Trapattoni’s last chance to engineer something worth shouting about
Keane insists there will be no surrender in Vienna but odds stacked against Ireland
If Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni was feeling the pressure he wasn’t showing it during yesterday’s press conference at Ernst Happel Stadion in Vienna, where Ireland will meet Austria tonight. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho
Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni was in jovial form at yesterday’s press conference in Vienna ahead of tonight’s World Cup qualifier against Austria. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho
Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni considers an answer during yesterday’s press conference at Ernst Happel Stadion in Vienna, where his team will face Austria in a World Cup qualifier. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho
“We’ll rip them apart” runs the headline on an ad for a local bookmakers in the Austrian football federation’s official magazine and while few would bet the farm on that, the odds on the Republic of Ireland securing the win required to keep alive the team’s fading hopes of a place at the finals must be pretty long at this stage.
Robbie Keane insisted at last night’s press conference there will be no surrender on the players’ part and the Ireland skipper got a little feisty about the widespread criticism of the team’s tactics, essentially describing it as “crap” and insisting there never has been “a Plan B” in his time on the scene.
Really, though, there was little from the Irish top table to unduly worry hosts who are themselves anxiously trying to play themselves into contention for a play-off spot, not in the team at least, which, predictably, includes Paul Green for the injured Glenn Whelan and, less so perhaps, Anthony Pilkington for James McClean.
Both sides will know the outcome of Sweden’s game against Kazakhstan in Astana before taking to the pitch and, deep down, both must expect to be disappointed by the result.
As he targetted a win, Giovanni Trapattoni, stuck to the line that anything can happen in football and so he should but, in reality, Ireland’s results have been almost as predictable as their approach in recent years and there’s nothing much, certainly not our dismal record against these opponents down the years, to point to a win here.
Trapattoni’s opposite number, Marcel Koller, had claimed earlier in the day Ireland were favourites by virtue of their superior Fifa ranking but the teams’ respective positions could well be reversed in the event of a home win, with the Irish slipping out of world’s top 50 and Austria replacing them in the low forties.This would only make things more difficult the next time around.
That all said, the Austrians are a work in progress and far from the finished article. They score goals but concede them regularly too and if the Irish can just keep their heads for the 90 minutes this time there should be chances to score.
The highly-talented and versatile David Alaba is a key figure for the locals and wherever he plays his ability is sure be a concern for Trapattoni as he tries to map out a route to victory.
The feeling here yesterday was he might start in the space between his team’s midfield and attack, though, and if that’s the case then the Italian may be especially alarmed for the Irish will have to do rather better at dealing with him there than they did when Zlatan Ibrahimovic occupied much the same area to devastating effect on Friday night.