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22nd Jun 2016

Here’s why Northern Ireland fans will want the Republic of Ireland to beat Italy

A nation once again

Robert Redmond

The Republic of Ireland have to beat Italy to progress to the knockout stages of Euro 2016.

After the 3-3 draw between Portugal and Hungary, Iceland’s 2-1 victory over Austria, if Martin O’Neill’s side get the better of the Azzurri they’ll play France in Lyon on Sunday and finish third in the group.

England will play Iceland, Germany will play Slovakia and Italy will play Spain.

Northern Ireland secured their place in the knockout rounds following Turkey’s 2-0 victory over Czech Republic on Tuesday evening. Michael O’Neill’s team had lost 1-0 to world champions Germany earlier in the day, but qualified for the last-16 due to their 2-0 victory over Ukraine and finishing third in the group.

There are now two potential opponents for Northern Ireland – Wales and France – and it’ll depend on the result of the Ireland v Italy match.

Craig Cathcart, Niall McGinn and Stuart Dallas dejected after the game 21/6/2016

If the Republic of Ireland win, they’ll play the hosts, and Northern Ireland will play Wales. The two sides played out a 1-1 draw earlier this year in a friendly.

However, should the Republic lose to Italy, Northern Ireland will play France. If the Republic of Ireland were to win by three clear goals, and Belgium lose to Sweden, then Ireland will finish second and play Hungary on Saturday. If that were to happen, then Sweden would play France and Northern Ireland will play Wales.

Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill appeared to be in no doubt about who he’d prefer his side to face:

“To have the opportunity if its given to us to play France in Lyon will be an amazing opportunity. The game will not be too dissimilar to what we saw today.”

“If I was picking a team I thought we had a better chance against I would say Wales, but we’ll see who comes out after the final group games on Wednesday.”


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