Republic of Ireland will today seek to beat France in the round of 16 match at the Euros as they bid to revenge their defeat against the Les Bleus who ended their hopes of reaching the 2010 FIFA World Cup finals with a play-off victory.
That game was marred by controversy as the winning goal came from a Thierry Henry handball that eluded the views of the referee and his assistants and that pain has lived with the Irish ever since.
The Boys in Green haven’t had a fantastic tournament but a Robbie Brady 85th minute winner against Italy at the Stade Pierre Mauroy, Lille Métropole in their final Group B match ensured they qualified as one of the four best losers in the new 24-team system of the European Championships.
However, France may prove too strong for the Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane led side as they have tremendous quality all over their team.
Italian referee Nicola Rizzoli will need to be strong as tackles will fly in from both sides especially in midfielder where N’Golo Kante and Blaise Matuidi will try to win every ball and set free Paul Pogba, Antoine Griezmann, and Dimitri Payet.
In their last seven games together France have enjoyed three wins, three draws and just a defeat against Republic of Ireland and that came on 14, October, 1981 during the World Cup qualifier, so confidence is with the Euro 2016 hosts.
And if form is anything to go by, France have won seven, drawn five, and lost four of their last 16 matches compared to Republic of Ireland’s four wins, five draws, and seven defeats.
Seamus Coleman vs Dimitri Payet
This will be a familiar tussle as Coleman is already aware of the qualities of Payet first hand from their duels in the English premier league but it is a different competition and a more charged atmosphere as national pride is at stake.
Payet has been the go-to-guy for the French team and Coleman provides great outlet for the Irish team when they are attacking but he will mostly need to keep his eyes on the West Ham United midfielder throughout this encounter.
Robbie Brady vs N’Golo Kante
Kante’s rise to prominence is remarkable as he took the premier league by storm in his first season in England and won the league with Leicester City and has continued to impress for France.
Brady is a hardworking midfielder and his goal against Italy has got Ireland this far but he will face one of the best tacklers of the ball in modern football and it will provide a fascinating view for neutrals.
It will be a tough match but Les Bleus are the overwhelming favourites to go through into the quarter-finals.
France 2-1 Republic of Ireland