Euro 2012 Preview Ireland
Ireland have not qualified for a Euros since 1988 in Germany and their last appearance on the international stage came at World Cup 2002. Shay Given, Damien Duff, Robbie Keane and Richard Dunne still feature prominently from that side. Ireland are 100/1 to win Euro 2012 with most bookies.
Giovanni Trapattoni’s side have been constructed with defense and discipline in mind. Ireland will be tough to break down if the Italian has anything to say about it.
Indeed Trapattoni takes most of the credit for getting Ireland to a major finals. They were ranked 42nd in the World when he took over, now they lie joint 18th and are the only third seeded team to qualify for the tournament. Ireland were devastated after missing out on the 2010 World Cup after Thierry Henry’s impersonation of the hand of God sent France to South Africa in their stead.
But two years later all of that is (nearly) forgotten. Ireland find themselves facing some of the most difficult opposition in Poland and Ukraine. Spain, Italy, Croatia are their group mates and if Group C is not quite the group of death it’s not far off; the group of terminal illness.
Richard Dunne was one of their key men in qualification. His performance against Russia was notable for his constant heroic rebuffs of Russian attacks. He will be kept busy against the World and European Champions.
Robbie Keane is the other key for Ireland. He may be getting on a bit but his seven goals in qualification were essential to the cause. And with far more games behind him in his career than ahead he will be eager to seize his, perhaps, final chance for international glory.
Trapattoni’s focus has been on creating a defensive team where everyone gets back and does the unglamorous things for the cause. There have been complaints in Ireland about the boring, bland brand of football employed. But Trapattoni couldn’t care less with his team finally back on the World stage.
Ireland v Croatia coverage begins on ITV Sunday June 10 at 7.15pm.
Arguments about Ireland’s style of play will fall by the wayside if they can do the impossible and qualify from a terrifying group that includes Italy and Spain. What ever happens the 20,000 Irish fans traveling to Eastern Europe will be in good voice.
Remember you can watch live coverage of the games via the BBC & ITV, Need a UK IP? Click Here
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