Mark O’Haire’s Euro Tips – France v Rep of Ireland
France v Rep of Ireland
France have been chalked up as the shortest-priced side to qualify for the quarter-finals ahead of their Sunday showdown with Ireland in Lyon.
France v Republic of Ireland, Sunday 26th June 2016, 14.00, ITV1 & RTE2
Les Bleus have bagged 11 wins from their last 13 matches and Didier Deschamps’ men justified their favouritism in Group A to finish top of the tree with a seven-point haul from games against Switzerland, Albania and Romania.
France shipped just one goal across those three fixtures – a penalty against Romania in the competition curtain-raiser – and Les Bleus haven’t faced a shot-on-target for 205 minutes in the tournament, since that goal was conceded.
Less Than Impressed
However, the hosts have seldom impressed. It took a late Dmitri Payet wonder-goal to beat Romania in the opener and two very late strikes against minnows Albania to make it two wins from two. A much-changed XI then laboured to a goalless draw with the Swiss.
Three of France’s four goals have arrived after the 88th minute whilst Les Blues have hit the woodwork on five occasions. However, Deschamps is determined to leave their unconvincing group-stage performances behind here with the hosts enjoying a seven-day break since their last outing.
A Handy Ride?
But France last won a European Championship knockout match in extra-time, way back in the 2000 final against Italy. And although Les Bleus boast a W2-D3-L0 recent record against the Republic of Ireland, all the attention is on a possible Irish revenge mission from the controversial 2009 World Cup play-off clash, when Thierry Henry’s handball went unpunished in the decisive winning goal.
Ireland head coach Martin O’Neill has denied his squad are fuelled by revenge but the Boys In Green will need to dig deep to compete after the emotionally and physically exhausting experience of their most recent match.
The Republic have just four days to recover from their memorable 1-0 triumph over Italy on Wednesday, a result that confirmed their progress as one of the sixth best third-placed teams at Euro 2016.
It was a richly deserved victory that sparked jubilant celebrations in Lille from an army of green followers; Robbie Brady’s 85th minute header confirming the Greens’ first win at a major tournament since 2002.
O’Neill made a number of changes to his XI for the Italian job and plenty of pundits are now awaiting the veteran boss’ next move. With the early afternoon heat in Lyon likely to play a part, Ireland look likely to revert to their more defensive-minded approach to deal with France’s sparkling array of forwards.
Put ‘Em Under Pressure
The hosts ran into trouble when posed with the resilient and deep lying defences of Albania and Romania and it’s a policy that worked a treat for the Boys In Green during qualification against world champions Germany.
Ireland have averaged just 10 shots-per-game at Euro 2016 thus far and landed only one effort on-target across their first two fixtures with Sweden and Belgium. Wes Hoolahan’s ingenuity and set-pieces appear the Republic’s best chance of scoring although it should be said, France’s defence hasn’t convinced for some time.
Still, 19 (27.5%) of the goals scored during the group stages came in the 80th minute or later and this encounter may take time to ignite.
Ten of Ireland’s last 13 competitive matches have featured fewer than three goals whilst all 11 goals in France and Ireland’s respective games at Euro 2016 have arrived after half-time.
Therefore, backing the 0-0 half-time correct score (5/4) as well as the second-half to be highest scoring (11/10) – a winner in five of France and Ireland’s six games – look like fair selections to consider.
And following a familiar theme, taking Draw-France at 14/5 is also well worth a wee wager as Ireland’s midweek excursions begin to catch up on the underdogs in the summer sunshine.
Half-time Correct Score 0-0 (5/4)
Half With Most Goals – Second Half (21/20)
*Prices correct at time of publication