evening.

Shortly prior to practice session, however, Bilic spoke to reporters ahead of their maiden voyage in Poland and Ukraine and claimed that the Boys in Green are no match for his team.

"The current generation has the potential to achieve something big," said the former West Ham and Everton defender.

"On Sunday we will fight for every ball and for every inch of the pitch. I don't see how Ireland can trouble us. Their football is very simple and not difficult to analyse."

Despite his contempt for their style of play, however, Bilic admitted that he sees himself as a student of Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni, who he referred to as 'Mr. Football' for his services to the game.

"He is Mr. Football," he continued. "He has only worked at the top clubs. In Germany for example, he is still famous at Bayern for his time there. I'm fascinated by him and I have great respect for him."

Finally, the trainer was keen to praise star midfielder Luka Modric, comparing him favourably with Real Madrid playmaker Kaka.

"I said four years ago that Luka [Modric] is as good as Kaka and I think in the past four years he has proved this," Bilic insisted.

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