Euro 2016: France vs Republic of Ireland - 5 players to watch out for
Looking at 5 players who will influence the outcome of the round of 16 match between France and Republic of Ireland
The hosts France will continue their quest for a third European Championship title on home soil. France have won both the previous editions of the tournament they hosted, in 1984 and 2000. The home side have crossed the first hurdle of the group stage with ease, securing 7 points of the 9 available, finishing at the top spot in their group.
Standing between France and a spot in the quarter-finals are the Republic of Ireland. The Irish have been gunning for revenge ever since the acrimonious World Cup qualifying playoff between the 2 sides in 2009. A Thierry Henry handball led to a goal which eliminated the Irish and ingrained in them, a sense of deep injustice.
The Irish will be looking to fire on all cylinders to avenge the wrongs of that fateful night, and cause a huge upset by eliminating France from Euro 2016. Let’s take a look at 5 players who shall significantly affect the result of this encounter:
#1 Paul Pogba:
Probably the most talked about operator in the centre of the park nowadays, the French midfield dynamo has a commanding presence that belies his age. Although Pogba has not managed to hit top gear in Euro 2016 yet, the Irish will be hoping he does not do so against them either.
At his best, Pogba is one of the best players in the world currently. He brings raw athleticism and an acute tactical understanding far advanced for a 23-year-old. The pressure of carrying his nation in an international tournament might have proven to be too much for Pogba initially.
Ineffective displays in the opening fixtures were replaced by a more polished performance against the Swiss in the final group fixture, which finished 0-0. As with any young player, Pogba’s performances vary directly with his confidence.
France fans will be hoping the confidence he gained from the match against Switzerland will boost his self-belief and allow him to reach the heights he has with Juventus in Serie A over the past 2 seasons.