Even though this match was just a friendly, for as long as Giovanni Trapatonni is the Ireland manager, it was looked at through different lenses. Why? Well, because Trapatonni’s side were playing against his home nation and the team he used to be in charge of.
This is how Ireland lined up:
Ireland lined up with the traditional 442, and despite it’s criticism from pretty much everywhere, it worked very well for them vs Italy. They were able to keep their positions for the majority of the game, they were solid which they needed to be, especially against a team of Italy’s calibre. Ireland’s solidity meant that although Italy had a lot of the possession, they were unable to create clear chances and were then often caught on the ball, which allowed Ireland to counter attack on several occasions. Also, with this formation, it allowed Ireland to use the whole pitch, they could play narrow when they wanted or needed to as well as playing with width. The two forwards for Ireland kept dropping off of each other through out the match which is a smart move tactically because both Shane Long and Andy Keogh are good in the air and this allowed them to flick the ball on to their strike partner. Little flicks like these are effective especially in wet conditions like they had in Liege because it makes the ball glide over the pitch at a faster pace, this could have caused the defenders to make mistakes because they couldn’t read the ball quick enough. Italy found themselves under pressure from the off and it the game was played at a high tempo, so they were often forced into making mistakes or giving the ball away. When Italy did keep the ball and launch attacks, ireland had a lot of men behind the ball to help defend, this payed off well as they were able to keep a clean sheet! When Ireland were taking their set pieces and used them effectively, italy looked very uncomfortable and they conceded the first goal from a free kick. Keith Andrews had the ball rolled in front of him by Stephen Hunt and was given time to take another touch before striking the ball into the bottom corner. Italy’s defending for this goal was poor! They seemed to be in la la land. The second goal for Ireland came from Simon Cox after good play from Stephen Hunt running behind the italian back line and then crossing it a long the goal mouth for cox to tap in!