Ireland – Netherlands: Hope Follows Despair In Dublin (1-2)
Ireland needed to win against the Netherlands to be in with a hope of qualifying for the Euros next summer. They came out with an aggressive press that unsettled the Dutch side, but were too slow to adapt to Ronald Koeman’s changes in the second half.
Tactical analysis and match report by Nick Hartland.
In 2020 Stephen Kenny was brought in as Ireland's manager to act as a breath of fresh air to an establishment that had become all too stale. The football had been turgid and the team was ageing. Kenny was seen as a fix for both as the former under-21s manager and someone renowned for encouraging an exciting style of football.
Three years on the team is younger but the football was still rancid, and now Kenny’s job rested on whether an Ireland side that has only managed to beat minnows Gibraltar in this qualification campaign could get something out of the seventh-best team in world football. A defeat would all but mathematically end another qualification campaign for Ireland without tournament football.
Despite an awful start to his second time round as Netherlands manager, Koeman has since seen victories against Gibraltar and Greece, and a further victory against Ireland would leave his side second in the group and a firm position for qualification to the Euros.
Kenny lined his side up in a 5-2-2-1 shape with Gavin Bazunu in goal behind the back five of James McClean, John Egan, Shane Duffy, Nathan Collins, and Matt Doherty. The midfield two of Josh Cullen and Alan Browne. Up front, Adam Idah was the number nine instead of the injured Evan Ferguson where he . . .