Well, it was incredible, blah blah, yadda yadda. With the roof closed the heat in the stadium was unreal but so was the noise. Lovely stadium btw, proper for football, no running-track nonsense.
Took 1 and a half hours to get from city into stadium, took 2 and a half hours to get out and back. So badly organised at the metro station or maybe it was just the fact that the trains were too small......
I was so happy that Robbie Brady got the goal, watching it back although we all emphasised the goaly's poor attempt to intercept/save, it was actually the quality of the ball and the timing of Brady's run, not to mention bravery in the face of likely full-on collision, that deserves more emphasis. Keeper chickened out a bit but the pace of ball and attack gave him only a split second to act, he moved to intercept the cross if Brady didn't make contact, and/or he had no chance to know what way the header would go. Brady kept it simple.
Wes's miss was brutal but it was like he was distracted that the Italians didn't get a free out for the tackle/dispossession. I wonder was the ref starting to sweat that he had denied us a very likely penalty and the grief he was going to get after had he been seen as a major reason why beloved Ireland and their world famous fans were out?
People have commented alot about Italy being a weakened team and not really being up for it. I can tell you from being there they were well up, despite being out-numbered for support about 3-1. They were fighting for their places. They played a very tight game, they pressured us on the ball constantly, and they had us for pace. To Ireland's credit we responded to the abject effort against Belgium and went back to playing football and trying to be ambitious and as creative as we could be given our resources.
I think Wes was held back to give us the full benefit of what he brings in a more open game (last 20 minutes). He would have been kicked and muscled out of it had he started and his departure would have been a downer for us, chasing the game, rather than the boost it ended up being - smart call from MON/RK.
Hendrick wasn't as good as against Sweden but grew into the game. Murphy did well I thought, and Wardy. McCarthy improved, alot of criticism prior to the game, I wonder is he carrying a knock or is it just a confidence thing? He is actually the best midfielder we have, all things considered, when at his best. The next day could be made for him. Long worked his socks off and kept the Italians honest.
We won alot of ball around the middle by a high-pressure game, which you need against Italy. I hope the 3 days rest is enough to do it again tomorrow. France will allow us more space, and will attack more. It's made for us to keep it tight, ride our luck, and hit them when they get caught in possession/give it away. Pray that Long is fit, this game is made for him if we can stay tight and get some possession.
They could come out to prove a point about 2010 and crush us, we can't afford to start slow. They will crush us if we go back into our shell. Can we get two big performances in a row? I think if we do, and get the bit of luck, with alot of pressure on them, this game might still be in the balance late on. From all the talk about 2010, it may not be a home-town ref for once. But we need to be in the game for that to be of any real value.
My impression from the games so far is we are slow, they are very quick. When I put this to some others they said France are not all that pacey. I think it's a relative thing, they are alot quicker than us. So keeping the game as slow & niggly as possible is a must