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Tuesday 27 September 2016

Lustig expects a 'British' type of game from Ireland in Paris clash

Mikael Lustig of Sweden and Celtic. Photo: PA
Mikael Lustig of Sweden and Celtic. Photo: PA

As they warm up for their clash with Ireland in Paris by taking on Wales tomorrow, Sweden are expecting a "British style" game from the Republic of Ireland at Euro 2016.

While Ireland have completed their schedule of friendly games with Tuesday's 2-1 loss to Belarus, our group opponents at the finals still have some games to play.

Sweden, who played out a dull 0-0 draw with Slovenia at the start of the week, play Wales in Stockholm tomorrow, a game which Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane both plan to attend on a scouting mission.

Also tomorrow, Belgium host Norway in Brussels while Italy have a game against Finland on Monday.

The fact that O'Neill and Keane both plan to go to the Friends Arena to see the Swedes shows how much they want to learn, but Sweden defender Mikael Lustig already has an insight into the Irish, from his time with Celtic.

Channels

"We'll see if Ireland try to keep it on the ground or play a bit more 'British' football down the channels, but for sure it's going to be a brilliant atmosphere.

"It's going to be a party," Lustig said, aware that fans of his current club are likely to be backing Ireland, given the fact that Scotland are not involved.

"I know that some Celtic fans love Ireland more than Scotland, and they are probably going to cheer for Ireland in the Euros.

"There's a real strong bond between the Celtic fans and Ireland."

Sweden rested Zlatan Ibrahimovic for their most recent game, that uninspiring 0-0 draw against Slovenia in Malmo, a disappointment for the home fans not to see Zlatan play in his home city.

O'Neill made big changes to his starting XI between the 1-1 draw against Holland and that loss to Belarus, some players given a rest and in other cases giving an opportunity to fringe players, and Wales could also do the same, with ex-international John Hartson advising boss Chris Coleman to leave out some of their key players, to make sure they are fit for the real action in France.

Chances

"I don't think he'll take many chances with his big players," Hartson said.

"Chris has to be slightly cautious because there's only six days after Sunday until Wales open against Slovakia."

"He might not play the likes of Bale, Aaron Ramsey, Joe Allen and Ashley Williams," added Hartson.

"Bale might have 10-15 minutes to shake off the cobwebs near the end maybe. I just don't think we can risk him."

Meanwhile, Italy boss Antonio Conte has played down his side's hopes. "It isn't a good moment for our football," he claimed.

"It's important that the squad has a good spirit. I work a lot at this.

"If we are able to find this way, it's possible to be an outsider.

"[Marco Verratti] is the best young player in the national team and a player with great international experience with Paris Saint-Germain.

Experience

"The other young players are very, very good, but without international experience. It's very, very difficult to find strong, young players."

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