EURO 2016: France - Ireland
The hosts France will join the EURO 2016 round of 16 stage on Sunday when they will take on the Republic of Ireland. The French met the expectations and won their group, which makes their advancement to the knock-out stage well deserved. The Irish, on the other hand, had to fight for their spot in the play-offs until the very last minutes of their very last group match against Italy. With a number of world-class players in their squad, France are strong favourites of this round of 16 and they should make it past Ireland. Starting at 3 PM (CET), the duel France versus Ireland will be played at Parc Olympique Lyonnais in Lyon.
France were unbeaten in the group stage, topping the Group A with a positive score of two wins and one draw but in fact, the team were not overly impressive in any of these matches. France dominated their group duels and they put lot of effort into their performance but their misfiring and ineffective finish prevented them from claiming any comfortable wins. In duels against Romania and Albania, Les Blues managed to score the lucky winners at the very ends of the games. Some of the teamÃ‚Â´s key players such as Pogba, Giroud and Griezmann failed to meet the expectations in the group stage and they were outshined by Payet who has been the teamÃ‚Â´s best player so far. DeschampsÃ‚Â´ men seem to have problems when playing against defensive opponents and there are no doubts Ireland will adopt a very defensive style to try to holdout until the last minute and then possibly go into penalties. If France want to advance to the next round though, they should win the game earlier as penalties are always a fifty-fifty lottery.
Ireland began their campaign with a match against Sweden in which they were close to securing their first win at the tournament but a late own goal from Clark gifted the Swedish share of the spoils. In their next game, OÃ‚Â´NeillÃ‚Â´s men were planning to steal some points from Belgium but this fixture turned out to be a total failure for the Irish as they conceded three goals while scoring none. To keep their hopes of qualifying for the knock-out stage alive, Ireland had to win their final group match against strong Italy. The Irish were underdogs in the match but they gave a courageous and solid performance against the Italians, earning the coveted victory thanks to BradyÃ‚Â´s late winner. Ireland proved they can pull together and produce a good result even against a much stronger opponent when they need it the most. On the other hand, Italy had already qualified for the knock-out stage prior to the match and they did not put as much effort in their performance as France certainly will on Sunday.
The opening Sunday round of 16 tie will offer and interesting clash between France and Ireland. Squad quality, current form, head-to-head statistics as well as home advantage Ã¢â‚¬â€œ all these factors suggest France will have the edge in the game but Ireland are no pushovers as they fought very hard to get to this stage of the tournament and they are not going to give up easily. The French team will be under a heavy pressure and we know some of their players seem to have troubles dealing with it. Will France meet the role of the favourites of this clash? Or will the Irish stage a surprise in this great encounter? We will know by Sunday afternoon.
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