Ireland v Sweden: Short Analysis

Ireland and Sweden can both be happy and disappointed by Monday’s result in Paris. Ireland will be pleased with the performance, but annoyed that they couldn’t see it out for the win. Sweden will be unhappy that they started so poorly and only forced Randolph into making a single save, but will be satisfied with the increase in intensity after going behind.

A rarely-talked about problem for managers is what to do when your team goes a goal ahead: keep doing what you’re doing (stick) or change your tactics, either offensively or defensively (twist). After Wes Hoolahan’s fantastic finish, Martin O’Neill decided to stick. The downside of this is it doesn’t account for the opposition twisting. Erik Hamren saw that things weren’t improving, and Jeff Hendrick was grabbing more and more control of the midfield, so he swapped out Marcus Berg and brought in John Guidetti, while allowing his team to have a more cavalier attitude. Ireland are well set up to deal with crosses from deep – Berg’s aerial ability is his best strength – but are vulnerable to quick interplay – Guidetti’s best trait. It was this fleet-footed interplay that undid the Irish defense and forced Ciaran Clark to head the ball into his own net. Clark had had a good game up to that point, and with Seb Larsson right behind him ready to tap it in, there was little else the Aston Villa man could do.

In the end, Sweden were rewarded by their twist, Ireland were lucky to hold on, and you could see that neither team reacted too well to the final whistle. Now both teams will be eyeing up a result against Belgium, whose frailties were exposed expertly by Italy.