Goal.com's Ayush Srivastava gives you a detailed analysis of what to expect, when the Boys in Green take to the pitch during the Euro 2012 Championship....
Qualifying for the European Championship for the first time in 24 years itself is a huge achievement for the Republic of Ireland and goes some way towards healing the pain inflicted by Thierry Henry’s handball incident, which robbed the Boys in Green of their chance of being a part of the 2010 World Cup.
Credit must go to Giovanni Trapattoni and Marco Tardelli for helping the squad re-group after their disappointment against France. While they do not bring with them any big hopes of upsetting the odds, the Irish can most definitely not be taken lightly by any of their opponents this summer.
|HOW REPUBLIC OF IRELAND DEFENDS
Trapattoni is one of the last of the old school managers who have faithfully stuck to the 4-4-2. In true Italian style, he has built a team around a stubborn defense, with Shay Given in goal and John O’Shea as well as Richard Dunne adding huge experience and quality to the backline. If allowed to pick from a fully fit side, Sean St Ledger and Stephen Ward shall join the duo in defense.
With 5 cleansheets during the qualification process, the Irish definitely know how to keep the door slammed shut in front of intense pressure, best shown in the away draw against Russia, when the boys in Green barely ever left their half.
The team largely constitutes of a flat back four, and two defensive pivots, usually Glenn Whelan and Keith Andrews, while Damien Duff and Aiden McGeady are expected to help out in defense as well, while Robbie Keane tries to put pressure on the opponents in advanced positions.
|HOW REPUBLIC OF IRELAND ATTACKS
The Boys in Green have an attacking policy completely based on counterattacks. While Robbie Keane stays their chief goal-getter, usually Kevin Doyle is played alongside him, and is expected to hold the ball up in advanced areas and give some respite to the defense.
Duff and McGeady provide the artistry and guile to the side, hugging the touchline when attacking and they try to stretch their opposition as much as possible.
The defensive midfielders largely hold themselves back and Ward on occasions is the more adventurous of the two wing-backs.
Dunne and St Ledger provide a potent attacking threat on set pieces, while James McClean now gives Trapattoni a very good option from the bench, to add pace and unpredictability to the team.
Strength – Undoubtedly their defense is the rock on which the entire team is built. 5 cleansheets in the qualification campaign is a testament to that. While their defensive attitude may not make them a favourite with purists, they have definitely won the respect of their opponents and will look to frustrate better passing teams like Croatia and Spain into submission.
Weakness – Undoubtedly their lack of options upfront, as their ultra-defensive tactics often leave them short of players upfront. Robbie Keane stays their best player infront but a lack of support as well as supply remains a problem.
Opportunity – Lack of any pressure. For the Irish fans, every game will be a party and they shall back their players all the way. For the veterans like Keane, Dunne and Duff, this tournament is possibly their swansong, while for players like Gibson and McClean, this is their first taste of the big time.
Threats – As such the Boys in Green have nothing to lose, but freezing on such a big stage against teams of the quality of Italy, Spain and Croatia would be one thing Trapattoni shall guard against.
|COACH IN QUOTES
"The opponents, we know - Spain, Italy, the same Croatia - are strong. But I said also to the players, the example is like... when Chelsea beat Bayern when Bayern were favourites. That is very important."
- Giovanni Trapattoni
They would love to come away with atleast a win, after qualifying for the Euros for the first time in 24 years. But an exit from the group stage looks a nigh on certainity.