When is it on?
Ireland will play France at Parc de Princes in Paris on Thursday, September 7th at 7.45pm (8.45pm local time). The fixture won’t take place at France’s usual stadium for soccer matches, Stade de France, as that stadium is hosting the opening game of the Rugby World Cup the following day, where France play New Zealand.
How can I watch it?
The game is broadcast on RTÉ2 from 7pm.
What is the team news for the game?
In a huge blow to Ireland’s chances, Evan Ferguson has been ruled out of the two upcoming qualifiers against France and the Netherlands. He sustained a knee injury when scoring a hat-trick on Saturday in the Premier League for Brighton against Newcastle United
Captain John Egan is an injury doubt as he faces a scan on a knee injury he sustained against Everton on Saturday. Andrew Omobamidele has been called into the squad as cover. Right-back Matt Doherty will miss the game as his suspension from his red card against Greece was extended. With Séamus Coleman out through injury, it opens the door for Festy Ebosele to possibly start, although Chiedozie Ogbene, Alan Browne or Jason Knight are all options to play makeshift right wing back. Mikey Johnston and Michael Obafemi are also missing through injury.
Ogbene could play up front to test the French defensive line with his pace, and with Ferguson ruled out Stephen Kenny could partner him with Adam Idah.
What is the state of play in the group?
The current group stage rankings are as follows:
Ireland have three points after three games, courtesy of a 3-0 win over Gibraltar. They lost the opening fixture to France at the Aviva 1-0, while they lost 2-1 to Greece in Athens in June. Already the hopes of qualification look remote and require some positive results in their next two games – this one against France and/or the game on Sunday against the Netherlands in Dublin. France have won all four games so far without conceding a goal and are steamrolling their way through qualifying.
How is the France team looking?
Strong as always. The French team is diversifying, only two players in the squad are over the age of 30 – Olivier Giroud and Antoine Griezmann. Change is particularly seen in midfield where 2018 World Cup star midfield Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kanté no longer feature, with the baton passed to Real Madrid’s Aurélien Tchouaméni and Eduardo Camavinga.
Griezmann remains the creator but the team revolves around the brilliant Kylian Mbappé, who has 40 goals in 70 France games. While a circus surrounds his future at club level at Paris Saint Germain, at international level he is focused and decisive and a difficult player to stop due to his blistering pace and clinical finishing.
Do Ireland have any shot of winning?
Most likely, no. You have to go back to June 2022 for the last time France lost at home, to Croatia in the Nations League. The last World Cup or Euros qualifier France lost was in June 2019, away to Turkey, and the last home qualifier they lost was more than 10 years ago, to Spain in March 2013.
A draw is a more likely result to aim for, maybe with the hope that France have their eye off the ball given their lead in the group. Ireland’s best hopes of scoring would’ve fallen on 18-year-old starlet Ferguson, while in his absence if Shane Duffy starts he will offer a big threat from set pieces. A strong defensive performance is needed and then to hope for a moment of magic.