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Preview: France v Republic of Ireland

While Didier Deschamps wants France to "get over this next hurdle", Martin O'Neill is asking the Republic of Ireland to show the same "energy and zeal" they displayed against Italy.

France coach Didier Deschamps talks to the media
France coach Didier Deschamps talks to the media ©Panoramic
  • France take on Republic of Ireland in Lyon unbeaten in last five games against their opponents
  • Les Bleus triumphed 2-1 on aggregate in 2010 FIFA World Cup play-offs (1-0 away, 1-1 home)
  • France have not won a EURO knockout tie since 2000; Ireland in knockout stage for first time
  • Didier Deschamps' side unbeaten in seven matches (W6 D1)
  • France's Dimitri Payet plays with Ireland goalkeeper Darren Randolph at West Ham

Possible line-ups
France: Lloris; Sagna, Rami, Koscielny, Evra; Pogba, Kanté, Matuidi; Griezmann, Giroud, Payet.
Doubtful: none

Republic of Ireland: Randolph; Coleman, O'Shea, Duffy, Brady; McClean, Whelan, McCarthy, Hendrick; Murphy, Long.
Doubtful: Walters (Achilles), Ward (ankle)

Coach quotes
Didier Deschamps, France coach
A knockout match makes things a little more exciting but it's not going to inhibit us or make us more fragile. We're in the last 16; our aim is to get over this next hurdle.

At the top level, you need to be able to defend well, but to win you need to score one more goal than the opposition – otherwise it's a penalty shoot-out. We've worked hard, looked at our potential defensive concerns and tried to be as solid as possible. We only conceded once in the first three matches and that was a penalty – we'll need more of the same.

Ireland have a lot of heart, they work very hard – but it's not just that, there's some good footballers in that team. In their first three matches, they kept the ball on the ground even though they play a more direct game, as they have forwards who are suited to that style and pick up the second ball. There's some good players – Whelan, Hendrick, Hoolahan if he plays, McCarthy, Shane Long – and they know what football's all about.

Mental strength doesn't make you score goals, but it is important. Ireland are an example of that – they show great solidarity and hard work. We often talk about the famous 'fighting spirit' but they don't just do that – they give everything. It's almost genetic. They're ready to go into battle, as a unit, and they will fight all the way for each other. That's why I know this will be a tricky match.

Brady: Team sprit has been key to Irish success

Martin O'Neill, Republic of Ireland manager
We'll go into the game with some confidence on the back of the Italy performance, which was very good. The approach is within ourselves. You know you're going to come up against top-quality players, whether they're in midfield, forwards or about the best defenders going. The players come up against this sort of quality all the time and they're ready for it. The French have some very, very good players, who play for big teams.

The players who played [against Italy] showed that level and intensity, which they kept up for 90 minutes – that takes its toll and rest has been the most important thing for us. It's a matter of ticking over; it's tournament football and you've got to rest up. We have to cope with it, get on with it, and if the players have recovered in time to show the same effort and zeal as the other night, we'll be ready for it.

The nature of the game is when you don't have the ball you're trying to deny them space. But I always find great players will find that space and hurt you – and France have some great players. France are hosts and favourites for the competition. They remind me in some ways of 1998 – great pressure but they improved as the competition went on and eventually won it. This team might feel the same.

I've spent my time [in charge] sending out adventurous teams to win games. We played a very adventurous game against Sweden, and weren't allowed to do that against Belgium. Against Italy we needed some extra energy in the team and we got that. I don't think you'd want to head out of the competition meekly; we want to go out blazing if we can, and try to stay in it, because we feel we can do something.

UEFA.com team reporters
David Crossan, France (@UEFAcomDavidC)
Should the hosts make a good start and manage an early goal then I'd expect their undisputed edge in class to help them towards a comprehensive win. Les Bleus are full of respect for Ireland's qualities and Shane Long has troubled Laurent Koscielny in the recent past, but France should have too much quality for O'Neill's men. It is time for Antoine Griezmann to have a big game, while Dimitri Payet is in the form of his life and a constant menace.

Pogba happy with top spot for France

Paul Bryan, Republic of Ireland (@UEFAcomPaulB)
Their goal of reaching a EURO knockout stage for the first time achieved, Ireland must now replenish depleted endurance levels as they enter new territory. As morale enhancing as the 1-0 win against Italy was, its energy-sapping effects could begin to weigh on the legs of Ireland's heroes. Assistant manager Roy Keane said that if the Irish can match the performance produced on Wednesday, they will have a chance.

Form guide (all competitions, most recent first)
Republic of Ireland: WLDLDDWWDL

Did you know?
France are unbeaten in seven internationals at Stade de Gerland (W5 D2) since a 3-1 friendly reverse to Spain in their first-ever outing in Lyon on 17 October 1968. They squeezed past Denmark 2-1 in a group stage game in Lyon en route to winning the 1998 FIFA World Cup as hosts. Find out more in our match background.

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