Thursday 22 March 2018

Stephanie Roche: I'm delighted to see my childhood friend in Ireland squad for crunch qualifiers

Republic of Ireland supporters cheering on the home side at the Aviva Stadium
Republic of Ireland supporters cheering on the home side at the Aviva Stadium
Stephanie Roche

Stephanie Roche

So often in the past the atmosphere of the old Lansdowne Road has been like a 12th man. It hasn't happened as much in recent years, but tonight, with the world champions in town, could be the night to rekindle that famed spirit.

Having watched many games in the stand where the raucous crowd has helped create an incredible atmosphere, the crowd tonight could have a big part to play when Joachim Low's side take to the field.

The challenge doesn't get much tougher than tonight's opponents and we need little reminder of their last visit to these shores, a comprehensive 6-1 defeat.

Both sides have changed significantly since then and Ireland will be boosted by the fact they took a point in the away fixture in Gelsenkirchen.

Manager Martin O'Neill faces some selection headaches ahead of the crucial game and injuries will force his hand. The loss of Seamus Coleman in particular is a significant blow as the defence can expect to be severely tested.

Further up the pitch Wes Hoolahan is also a doubt. The Norwich City play-maker has been in good form for both club and country and would pose questions for the German rearguard if given sufficient possession.

I think Ireland will opt for five in midfield to try and disrupt the dominance of the Germans central midfield unit.

The tendency against Germany will be to retreat as they will look to keep a grip on possession, but the home side will need to work extremely hard to support the attack, most likely a lone striker.

Germany have looked vulnerable at the back in this campaign when attacked especially in the channels between centre backs and full backs. I think Ireland will target these areas on the counter attack and could be key to getting a positive result.

Lastly I want to congratulate my childhood friend and neighbour Alan Judge on his first involvement with the Ireland senior squad.

Republic of Ireland's Alan Judge
Republic of Ireland's Alan Judge

I've followed Alan's progress over the last few seasons and believe he thoroughly deserves this opportunity.

He has been in fine form for Brentford and I've no doubt he will be willing and ready to give everything for the Irish cause if called upon.


Online Editors

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport