What a match up we have in store on Sunday morning as tournament hosts and favourites France take on surprise package the Republic of Ireland. France were impressive at times in their group games but struggled to score goals with their fane winners coming late in the first two games. Deschamps is struggling to pick his strongest team with Giroud the main striker but wasting many opportunities. Paul Pogba, Greizmann and Lloris are the key men for France and the West Ham winger Dimitri Payer has been sensational this tournament scoring twice and hitting the cross bar with a piledriver against Switzerland. This French team is hugely talented but there are questions to be asked about their ability to deliver on the biggest stage, the French will be expected to win here easily and that expectation brings with it its own pressure.
On Wednesday night Robbie Brady lifted a nation as his 85th minute goal sent the Republic of Ireland into the knockout stages of the European Championships for the very first time. While it has to be mentioned that Italy rested at least 4 starters and possibly 6 depending on how you look at their squad the Irish went for it from the first moment and thtoroughly deserved the win. Martin O'Neill threw caution to the wind and started an attack minded 11 with Daryl Murphy, James Mclean both getting a start and Shane Duffy starting in the center of defence more for his attacking ability at set pieces. Ireland put in all their attackers searching for a goal that would send them through and Wesley Hooligan's brilliant cross was headed into the net by the terrific Robbie Brady.
I am not going to even pretend that I am impartial here. I am from Ireland and like every Irish fan am terrifically proud of the achievements of this group of players. Getting out of the toughest group has already over shot the expectations of our nation, but there is a sense of Karma could have something to do with this match up. For those who know their soccer they will know that Ireland were knocked out of the 2010 World Cup due to a Thierry Henry handball in a playoff game in Paris. Could Karma even the tables here ? Probably not. This is a really strong French team and it's hard to see Ireland get anything from this one. I am going to take the unders though as I believe Ireland can keep this one tight and the French may struggle under the pressure.