Soccer Scene

Preview: Republic of Ireland - France
World Cup Play Off
14.11.2009 at 20:00 - Croke Park

Republic of Ireland entertain France at Croke Park on Saturday in the first leg of their World Cup play-off.

Ireland have not qualified for a major tournament since the 2002 World Cup finals, when they again came though a play-off as they beat Iran over two legs.

However, the task facing Giovanni Trapattoni's side is somewhat more daunting as they face one of Europe's big guns in France.

France have not failed to qualify for a World Cup since 1994 - but their current side does look vulnerable, which was highlighted in the group stages as they lost out to Serbia.

The two sides are no strangers to each other as they met in qualifying for the 2006 World Cup. During that campaign Ireland grabbed a 0-0 draw in Paris, before losing to a Thierry Henry goal in Dublin.

Ireland are full of confidence going into the match, as assistant Liam Brady explains.

"France have some very talented players, but just because they are talented doesn't mean we fear them," he said.

"There is a confidence and spirit in the camp now which says we can qualify. Our team spirit is very strong and that has been demonstrated on the field. The players know their jobs and if we stick to our game plan, we can go to the World Cup."

Trapattoni has few selection dilemmas ahead of the game.

Shay Given will start in goal, whilst John O'Shea is fit and will start at right-back with Kevin Kilbane on the left.

Sean St Ledger and Richard Dunne will line up in central defence.

Aidan McGeady and Damien Duff will fill the wide berths, and Stoke's Glenn Whelan should start with Keith Andrews in central midfield.

Captain Robbie Keane will lead the line alongside Kevin Doyle.

Under-fire French coach Raymond Domenech earlier stoked up the tensions ahead of the game by describing Ireland as 'England B'.

But he insists he does respect them, saying: "We know their qualities.

"They are, first of all, a team that has some very good individuals playing in great sides. On top of that there is a spirit that makes them even tougher opponents. We remember playing them in previous World Cup qualifiers. In those games, there was as much atmosphere on the pitch as outside."

Domenech is playing his cards close to his chest in regards his team selection.

Reports suggest that Lyon ace Jeremy Toulalan has a thigh problem and he may not be risked in Dublin, and could be saved for the second leg.

If Toulalan does not play then Bordeaux's Alou Diarra wil come in alongside Lassina Diarra to form a two-man anchor in midfield.

Donemech is likely to deploy a two-man holding role with a trio of Thierry Henry, Yoann Gourcuff and Nicolas Anelka supporting lone front-man Andre-Pierre Gignac.

Anelka looks likely to play on the right in an attacking support role, a position which would have been taken by the injured Franck Ribery.

The French defence is a little bit more stable with Lyon keeper Hugo Lloris behind an impressive looking back four of Bacary Sagna, William Gallas, Eric Abidal and Patrice Evra.


H / A / N Matches W D L Goals + / -
H 9 3 2 4 10 - 12 -2
A 10 1 3 6 5 - 13 -8
N 0 0 0 0 0 - 0 +0
Total 19 4 5 10 15 - 25 -10

Date&time Comp. H / A / N Final score
07.09.2023 at 19:45 European Cup Qualifier A 0 - 2
27.03.2023 at 19:45 Euro 2024 Qualifier H 0 - 1
28.05.2018 at 15:00 Friendly A 0 - 2
26.06.2016 at 15:00 European Cup Finals A 1 - 2
18.11.2009 at 21:00 World Cup Play Off A 1 - 1
14.11.2009 at 20:00 World Cup Play Off H 0 - 1
07.09.2005 at 19:45 World Cup Qualifier H 0 - 1
09.10.2004 at 20:00 World Cup Qualifier A 0 - 0
07.02.1989 at 19:45 Friendly H 0 - 0
14.10.1981 at 16:00 World Cup Qualifier H 3 - 2
28.10.1980 at 00:00 World Cup Qualifier A 0 - 2
30.03.1977 at 00:00 World Cup Qualifier H 1 - 0
17.11.1976 at 00:00 World Cup Qualifier A 0 - 2
19.05.1973 at 00:00 World Cup Qualifier A 1 - 1
15.11.1972 at 00:00 World Cup Qualifier H 2 - 1
25.11.1953 at 00:00 World Cup Qualifier A 0 - 1
04.10.1953 at 15:30 World Cup Qualifier H 3 - 5
16.11.1952 at 14:30 Friendly H 1 - 1
23.05.1937 at 00:00 Friendly A 2 - 0
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