Ireland welcome Denmark to the Aviva tomorrow. Well, I’m not sure welcome is the right phrase here.
Hareide and co coming back to Dublin is far more like being reunited with the person who crushed your dreams when you were younger, only to have to host them at your freshly-polished, but still heavily-mortgaged property some years later after they had a cracking time travelling through Russia at your expense.
Jesus, you’d never tell I’m still bitter about both the 5-1 massacre and my ex leaving me for the Transsiberian Express, would you?
But like I did with her, you have to learn lessons from past traumas or you’re destined to repeat them. Here are five things Ireland need to note ahead of this grudge match.
Scoring early still only counts for one
I remember it well. I was sitting in the press box, waiting for the free-kick to be taken and I saw Kasper Schmeichel go for a wander. Now, most around me stood up. I panicked, but for entirely different reasons.
And you knew what was going to happen next – no, not Duffy putting us 1-0 up. That wasn’t to be completely expected. If anything, you fancied a free out as has become the customary award in those scenarios.
No, what you completely expected was the capitulation that followed. This cannot happen again.
The Copenhagen game makes no difference
Ironically enough, even if you win 14-0 in Copenhagen, it doesn’t mean anything in Dublin.
This was the mentality going into the World Cup playoff, as our semi-fortunate, semi-mature performance in Copenhagen meant we kept a clean sheet in Denmark, and that they couldn’t break us down.
Well, that’s not quite how it works. You can’t carry yourself with this false bravado just because you got slightly fortunate on your travels once. And this time around, we didn’t even keep a clean sheet there.
The boy Eriksen can kick a ball
When Christian Eriksen retires, which should be in about three weeks given the way his season at Spurs is going, he’ll, without doubt, talk about how much space he was given in Dublin.
He wouldn’t be foolish to think he had been given honourary citizenship of the city when you consider the space he was given two years ago.
There was more hope of your local salmonella-infused chipper being closed down than there was of it happening to him that night.
No clean sheet mentality
For far too long, we focused on keeping clean sheets. It does not aid you at any point in the game, especially when you go a goal behind and have to completely refocus.
Thankfully for us, keeping a clean sheet makes absolutely no difference given that we have to win anyway.
It’s funny, while the core goal of football is to outscore your opponent, we really never seem too focused on that element of the sport until we absolutely have to.
Do not sacrifice your entire midfield for Aiden McGeady
I have more time for Aiden McGeady than most, but nothing has ever frustrated me as much in my life as when he was warming up furiously at half-time, as I knew well that O’Neill would ship off all of our sitting midfield players in the hope of chasing the game.
While I can’t be fully sure you understand the tactical element of football, I do presume you comprehend that, without a midfield, your defenders have to find your strikers directly.
And boy, did they ever try for 45 long, gruelling minutes.