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Ireland vs Sweden Preview - Will Trap Be The Father Of Success?

Ireland vs Sweden Preview - Will Trap Be The Father Of Success?
By Cian Tracey Updated

On the face of it, given only three players that began the Euro 2012 nightmare also begin tonight's game against Sweden, you'd be forgiven to think that Giovanni Trapattoni had made some positive changes since June. And he has. But as is usually the case with the 74 year-old Italian, the negatives far out weigh the positives.

The defensive selection isn't too far off what the majority of Irish fans would have opted for. It is at least refreshing to see two young attacking full backs start the game in Stockholm - how much freedom they will actually be given remains to be seen.

Coleman was outstanding in Everton's defeat of Manchester City last Saturday - it wasn't just in his defensive role that he shined but his searing runs down the right flank were a constant source of creativity for his side.

Trapattoni seemed to suggest that Coleman would be given the freedom to attack in his press conference yesterday as he attempted to justify his selection of Paul Green over James McCarthy; "It's important for us to keep their full-backs pushed back, and for our full-backs to push forward. If Seamus Coleman goes forward, I said we must also push the defensive line. We have to stay in this position. Paul Green has the attitude."

It is not just the inclusion of Green that has irked Irish fans but it is the fact that he has replaced one of the country's finest talents.

Since missing out on Ireland's Euro 2012 campaign, James McCarthy has been the country's most consistent performer in a green jersey. McCarthy who has once again been an integral part of Wigan's annual push for Premier League survival has started each of his side's 29 league games and has been substituted just twice. His performance against Poland in February was outstanding and while he was on the pitch, you couldn't help but feel a sense of pride and relief that he had opted to play for Ireland over his native Scotland.

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As it is, he has been dropped for a player who unfortunately has never endeared himself to the Irish public. Some may feel that Paul Green has been harshly treated by fans but the simple fact is that he has continually failed to produce for Ireland after numerous opportunities on the big stage.

Tonight's referee is Spain's Alberto Undiano Mallenco, the same official who took charge of Celtic's defeat to Juventus at Parkhead when some of the Italians' defending was crude to say the very least. The inclusion of the combative Green suggests that Trapattoni is hoping for a similar lenient approach from the Spaniard.

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Darron Gibson is still in self-exile due to Green being selected ahead of him at the Euros, which is an entirely different matter but you can't help but wonder what other players are thinking when they see Green's name on the team sheet.

In yesterday's press conference, Trapattoni also went on to draw comparisons between Green and great midfield generals like Gennaro Gattuso and Nobby Stiles. Green is in tonight's team to cut off the supply line to Zlatan Ibrahimovic. If the risk, and yes, it is a risk, pays off, then it will be heralded as a brilliantly shrewd move by the Italian. If, on the other hand, it back fires, questions will again be raised about the manager's future.

The manager's decision to name Robbie Brady in the starting XI was a particular positive but his decision to then question his mental state was baffling. Plenty has been made of Trapattoni's man management of players especially in light of his treatment of Kevin Doyle but it is particularly difficult to decipher what what exactly he was trying to achieve in questioning the mental state of one of Ireland's youngest players on the eve of his biggest game of his career to date.

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It's highly unlikely that Brady won't start tonight's game but the fact that Trapattoni claimed that Andy Keogh, a striker, would start in his place, illustrates his failure to learn from last summer's disaster. It is this reluctance to change that could cost Ireland their place at the 2014 World Cup.

Unsurprisingly Robbie Keane retains his place and he spoke yesterday of how his role will change in that he will drop deeper to help out the midfield. With Wes Hoolahan sitting on the bench, it is difficult to see Keane having more of an influence in that role than the Norwich playmaker.

Ireland must find the right balance between quelling the attacking threat of Sweden and getting at their back four. Plenty of question marks still hang over their central defensive pairing of Shane Long's West Brom club mate, Jonas Olsson and Andreas Granqvis. Neither are gifted with pace which is certainly an area that Long will be hoping to profit from.

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Trapattoni borrowed an old English proverb yesterday, albeit in broken English and not for the first time sent the press room into a daze of confusion.

'Success has many fathers but failure is an orphan'.

The Italian's idea that people are all too willing to take credit for a success but shun the responsibility of failure may be true but if Ireland don't come away from Stockholm with at least a point tonight, it would put their World Cup hopes in serious doubt - leaving Trapattoni as the lone orphan staring at the prospect of another failed campaign.

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