Ireland will need to rethink defensive tactics

Ireland will need to rethink defensive tactics

Published Jun. 11, 2012 12:16 a.m. ET

The Irish are going to have to throw caution to the wind against Spain and Italy after leaking three goals in their opening European Championship match against Croatia on Sunday.

With reigning champion Spain next up on Thursday and Italy four days later, coach Giovanni Trapattoni said his team ''lost all confidence'' by conceding as many goals against Croatia as it had in 14 previous matches and letting in goals at the worst possible times - the beginning and end of the first half and just after the break.

Now Ireland may need to be more adventurous in search of wins to keep its qualification hopes alive.

Ireland had been expected to rely on a sound defense marshaled by goalkeeper Shay Given and veteran defender Richard Dunne to hit its more superior Group C opponents on the break.


The timing of the Croatian goals - in the 3rd, 43rd and 48th minutes - meant that tactic was neutralized.

''Maybe after the first two minutes we lost our confidence,'' said Trapattoni.

Defender Sean St. Ledger, who pulled Ireland briefly level with a 19th minute header, admitted it was unlike Ireland to ship goals so easily.

''We conceded sloppy goals. It's not like us - we are usually quite tight,'' he said.

Now Ireland may need to be more adventurous in search of wins to keep its qualification hopes alive.

After falling 3-1 behind shortly after halftime, Trapattoni threw on a third striker in Simon Cox, sacrificing winger Aiden McGeady in search of more penetration up front. The Italian coach also replaced captain Robbie Keane with the more mobile Shane Long.

''In the second half we changed two players, I think it was better.'' said Trapattoni. ''Unfortunately we didn't score a goal, but I think we played better.''

Trapattoni said Ireland would also be buoyed by the result in the other Group C match, where Italy held Spain to a 1-1 draw.

''We can also believe again because also Spain and Italy they have only one point they are not so far (ahead),'' the Ireland coach said.

Ireland striker Kevin Doyle said he was confident the players would recover in time for the match against the defending champion.

''We can't feel too down on ourselves or too depressed because we'll need to be ready on Thursday,'' he said. ''Goals at any time are disappointing, but just before halftime when we were just trying to get in there without conceding, and just after was difficult to take.''