Live

Repeat: Off The Ball

10:00 PM-12:00 AM

Repeat: Off The Ball
What subtleties can we draw fr...
Soccer

What subtleties can we draw from Ireland's Georgia win?

Off The Ball
Off The Ball

12:48 8 Sep 2014

It was certainly no classic but we can take Georgia off our minds for now with a positive result to look back on.

In a very tricky group - Poland and Scotland will be tough opponents - a victory against the Caucuses side was absolutely vital and a lopsided performance aside from Martin O'Neill's men, Aiden McGeady's little bit of magic helped deliver the goods.

You can listen to Stuart Byrne's analysis of the match above via the Monday Rewind podcast 

Ireland's shape

Formations are far from meaningless in the modern game, but they can be a little misleading if you ignore the shape of a team i.e. the positions players take up and the runs they are instructed to make. Ireland's tactics against the Georgians showed that to an extent.

Conventional wisdom suggests that Robbie Keane no longer has the legs to play as a lone striker - yet in theory he was the central forward in a 4-3-3.

However, in practice that was not really the case. Taking a closer look at the starting XI's movement in the first half, Jon Walters often drifted inside, almost alongside Keane when Ireland had the ball and especially when Seamus Coleman made forays down that flank.

Jonathan Walters of Ireland with Guram Kashis of Georgia ©INPHO/Donall Farmer

Thus, it appeared as if Martin O'Neill recognised the need to not leave Ireland's captain isolated up front, playing what occasionally looked like a lopsided 4-4-2 when in possession.

Behind that forward line, James McCarthy took up an unusually advanced role - one he would not be wholly accustomed to at Everton where he plays as one of the deep-lying midfielders in front of the back four. 

However, the goal came from his  venture to the business end of the Georgian half, laying off a perfectly weighted pass for Aiden McGeady who appears better on the inside channel rather than putting in crosses. There is definitely more to his game than being a conventional winger and allowing him the licence to move inside in a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 could unlock some of the more subtle aspects of his game.

 

 Graphic of the build-up from UEFA.com

As so often happened during the Trap era, the Boys in Green squandered a lead and the momentum as Georgia came back into it and the jittery defence is a definite concern especially when you know what Germany and Poland's Robert Lewandowski are capable of.

But one thing that was different was the slightly different approach in possession. Indeed, Ireland finished the game with 54 per cent of the play and a barely imaginable pass completion rate of 91 per cent (319 successful passes from a total of 347).

Of course, that stat is meaningless when domination of the ball was not really taking place in the final third of the pitch and the likes of McCarthy and the solid Stephen Quinn got ahead of the ball. Notably, McGeady's opening goal came when the ball was hooked up to the forward line rather than an intricate build up from the back.

At this rate, Wes Hoolahan has been stereotyped as a Messiah but he is the one player in the squad capable of getting the ball on the half-turn in those little pockets in the final third and start little give-and-gos. By no means is he world class but his attributes would add greater cohesion with McCarthy restored to a more natural role linking play further back.

Ireland's Shane Long throws his jersey to supporters after the game ©INPHO/Donall Farmer

A dogfight awaits against the Scots; imperfect Germany still too strong

By the time we take on Scotland they may have taken their place among the pantheon of independent nations, but either way Gordon Strachan has really taken this team up a notch - at just the wrong time from our perspective.

The Scotland manager has a decent track record with successful spells at Celtic, Southampton and Coventry over the years and the Scots have been in good form of late, winning three and drawing two of their last six matches. 

The only defeat in that run came against  Germany last night but boy did they put a fight in the narrow 2-1 defeat to the world champions.

One must acknowledge that Germany did not field their strongest side due to retirements and injuries but the Tartan Army could have got something from the game, especially when you saw the way Steven Naismith's shot literally shaved Manuel Neuer's right hand post.

Manager Gordon Strachan will be joining Martin O'Neill back in the welcoming arms of Celtic Park ©INPHO/Getty Images

On the evidence of Scotland's improved spirits, Ireland are facing a real battle at Celtic Park where two of the Hoops' most successful managers in recent years will go head-to-head at international level.

As an aside, based on the shape we saw against Georgia, it would not be a good idea for Ireland to start with Robbie Keane against Germany as Scotland showed that pace on the break can trouble Die Mannschaft's high backline as Ikechi Anya's goal demonstrated.

Yet, when you watch Thomas Muller's ability to find space and goals, as well as the probability that class acts like Bastian Schweinsteiger and Mesut Ozil will be back in time for next month's qualifier in Gelsenkirchen next month and a comfortable night's sleep becomes harder to come by.

Playing Shane Long en lieu of Keane should inject more pace into the attack and allow the game to be stretched. But first up let us hope that we can repeat Poland's 7 - 0 win over UEFA's latest whipping boy additions Gibraltar.

Download the brand new OTB Sports App in the Play Store & App Store right now! We've got you covered!

Subscribe to Off The Ball's YouTube channel for more videos, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for the latest sporting news and content.


Read more about

Soccer

Live: Title

Description

Added to queue
Removed from queue

On Air

Share

Share

Next up in queue

Title
Description
Duration

There are currently no podcasts in the queue

Go to podcasts

On Air

Repeat: Off The Ball

Repeat: Off The Ball

10:00 PM-12:00 AM

Share

Up next

Repeat: OTB AM

Repeat: OTB AM

12:00 AM-02:00 AM

Share

Repeat: Off The Ball

Repeat: Off The Ball

02:00 AM-05:00 AM

Share

Repeat: OTB AM

Repeat: OTB AM

05:00 AM-07:00 AM

Share

Highlights on Off The Ball

Highlights on Off The Ball

07:00 AM-07:30 AM

Share

LIVE: OTB AM

LIVE: OTB AM

07:30 AM-10:00 AM

Share

Repeat: OTB AM

Repeat: OTB AM

10:00 AM-12:00 PM

Share

Highlights on Off The Ball

Highlights on Off The Ball

12:00 PM-01:00 PM

Share

OTB Gold

OTB Gold

01:00 PM-02:00 PM

Share

Highlights on Off The Ball

Highlights on Off The Ball

02:00 PM-06:00 PM

Share

OTB Gold

OTB Gold

06:00 PM-07:00 PM

Share

LIVE: Newsround

LIVE: Newsround

07:00 PM-07:30 PM

Share

LIVE: John Giles

LIVE: John Giles

07:30 PM-08:00 PM

Share

LIVE: Off The Ball

LIVE: Off The Ball

08:00 PM-09:00 PM

Share

LIVE: The Football Show

LIVE: The Football Show

09:00 PM-10:00 PM

Share

Repeat: Off The Ball

Repeat: Off The Ball

10:00 PM-12:00 AM

Share

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

Share on