Thursday 12 December 2019

Republic of Ireland v Sweden talking points

The Republic of Ireland get their Euro 2016 campaign under way on Monday evening when they face Group E rivals Sweden at the Stade de France.

Here, Press Association Sport takes a look at some of the talking points surrounding a key game for Martin O'Neill's men.


Four years ago in Poland, Ireland got off to the worst possible start when they were beaten 3-1 by Croatia in Poznan in what on paper looked like their most winnable game. Eventual finalists Spain and Italy then brushed them aside as Giovanni Trapattoni's men returned to Dublin pointless, and a positive start this time around is a must if Martin O'Neill's team is to make an impact in the tournament.


O'Neill's players have spent much of the last three weeks responding to the inevitable questions about Swedish dangerman Zlatan Ibrahimovic by insisting he is not the only threat to their hopes on opening night. However while that is absolutely correct, he remains the main one and their ability or otherwise to stop him influencing the game will go a long way towards dictating their fate on the night.


Dealing with Ibrahimovic will largely be the task of the Republic's central defenders, although just who will be handed the task remains a topic for debate. The vastly-experienced John O'Shea is likely to be one of them, but assistant manager Roy Keane admitted Blackburn's Shane Duffy has a real chance of beating either Ciaran Clark or Richard Keogh to the nod for what would be a competitive debut.


Ireland have met Sweden six times in competitive matches stretching back to 1949, but are yet to win one of them. The Swedes won 3-1 home and away in qualification for the 1950 World Cup finals, drew in Dublin and triumphed in Stockholm on the road to the 1972 European Championships and took four points from a possible six as they helped to deny the Republic a trip to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, so the time is ripe for an Irish victory.

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