Italy vs Ireland Preview | Team News, Key Men and Stats

Italy vs Ireland Preview | Team News, Key Men and Stats

Republic of Ireland have a daunting task at their hands if they are to qualify to the round of 16. The 1-1 Draw against Sweden and a 3-0 thrashing means that not only should Republic of Ireland beat Italy, Sweden must drop points against Belgium in order for them to have a realistic chance at qualification. However,  manager Martin O’Neil is unperturbed and believes that his side has all it takes to qualify for the next round.

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Team News

Italy

2 wins in 2 games has ensured that the Azzuris will move to the next round no matter what the result on Wednesday. However,  it is very unlikely that manager Antonio Conte will rest his key players for the tie. While Candreva remains sidelined with an hamstring injury,  Gigi Buffon could be forced to sit this game out due to a sever cold.

Expected Line-Up

Sirigu, Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini, Darmian, Parolo, De Rossi, Giaccherini, Florenzi, Eder, Pelle

Republic of Ireland

Martin O’Neil could be without the services of striker Jonathan Walters who is nursing an injury. The Stoke forward is a tireless presence in front of the goal and would be missed against a side that relies on its defensive stability. We do not expect a lot of changes in the starting line-up with only James McClean expected to come into the side for Jeff Hendrick.

Expected Line-Up

Randolph, Coleman, O’Shea, Clark, Ward, McClean, McCarthy, Whelan, Brady, Hoolahan, Long

Key Men

Graziano Pelle

The Southampton striker will play a critical role against a side that is renowned for its physical approach. While many a critics have criticised Pelle for his lacklustre performance against Sweden,  he is critical to the side’s attacking firepower. The 30 year old has the ability to dictate the proceedings in the ground, having a dominant presence on the ground as well as in the air. He has also shown an ability to convert the half chances that come his way,  making him the player to watch out for Republic of Ireland.

Though Italy have already qualified to the next round, Antonio Conte will be well served if Pelle can find his goal scoring  touch before going into the business end of the tournament.

Shane Long

Shane Long endured a tough game against Belgium and will be keen to put the outing behind him. He did not receive any support from his teammates in attacking areas and should have been awarded a penalty which could have turned the result on its head.

With the likes of Coleman, Hoolahan, McClean in the side,  the player will be presented with opportunities which he will need to grab for his side to remain alive in the tournament. Long’s strike against World Champions Germany in October helped his side qualify for the finals, in the process making him a legend in Irish footballing  folklore and he will be keen to add another glorious chapter to his career on Wednesday.

Interesting Facts

  • Italy have a better head to head record against Republic of Ireland having recorded 8 wins in 13 precious meetings between  the two sides. Ireland on the other hand have managed just 2 wins and will be keen to improve their record.
  • These two sides also met in the group stages in the Euro 2012 with Italy winning the game 2-0 courtesy of goals from Cassano and Balotelli

Prediction

Given their performances in the last 2 games,  it is very unlikely that Ireland could breach their defence with ease. We expect the game to be a tightly contested affair and Italy to win the game 1-0.