In preparation for their Euro 2012 campaign, Giovanni Trappatoni’s Republic of Ireland side will play hosts to Czech Republic on Wednesday as odds against favourites with Paddy Power as they look to continue an unbeaten competitive run stretching back to 2010.
The Boys in Green have suffered only three competition losses in the last four-and-a-half years and although this week’s fixture holds no particular significance other than morale-boosting, the side won’t be keen to give up a loss just four months before Euro 2012.
Russia were the last team to topple the Irish at the Aviva Stadium back in October 2010 but since then, Trappatoni’s men have made all the right moves and even though four of their last nine outings have resulted in draws, victories over the likes of Estonia, Armenia, Macedonia and Andorra will only give them confidence.
Czech Republic are another nation heading to the European tournament later this year and will be just as adamant to earn a win at the Aviva Stadium as a means to continue their momentum.
Michal Bílek’s side have lost three times as many matches in the last two years as Republic of Ireland, however they can look at the positives and see that they have also won more, and they will be hopeful of keeping team spirit and morale with a win in Dublin as they tkae their place at the Euro 2012 finals in Group A, along with Poland Greece and Russia.
Seeming to have lost an affection for drawing, Czech Republic have won against the likes of Scotland, Liechtenstein and Montenegro in qualifying for the Euros, but have faltered against World champions Spain on two occasions, as well as losing once to Lithuania.
Trappatoni has done well to pay close attention to the meteoric form of Sunderland winger, James McClean and will now hand the former Northern Ireland Under-21 player his first senior international cap along with Everton youngster Shane Duffy who will replace the injured Richard Dunne.
McClean has been in scintilatating form for Sunderland under the guidance of Martin O’Neil, and he has the potential to take Euro 2012 by storm in June as the Irish find themselves in a difficult group, together with Italy, Spain and Croatia.
Another man who will miss the friendly clash is Duffy’s club and country teammate, Darron Gibson, who has been ruled out with a knee injury.
For the Czechs, captain Tomas Rosicky will be a notable absence and will miss the game due to a back injury after Arsenal’s 5-2 victory over Tottenham Hotspur on the weekend and should be replaced by Liberec midfielder Jiri Stajner.