Over the course of the last decade, the Republic of Ireland have gained a reputation for being a difficult side to beat.
Indeed, Ireland are now unbeaten in 14 matches since March 2011 but that bare statistic disguises the infrequency with which they actually record victories over higher-ranked sides in competitive fixtures. That you have to go back to a 2001 FIFA World Cup qualifier at Lansdowne Road for the last time the team upset the odds and produced a victory of note says enough.
It will say so much more about the resolve of these men if they manage to escape from UEFA EURO 2012 Group C because the company they have been asked to keep belongs to football's aristocracy, in the case of Italy and Spain, and one of its newer powers, in Croatia.
It is because of this categorisation that so many Irish supporters are pinning their hopes on tomorrow's game being the one they need to win, when logic actually suggests the third game against Italy is a much better bet.
Croatia, by contrast, have a system and a style that could really trouble Ireland, not just in the way they control possession with seamless ease, nor in the way they play with a national pride that is in keeping with newly-independent nations, but mainly, from a coldly analytical point of view, from the way they dart passers and runners in behind opposing back lines and stretch teams to the limit with their speed and emphasis on width.
In particular, their captain – and right-sided midfielder– Darijo Srna, is a likely thorn in Ireland's side. Technically proficient, quick and motivated by the big occasion, Srna's duel with Stephen Ward, the Ireland left-back, could be the determining factor of Sunday's result.
While Ward is capable of producing a big performance of his own, he will require a reserve battalion of defenders to offer assistance. In this respect, Damien Duff and Aiden McGeady, Ireland's wide players, must recognise they have a dual responsibility to defend as well as attack.
Attacking is what Ireland must do without fear. When they have had a go and dictated games on their terms – as they did away against France and Italy in 2010 World Cup qualifying – they have resembled a potent and entertaining side. Should they opt for this strategy in Poznan, a win is easily within their capabilities.
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