Our match prediction:
Thanks to back-to-back wins over Belgium and Sweden Italy booked their place in the Euro 2016 last 16. The Azzurri have already clinched top position in Group E, meaning that coach Antonio Conte should mix the squad against Republic of Ireland in Wednesday’s football match. Italy are likely to adopt a defence-minded approach in their final group game and we would not be surprised if they manage to keep their third consecutive clean sheet in the process. Republic of Ireland have been struggling at the showpiece tournament in France, but a win over Italy could see the Boys in Green make it to the knockout stages. However, considering that the Azzurri have been impressive at the back so far, we predict that Martin O’Neill’s men will not score in the Stade Pierre-Mauroy clash. When the two teams met at Euro 2012 Italy recorded a 2-0 win over Republic of Ireland.
Highligted Player (Florenzi):
Alessandro Florenzi is probably the most impressive product of AS Roma youth academy since Francesco Totti and Daniele De Rossi, and the full-back has already developed into an important player for both club and country. Capable of operating as both right-back and right winger, the talented footballer is probably best remembered from scoring a marvellous goal from half-way line in the Champions League clash against Barcelona, but there is much more to him than an occasional wonder strike. While he usually played as a winger during his early career, Florenzi switched to attacking full-back at both Roma and Italy national team, and that proved a very good move for his career. While helping the Gialorossi return to old glory days, the right-back left his mark on international stage as well, especially impressing since Antonio Conte took over the reigns in the national team. Despite the fact that he has yet to realise his full potential, Florenzi already boasts an impressive top flight experience and he is predicted a bright future in the game.
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.