Euro 2016 Scouting Report: What you need to know about Ireland

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The draw hasn’t been kind to the Republic of Ireland for France this summer, but to be the best you’ve got to beat the best and after famously beating the world champions in the autumn, Martin O’Neill’s side will want respecting.

The memorable 1-0 win over Germany at the Aviva Stadium in October booked Ireland a spot in the play-offs, where they overcame Bosnia-Herzegovina 3-1.

But more importantly, that victory over the world champions showed Ireland can beat anyone on their day, and they could cause all kinds of problems for Belgium, Italy and Sweden in what should be a thrilling Group E.

Plus with plenty of experience all over the pitch, Ireland look ready to compete in France.

So here’s what you need to know about Group E’s underdogs…

Danger Man – Shane Long

It’s been all about Robbie Keane for the past 15 years or so, but with the the nation’s record goalscorer entering his twilight and battling a knee injury, Shane Long will be Ireland’s outlet this summer.

The Southampton man showcased his quality against Germany with a superb finish to grab the winner, and he’s as good a goal-scorer as any in the tournament.

Strong and quick, the 29-year-old never lets defenders rest, and if Long is on song, Ireland really will profit.

Under the Radar – Robbie Brady

The Norwich man can be deployed at left back or left midfield, or pretty much anywhere, having featured in four different positions under O’Neill in qualifying.

His versatility could prove a trump card for Ireland, and his wonderful left-foot will be a joy to the likes of Jonathan Walters and Shane Long.

Throw in his superb dead-ball quality – something Brady’s vowed to improve further before the tournament – and the 24-year-old is set for a big summer.

The Lynch Pin – Glenn Whelan

At 32, the Euros could be Glenn Whelan’s last chance on the big stage, but the Stoke midfielder has rarely been in better form.

His holding role has allowed Derby youngster Jeff Hendrick to really establish himself in the Ireland side, and with the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Romelu Lukaku to battle against this summer, Whelan will need to ensure his defenders aren’t overrun.

Every team needs an unsung hero, and Whelan is that man for the boys in green.

Chances

At 150/1, only Hungary, Albania and Northern Ireland are reckoned longer shots than Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane’s charges, but there’s plenty of reason to suggest they’ll have their moments of joy.

Better prepared than their pointless Euro 2012 showing, Ireland are 11/8 to make the last 16 in this expanded format.

It won’t be easy, but they showed everyone what they can do against Germany, so who can rule out the Shamrock nation winning Group E at 12/1?

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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