Simon Heald

First the Trap way. Ireland will set up 4-4-2 in Paris tonight. The full-backs will sit deep. Glenn Whelan and Keith Andrews will operate as blockers in front of the back four. It will work in a limited fashion for an hour or more. Ireland will stay in the game and might even work a half-chance or two that they will probably miss.

France will enjoy the majority of possession but won’t over-commit and will be largely content to play in front of Ireland.

Eventually, the Boys in Green will have to push forward some more. Then comes the mistake. One of the midfield will misplace a pass. O’Shea has got forward. Henry gets in the gap behind him and although Given saves his weak effort, Gourcuff stabs home the rebound. Game over. Substitute Benzema adds a second at the death prompting Lassana Diarra to defecate messily on a tricolour in the centre circle.

But it need not be as clear cut.

What if Trap goes 4-3-3? Sit Whelan on Gourcuff and move Liam Lawrence inside to assist Andrews in the battle for possession with the Diarras.

Of course, this is where Andy Reid would come in handy – operating in the Fabregas role with two insurance men backing him up. But while Lawrence won’t dictate the play, he has the industry to break up France’s passing rhythm, the engine to get past the front-man and the technique and audacity to try his own luck from range if the opportunity presents.

Up top, I’d be tempted to leave Robbie Keane out, at least from the outset. But Ireland need goalscorers on the pitch so I’d opt to allow him reprise the role he often takes up for Tottenham in the tougher away games – wide left of the main striker.

I’d tell him to play high up the pitch – occupying Sagna and cutting off a valuable outlet for the now-harassed midfield trio.

Likewise McGeady on the right – Duff is the one to miss out in this formation – must push Evra back. I’d also look for him to dribble – and dive – whenever possible.

The lone striker role will be a tough one but Kevin Doyle has the energy and quality to keep both French centre halves honest. Leon Best can take over after 70 minutes or so and would hope his touch is rather more assured than it was in Dublin.

With this setup, Ireland will still keep the game scrappy, but tellingly more of it will be played in French territory. The bitty nature of the game should frustrate some of the more indulgent among Les Bleus and Keane and McGeady should find themselves in advanced positions more often that Duff and Lawrence would in a 4-4-2.

Both wide men have the trickery to win free kicks in dangerous area and it’s likely to be such a set-piece that provides the equaliser. I see it coming around the 75 minute mark.

Extra-time and penalties you reckon. No. Shell-shocked, the French will throw everything at the quest for a winner. Cue a slip on halfway from Evra. Keane streaks away. Scuffs it a little but Lloris had gone down early. It trickles over the line and Robbie has already cartwheeled halfway down the Champs-Élysée.

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