Football/Soccer

The colourful language stops as Republic of Ireland and Denmark slug it out in Euro 2020 showdown

Republic of Ireland Manager Mick McCarthy believes his team's character can get them over the line against Denmakr tonight
From Brendan Crossan in Abbotstown

European 2020 Qualifying Group D: Republic of Ireland v Denmark (Tonight, Dublin, 7.45pm)

 

IF James McClean used some colourful language to display his disdain for one journalist in the build-up to tonight’s winner-takes-all clash with Denmark, Republic of Ireland boss Mick McCarthy wasn’t far behind the Derry man in getting his impassioned message across.

As well as technical ability, McCarthy says the Irish players have had to show “guts, balls and determination” to be 90 minutes away from playing at next summer’s Euro 2020 finals.

A win tonight over Group D opponents Denmark will secure their place at the 12-city tournament next June, and they won’t need the insurance policy of the Nations League play-offs next March to qualify.

If the Danes avoid defeat in Dublin tonight they will go through automatically alongside Switzerland.

It’s been a rocky road for the Irish to get to this point – scoring just six goals and conceding four in seven group games.

“We’re not going to be suddenly going to have 70 per cent possession against Denmark,” said McCarthy.

“Don’t think for one minute we’re just going to dominate the game because that won’t happen. Denmark are a very, very good side.

“But is there a big performance, a big result in us? Yes, because of the character of the players, the way they are and the way they’ve conducted themselves throughout this.

“If Georgia had a centre forward they would have beaten Switzerland the other night. And if they had a centre forward, they might have beaten us because they’d a lot of possession in Tbilisi.

“Despite the fact we didn’t play well and came away with a draw, we’re still in it. We could have been out of it; we could have been beaten in Denmark [1-1 draw], we could have been beaten here against Switzerland [1-1 draw] if they hadn’t got the guts and balls and determination to get two results out of it.

“We mightn’t even be having this opportunity, so that’s why I always believe in them.”

The Republic of Ireland suffered a humiliating 5-1 World Cup play-off loss to the Christian Eriksen-inspired Danes two years ago, with Mick McCarthy likely to field just four of that side (Darren Randolph, Shane Duffy, Jeff Hendrick and James McClean).

The sides played out two scoreless draws in the Uefa Nations League last season while the Irish performed significantly better in their Euro 2020 qualifier back in June with Shane Duffy, captaining the side this evening, grabbing a late equaliser in Copenhagen.

U21 starlet Troy Parrott will be among the Irish substitutes after his impressive display in Thursday night's friendly against New Zealand, while David McGoldrick will resume in attack after missing last month's double header against Georgia and Switzerland.

The suspended Seamus Coleman will be replaced by Matt Doherty at right back.

In a week where "f**king weasels" and "balls" featured heavily in the build-up, the talking finally stops at a packed Aviva Stadium tonight.

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Football/Soccer