Soccer Digest: Giovanni Trapattoni won’t rest on laurels for UEFA Cup 2012


The Waterford born defender said: “It’s obviously going to be very important for me personally to be playing in a major tournament, but first and foremost it’s all about the team.

“We’ve got a tough group but one we’re capable of getting through and we’re looking forward to the challenge.

“Look, there’s probably going to be a few more twists and turns yet before the start of the group stage, so we’ll need to keep everyone wrapped up for the next couple of days, recover and then look forward.
“Teams are going to cause each other problems and it’s how you cope with those problems which will determine who goes through and who doesn’t.”
Scoreless Draw

Ireland wrapped up their Euro preparations with a scoreless draw away to Hungary in Budapest on Monday night, a result even manager Giovanni Trapattoni admitted they were lucky to get away with.
Goalkeeper Shay Given and second half replacement Kieren Westwood made crucial saves as Hungary’s youngsters ran Ireland ragged at times.

Simon Cox might have sprung a late winner for the visitors, but Trapattoni acknowledged afterwards that their five man midfield caused his team real problems in front of watching Croatian manager Slaven Bilic.

That explains why the Ireland boss is talking about a u-turn from his beloved 4-4-2 formation ahead of the opening match at Euro 2012 against Croatia in Poznan on Sunday.

“I think this evening we have been a bit lucky because in the first half the opponent deserved to score a minimum of two goals. It was only our goalkeeper Shay Given that saved us,” admitted Trap.

“Hungary played very well and quick, fast football. They are strong in every section. When we meet a team like this I know what is the difficulty, but we have a system I can’t change for one game or the other game.

“To have a balance we have to give up one striker or put one more in midfield. In the past I know this position. I know this line up.”

Monday night’s game saw Ireland extend their unbeaten run to 14 games, but they were fortunate not to concede.

Trap added, “For Irish reporters it will be clear that when we play against a team with one striker and others behind we have too much difficulty.

“To have a better balance we may have to play with only one striker and have one more in midfield. I will speak to the team.”

The one bonus for the Irish boss was that his players came through Monday’s encounter without any injury problems despite the incessant rain and difficult conditions.

“I thank God that we have no injury problems,” said Trapattoni.
Too Tired

Ireland winger Aiden McGeady has pleaded with manager Giovanni Trapattoni to lower the intensity of training ahead of Sunday’s Euro opener against Croatia.

McGeady told Irish state broadcaster RTE that the team felt tired during Monday night’s scoreless draw with Hungary in Budapest.

Speaking as the Ireland squad arrived in Poland ahead of the opening match against the Croatians in Poznan, McGeady admitted a tough training program had taken its toll.

He said, “Training has been of such a high intensity that I think a lot of the players felt a bit jaded.

“A lot of the players were saying that at halftime, that they felt pretty sluggish in their feet. I think that was the overwhelming factor in the first half.

“In the second half we picked it up a bit. I think we need to take it easy on training.”

Ireland had to wait for almost 40 minutes in the tunnel on Monday night as the kick-off was delayed due to heavy rain and thunder and lightning storms over the Ferenc Puskas Stadium in Budapest.

Captain Robbie Keane said, “It was just a bit of a shame -- the delay before kick-off killed the rhythm of the game, to be honest with you.

“It took you a while to get your breath because standing in the tunnel for half an hour or 40 minutes before we kick off wasn’t ideal preparation, but it’s one of those things.

“I think we knew it eventually it was going to be played, but the longer you are standing around. I think the ref should have given us probably five minutes or something like that to do a little warm-up.

“We went straight from standing for 40 minutes basically straight to kick-off, which is usually unheard of.”