Posts Tagged ‘Trapattoni|FAI|soccer’

The aftermath from the Republic of Ireland's friendly defeat to Brazil has been sombre - to say the least. It was almost as if everybody had prepared for the loss with the casual cliche of 'what do you expect when coming up against Brazil?'

But why should victory for Brazil be commonly accepted? The current team under Dunga are not a great side - as was seen in the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday - and Ireland could have gotten more out of the game if they had not given up so early.

Okay, it was a game of two halves (well, since we are using cliches), but
there was a huge gap between the teams that many felt there was and still is.

Perhaps the fact that they were playing against the five-time world champions and wanted to collect a jersey of one of the samba superstars got to Giovanni Trapattoni's team. Or did they just treat it like the meaningless friendly that it was?

Nevertheless, the post-mortem should have read: plenty of potential there, but probably lacked the combination of courage and skill needed to get through the battle; hence the bitter ending.

The plus points

Giovanni Trapattoni will have been pleased with the performance of Stephen Kelly at right-back as it was possibly his finest game in the green jersey since the Italian has taken over.

Perhaps Kelly can nail down that spot with John O'Shea either switching back across to centre-back or replacing Kevin Kilbane at left-back. It all depends on Kelly though as he has not being playing regularly for Fulham.

The debut of James McCarthy was great to get out of the way. While he came on at a time when the white flag of surrender was waving, he showed some nice touches when the ball did come near him. It will be interesting to see if he starts against Algeria or Paraguay in the summer.

In midfield, Glenn Whelan and Keith Andrews were superb. One gets the feeling that the big games brings the best out in them as they seem to relish crunching into the likes of Kaka, Andrea Pirlo and Yoann Gourcuff.

Must try harder

Trapattoni's faith in Paul McShane needs to be questioned. The Hull City defender is not good enough for international football and is the biggest weak link in the entire squad.

It is baffling how McShane can not only make the squad but play 90 minutes against Brazil. Hopefully Marc Wilson and Shane Duffy can breakthrough over the coming months and allow him to slip out of contention.

The Irish boss didn't make too many changes. It is understandable why he didn't, although Leon Best should maybe have come on at half-time and Kevin Foley should have gotten a run out too.

There are areas that Ireland need to work on and perfect ahead of the Euro 2012 qualifiers in September. Trapattoni knows this and there is no doubt he is already planning his next move.

Overall, the future looks good for the Irish team even though the Brazil performance was one that not many will remember in a six months' time.
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The draw for the 2012 European Championship qualifiers was made on Sunday morning and the Republic of Ireland can be relatively pleased with the other teams they were matched with in Group B.

There might be some tricky away trips in there, but viewing the group on a team-by-team basis, Ireland should be confident of not only qualifying from it but also pushing for the top spot.

Russia are the heavyweight nation that dropped in from Pot One, while Slovakia, FYR Macedonia, Armenia and Andorra are the other teams that Giovanni Trapattoni will have to start doing his homework on.

So is there reason for Ireland to fear these teams? Not overly. Of course, it would be foolish to start getting carried away and booking hotels in Poland and Ukraine for 2012, although this is a good group for the Irish.

Perhaps for the first time since the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) formed their senior team have been presented with a realistic chance of topping their qualifying group. Or is that being wildly optimistic?

Russian front ready to collapse?

The future of Russia manager Guus Hiddink is one of great debate. With various clubs eager to appoint him and his contract with the Russian FA due to run out in July, he has a big decision to make about what direction to go in.

If he stays then he will have to start the rebuilding process all over again as the Russian team that impressed at Euro 2008 have aged, lost form and slipped off the radar. A new squad must be assembled, but will it contain players like Andrei Arshavin?

After failing to qualify for this summer's World Cup, just like Ireland they lost in a play-off, Russia will be looking forward to the September matches. But they do have a lot of housekeeping to attend to before they will be ready for the qualifiers.

This could mean that they won't be at their strongest when Trapattoni brings his troops to Moscow or prepares them for a battle in the new Aviva Stadium. However, Hiddink may stay on, get his squad back in shape and prove that they were in Pot One for a very good reason.

Must-win games are fully loaded

Irish fans know all too well about the hiccups that their team has suffered against sides that they were expected to ease past. Flashes of that nightmare night in Nicosia still come through, while there have plenty of other incidents against so-called 'lesser' teams in Europe that have halted their progress to major competitions.

Some will automatically view the games against FYR Macedonia, Armenia and Andorra as six-pointers (beating them both home & away), but will it be that easy? This current Irish team have never really hammered a team and normally rely on just the one goal to get them through.

Then there is Slovakia - a team that should not be underestimated. Having qualified for the next World Cup, they are a country on the rise in international football. While they don't have too many star players (Marek Hamsik is their main playmaker), they will be a tough team to break down, especially away from home.

So the games that Ireland 'must win' most certainly come with a warning that it won't be easy for them to collect maximum points. Nevertheless, they are games that Trapattoni should be confident of getting enough points from to put them in a position to challenge for top spot in the group. Then it should come down their head-to-head record against both Russia and Slovakia.

Overall, it is a good group for Ireland and one that suggests they can win it. The next few months will tell if that is the case as new players need to be introduced as well as replicating the form they showed in World Cup qualification.
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Giovanni Trapattoni officially returns to work this weekend as the Republic of Ireland manager travels to Warsaw for the 2012 European Championship qualifying draw and he will be hoping for a favourable outcome.

Following the speculation that both Turkey and Juventus had come close to appointing him over the winter, this will be his first opportunity to reassure the Irish supporters that he fully intends to see out the new contract he signed last year.

That should mean that the 70-year-old will have another crack at trying to qualify Ireland for a major international tournament after narrowly missing out on a spot at this summer's World Cup due to 'that' play-off decider in Paris.

The first game that Ireland will play this year comes next month against Brazil in the Emirates Stadium (a pointless friendly if ever there was one), but the summer period should be interesting as Trapattoni is reportedly keen on setting up another training camp to take a closer look at some fringe players.

While he may already know the bulk of his squad, there is certainly a need to introduce some fresh faces to provide competition for places and push the team on that extra bit ahead of the qualifiers in September.

Making sense of it all

Ireland may have dropped two places to 37th in the latest Fifa World Rankings, but they are as high as 23rd on the Uefa coefficient system, which means they will be in Pot Three for Sunday's draw - live on RTE2 for fans interested in tuning in.

Of course it would have been better if Ireland were in Pot One or Two and when the debate over moral compensation was ongoing it was suggested that Trapattoni's side would be bumped up to Pot Two, but nothing happened.

So all eyes will be on who Ireland draw from Pot One, which contains Spain, Germany, Holland, Italy, England, Croatia, Portugal, France, Russia. This is the heavyweight pot with either France, Portugal or Croatia the team that Ireland would prefer to get.

In the other pots there are many teams that the Irish would like to be drawn alongside, including Faroe Islands - now managed by former Ireland boss Brian Kerr, as they should be aiming for automatic qualification.

"The nine [group] winners and the runner-up with the best record against the teams first, third, fourth and fifth in their group qualify directly for the final tournament. The eight remaining runners-up contest play-off matches in November 2011."

The perfect draw would be......

Not many teams will be happy drawing Ireland in their group, but Trapattoni will have his own preference regarding what teams he would like to be pitted against. For example, Russia would be a tough team to get considering the harsh conditions they play in during the winter and the fact that they play on artificial surface.

But if the Ireland manager were to map out his ideal group it would probably be something like this - Croatia, Greece, Lithuania, Liechtenstein, Andorra.

Both Croatia and Greece are not as strong as they were a few years ago. Yes, they will still be dangerous opposition to come up against, but compared to other teams in their respective pots they should be viewed as favourable options to be drawn against.

The likes of Lithuania, Liechtenstein and Andorra would not be too troublesome for travel arrangements, plus they are teams that Ireland would be looking to pick maximum points up against - if they were to be on top form in qualifying.

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