Euro 2012 Preview: Republic of Ireland

Euro 2012 Preview: Republic of Ireland
Giovanni Trapattoni
Group Stage 1988
2nd in Group B (Won play-off)
6 (Aug 1993)
57 (Nov 1998)
100/1 (sportingbet)

June 10th – Croatia (1945 BST, Poznan, ITV)
June 14th – Spain (1945 BST, Gdansk, ITV)
June 18th – Italy (1945 BST, Poznan, BBC)

After a ten year absence The Republic of Ireland return to a major tournament being the only third seeded team in qualifying to reach the finals. All this is mainly down to the progress made under Giovanni Trapattoni after the disastrous reign of Steve Staunton. The Irish were denied a place in South Africa 2010 after losing to France and the infamous Henry Hand ball incident.

There was no mistake this time around as the Irish destroyed Estonia in the play-off after losing just once in their qualifying campaign.Improvement has come under Trapattoni but it appears to be at the expense of flair. He hit back at the critics saying “If you want entertainment, go to La Scala”.

Ireland do have some players with vast international experience with Shay Given,John O’Shea,Richard Dunne,Damien Duff and Robbie Keane boasting nearly 500 caps between them.

Trapattoni likes his Irish side to play a 4-4-2 with two banks of four with a hard working midfield, traditional wingers and a supporting forward playing off a target man.

Shay Given is likely to start but has conceded a few soft goals in qualifying from long range shots, his back up comes in the shape of Kieren Westwood and David Forde.

The vastly experienced Dunne should marshal the back line with Sean St. Ledger alongside him and Stephen Ward and John O’Shea playing as full backs although it is rare they join in with the attack and overlap the wingers although the wingers McGeady and Duff do track back and help defend.

Keith Andrews and Glenn Whelan should play in the centre although neither really has the ability to grab a game by the scruff of the neck and take control. James McClean could also play some part in midfield.

Up front Robbie Keane and Kevin Doyle should be the starting pairing although Shane Long may also play a part.

Another player to come from the Celtic youth system, McGeady is currently plying his trade in Russia after he became the most expensive player to be transferred from a Scottish club.

At his best he is trouble for full backs with a range of crossing and a knack of setting goals up, he can also score the odd spectacular one for himself too.

Under Trapattoni his defensive play has also improved with him being more willing to track back and help out his fullback.

To put it harshly, I’d say Ireland are a likeable version of Greece who play with slightly more flair. They’re organised, tough to break down and every single player knows what is expected of them.The problem is there isn’t enough variety to Ireland’s play at times if their initial approach to break teams down doesn’t work with there being a lot of expectation on Duff and McGeady to create chances.

What Ireland do have going for them is in a tough group, there’s no pressure or expectation on them to do anything and they will be well backed by a faithful contingent of supporters.

The Croatia game is key for them, if they win it they have a chance of making the last eight, if not they’re going home early.

Danny (D-Good)
Owls Alive
TWITTER: @OwlsAlive or @DGood83

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