Republic of Ireland v France Cheat Sheet
Republic of Ireland v France
After all the talk of “progression” and changing attitudes and the approach of the Irish National Team, it’s now or never for Ireland boss Stephen Kenny as the Boys in Green begin their Euro 2024 qualification campaign by welcoming World Cup runners up France to Dublin on Monday night.
Kenny has been unlucky to see his side drawn in a group also containing the Netherlands, who were giving a right spanking by the French in Paris on Friday night, but it’s now reached the stage where Kenny must start producing results after failing to qualify for the last two major tournaments and a disappointing Nations League campaign.
Even when wins have come in some low key fixtures against lesser nations such as Armenia, Lithuania and Latvia, questions have been raised about Kenny’s suitably to the job with Ireland only scrapping by these lowly ranked countries with less than convincing performances.
With France getting off to such a strong start against the Dutch, Ireland really will be up against it on Monday with injury concerns over the likes of Seamus Coleman and Callum O’Dowda far from ideal going into such a game.
Only for the fact France came up against the greatest player of all time on a day when the footballing God’s seemed to be shining down on the great Leo Messi, France could be coming to Dublin as back-to-back World Champions.
Meanwhile the hosts haven’t been to the World Cup finals in over 20 years and have struggled to best minnows such as Latvia, Armenia and Lithuania in recent internationals.
Matt Doherty has barely kicked a ball since his move to Atletico Madrid from Tottenham and despite the fact he played a part in some of Ireland’s goals against Latvia last week, he was at fault for Latvia’ first and was badly exposed by the Scottish in Glasgow last year.
Over on the other flank, James McClean may be called up given the injury concerns in the full-back areas. While McClean has been an amazing servant to Ireland, he is a League One player and the French are sure to target the Irish full backs with the pace of Mbappe and Koman as a result.
France kept a clean sheet against Holland on Friday and this is an Ireland team who have struggled massively to create against far weaker teams than France. Even the most patriotic Irish man couldn’t predict a home win on Monday.
6 of France’s last 8 matched have featured over 2.5 goals and with the defensive issues I’ve highlighted in the Irish full-back positions the French will be licking their lips ahead of their trip to the Aviva Stadium.
Ireland have kept just 2 clean sheets in their last 9 matches and even when they have limited the opposition to clear cut chances in the penalty area, Ireland have been caught out with long range strikes in a number of matches during Stephen Kenny’s tenure.
This is no coincidence or hard luck story, Ireland have consistently been punished for failing to press with intensity when the opposition have picked up second balls outside the area and with the World class technicians in the French midfield, even the smallest lapse in concentration is likely to be punished.
As for Ireland’s chances of troubling the French goal, it remains to be seen how ambitious Stephen Kenny will be with his team selection but in Evan Ferguson, who scored his first Ireland goal against Latvia last week, he’s got one of the most talked about young strikers in the Premier League in his arsenal while Michael Obafemi appeared to link up well with the teenager against Latvia.
Will Smallbone was named MOTM on his senior debut last week and created more chances than anyone else on the pitch so he could be Ireland’s main creative spark should Kenny opt to keep faith with the on loan Stoke City midfielder.
Hardly an original selection, especially after his brace against Holland on Friday but this Irish defence is unlikely to have come up against anyone of Mbappe’s quality before. Yes, the great Cristiano Ronaldo came to Dublin last year and left with only a point and no goals to show for his work on the night but he did score two late goals to sicken the Irish in Portugal last year and that was a Ronaldo who was still to have his fall from grace at Manchester United.
Mbappe arguably hasn’t even approached his prime yet and will undoubtedly break all kind of scoring records with Le Blues and there’s a very good chance he’ll add to his impressive goals haul in Dublin on Monday.
With Ireland looking vulnerable in the wide areas, Mbappe could do serious damage and should be able to test Ireland keeper Bazunu on at least a couple of occasions.
James McClean loves a tackle, it’s one of his party pieces at the Aviva Stadium. In some of the dullest internationals I can remember in Dublin, sometimes a ferocious McClean tackle has been what draws the biggest cheer of the day from the Ireland supporters.
However, McClean’s limitations as a full-back where exposed in the dying moments of the game by Latvia last week as one of the Latvian wingers got in behind McClean, who has been brought on to see out the game, and won his side a late corner which thankfully came to nothing.
In fairness to McClean, while he was totally done for pace, he did well not to panic and give the Latvian player what he was looking for, that being a sloppy challenge inside the area but you can be sure the French scouts will have shown that footage to the likes of Coman and Mbappe who will surely feel like they have the ability to take candy from a baby.
McClean’s only option will be to try and get on top of such players with his physicality but given the pace in the France ranks, McClean is likely to be living on the edge with some of his tackles.
Written by an Andy verified content writer
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