Fresh faces seek to work on Trapattoni's 'little details' against Greece
SOCCER: International friendlyFour and a half years after he arrived, citing Greece as evidence that just about anything is possible in international football once you address “the little details”, Giovanni Trapattoni finally gets the opportunity to test his players against their would-be role models this evening.
After the past few months, of course, the “anything is possible” theme seems a little less inspiring than it once did. The Republic of Ireland are sliding down the world rankings after a series of hefty defeats by some the world’s best teams and less than 20,000 are expected to venture out to watch an encounter with a good but unglamorous side.
In the circumstances, his employers will have been relieved to see their manager’s team again includes crowd pleasers like James McCarthy, James McClean and Robbie Brady while Trapattoni’s opposite number, Fernando Santos, seems set to do his bit by including Celtic’s Georgos Samaras in his starting line-up.
Given the ticket sales situation, the FAI has been particularly keen to promote the game but Trapattoni might have been trying a little too hard at a press conference yesterday that ranked right up there with the most incomprehensible of his reign. Having started by naming the wrong team he then clearly said there would be three up front only to insist a few minutes later that it would be his usual formation.
“The system is 4-4-2,” he said. “We change only the players. Maybe in the second half one striker plays with Wes (Hoolahan).”
He went on to talk about the dangers of teams getting outflanked in the event that they played with just three in midfield and, having consulted with the association’s press officer on the appropriate terminology in English, observed that: “near the line the winger, many players, many black players . . . they are very fast.”
He presumably had some specific examples in mind but a follow-up question simply prompted one of his most rambling answers ever. By the time it ended nobody seemed to have the heart to persist with the original enquiry.
What was (fairly) clear was that while Trapattoni still intends to give Hoolahan a half he will start the game with a side, and formation, that he believes is better equipped to secure the win. It would, as it happens, be Ireland’s first against tonight’s opponents although it is only the third attempt.
Séamus Coleman retains his place at right back while Stephen Ward returns for the absent Marc Wilson on the other side of the back four. At its heart, Clark gets the chance to partner John O’Shea, who will captain the side, after having availed of the opportunity afforded by Richard Dunne’s injury to settle into the same role at Aston Villa. “Clark has got fantastic potential,” said O’Shea. “We played against Aston Villa a few weeks ago and he was outstanding. We put them under a lot of pressure in the second half and Clark stood up to a lot of the pressure. He is a fantastic talent.”