Ireland v Croatia

I think each Irish game at this tournament deserves its own dedicated thread.

What do we make of Trap’s comments (below) regarding a 5 man midfield that are in this morning’s papers? I think it’s a bit of a curveball from Trap, with possibly some translation issues thrown in. My guess is he’s speculating/warning about what we could have to do if we needed to move away from a 4-4-2 if it wasn’t working.

Difficulties with 5 in midfield are numerous anyway:

  1. Keane isn’t suited to playing alone up front. Dropping Keane would be ridiculous.
  2. We don’t have 2 decent central midfielders, nevermind 3.
  3. The problems against Hungary (and the similar issues Arshavin for Russia and Trickovski for Macedonia etc caused us) were around the edge of our box and not caused by a deep-lying playmaker. We already have two defensive midfielders who should be looking after a #10. We can’t play a third there.
  4. Squad isn’t setup to cater for 5 in midfield. We brought strikers to play 2 up front and I can’t see us departing from that.

The only options might be playing either Keane slightly withrawn or else maybe if Walters started he could be given the task of playing in that withdrawn role with instructions to get forward whenever we have the ball. He’s done something similar for Stoke a few times and it’s a role Rooney has often been asked to play (but often failed at). It is possible though to play defensively as a midfielder but to play as a striker when in possession. Walters is probably the only Irish player with the skill-set and athleticism to carry it off. Keane could obviously play a more withdrawn role than usual but he wouldn’t offer the same type of robust hassling/harrying role that Walters could fulfill.

Anyway I think the team will be the same as that which started against Hungary anyway with Doyle just holding off Walters, though I’d marginally prefer the latter to start.

Trap’s comments:

“I have to show the team what happened this evening because it is my duty and we need to change. When we meet a team with one striker, I know that between two lines, we are in difficulty. To have a balance, we have to give up one striker or put one more in midfield. I will show them our difficulty because we need to take a decision to sacrifice a striker, or we need to change the situation.”

“We need one more in midfield. If you watch, if you see, one more in midfield. It is clear.”

I think Keane might play in more withdrawn role like he did against Italy in last campaign. I don’t think Trap was trying to trick opposition with his comments anyway as he hasn’t really done that thus far. I’d favour Walters over Doyle and I think at this stage he may well start. Fact he was only player to come on at halftime was telling.

Do we have a realistic chance in any of the 3 group games?

Yes.

All three.

How I think the Croatians will line up:

[soccer]
[gk]Pletikosa[/gk]
[rb]Corluka[/rb]
[rcb]Schildenfeld[/rcb]
[lcb]Simunic[/lcb]
[lb]Strinic[/lb]
[rm]Srna ©[/rm]
[cdm]Vukojevic[/cdm]
[cam]Modric[/cam]
[lcm]Rakitic[/lcm]
[rst]Eduardo[/rst]
[lst]Jelavic[/lst]
[/soccer]

Few changes from their recent draw with Norway:

  1. Corluka was injured so missed that game but expect him to come back for Vida.
  2. Jelavic started that game, coming off for Olic at half time who got injured and was replaced himself. Eduardo came on for Mandzukic after 67 minutes and got Croatia’s only goal. From the sounds of it the partnership of Jelavic and Mandzukic didn’t work though I think they were playing to see who’d partner Olic. I think they may still not want to partner Mandzukic and Jelavic so Eduardo might come into the team with Jelavic possibly doing enough to overtake Mandzukic in the pecking order. That said I think they’ve still been partnering Mandzukic and Jelavic together in training. I think their lack of pace if they play together would suit our defence.
  3. Rakitic played centrally against Norway but that was just to cover the Modric role (who was ill) and I think he’ll move back to the wing (albeit playing narrowly) with Perisic missing out. Interestingly Ilicevic has been one of their better players in the last two warm-up games but can’t see him displacing both Perisic and Rakitic from the team.
  4. Dujrovic started that game in the anchor midfield role but he’ll make way for Vukojevic.

From reading Croatian soccer blogs there is loads of debate around the striker issue. There seems to be a few resigned to the fact that Mandzukic and Jelavic will start together but the overwhelming consensus is that Eduardo should be playing.

I believe Walters is the best option to play that kind of shuttling / bustling / hassling role between midfield and attack. As mentioned, he possesses club experience playing in midfield / advanced midfield / upfront and he’s looked effective and mobile in the friendlies and seems in better form than Doyle.

12,000 people attended our training session in Poland today. FAI still maintain that Given is fine even though he sat out training today.

I would tend to agree that if anything is to be read into Trap’s comments then it would most likely mean Walters starting ahead of Doyle in a slightly deeper role. Not sure much should be read into it though. There does often seem to be language / understanding issues between him and the journos.

He has likened Keane to Totti before and said he believes Robbie can play deeper but I think we need Robbie close to goal for his ability to sniff out a chance and Walters has the power and athleticism to do the blurred midfield/striker role. That said, Keane seemed to do well for Aston Villa playing in the withdrawn role but it didn’t work, for example, in Moscow. I guess we were overrun in lots of areas that day though. All in all, I’d definitely plump for Walters ahead of Doyle in one tactical guise or another.

Doyle coming off at halftime yesterday was planned before kick off according to the Leinsterman. Any possibility that Cox feature on Sunday? I thought he did well yesterday and has performed very well for us in recent big games.

Rumours this morning again that Given is a major doubt.

There must be something to the Given stories anyway. He looked fine the other day in the first half but he’s missing too many training sessions and matches to give us any comfort.

What would be gained from lying though?
I’d understand in a different position but a Keeper is a keeper. Your sub mightn’t be as good as the guy starting but he is still standing in the same place doing the same thing.

[quote=“Julio Geordio, post: 688546”]What would be gained from lying though?
I’d understand in a different position but a Keeper is a keeper. Your sub mightn’t be as good as the guy starting but he is still standing in the same place doing the same thing.[/quote]

That is true for every like for lile player though? A right full and another right full for example.

Agreed Julio.
He’s only a keeper, standing around hoping the ball hits him.

Right fulls can be defensive or offensive. Cut inside or stick to the touchline etc, etc. If your first choice right full wasn’t fit you might go three at the back or something.

A different Goalie might mean a different hat or something but thats about it.

:clap:

I have an idea what you were trying to said but you put it very badly.

I can’t see anything other than a 0-0 here. Cagey affair with neither team wanting to lose. I think one goal in the group v Italy could be enough to get us qualified.

Name the only team to beat Ireland on foreign soil under Mr Trapattoni’s management.

Was it Brazil?

Yes, at Arsenal’s ground in a friendly.