1990 – Salvatore Schillaci knocks Ireland out of the World Cup. 26 years later and Ireland get some slight revenge. Robbie Brady scores the winner against Italy to send them through to the last 16.
2009 – Thierry Henry. Need we say more? And now Ireland have a massive chance at the greatest revenge of all time – knocking France out of THEIR tournament in their own backyard that they’re favourites to win.
Of course the world champions Germany are in action against Slovakia and then Hungary play Belgium at eight. This is a real super Sunday. And we’ve got our daily treble to mark a massive day of football.
Jeff Hendrick vs France at 2pm
With 86 minutes gone on Wednesday night we were preparing this piece and looking to Paul Pogba to score against whoever the French were lined up with. But you know what happened and now Ireland search for another miracle.
It could come in the form of Jeff Hendrick. While Hoolahan and Brady have grabbed the headlines by scoring, Hendrick has been Ireland’s best player throughout the tournament. He had four shots on target against Sweden, including a thronker off the crossbar. He followed that up by shining on an otherwise dark day against Belgium, before probing the Italian defence on numerous occasions.
He shaved the post against Italy, he’d have got his goal. Unlike that dry mate of yours he’s not afraid to take shots (his tally of six is more than any other Irish player) and will be allowed to roam forward like he did on Wednesday. Maybe it’s our patriotism but odds of to score anytime is what we’re tipping.
Thomas Muller vs Slovakia at 5pm
Thomas Muller is on his worst competitive scoring run for almost five years internationally. The last time he went three games in a row without scoring for Germany was in October of 2012. Back then, England thought they had a chance of winning the World Cup after beating a couple of small teams in qualifying and Luis Suarez was playing around with his favourite chew toy: Norwich City.
He got ten goals in his last two World Cup’s and Jogi Low has stopped sniffing his balls long enough to tell the media that Muller is going to score against Slovakia. We don’t really want to make him angry by disagreeing, so we’re going with him at odds of.
Romelu Lukaku vs Hungary at 8pm
The Belgiums were very bad against Italy and they were punished. They were a bit better against Ireland and got their reward. They were somewhere in the middle against Sweden but picked up the 1-0 win that confirmed second place in the group. Shipping 34 shots in three games should be setting off alarm bells. But they are averaging sixteen shots per game so far, with six of them getting on target on average.
Of all the teams in the last 16, Hungary had the fifth highest number of shots faced- one of many great stats in our tournament data piece – and a quarter of their goals conceded were from headers
Enter Romelu Lukaku. His two goals against Ireland were both the result of devestating counter attacks. It’s been Lukaku that’s led the Belgians so far as Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard are both still in ‘Premier League mode’. They have to deliver on the big stage given the weight of expectation, so you can expect that if Hungary plow forward, there’ll be a counter attack quicker than a Scotsman leaving Britain. Lukaku can finish it off at odds of.