Looking for a miracle.
Republic of Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni is unlikely to make any changes for Wednesday’s World Cup play-off second leg against France in Paris.
Trapattoni’s side have a mountain to climb after Saturday’s 1-0 first-leg defeat at Croke Park but the Irish boss insists his team can still qualify.
“All the players played well and are fit. I don’t have in my mind to change anything,” said Trapattoni.
Abou Diaby, Jeremy Toulalan and Eric Abidal are all ruled out for France.
Diaby, who didn’t feature against the Irish in Saturday’s first leg, pulled out of the French squad on Monday because of a calf injury.
Full-back Abidal, who lined out at Croke Park, is ruled out by a thigh injury while Toulalan missed Saturday’s game and remains unavailable because of a hamstring injury.
Either Julien Escude or Sebastien Squillaci will replace Abidal in the French defence.
Trapattoni left it until the last minute before plumping for Liam Lawrence on the right side of midfield and the Republic boss was delighted with the Stoke player’s contribution.
“The performance of (Damien) Duff and Lawrence was super,” he said.
The two sets of players clashed in the centre circle at the final whistle and Trapattoni insisted that the flare-up was the result of an unrepeatable insult.
“One player said something to one of my players which I cannot repeat (it was so bad),” added Trapattoni.
“A famous player insulted the player. I name the sin but not the player. You cannot insult the Irish people like this,” he said.
“It is not in my culture (to complain). It is enough that they think about what they said and they realise they have done wrong,” he added.
Trapattoni said his players were disappointed but urged them to play with the same attitude and put more pressure on their more illustrious opponents on Wednesday.
“It is 50/50. It is only halfway. Anything can happen. I have seen in my time in Italy, in my time here with Ireland, many surprise results,” he said.
“Start with a little deflection, 1-0 to us. Why not?” (BBC Sport)
This promises to be a heated affair with Ireland looking to keep France on their toes and hoping to get a goal from somewhere. Following Lassana Diarra’s reported outburst at the final whistle in Croke Park there could well be fireworks as both sides do battle for a place at South Africa 2010.
It could be a long hard night for Trapattoni’s men as they look to overcome the first leg deficit but must also be careful not to concede otherwise it’s essentially game over. Expect a counter attacking game plan from the Irish and they will be hoping that some complacency creeps into their opponents.
It is not beyond the realms of possibility for Ireland to still qualify but it will be very hard indeed and the travelling support will hopefully look to be the 12th man out at the Stade de France.
My Prediction: My Heart say’s 1-0 to Ireland but my head say’s 1-0 to France.