Euro 2012 - Team profile: Ireland

Sat, 02 Jun 12:20:00 2012

Ireland's chances of Euro 2012 success will hinge on whether they can penetrate, and not simply frustrate, their more illustrious group opponents.

FOOTBALL Robbie Keane of Ireland during the Euro 2012 qualifying match with Macedonia - 0

Up against three of the world's top 12 sides, Giovanni Trapattoni's resolute and hardworking charges, drawn mainly from the Premier League's less-fashionable clubs, will be favourites to prop up Group C.

But the experienced Italian has built a tough team since taking charge three years ago and has lost only once in the last two major championship qualification campaigns, a record bettered only by Germany and two of Ireland's group rivals, Spain and Italy.

Their other Group C opponents Croatia, who they face in their opening game in Poznan on June 10, played in Dublin in a friendly last August. Like many talented teams before them, they could only draw.

That stalemate marked the second unbeaten game in a run that now stretches to 11 and in which the Irish, appearing in their first major tournament for a decade, have conceded just four times.

Marshalled at the back by 121-times capped goalkeeper Shay Given and Aston Villa team-mate, centre-back Richard Dunne, Ireland are led by captain and record goal scorer Robbie Keane.

The LA Galaxy striker scored seven goals during Ireland's passage to Ukraine and Poland, bringing his total international haul to 53 and putting him among the top 20 international goalscorers of all time, ahead of the likes of Thierry Henry, Bobby Charlton and David Villa.

Yet Keane's consistent strike-rate, complemented by the still dangerous wing play of Damien Duff, cannot conceal that Ireland will be among the least creative sides at the finals.

Hampered by an ordinary centre midfield partnership in Stoke City's Glenn Whelan and West Bromwich Albion's Keith Andrews, Ireland go long periods without threatening in the final third.

That soft centre can leave them liable to being overrun on occasion as Russia found out when they raced to a 3-0 lead inside 50 minutes in Dublin at the start of the last campaign, although the Irish did later score twice themselves.

That was their only defeat in their 10 qualifiers which set them up for a play-off against Estonia who they duly despatched 5-1 on aggregate to reach the finals.

Ireland have also struggled to beat higher-ranked teams under Trapattoni. Despite finishing ahead of Bulgaria and Slovakia in World Cup 2010 and Euro 2012 qualifying, they were unable to beat either at home or away.

The one exception, over 90 minutes at least, was when they led France 1-0 at the end of normal time in Paris two-and-a-half years ago when Thierry Henry's now infamous handball in the build-up to France's equaliser evened up the scores after extra time and sent France to the World Cup in South Africa.

No team has ever reached the knockout stages of the European championships on draws alone so Ireland will need at least one repeat of those 90 minutes in Paris to make progress.

The reality is, that even with Trapattoni's influence, that will be hard to achieve, especially against the world champions and his own countrymen Italy.

Still they are more resolute and self-confident than they used to be as evidenced by their 0-0 draw in Moscow in the qualifiers and the emphatic way they beat Estonia 4-0 in the first leg of their play-off.

Whether those qualities will be enough to see them through though, is another matter.

Ireland's chances of Euro 2012 success will hinge on whether they can penetrate, and not simply frustrate, their more illustrious opponents. - 2

Reuters

Comment 1 - 17 of 17

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  1. These graphs are hilarious. They look like animal­ skins being stretched out.

    From espspa2063, on Sun 3 Jun 8:16
  2. With a bit of luck and some good defending we might­ just squeeze through th group. The boys in green could­ then just go for it!!! We normally do really well at­ these tournaments, Trap just needs to let them go a wee­ bit and go for the jugular. Come on u boys in green.

    From Conor, on Sat 2 Jun 18:25
  3. Comment hidden due to its low rating. Show

    It's the Republic of Ireland

    From We Do What We Want, on Sat 2 Jun 16:34
  4. Ireland done great to get to the euros and they could­ get out of the group as Italy and Croatia are really­ nothing special but Ireland wont get beyond the last 8­ as the top teams just have too much quality (Spain­ Germany Holland France.

    From gerard, on Sat 2 Jun 16:01
  5. Goon Sean boy you tell him haha :)

    From brhogg86, on Sat 2 Jun 14:55
  6. The Football Association of Ireland is registered under­ the official title of Ireland in FIFA and EUFA. The­ Irish Football Association is registered under the­ official title of Northern Ireland. So there are two­ teams on the island : Ireland and Northern Ireland. The­ Republic of Ireland is a political Identity, not a­ sports team. The French Republic is also known as­ France, The Republic of Italy as Italy, and the­ Principality of Wales as Wales. So it is Ireland and­ Northern Ireland. That okay with everyone ?

    From sean, on Sat 2 Jun 14:51
  7. Croatia game is Huge in my opinion and whoever wins it­ will get out of the group with Spain I think, but then­ again ya cant write Italy off either they have won two­ world cups going in with match fixing scandals. This is­ some group with 4 quality teams. But Ireland have a­ huge chance to get out of it and we will fight to the­ end. COYBIG.

    From brhogg86, on Sat 2 Jun 14:50
  8. Very tough group so most would right Rep of Ireland off­ but what ever happens I bet they would put up a better­ fight than England. Also I'd say Aiden Mcgeady is­ their star man.

    From John, on Sat 2 Jun 14:39
  9. Comment hidden due to its low rating. Show

    There is no such team as Ireland. There are two teams­ in the island. Northern Ireland and the Republic of­ Ireland so get it right!

    From ROBIN, on Sat 2 Jun 14:30
  10. Why is our history only 2. England's better be like­ 3 cause they've done f all aswell.

    From Icantsplel, on Sat 2 Jun 14:26
  11. This whole thing is condescending as hell, we can­ actually play a bit if you knew anything about us but­ our manager wants to play the safe game.

    From Icantsplel, on Sat 2 Jun 14:24
  12. Ireland are boring to watch. Even the Irish fans do not­ like watching them. But as Trapattoni says - Football­ is about the result. If you want a show, go to La­ Scala. Maybe he is right. !3 matches unbeaten, with­ just 3 goals conceded (not 11 and 4 as the article says­ ) speaks for itself. So Italy, Spain and Croatia would­ be foolish to under-estimate this very tenacious Irish­ side. Playing Ireland is a pain. If you can't take­ the pain against them, you lose and go home.

    From sean, on Sat 2 Jun 14:15
  13. Ireland win or lose wrere in the pot so good luck boys­ , were all bvehind you .

    From tom, on Sat 2 Jun 13:49
  14. switzerland beat spain in the 2010 world cup...so­ nothing is impossible

    From We Do What We Want, on Sat 2 Jun 13:46
  15. Ireand are always better when nobody gives us a­ chance..they will have more passion and pride than any­ other team in the tournament..thats a fact

    From We Do What We Want, on Sat 2 Jun 13:45
  16. Michael, I'll see you their, the croatia game is­ going to be key, if we can beat them then he confidence­ will be flowing and we might be able to garner a point­ off the Spanish before the final game against­ Trap's home country, a team which we have an­ excellent recent record against. I truly believe we can­ get out of this group.

    From MichealS, on Sat 2 Jun 13:40
  17. Ireland are definitely the most under-rated team in­ this tournament, but that suits us. One of the most­ successful coaches of all time has spent 4 years­ moulding a team together, concentrating on little­ details and not being swayed by public opinion. The­ likes of Given and Dunne play like superhuman beings in­ a green shirt, Robbie Keane who always rises to the­ occasion, many of his 53 goals have been scored against­ top quality opponents (Germany, Spain, Holland, Italy,­ France), so expect him to score a few on the big stage.­ As long as our squad doesn't fall apart with­ injuries and suspensions, with a bit of good luck I­ believe Ireland can win it albeit with a few draws­ along the way. I just got my ticket for the Spain game­ today, I can't wait....Come on Ireland!!!!!

    From Michael, on Sat 2 Jun 13:06
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