Trapattoni: Ireland can handle Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Giovanni Trapattoni is backing his defenders to keep Zlatan Ibrahimovic at bay as the Republic of Ireland attempt to take a step towards World Cup qualification in Sweden.
The Republic will head for the Friends Arena in Stockholm on Friday evening knowing defeat would represent a serious blow to their hopes of making it to Brazil in 2014 with the two sides and next Tuesday night’s opponents in Dublin, Austria, seemingly vying for second spot in Group C behind leaders Germany.
If they are to return with a positive result, they will have to find a way of dealing with 6ft 3in Paris St Germain frontman Ibrahimovic, although having seen his side defeat Poland 2-0 in last month’s friendly at the Aviva Stadium, Trapattoni is confident they can do just that.
The Italian, who celebrated his 74th birthday on St Patrick’s Day, said: “Zlatan is Zlatan, but I am very confident in our players.
“I have seen their confidence, and you just have to look at the game against Poland because the balance and the commitment and the technical ability that they showed, all of that makes me very, very confident.”
Paris Saint-Germain striker Ibrahimovic, 31, has two goals to his name during the current qualifying campaign, one of them his side’s first in a remarkable 4-4 draw with the Germans in Berlin in which they had trailed 4-0 ten minutes after half-time. But asked if he would attempt to man-mark the player, Trapattoni said: “Not at this moment, I don’t think so.
“I know how he is playing at the moment for his club, but I have to think about our balance and how our strikers can put them under pressure too.” Trapattoni does, however, have decisions to make over his defenders with Richard Dunne still missing through injury.
Paul McShane, Greg Cunningham and Ciaran Clark lined up alongside the vastly-experienced John O’Shea against the Poles in the absence of Dunne, Sean St Ledger and Darren O’Dea, but the Italian has more options this time around, with St Ledger and O’Dea back in the fold.
The manager was giving little away, although he admitted the aerial threat posed by Sweden would be a major consideration.
He said: “We have many options. John has experience, also Clark at this moment is in good condition, also O’Dea and St Ledger, so we have good options.
“But I think we must think about their big tall strikers.”
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