The Republic of Ireland takes on World Cup finalists France in their first qualifier for the Euro 2024 on Monday. Stephen Kenny’s men need a miracle to deny the French another three points after their considerable triumph over the Netherlands. Here are the top talking points ahead of the game at the Aviva Stadium.
Cullen – The Midfielder Machine
Burnley midfielder Josh Cullen, known for his on-field resilience and sharpness, was conspicuously absent from the starting line-up during Wednesday’s friendly match against Latvia. His ability to protect the defense line and lead the team’s attacking drives will be vital to the Irish team’s success given the daunting challenge they face against the French.
The Threat of Evan Ferguson
Evan Ferguson, the teenage striker from Brighton, scored his first international goal against Latvia, indicating his tremendous potential. While he may not be given a chance to start right away in such an intense match, his recent form warrants inclusion at some point, which could give Ireland an advantage.
The Long and Short of it – Goalkeeping Woes
Caoimhin Kelleher and Gavin Bazunu have an enormous responsibility to keep the French at bay. In the last year, the Republic has conceded 23 goals, nine of which have come from outside the box, indicating a weakness in the goalkeeping department. The team will need a remarkable performance from their goalkeeper to stand a chance against their opponents.
Kylian Mbappe – The Main Man
With a hat-trick in the World Cup final and two goals against the Netherlands on Friday, newly-appointed France skipper, Kylian Mbappe, is undoubtedly the key player the Irish team needs to worry about. Keeping him in check is crucial to the Irish’s chances of putting up a fight against the French.
2009 – The Unforgettable Handball Incident
The meeting between Ireland and France in Paris in 2018 sparked memories of the infamous handball incident involving Thierry Henry ahead of William Gallas’ goal that dashed Ireland’s hopes of qualifying for the 2010 World Cup. While the French have since won the World Cup, the Irish will be inspired to redeem themselves and cause a major upset on Monday.
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