Euro 2016 betting preview: Stuttering France should have enough to knock out the Republic of Ireland

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If the tie wasn’t hard enough for the Republic of Ireland against Euro 2016 hosts France, history is certainly not on their side. The French are unbeaten in seven internationals at Stade de Gerland since a 3-1 friendly reverse to Spain in their first-ever outing in Lyon on 17 October 1968 and the Republic of Ireland have scored only once against France since October 1981.

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This history is tainted in Irish minds by a moment in the second leg of the World Cup playoff in 2009, when the Irish had come back from losing their home game 1-0 to equalise on aggregate through Robbie Keane. Ireland had been the better team going into extra-time, until Thierry Henry blatantly used his hand to set up William Gallas for the winning goal, in a moment that has since hung over this fixture to this very day.

 

Although France easily progressed through the group stage, they have yet to hit anything near top form. Two relatively unimpressive wins against Albania and Romania were followed by a 0-0 draw against Switzerland in their last game. Against Switzerland manager Didier Deschamps gave some fringe players a chance to stake their claim to the first-team in the latter stages and few gave him any reason to switch his first eleven.

However, at the back they have been pretty solid and have yet to concede a goal from open play, with the only time Hugo Lloris has been beaten is from the penalty spot against Romania.

The Republic are obviously massive underdogs although they have shown enviable fighting spirit against apparently superior opponents. They were by far the better team against Sweden, but an own goal meant the Irish dropped two points. They were comfortably beaten by a resurgent Belgium, but then beat Italy 1-0, albeit against an Italian reserve side.

The Irish fighting spirit will need to be on overdrive just to keep a stuttering French attack away from their goal. However, it is hard to see the Irish managing to get past Les Bleus defense.