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Ireland vs France
14th November, 2009
Croke Park, Dublin, Ireland
Kick-Off: 20:00 GMT
The Irish will know that a good home result in Saturday night's Ireland vs France football match will likely be an absolute necessity, if their hopes of reaching the World Cup finals in South Africa are to be realised.
After finishing second in Group 8 behind Italy, Ireland will square off with France on Saturday with a place in next summer’s finals on the line.
Ireland had the benefit of what can be considered a weaker group, with Italy being the only real threat. Bulgaria, who finished third in the group, were largely disappointing and Ireland had already sealed a playoff birth with one match remaining to be played.
Richard Dunne will be instrumental in defence in this Republic of Ireland v France fixture, as his experience and leadership will be called upon to withstand the lethal French attack.
Robbie Keane and Kevin Doyle will likely be the striking partnership selected by Giovanni Trapattoni to provide the fireworks in this Ireland v France match, as it is assumed Ireland will continue with their 4-4-2 formation.
France have been hot and cold in recent years under Raymond Domenech.
The French coach has seen the best and worst of times dating back to the 1998 World Cup title, which was followed up with an equally impressive 2000 European Championship crown.
Since then, however, France have struggled, in qualifications in particular, to leave their stamp of dominance on the European and Global stage. This is true yet again heading into Saturday night's Republic of Ireland v France meeting.
France’s second place finish in Group 7 of World Cup qualifying must be seen as a bit of a failure to some extent, as well.
France drew one of the easiest groups in qualifying and were heavily favoured to win, although Serbia edged out the 2006 World Cup runners-up for direct qualification.
The team is full of potential with some world class names in the squad, such as Frank Ribery, Thierry Henry, Nicolas Anelka, and Karim Benzema, but the consistency will be the main question mark hovering above the team.
A loss in this Republic of Ireland - France playoff will likely signify the end of Domenech’s illustrious reign as coach of the French National Team.
The last competitive Republic of Ireland v France meetings came back in the 2006 World Cup Qualifying rounds. The Ireland - France fixture ended in a 1-0 French victory, whilst the reverse fixture in France saw the two teams battle out a 0-0 draw.
Ireland will know that either losing or conceding crucial away goals could spell the end of their hopes of qualifying for the 2010 World Cup, but a victory or even a goalless draw would give the Irish some significant hope heading into next week's reverse tie in Paris.
The Irish faithful will be heavily behind their boys on Saturday, and so expect a tense, tight, and most of all, exciting affair.
Republic of Ireland v France Prediction: Ireland 1 - France 1