Ireland Versus Slovakia: Five Players To Watch During The Euro Qualifier
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After being dealt a lesson in football on Friday night in Dublin, Ireland travels east to face Slovakia. The hopes are high for the Green Army going into this big encounter due to the shock defeat Slovakia faced at the hands of Armenia on Friday.
The Irish faithful will be looking for a full three points from this game, the only question is will Giovanni Trapattoni be looking for the same or setting up for one.
Shane Long - Striker
The biggest loss to Ireland suffered against Russia, other than the 3-2 defeat was the injury picked up by star man Kevin Doyle. He has without doubt been Ireland's best player in recent games and the Irish game plan has gone through him in every game.
Shane Long got his name on the scoresheet and did seem to up Ireland's attack when he entered the fray against Russia.
The simple fact is, however, that Long does not give the same threat as Doyle, and Keane may be seen in a different light without Doyle to partner him and do all the donkey work.
Kevin Kilbane - Left Back
Kevin Kilbane, like many against Russia, was just plain awful. His ball retention, choices, and defensive lapses were on show for all to see.
Kilbane was caught out at the back on numerous occasions as he failed to tie down the left side. He was constantly caught out of position and Ireland paid the price.
He will again be targeted by the pacey wingers of Slovakia, most likely Vladimir Weiss. It will be imperative that Kilbane be at his best if Ireland are to retain any hopes of getting something positive from this game.
Paul Green - Centre Midfield
Paul Green was very much like Kilbane against the Russians. He was seen to be out of his depth and he was unable to keep up with the game for the majority of the match.
However, Trapattoni seems to have faith in the Derby midfielder, and he will be tested to the maximum against a strong centre pairing for Slovakia.
Paul Green will be given the duty of shadowing Marek Hamsik who is considered to be one of the great up and coming young midfielders in the game.
Green was very poor in his choice of passing, and failed to any degree to keep control of the ball for Ireland. It will be even more important away from home for Ireland to retain as much of the ball as possible.
Aiden McGeady - Left Winger
Aiden McGeady was another who fell under the guillotine for his Friday performance. Without Damien Duff out McGeady is expected to be the sole wide option for the Irish.
He is expected to get at the fullbacks and most importantly get some quality service into the front men. Time and time again against Russia McGeady would take to much on and lose possession. On the rare occasion he beat his man, he would fail on the delivery.
Much is expected, and needed, of McGeady tonight due to the loss of Doyle. Long ball is not a viable option for Ireland this time around if passing and dribbling fails.
Robbie Keane - Striker
Robbie Keane is seen as the face of the Irish team. He leads the team in all-time goals scored and always seems to be the man that pops up when Ireland needs him.
However, Kevin Doyle is the man who tends to do all the hard work, while Keane takes the glory. Without Doyle it will be very interesting to see how Keane plays.
How Keane gels and reacts to Shane Long playing alongside him will also be another interesting facet of play.
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