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France v ROI: Ghost of Henry’s handball to loom over Irish exit

| 25.06.2016

Robbie Brady’s dramatic and emotional late winner versus Italy may have ensured the Republic of Ireland stick around in France a little longer, but now up against the host nation, time could soon be up for the Emerald Isle.

Tensions will linger throughout the match at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais of course, following the infamous Thierry Henry handball incident which ended Ireland’s World Cup qualifying hopes seven years ago.

Henry has long-since retired, but you can bet Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane will have their squad riled up and ready to get at the tournament favourites.

That alone may not be enough however, with France 4/9 favourites, and a win for the Republic deemed a surprise at 9/1.

It’s heavily odds-on at 1/6 that the French progress by any method, with 7/2 Ireland somehow ditch the hosts out of the competition.

With Didier Deschamps able to call upon the likes of Paul Pogba, Antoine Griezmann, and of course, tournament star Dimitri Payet, France have one of their best squads since the turn of the century.

Add in their history as hosts – winning two of their three major tournaments on home soil – and the Emerald Isle are firm underdogs.

Olivier Giroud was rested for Les Bleus’ final group game, and the Arsenal forward is 7/2 to bag the opener in Lyon.

That man Payet is sure to be in the thick of it once again, and having displayed his wondrous talent with two stunning goals this summer, it’s 5/1 the West Ham star scores first.

Shane Long has done a lot of hard graft so far for O’Neill and Keane, and the Southampton man is 11/1 for the first goal, while Italy hero Robbie Brady is 22/1 for the first strike, and 8/1 to score anytime.

In four previous meetings between the sides, France are unbeaten, winning 1-0 on two occasions.

It’s 10/3 the hosts win 1-0 again, while it’s 1/2 the teams play out under 2.5 goals for the fifth successive meeting.

Victory over Italy was a heroic performance from the Boys in Green, but such is France’s quality right now, they may have to prepare for the ghost of Henry’s handball to linger a little longer.

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Richard Marsh

Richard loves his sport, especially if it involves the sound of tyres screaming around a race track. He's not fussy though and his '90s Premier League nostalgia and knowledge of team nicknames is tough to match.