Our match prediction:
Thanks to Robbie Brady’s late goal Republic of Ireland record a hard-fought 1-0 win over Italy in their final group game. The Boys in Green booked their place in the knockout stages, but they face an uphill task in Sunday’s football match against hosts France. Les Tricolores played out a goalless draw with Switzerland in the Group A derby, but you should know that coach Didier Deschamps rested some of his key players in the final group game. Dmitri Payet, who has been producing terrific displays at Euro 2016 finals, returns to the starting line-up and the opposition defenders are likely to have their work cut out for them when facing the Premier League ace. Republic of Ireland did defeat Italy, but considering that the Azzurri coach Antonio Conte mixed the squad against the Boys in Green, we predict that France will make it to the quarter-finals without any difficulties.
Highligted Player (Payet):
Dimitri Payet was born in Saint-Pierre, Reunion on 29 March 1987, but he joined Le Havre’s famous youth academy in 1999 and has since enjoyed a meteoric rise. The attacking midfielder started his professional career at Nantes, but top French clubs soon started casting admiring glances his way and he went on to represent Saint Etienne, Lille and Marseille, becoming one of Ligue 1’s leading footballers. However, it was the move to West Ham that placed Payet on the map as the Frenchman enjoyed a brilliant start to his career in England, making the PFA Player of the Year Shortlist. Some excellent performances in the Premier League persuaded France coach Didier Deschamps to reinstate Payet into his starting line-up and the midfielder paid the coach back with some scintillating displays on international stage. Excellent with the ball at his feet and very dangerous from set pieces, Payet quickly established himself as one of Europe’s top midfielders, with the likes of Barcelona, Arsenal and other top clubs now after his signature.
Highlighted Team (Ireland):
Competing as an independent entity since 1953, Republic of Ireland have struggled to match the world’s best national teams ever since, although they did achieve several respectable results on the road. Their best ever result, the 1990 World Cup quarter-final, was achieved with a big smile from Lady Luck seeing that the Irish reached the last eight without winning a single match. They have since reached the last 16 stage at the 1994 and 2002 tournaments, while only qualifying for three European Championship finals (1988, 2012, 2016). The Irish were in the top 10 of the FIFA Rankings in 1993 and 1994, but have failed to repeat the success in the next twenty odd years, and it appears they are no closer to bridging the gap behind European powerhouses. Robbie Keane holds the record for most national team caps and goals at the same time, having bagged 67 in 143 appearances, whereas Niall Quinn, Steve Staunton, Damien Duff, Tony Cascarino and Don Givens are some of the other star players.