Ireland and Italy ring the changes ahead of the Lille showdown

Ireland have to win but know they will be rewarded if they achieve that

BY Raf Diallo 19:25 Wednesday 22 June 2016, 19:25 22 Jun 2016

Ireland Manager Martin O'Neill speaks to James McClean ©INPHO/Donall Farmer

"And Shane Long heads in a 90th minute winner to send Ireland through to the last-16..."

Let's hope tonight's match against Italy is not as nail-biting as that.

Martin O'Neill and the team know the end result that's needed for a place in the Round of 16 - a win, pure and simple.

Sometimes it can be difficult for teams that know that qualification can be secured with a draw with a dilemma of whether to sit back and try to avoid defeat or to risk going for a win.

Follow the match as it happens right here

In our case, at least we know that anything short of three points will not be good enough to finish as one of the best third-placed group teams at Euro 2016.

But while there are no dilemmas about our intentions, there were plenty when it came to team selection and formation.

Who should be dropped? Who could be included to bring about a successful shake-up? Should we go back 4-2-3-1, 4-4-2, go back to the diamond or even risk a 5-3-2? 

Those were the type of questions that O'Neill and his staff pondered deeply in the final hours before the 8pm kick-off.

In the O'Neill went 4-4-2 with four changes, including a revamp at centre-back with John O'Shea and Ciaran Clark dropped:



Italy, meanwhile have made eight changes:


We rode our luck a little bit that night and the type of luck that we make ourselves could be enough against an Italy side already safely through to a last-16 match against Spain.

Off the Ball is live from Lille tonight from 7pm with best of build-up and reaction as Ireland get set for a crucial game against Italy.


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