May 29, 2013
Alex Livesey/Getty Images
For the first time since 1995, England will face Ireland in an international match, this one a friendly being played at Wembley Stadium.
When these teams last met inside Dublin's Lansdowne Road stadium, the game was halted after 28 minutes amidst riots. The hope is that history won't repeat itself.
While England won't have key players such as Tom Cleverley, Jack Wilshere, Steven Gerrard and Andy Carroll for this match, the team will have some of the game's biggest stars, including Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole.
But don't expect Ireland to just roll over and concede defeat because England has more talent. This game is going to be fun, folks. Let's break it down.
Where: Wembley Stadium, London, England
When: Wednesday, May 29 at 3 p.m. ET
Watch: FOX Soccer
Streaming: FOX Soccer 2Go
What They're Saying
Rob Harris of the Associated Press (via Yahoo! Sports) has more on the 18-year hiatus between meetings for these two countries:
For the first time since hooligans rioted and forced their match to be abandoned 18 years ago, the England and Ireland soccer teams will take to the field on Wednesday, in a contest seen as a historic chance for redemption.
Tensions are high in London ahead of the exhibition match, which is being staged as part of the English Football Association's 150th anniversary celebrations - but has been causing deep anxiety at Wembley Stadium where the game will be played.
A stream of warnings have been delivered by England's coach, Roy Hodgson, imploring fans not to shout anti-Irish chants that could turn the clock back to an era of political and sectarian strife between the nations.
The conflict endured for generations, with Britain hit by terrorist attacks during a long confrontation with the Irish Republican Army. But with a peace accord now in place and regular violence mostly a memory, match organizers say the time is right for the rivals to take each other on.
Here's to hoping the peace is maintained at the stadium.
England Player to Watch: Wayne Rooney
Rooney may have fallen out of favor this season at Manchester United, but he's still England's most dangerous player.
Though he's made just eight appearances for the English national team since 2012, he's scored seven goals and added two assists in that time. His ability to operate as both a poacher in the box and an attacking midfielder that facilitates for his teammates makes him the focal point of England's attack.
Would I like to see England build more through wingers like Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain out wide, or even slide Daniel Sturridge out in a wider position? Yes, I would. Namely Walcott, who had a breakthrough season for Arsenal this year and is one of the fastest players in Europe.
But when in doubt, look for Rooney to be the English talisman. He'll do a little bit of everything for England in the attacking third.
Ireland Player to Watch: Robbie Keane
The Irish forward has been Ireland's talisman for the past decade, scoring 54 goals in 123 appearances for the team. He also enters the game red hot, having scored five goals and adding four assists in six games for the LA Galaxy this season.
England is clearly the more talented side, but Keane and strike partner Shane Long are more than capable of stealing a goal or two against the run of play. Keep a close eye on the two strikers in this contest, namely Keane, as he is more than capable of turning the match on its head.
Even without several key players, England is the stronger side here. Still, a disparity in talent has never stopped this scrappy Ireland side from pulling off the upset before, and it has some firepower of its own.
But with the game at Wembley, I'm going to give England the advantage. In a game that promises to be slightly more intense than your run-of-the-mill friendly, England will win, 2-1.
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