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Monday 10 December 2018

Ireland can aim for top spot in Euro group

Mick McCarthy
Mick McCarthy

Mick McCarthy has had week now to digest the draw for the Euro 2020 qualifiers.

I see no reason why Ireland can't aim to win the group because it's a favourable draw and a winnable group, just being in the top two shouldn't be the aim as we could finish top.

I know Denmark gave Ireland a real beating in the World Cup last year but in general, they don't score many goals and Switzerland, while they are a good side, don't tend to beat teams 3-0 or 4-0.

So a team like Ireland should always be in the game, in with a chance of getting a result, against the Danes and the Swiss.

A lot will come down to tactical play and how the Irish team sets up, and that's where Mick and his staff do their work.

What Ireland need to do now in these qualifiers is to play without fear. Denmark and Switzerland are good teams, but they're not outstanding, they don't have that single world-class player that you, as an opposing player, would fear, they're not the teams who will open you up and score five against you - and I know Denmark scored five in Dublin last year but I don't see that happening again.

I think Denmark and Switzerland struggle against hard-working teams and that's what Ireland have to be. Look at the World Cup play-off, the Swiss drew with Northern Ireland and then only beat them with a dodgy penalty. Northern Ireland were in the tie until the last minute, and a side like Ireland, once you are in the game against someone like the Swiss you can always nick something, but if you play a good German or French side you could lose 4-0.

So the Swiss are decent, they are in the top six in Europe, and we have a bad record against them as I know from playing against them, but they are beatable.

Switzerland could win every game in the group but a new-look Ireland can compete and maybe win the group.

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