Rep of Ireland v Greece

Rep of Ireland v Greece

IT Wed, Nov 14

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  • 17:23
    It’s been a “fantastic” year, says Marco Tardelli, whose pitch-side briefings in the last 12 months have strongly indicated that it is, in fact, Giovanni Trapattoni who remains the saner of the two. 
    Perhaps it’s all relative. Maybe he was comparing it to Wall Street’s 1929, or Europe’s 1939, or, indeed, the BBC’s 2012, but nevertheless, it takes a unique brand of revisionism to refer to the last 12 months of Irish football in such terms. 
  • 17:28
    Yet, here we are, the worst is behind us, though the ritual slaughter in Poland and the more recent disembowelling at the hands of Germany are fresh in the mind, still. Why else would a mere 20,000 fans by the height of attendance expectation for the FAI ahead of tonight’s clash with Greece, an unfashionable side, like ourselves, but one that occupies 12th spot in the Fifa rankings, nonetheless?
  • 17:31

    I’m Carl O’Malley and I hope to bring you news of a bright new beginning, this evening. That needn’t be a win, Greece are notoriously hard to beat, but we might, for instance, be hailing the raw and hitherto untapped talent of one Robbie Brady by the end of the night. Or, more frustratingly, the impact of the Wes Hoolahan, whose introduction in the second half is expected, though not guaranteed, and would be about four years overdue for the 30-year-old.

  • 17:32
    Your feedback is welcome, nay, it's demanded this evening, so feel free to use that little comment box or tweet me up @carlomalley
  • 17:59
    Trapattoni has shown a greater urgency in bringing more for the future into the set-up since Euro2012, but Hoolahan, at this stage, is not one of them. 
    He has not “discovered” any of them, of course. That’s another of Tardelli’s outlandish claims. But the likes of James McCarthy, Seamus Coleman, Ciaran Clark, James McClean and Shane Long might finally be beginning to feel they have their manager’s trust to forge their own path into 2013.
    We can only hope.
  • 18:03
    And now for a bit of team news: Goalkeeper Keiren Westwood has withdrawn from tonight’s game with a groin strain. A disappointing end to the year for him, no doubt, but an opportunity for David Forde, who has been called into replace him. Motherwell’s Darron Randolph is on the bench if needed.
    Rep of Ireland: Forde; Coleman, O’Shea, Clark; Ward; Brady, McCarthy, Whelan, McClean; Cox, Long. 
    Greece are yet to be confirmed.
  • 18:09
    FAI chief executive, John Delaney, has used his program notes to describe last month as a "testing" one for the team. "The defeat to Germany was disappointing from a performance and result perspective, but thankfully we are back on course and will head into our 2013 fixtures knowing exactly what is required to stay in contention to qualify for Brazil 2014."

    Ah, the aul' 'at least we know what we have to do now' line, the default setting when coming off the back of a "fantastic" year.
  • 18:14
    The fact Trapattoni has opted to stay with a 4-4-2 is likely to irk some, not least Glenn Whelan, who suggested this week that the system is badly outdated and perennially outplayed. 
  • 18:15
    “I’ve said it for a long time, we’ve been over-exposed in there, because I can’t remember the last team I played against when it was a proper 4-4-2. We’re getting overpowered, yet we’re still taking stick, no one has ever given us, whoever’s played in there, any praise for being the two playing against three at times. The manager has changed it around a little bit and if he sticks to it, I think it’ll probably benefit us because we’ll be more able to adapt.”
  • 18:20
    It was never going to happen all at once, however, and, whether his hand was forced by injuries and retirements, or not, today’s teamsheet is about as interesting as it has got over the last four and a half years.
  • 18:34
    Trapattoni has always looked to the Greek model as the prototype for his Ireland and he makes the point again this evening in his programme notes.

    "They have reached 12th in the world rankings through honesty of effort, team work and organisation. The team is their biggest star."
  • 18:37
    "It is this mentality that I've looked to bring to this Irish team. We have introduced many new players since the summer and games like this are important to help show them what we expect of from them when they have the ball nad what they must do when the opposition are in possessionn"
  • 18:40

    The 2004 European champions are in something of a transition themselves and, having spoken to a colleague from Greece, there was little clue there last night as to what team would be picked by Fernando Santos for tonight's game.

    Interestingly, for those who are interested in this sort of stuff, this trip is the first time that nobody from the 2004 squad has been included in the travelling party.  

  • 18:46
    The match day programme is full of useful information. Here in the schedule, it informs us that the coin toss will begin at 7.41pm and end at 7.42pm, courtesy, presumably, of referee Eitan Shmuelevitz's bionic thumb.
  • 18:47
  • 18:55

    So, apart from Giorgios Samaras, who management not-so-reassuringly repeatedly namechecked ahead of this game, who have the Greeks got in their side?

  • 19:02

    Well, we have no team yet, so this exercise is a touch futile, but isn't everything? I mean, if you really stop and think about it, what's the bloody p...

    Sorry, sidetracked there, where were we? Ones to watch!

    Shamrock Rovers fans might remember Dimitris Salpingidis of PAOK. He scored two against d'Hoops last November as the Greeks won their Europa tie 3-1 in Tallaght. In 62 caps, he's scored 10, which, as it happens, is two more than Samaras has scored in 62.  

  • 19:12
    Anyhoo, forget him, he's not starting.

    My tip, based on the meagre research of have done on the Greek squad, which, before anyone points out, is a damn sight more than anyone on that RTE panel has done for this evening's game, is Sotiris Ninis, who does start.

    He was twice Young Player of the Year in Greece, plies his trade in Parma and starts tonight.
  • 19:33

    Greece XI: Orestis Karnezis (Panathinaikos); Vasilis Torosidis (Olympiacos), Sokratis Papastathopoulos (Werder Bremen), Kyriakos Papadopoulos (FC Schalke), Kostas Stafylidis (Bayer Leverkusen); Sotiris Ninis (Parma), Alexandros Tziolis (AS Monaco), Panagiotis Tachtsidis (Roma), Jose Holebas (Olympiacos); Konstantinis Mitroglou (Olympiakos), Giorgos Samaras (Celtic)

  • 19:34
    That's rejigged starting line-up for the Greeks after a brief chat with a friendly travelling hack in the lift. Stafylidis is making his debuting at left-back, as is Tachtsidis in central midfield
  • 19:39
    The teams are out. With the band, mascots and now the president, there are as many people on the pitch as there are in the stands.
  • 19:48
    A touching round of applause there for James Nolan, who tragically died in Poland while supporting Ireland in the summer.
  • 19:49
    1 min:  We're underway. And Ireland denied a penalty after Stafylidis almost marked his debut with a handballed first touch!

    That came rom Ward's cross and could very easily have been given.
  • 19:50
    The crowd are trying bless'em but there was a better turnout for the children's referendum
  • 19:53
    Well, Mr Shmuelevitz is already getting on the wrong side of those who are here. He's just denied Ireland another penalty after Papastathopolous bundled him over. Again, on another day, if it was competitive, and the moon was in the east, it could have been given
  • 19:55
    7 min:  McClean digs out a shot but it was always going to be hard to hit the target on the turn. Whelan's blind ball into the channel for Long was the highlight of that move. Offers a great outlet, does the West Brom man.
  • 19:56
  • 19:58
    9 min:  It's all Ireland at the moment, an encouraging start. Robbie Brady perhaps took the wrong option in shooting with his right and Simon Cox then heads over and wide after leaping, perhaps, a little to early to meet Seamus Coleman's cross.
  • 20:01
    Cox's meets his header far better this time round but he was returning a Ward throw and fired it out of play.

    Brady back to well to muscle Cholevas off the ball
  • 20:03
    15 min:  Good save from James McClean at the feet of Torosidis, there. If the whole left wing thing doesn't work out for him...
  • 20:04
    Brady, Coleman and McCarthy playing neat little triangular stuff on the right. They look at home out there and are Ireland's most dangerous options at the moment.

    Clark up well to beat Samaras in the air.
  • 20:07

    Greece haven't settled into this game at all, at all, and Samaras is down after an accidental clip around the chops from O'Shea.  There's blood and he's off for some treatment.

  • 20:10
    21 min: Greece still down to 10 men but Ireland failing to take advantage. Brady takes one down over his head Bergkamp style on the right wing, but his cross after a neat little turn, went behind for a goalkick.
  • 20:12
    24 min: Ninis shows his skill by cutting inside from the right and forcing a save out of Forde. Told ye, don't say I didn't. 

    Torsidis's ball is well headed clear by O'Shea, who gives Ward a bollocking for letting it get that far. It was a fine delivery, though.
  • 20:13
    Samaras is back on the pitch after a job from the cut man in his corner and Ninis looks like he's warming to the occasion. Not unlike Ireland, this, a bright start followed by a flat middle. Alas, we await the futile late rally.
  • 20:16
    Gone are the triangles of passing for the moment, replaced by long balls, desperate headers and frantic chasing.
  • 20:18
    And there it is. Jose Holebas turns and shoots past Forde on the edge of the box after some tidy interplay involving Samaras and Mitroglu. Ireland were sloppy in the build-up, the rot was creeping in for a few minutes there, and they've paid the price.
  • 20:20

    McCarthy and McClean were both guilty, prior to that goal, of half-hearted tackles and it was symptomatic of the drop in tempo from the home team. Still, long way to go.

    Wait, is that a good thing? 

  • 20:22
    34 min: Glenn Whelan has had enough. Him and his tache have been replaced by Keith Andrews, Not sure what the problem was with Whelan yet.
  • 20:23
    Guest Were presented with an award as being the best supporters at the Euros, pity only 10 of them turned up tonight, real supporters go to games like tonights.
  • 20:24
    It's a fair point Guest, if that is your real name, but the FAI wrote this one off as well. Not all tickets went on sale.
  • 20:25
    37 minutes gone and Tachtsidis shoots over after selling McCarthy a pup on the edge of the box.
  • 20:26
    Guest I can't find this one on any of the cable channels. Am I better off?
  • 20:27
    It depends on what else is on...
  • 20:28
    40 min:  Oh great, somebody has taken to bring a bell to the matches. Has anyone noticed this?

    As if watching Ireland was painful enough, intermittently we're reminded of going to Mass by some sicko in the upper south end.
  • 20:29
    Brady with a free in from the right now!  Do it for Ireland!
  • 20:30
    Not a bad ball but everyone had committed to charging goalwards.
  • 20:31
    Ciaran Clark has caused a ruckus by tearing through Holebas on the halfway. After closer inspection, he could well have gone for that. Greeks not too happy but Clark not too bothered, it seems.
  • 20:31
    barry h that chap with the bell goes to every game its probably the most entertaining thing about watching ireland
  • 20:32

    We're in a bad place when the ringing of a bell gets the biggest cheer of the night. 

  • 20:34
    45 mins and one minute added: Corner Ireland. Lovely ball from Brady, punched away by Karnezis. 

    Aidanp, I can't put that up, for obvious reasons. As much as I'd like to.
  • 20:36
    The goalkeeper made to work again after Brady fires a shot goalwards. Good effort from the youngster. McClean in a bit of bother with some Greeks after claiming handball in the box. He had a point, too.
  • 20:38
    Aidanp Your not Noel O'Riley by any chance, hes an old school friend of mine. Thought Id help a man in need, and that was myself that was having a go at the 'supporters'.
  • 20:39
    Well, you're not getting away with anonymous sniping at the best fans in the world.

    No, I'm not. Noel O'Reilly's a charlatan and a chancer. He's also my editor. I'll pass on your regards.
  • 20:42
    Steve Staunton is on Sky: "Definite penalty", he says about the first call. "Look where the assistant is, clear as day it's a penalty, that's what they (linesmen) are there for."
  • 20:45
    And he's the Gaffer!

  • 20:45
    Aidanp Real fans take time off from the Costa Rican beaches to watch these matches online, where's my award!
  • 20:47

    That's sacrifice for you. You're a martyr. I'll get my hands on a John Delaney tie for you before the night is out.

  • 20:48
    barry h well if aidanp gets one so should i im doing the same on the costa verde lima peru
  • 20:50
    I'm sick of these sob stories. You didn't just wake up on those Godforsaken beaches, surrounded by beautiful women fanning you with palm fronds. You brought it on yourself, made your own choices. Now live with your decisions.
  • 20:51
    Kevin Doyle is on for Long and WES HOOLAHAN is on for Brady.
  • 20:52
    Sgt Slaughter The ony good thing about us losing tonight will be the fair weather fans dropping off just like they did in the 90s. Good luck to them and the embarrassment of the "best fans" award.
  • 20:52
    Sargent Slaughter, still so very, very angry.
  • 20:56
    47 min:  Stunning ball from McClean after well worked short corner with Hoolahan. Tipped behind for a corner.

    McCarthy shoots from distance, Doyle is beaten to the ball after Karnezis saves low and the keeper is alive enough to block Cox's effort. Lively start to the half.
  • 20:56
    Cox dawdles too long on the ball this time and Papadopuolos nicks it away from him his lines up a shot.
  • 20:57
    Aidanp Now listen Barry, hands off its been my goal in life to get my hands on that piece of iconic neckware. Maybe Delaney will shout us a few rounds when hes over our way for a friendly, Ill drop him a line ASAP!
  • 20:57
    Sean That flat first-half performance is not what you'd expect considering the relatively exciting line up. Worrying.
  • 20:57
    ruobrien is there a game going on or are we just talking about beaches? from cold rainy sweden.
  • 20:57
    Well, it was halftime, so technically,no, there was no game going on.
  • 20:59
    Wes has brought a bit of life to this party, great little ball between the defence for Cox, who wins a corner.
  • 21:00
    There goes that bell. I almost knelt, that time.

    Free in for Greece, but Tachtsidis curls it well over.
  • 21:02
    The default choooooon for the singing section is 'I Just Can't Get Enough'.

  • 21:05
    57 min:  It's opening up a little here, and maybe Hoolahan can profit. He's up top with Doyle, by the way, but dropping deep as you'd expect.
  • 21:08
    Cox is down and Andy Keogh is readying himself for action, as is Loukas Vintra, who is replacing Ninis. Giannis Maniatis is also coming on for Torosidis. Like you care.
  • 21:09
    A colleague just turned to me and said: "It's a pity we are not creating anything."

    Yes, yes it is.
  • 21:11
    63 min: McClean buys a free kick nicely on the right after lost cause ball from Andrews.

    He looks like he'll take it, though Hoolahan wants a piece.

    No, he's told to take a hike and McClean's effort cannons off a defender and out for a corner.

  • 21:11
    AidanP Pace has picked up and personally Im delighted Hoolahan is getting a run out, throughly deserves it
  • 21:12
    Yeah, he's made a difference. Has added a bit more zip to the proceedings. It's Greece who look a little ragged now.
  • 21:15
    Lovely stuff from Coleman, a little drag back and nutmeg of Fortounis, before the defender brings him down.

    Free in Ireland
  • 21:17
    McClean step-ps over it and Hoolahan fires it low across the box for Keogh to swipe at it. It loops up and Ward's mishit volley from the back post bounces out of reach of Doyle.
  • 21:17
    AidanP McShane or Ward, whos better?
  • 21:20
    73 min: Hoolahan delivers a lovely corner to the head of O'Shea at the backpost, but the defender's effort is blocked away.

    Meyler is on for McCarthy.
  • 21:23
    Ireland have created a lot more in this half and they have controlled possession. I can't help but feel it's been down to that little fella who is consistently our best player at club level but hasn't had a look in for Ireland under this manager.
  • 21:24
    Denmark To Aidanp : whats the difference in a duck!
  • 21:24
    ? Must be a Danish saying,
  • 21:27
    79 min:  The Greeks are happy enough to try and see this one out, it seems, but there is something there for the homeside, if they want it.
  • 21:27
    Denmark No, I first heard it in Dublin moons ago.
  • 21:29
  • 21:30
    Well, at least somebody saw some action tonight. Love that fella.
  • 21:31
    AidanP Were lacking urgency and creativity, perhaps thats down to inexperience, a defensive opposition or simply a lack of ability at this level.
  • 21:31
    barry h if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck then it must be a duck :p
  • 21:31
    Okay, that's enough about ducks.
  • 21:33
    Five minutes left here and Coleman is taken down by Fortounis again. Yellow card for the Greek for what was a pretty cynical tackle.

    McClean's free in is way too deep and easily collected.

    Who has him taking frees? Oh yeah...
  • 21:33
    Sean Can you be sacked after a friendly? And can we start discussing replacements?
  • 21:34

    You can, and yes you can, but yoou might want to hurry up we have three minutes left.

  • 21:34
    barry h i wonder how we are going to fair against zlatan and co
  • 21:35
    John O'Shea marking Ibra will be car crash stuff.

    David Meyler has looked awfully ponderous since he's come on. And I really didn't want to say that this evening.
  • 21:37
    Sean Benitez, Coyle, Dalglish or Redknapp.
  • 21:37
    Are you paying, Sean?
  • 21:38
    AidanP How many clear chance did we create tonight 2 or 3? And against Germany 1 or 2, thats a poor return on home games.
  • 21:38
    Sean My own choice would be Keane though. He is a huge risk, but would not accept mediocrity and would have us prepared well at the very least. His temperament may be more suited to international management, compared to the day-to-day stuff of club football. For now, I say Keane.
  • 21:39
    Coleman is man of the match, which is probably deserved. He's been very lively, early in the first half with Brady and then in the second outside McClean.
  • 21:40
    McClean has worked reall hard this half, possibly too hard, typified by a tired pass out wide to Ward that rolls out of play. He's trying to do too much when he's on the ball.
  • 21:44
    Sin é, folks

    1-0 to the visitors. Some good things, some not so good. Coleman's and Hoolahan's contributions notable, while Clark looked reasonably solid but along with others could possibly have shown a bit more urgency for the goal.

    I'm off to decipher a Trapattoni press conference. Enjoy yisser Pina Coladas and I'll have some mangled quotes up shortly. 
  • 21:55
    AidanP There you have it, Trap gave the fringe players and none really put their hands up. Got to go, Stan the Man is about to give his opinion, nail biting!
  • 21:59
  • 22:04
    Fernando Santos

    "It was to be expected, a strong game, a competitive game. I think the fiirst 10 minutes we didn't play well, the Irish surprised us but after this period we managed to keep the ball and take the possession. We had some chances and we scored one goal. In the second half we saw a game completely different, the Irish tried to press us and score their first goal, but our team reacted well and had very good defensive organisation. I think that was the key that gave us victory." 
  • 22:07
    Santos on Ireland

    "I believe the Irish team has many chances to qualify for 2014, maybe not in first position, because it is true that first will be difficult. But I believe the team has great character and determination and with these things they can pass through the play-offs" 
  • 22:10

    Attendance tonight was officially 20,070. Unofficially, it wasn't.

  • 22:29
    Giovanni Trapattoni

    "I think all who saw the game saw our performance and the result. The result gave us great disappointment but the performance gave us confirmation on what I look for from the players like McCarthy, Long and McClean. They confirmed against a great team, because Greece is a great team. 

    "The first 20 minute we played great football, afterwards we conceded a goal but we had more possession. But football is the result not the performance.

    But I saw their personality in this game." 
  • 22:30
    "After one minute there was a great penalty. In the second half, against Doyle, another penalty. There is no excuse, if you watch on television, it was handball (the first).
  • 22:31

    Thank God it was only a friendly game"

  • 22:33
    Disappointed we didn't create chances?

    "Yes, yes. Possession is not enough. It is right what you say. But we looked to score ... I think we had a good approach. It was important to make a good performance after the German defeat.

    "Also, the Faroes and Kazakhstan. You can see a progression.
  • 22:35
    Happy with Coleman?

     "Coleman was fantastic. He was the man of the match. but we know him and we follow him. We asked him for the future because many time I repeat the midfield is only two men and the full-backs can make up on the right and the left."
  • 22:36
    Charion Clark was also "fantastic".
  • 22:39
    On Zlatan.

    "I hope he has run out of fuel. Ibra we know ... I was the manager in Italy and he fouled Buffon and scored with his heel. This striker can score alone. There are others who need the team, with the cross, the pass, the person. Ronaldo, Messi is another, who can score on their own."  
  • 22:40

    "We are certainly not going to go into it (Sweden game) beaten already."

  • 22:41
    And with that, he's gone. 

    As am I.

    Slán, thanks for reading, commenting and taking part. Sure, it's the taking part that counts.