France vs Republic of Ireland Preview: Irish praying for huge shock

The Republic of Ireland face the hosts France on Sunday, for a place in the quarter-finals of the European Championship.

France vs Republic of Ireland Preview: Irish praying for huge shock
photo; vavel

The Republic of Ireland came through group E in third place, finishing with four points after a draw against Sweden and a historic win over the Italians.

However, finishing third meant that it was almost guaranteed that the Irish would face a tough challenge, and could they have been faced with a bigger one than the tournament's hosts France, who they face on Sunday in the last 16.

Will team spirit be able to guide Ireland past France?

It could be argued that Ireland were drawn into one of the tournament's toughest groups and in the end they did do well to get through.

After starting off with a decent result against Sweden in their opening game, they were then thrashed by Belgium and many thought that they had reached the end of the road.

Yet the spirit of the fans and the team remained and they pulled off a perfect performance against Italy and against the odds secured their qualification to the quarter-finals.

The question that remains is can Ireland do it again? Can they overcome the hosts of the tournament?

Have France been underwhelming so far?

Despite topping their group, France haven't really been at their best so far and if it the games against Albania and Romania ended in the 88th minute they would have finished with three draws.

Clearly this isn't this case however it is food for thought for the French after they looked shaky at the back in all of their group games and relied heavily on last minute goals, particularly from Dimitri Payet

Injuries in defence have bit France hard, with Aymeric Laporte, Raphael Varane and Kurt Zouma all missing the tournament through injury, leaving the Irish with some confidence that they could nick a goal.

France will go into tomorrow's game ready to attack, and they have many outlets in doing so in the form of Dimitri Payet, Paul Pogba, Kingsley Coman and Antoine Griezmann and this could lead to Republic of Ireland playing 'backs to the wall' for much of the game.

Martin O'Neill says Ireland will attack

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill described the win against Italy as a 'wonderful moment' and he wants his players to start in a 'blazing' fashion, similar to how they started on Tuesday against the Italians. 

O'Neill stated that he feels Ireland 'feel like we can do something' however he did also state that full-back Stephen Ward remains a doubt after his injury against Italy.