EURO 2012 Group C:The Greens at the end of the road,Time for fresh blood

The services sector in Italy fell from 44.8 to 44.1, with employment shrinking at its fastest rate since July 2009, while the Bank of Italy predicted the country’s economy was set to shrink this year.In the Irish Republic, unemployment figures are at their highest level in 10 years.Now back to football!

Ireland, not a very often guests at big tournaments was back in the European Championships after a 24-year break. The Boys in Green owe a debt which they cannot pay .No matter the number of times they score in their last game they will be eliminated.They have nothing but pride left to play for as they face Italy in their final game of Euro 2012.Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni has given his senior players the chance to end their international careers on a high in their final Euro 2012 group game against Italy today.

Having lost 3-1 to Croatia and then 4-0 to defending champions Spain, Ireland were the first team officially knocked out of the tournament.Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni will give his senior players the chance to end their international careers on a high in their final Euro 2012 group game against Italy on Sunday.Damien Duff will captain the side in honour of  his 100th cap.Fans kept on criticizing Giovanni Trapattoni for his extremely result-oriented style, which has never been the main characteristic for The Boys in Green before. However, the wise Italian knows what he is doing: the team has not lost in its last 11 matches and conceded only in 3 of their 12 qualifying matches.

Ranked number 18th in the world,Giovanni Trapattoni’s men’s 14-game unbeaten run came to an end against Croatia.They conceded in the opening few minutes of each half as the resilience on which they have based their recent run deserted them just when they needed it most.Keenly aware that on the road ahead lie heavyweights Italy and defending European champions Spain, both Ireland and Croatia had been clear that they needed a convincing start to the tournament.


Statistics against Croatia:

A dramatic match at Maksimir in Zagreb ended with a 91st minute Davor Suker goal and gave the Croatians a victory of 1-0 over The Boys in Green. This, however, was not enough for them to qualify for Euro 2000. Ireland did not qualify either, as they could not win this right over Turkey in play-offs.

Mario Mandzukic netted a brace in Croatia’s 3-1 win over Ireland in their opening game of Euro 2012.



The confident Spaniards seemed to win a World Cup 2002 last sixteen match, when Robbie Keane got the chance to equalize from a penalty on the very last minute. The Spaniards won, however, that evening after post-match penalties missed by Matt Holland, David Connoly and Kevin Kilbane.

Ten yeas late in Poland and Ukaine,Spain beat  Ireland 4-0 as Fernando Torres scored a brace.

Statistics against Italy:

The same day of 18th of June 18 years before the Euro 2012 Rep. of Ireland-Italy match in Poznan, the dramatic Group E opener at World Cup in USA ended 1-0 thanks to an early goal by Ray Houghton leading the Eire to unexpectedly take the victory that evening.

Though Giovanni Trapattoni’s side are not in contention for a place in the knockout stage,  they will be no pushovers.Italy was beaten 2-0 by Ireland just over a year ago in a Liege friendly.While Italy have struggled to score, their play has been eye-catching.The Azzurri have yet to register a victory. Trailing pacesetters Spain and Croatia by two points, Italy need a win today to stand any chance of reaching the last eight.



Only once before have the Irish qualified for the tournament proper. That came in 1988 when Jack Charlton led the team to the finals in West Germany.There they defeated England, drew with the Soviet Union and lost to the Dutch as they bowed out respectfully at the group stages.The team conceded only in 3 of their 12 qualifying matches.Ireland qualified via the back door as  they won the play-offs versus Estonia 5-1 on aggregate.

1 Russia (Q) 10 7 2 1 13 23
2 Ireland (P) 10 6 3 1 8 21
3 Armenia 10 5 2 3 12 17
4 Slovakia 10 4 3 3 -3 15
5 Macedonia 10 2 2 6 -6 8
6 Andorra 10 0 0 10 -24 0


7 – Robbie Keane
2 – Kevin Doyle,Aiden McGeady
1 – Keith Andrews,Richard Dunne,Keith Fahey,Kevin Kilbane,Shane Long,Sean St Ledger, Jonathan Walters, Stephen Ward.


Since 1988 there has been play-off anguish against the Netherlands in 1996 and Turkey in 2000.The Irish have fared badly in their last two qualification campaigns, finishing low down the pecking order, but have restored some pride with a fine run to these finals.

Did not qualify
Group stage
Did not qualify 1992
Did not qualify
Did not qualify
Did not qualify
Did not qualify 2000
Did not qualify
Did not qualify 2004
Did not qualify
Did not qualify 2008
Did not qualify
Did not qualify 2012
Qualified through play-offs

IL TRAP | Giovanni Trapattoni

Born in Cusano Milanino near Milan, Giovanni Luciano Giuseppe Trapattoni(73) had a successful career as a player with Milan in the 1960s and early 1970s. Playing primarily as a defender and defensive midfielder with the main task of passing the ball to more creative players such as Giovanni Lodetti and Gianni Rivera, he also played for the Italian national team, mostly as centre back with notable marking skills, appearing at the 1962 FIFA World Cup in Chile.After taking a break from the national team, Trapattoni thought he could settle with a mid-table team for one last season instead of being at one club all his life, subsequently moving to Varese and, after a successful season with them, retired from professional football and embarked on a highly successful managerial career two years later.
He was and still is the most successful club coach in Serie A when the Italian League had no equals in Europe. He won bunches of trophies with Juventus, Internazionale, Bayern and many others.
Just have a look at this:

Managerial honours

Italian Serie A : winner 1977, 1978, 1981, 1982, 1984, 1986,1989
Italian Cup : winner 1979, 1983
European Cup : winner 1985

UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup : winner1984

UEFA Cup : winner 1977, 1991,1993

European Super Cup : winner 1984
Intercontinental Cup : winner 1985
Supercoppa Italiana: winner 1989
German Bundesliga : winner 1997
German Cup :winner 1998
German League Cup : winner 1997
Portuguese League : winner 2005
Austrian Bundesliga :winner 2007
Nations Cup :winner 2011

On the other hand Il Trap can be considered as the unluckiest national coach. His sides were denied a place at 2002 World Cup quarterfinals and a 2010 World Cup ticket as a result of poor refereeing decisions.

There is no need to talk about his professional abilities. The aging legend is without any doubt one of the most tactically intelligent coaches in European football history. And his credibility has never been under question among the Irish players.This might be the last time we enjoy this charismatic coach with his amazing press conferences and emotional manner during matches.


Kevin Foley felt betrayed by Giovanni Trapattoni’s decision to leave him out of the Republic of Ireland squad for Euro 2012.The 27-year-old defender was stunned to discover that he was not going to Poland and Ukraine after manager Giovanni Trapattoni opted not to name him in his final 23 for the tournament.

Full Ireland squad:
Shay Given (Aston Villa), Keiren Westwood (Sunderland), David Forde (Millwall) John O’Shea (Sunderland), Stephen Kelly (Fulham), Stephen Ward (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Richard Dunne (Aston Villa), Sean St Ledger (Leicester City), Darren O’Dea (Leeds United), Paul McShane (Hull City); Glenn Whelan (Stoke City), Keith Andrews (West Bromwich Albion), Paul Green (unattached), Darron Gibson (Everton), Damien Duff (Fulham), Aiden McGeady (Spartak Moscow), Stephen Hunt (Wolverhampton Wanderers), James McClean (Sunderland), Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy), Kevin Doyle (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Shane Long (West Bromwich Albion), Simon Cox (West Bromwich Albion), Jon Walters (Stoke City)

 THE CAPTAIN|Robbie Keane

UEFA European Under-18 Championship:
 winner 1998

Football League Cup :winner 2008

Peace Cup : winner 2005

Barclays Asia Trophy:winner 2009
Supporters’ Shield : winner 2011

Western Conference Championship (Playoffs) : winner 2011

Western Conference Championship (Regular Season) : winner 2011

MLS Cup : winner 2011

Carling Nations Cup : winner 2011

FAI Young International Player of the Year : 1998, 1999

Tottenham Hotspur F.C. Club Player of the Year : 2003, 2006, 2008

Football League First Division PFA Team of the Year: 1997-98

Peace Cup Golden Ball : 2005

Peace Cup Golden Shoe: 2005

Barclays Asia Trophy Best Player : 2009

FAI International Goal of the Year : 2009 vs. France

FAI Senior International Player of the Year: 2010

Carling Nations Cup Top Scorer : 2011

Republic of Ireland All-Time Top Scorer

Scored a total of more than 100 goals in the Premier League – 126 goals

Shortlisted for RTÉ Sports Person of the Year (2011)

The Republic of Ireland’s record marksman by some distance, Robert David Keane (31) took his tally of international goals past the half-century mark during UEFA EURO 2012 qualification. After a dozen years in the English Premier League, the bulk of them as a Tottenham Hotspur FC player, he moved to MLS club Los Angeles Galaxy in 2011.

The Republic of Ireland’s record goalscorer, Keane bypassed the half-century mark in June 2011 − ten months after becoming the fourth Irish footballer to win a century of caps.A Dubliner, he crossed the Irish Sea at 15 to join Wolves and made an immediate impression by scoring twice on his first-team debut.

A member of Ireland’s victorious team at the 1998 European U18 Championship in Cyprus, he made his senior debut the same year, in March, against the Czech Republic and scored his first goals − two in three minutes − in a EURO 2000 qualifier against Malta seven months later.

He left Wolves for Premier League club Coventry City FC in 1999, becoming the most expensive teenager in English football, and then sold for a healthy profit the following year to Inter Milan.He failed to settle in Italy, however, and returned to England to join Leeds, initially on loan.

After an excellent tournament debut for Ireland at the 2002 FIFA World Cup − where he scored three goals, including last-minute equalisers against both Germany and Spain − he left Leeds for Tottenham.Keane registered double-figure Premier League goal counts in six successive seasons for Spurs and won his first major club trophy in 2008 when the north Londoners lifted the League Cup.

A disappointing switch to Liverpool FC in 2008 prompted a return to Spurs after just six months but his second spell was less successful and led to loan moves to Celtic FC (where he scored 12 league goals in 16 games) and West Ham United FC before he decided, in summer 2011, to join LA Galaxy, with whom he would win the MLS Cup final at the first attempt.

Despite the loans and the move to the United States, he remained captain of Ireland − an honour bestowed on him in 2006 − and earned his 100th cap, against Argentina, in August 2010 in the first international staged at the Dublin Arena.He scored seven goals in EURO 2012 qualifying, his double in a 2-0 win in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on 4 June 2011 taking his cumulative tally to 51, a feat never previously achieved by any international footballer from the British Isles.

He moved back to the Premier League on a short-term loan from LA Galaxy in January 2012, joining Aston Villa, and scored twice on his first start, a 3-2 defeat of former club Wolves.

Keane admits Ireland have nothing but pride left to play for as they face Italy in their final game of Euro 2012.

Keane came to Euo 2012 thinking they had a great chance but unfortunately it hasn’t worked out and they lost two games.Keane hopes to reward the large travelling support that have brightened up the tournament, as their heroes on the pitch failed to do so.



Football League First Division : winner 1996
UEFA Intertoto Cup :winner 2007
FA Cup : winner 2011
Carling Nations Cup : winner 2011

FAI Senior International Player of the Year : 2005, 2006

Newcastle United F.C. Player of the Year : 2006
Premier League Team of the Season : 2002, 2006

The Republic of Ireland’s record cap-holder, Séamus John James “Shay” Given (36) has been his country’s first-choice goalkeeper for 16 years. Although relatively small in stature, his agility and courage are second to none. A popular figure at Newcastle United FC, he joined Aston Villa FC last summer after being displaced at Manchester City FC by England No1 Joe Hart.

Born in County Donegal in the north-west of Ireland, he played youth football for Celtic FC before launching his senior career in England with Blackburn Rovers FC, impressing on loan at Sunderland AFC as he helped the club win promotion to the Premier League.

He returned to the north-east of England by signing a permanent contract at  Newcastle in the summer of 1997, rejoining his former Blackburn manager Kenny Dalglish.Given helped the Magpies to reach the FA Cup final in his debut season. He was a fixture in the Newcastle line-up, through a succession of managers, for the best part of the next decade.

His international career began on 27 March 1996 in a Dublin friendly against Russia, and he has kept his place in the team, largely unchallenged, ever since.His only major international tournament appearance before this one came at the 2002 World Cup, where, after performing brilliantly in a play-off victory over Iran, he pulled out all the stops to restrict Cameroon, Germany and Spain to a goal apiece as Ireland reached the last 16, where they were eliminated on penalties without losing a game.

He notched up 354 Premier League appearances for Newcastle plus 61 in UEFA club competition before moving to Manchester City in January 2009.Given became City’s first-choice keeper for the next 18 months before losing his place to Joe Hart at start of 2010/11 season; joined Aston Villa on a five-year contract in July 2011.He overtook Pat Bonner as Ireland’s most-capped goalkeeper in March 2007 and reached his century on 14 October 2009 in a World Cup qualifier against Montenegro in Dublin.

The 36-year-old Aston Villa keeper had been a doubt because of a knee injury but was able to start in both games.He is starting today against the Italians giving coach Giovanni Trapattoni a boost.


PACEAiden McGeady


Scottish Premier League : winner 2006, 2007, 2008

Scottish League Cup : winner 2006, 2009

Scottish Cup :winner 2005, 2007

Under 19 Scottish Premier League :winner 2003, 2004

Scottish Youth Cup :winner 2003

Celtic FC Young Player of the Year :2005, 2006, 2007

Celtic FC Fans Player of the Year: 2008
Celtic FC Players’ Player of the Year : 2008, 2010
SPFA Players’ Player of the Year : 2008
SPFA Young Player of the Year : 2008
BBC Sportsound Player of the Year : 2008
Clydesdale Bank Young Player of the Year : 2008
Eircom Republic of Ireland Young Player of the Year : 2009

The Spartak Moscow winger provided a lot creativity on the wings with his pace and skill.He showed glimpses of that in the first 2 games.The former Celtic player will be looking to put on a good performance with his ability to take on a defender on the wing.  As there are no expectations for him, McGeady can go express himself and will hope to beat the Azzurris

If Berti Vogts asks you to change your mind and play for Scotland when you are 17 means you are a highly rated young players in Europe.Born in Scotland, Aiden McGeady (26) chose to represent the Republic of Ireland and has been a regular in the team under Giovanni Trapattoni, featuring in all 12  EURO 2012 qualifiers.McGeady played for Scotland Schools while at Queen’s Park. He played in an under-13 World Cup tournament in Paris.After Queen’s Park he joined Celtic, who had a policy of not permitting their youths to play for their school teams due to conflicting kick off times. Scotland had a rule which would not permit a player who did not play for their school team to be considered for a call-up to Scotland Schools selects.The Republic of Ireland had no such rule preventing a player from being selected and instructed former Celtic player Packie Bonner, who knew of McGeady’s Irish heritage, to invite McGeady to play for the Republic of Ireland Under-15 Schoolboys team. McGeady qualifies for Ireland through his paternal grandparents.McGeady accepted the offer and joined the Irish youth setup. McGeady was later named in a Scotland under-16 squad but declined. He came through the youth ranks at Celtic and was identified as a special talent at an early age, scoring on his senior debut shortly after his 18th birthday in a Scottish Premier League game against Heart of Midlothian FC.

He won his first senior cap for Ireland in a friendly against Jamaica but did not feature regularly in the side until the EURO 2008 qualifying competition.He became a regular in Martin O’Neill’s final season in charge as Celtic manager, making 27 SPL appearances and winning the 2005 Scottish Cup.Aiden subsequently won a hat-trick of SPL titles under O’Neill’s successor, Gordon Strachan, and also appeared in three successive UEFA Champions League campaigns, scoring his first European goal in a 2007/08 group game at home to SL Benfica.

After several years with Celtic FC, the pacy winger joined Russian club FC Spartak Moscow in 2010, becoming Scottish football’s most expensive export in a reported €11.6m move.He scored two goals in 11 starts in his first half-season.

He finally scored his first goal for Ireland − on his 38th appearance − in a EURO 2012 qualifier at home to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia then repeated the feat in a 2-0 win in Andorra as he proved a key figure in the team’s first qualification for a major tournament for a decade.He scored thanks to a deflection off an Andorran defender.

Aiden McGeady has got the features to run non-stop during 90 minutes, deliver quality crosses and dribble into 25-yard box.

A big tournament assumes more serious contenders. And this is where the Irish team fell short.

This article was written by Nana Abiri (@NOKA88)

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