Monday 26 September 2016

Martin O'Neill reveals how Ireland can upset star-studded Belgium

Aidan Fitzmaurice in Versailles

Published 15/06/2016 | 13:39

Ireland manager Martin O'Neill, left, with goalkeepers (from left) Shay Given, Darren Randolph, Keiren Westwood and goalkeeping coach Seamus McDonagh
Ireland manager Martin O'Neill, left, with goalkeepers (from left) Shay Given, Darren Randolph, Keiren Westwood and goalkeeping coach Seamus McDonagh

MARTIN O'Neill feels that his Republic of Ireland side can deal with the challenge of facing the most talented squad in Europe on Friday when they take on Belgium in Bordeaux, if the Republic can repeat the levels they showed in their opening game against Sweden.

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Belgium head for Bordeaux knowing that, having lost their first group game to Italy, defeat to Ireland will see them exit Euro 2016, so O'Neill is very wary of the Red Devils.

"They have, if you look at them, the most talented set of individual players at the tournament, they are very, very dangerous," O'Neill says of Marc Wilmots' side.

"The Italy game was always going to be difficult, they had three or four chances to score and didn't take them and it will be a tough night for us - but we want to make it tough for them as well.

 

"Belgium play a different style [to Sweden] and they have a very talented squad. Little [Eden] Hazard is one of the best players playing in the world right now, they have players playing in big, big matches every week at club football.

Belgium's Eden Hazard
Belgium's Eden Hazard

"They will be different to Sweden in terms of build-up and approach and how they play but there's only so much you can do," added the Irish boss at his press conference today.

"Players like Ibrahimovic and Hazard will eventually break you down as they are good players. The message we are trying to get through to our players, what we are trying to do, is to be confident on the ball, deal with it, and that was the most impressive thing of all from the [Sweden] game for me, that the players believed that they could play, take time to get out and play.

"Jeff Hendrick was a revelation, Robbie Brady too. For them to be that that confident, to think 'I can cope with these things and I can play as well' was great.

"Belgium have a very talented squad, they will be disappointed with the first game, I am sure they'd have planned to get something from that and Belgium not qualifying for the last 16 is not something they will have contemplated but if we take our performance against Sweden into the Belgium game, we can cause them problems," added O'Neill.

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