France and Ireland on the tough side of the draw
Having progressed through Group A and Group E respectively, the winner of the eagerly anticipated fixture will face either England or Iceland in the quarter finals, before a potential semi-final clash against Spain or Germany.
Belgium and Croatia are favourites to make it to the final from the other side of the draw, potentially easier opponents for the French, should they get there.
Whilst France will certainly be targeting the final after topping Group A with seven points, Martin O’Neill’s Ireland will be after revenge, having qualified in third place from Group E after a 1-0 win over Italy on Wednesday night.
Revenge in the mind...
They’ll cast their minds back to 2009, a story still fresh in the minds of many Ireland fans, as they were bidding to qualify for the 2010 World Cup, by winning a two-legged play-off against the French.
Having lost 1-0 on their own turf, Robbie Keane’s goal had given the Republic a win by the same scoreline in Paris. Taking things to extra time, the game looked destined for penalties, or even an Ireland winner, before controversy struck.
The ball lofted to him on the left hand side, France legend Thierry Henry twice handled it to control the ball and keep it in play, unseen by the referee. Surging on, Henry crossed for William Gallas, who headed in to end Irish hopes and send France to South Africa 2010.
So, with this in mind, can Ireland pull off a shock? If they can keep France out post 80 minutes, then possibly, as Didier Deschamps’ team scored all three group stage goals after the 80 minute mark.
They’ve looked better at the back than many thought, keeping three clean sheets, but have struggled going forward, the likes of Antoine Griezmann struggling for form.
Ireland let themselves down in the first two games, stumbling against Sweden before being blown away by Belgium. They stirred against the Italian’s, and must go again come Sunday afternoon.