Euro 2012: Picking the Ideal Republic of Ireland Starting XI to Beat Italy

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Euro 2012: Picking the Ideal Republic of Ireland Starting XI to Beat Italy
Claudio Villa/Getty Images
Andrea Pirlo (centre) and his Italy team-mates stand in the way of the Republic of Ireland restoring some pride at Euro 2012 with a victory before they head home.

Republic of Ireland's Euro 2012 campaign comes to an end Monday evening as they play their remaining Group C fixture against Italy, country of their own manager Giovanni Trapattoni.

When this group was drawn late last year, Trapattoni may have envisioned a dream scenario that saw both teams going into the final game with qualification virtually sealed.

More realistically, he will probably have pinpointed it as a game Ireland would have needed to win to make it through if they were still in contention, with the hope his countrymen had already safely qualified.

Instead the Ireland boss faces the worst possible scenario personally, knowing that to restore some pride his team will have to dump the Italians out of the tournament.

Trapattoni will of course not give a second thought to doing what he can to beat them, but it promises an unsatisfactory ending for him to a European Championships campaign that has grown increasingly negative in recent days with criticism from former Republic captain Roy Keane grabbing the headlines.

Keane, currently working as a television analyst for ITV in England, has called for wholesale changes in order to give others experience in place of the more established players he believes have failed miserably.

Unfortunately, he fails to consider that beyond attacking positions, there is little talent elsewhere within the squad likely to come in and improve things against an Italy team hunting for a vital win.

Still, for Ireland's best chance of heading home with any semblance of positivity with a win (or at least a well-fought draw) against Italy, alterations to the team do need to be made.

Trapattoni will still need to call upon most of the players he has utilised so far, and try to get of them one last big effort before attention turns to 2014 World Cup qualifiers.

Along with them, some concessions to the future may have benefits in the present.

There is recent precedent to suggest Trapattoni and his team may have the number of Monday's opposition, having beaten the Italians 2-0 in a friendly in June 2011.

Neither side were at full strength, and a friendly match can not compare with its tournament equivalent, but right now the Irish have to find confidence wherever they can.

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