Ireland look to take leaf out of Chelsea’s book
Anyone who found the manner of Chelsea's Champions League triumph hard to digest is advised to look elsewhere when rank outsiders Ireland face Croatia in their Euro 2012 opener on Sunday.india Updated: Jun 10, 2012 01:16 IST
Anyone who found the manner of Chelsea's Champions League triumph hard to digest is advised to look elsewhere when rank outsiders Ireland face Croatia in their Euro 2012 opener on Sunday.
Chelsea proved it is possible to overcome vastly more gifted opponents with well-organised blanket defence, the odd counter-attack and a generous portion of luck in their wins over Barcelona and Bayern Munich.
It remains to be seen how many of the 16 teams at Euro 2012 are tempted to emulate them, but Ireland are one side who will certainly try and do so.
Unbeaten in their last 14 matches, and having kept clean sheets in 11 of those, Ireland are likely to prove stubborn opponents for a Croatia team which features a number of ageing key players and can look slow and predictable against tough defences.
Ireland coach Giovanni Trapattoni has openly been calculating their chances of making the last 16 with only four points from their three games in a group which also includes Spain and Italy.
"The first results will be important. If it's two draws, then it might be possible to qualify with four points," he told UEFA's official website, making no apologies for their style.
"We want to win, to play and to score goals. But our opponents are strong.
"I think of the final of the Champions League. Bayern had a lot more possession, they deserved to win, but lost of course and Chelsea created the best opportunity. Seventeen corners for Bayern, one corner for Chelsea - that is football."
Ireland at least have a valid excuse for their tactics as they can legitimately claim to be making the most of limited resources, whereas Chelsea had the backing of Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich.
Perhaps a fairer comparison would be with Paraguay, another small country whose team are anything but pretty to watch but traditionally make life very uncomfortable for bigger neighbours such as Argentina and Brazil.
"We don't have many creative players, but very straightforward players," said Trapattoni."We have our own style of football. We are not a Latin team, not a team who play technically superior. We are a team with our own characteristics, which I like very much, very direct and precise."