Dylan (Leave it to the Mod to be the only one not to follow the formation instructions)First off, I'd like to get something off my chest.
I am very much sure that Dylan will write the wittiest write-up. Only if, and that is a big if, he remembers to write something despite his (I'm assuming) thundering, everlasting hang-over.
If he does, I know what's coming. But don't let that aspect fool youse'. See through it for what it is.
Distress when grandpa Arjen suffers his career-injury number one thousand and forty nine in the 5th minute after shamelessly diving over one of the sponsor boards.
Despair for when Thiago Motta is sent off after two cumulative yellows, earning the second after merely touching the chin of Neymar da Silva diving cunt Jr. (repping his homeboy SB).
Desperation when an exhausted Aubameyang, after spending 80 minutes of being caught up to by Varane, through ball after through ball, has to be substituted; the crowd looks on in shocked suspense at who's supposed to replace him, the manager Dylano Currano looks at his players in the dugout, and, and, and!...
And the only player he has left to throw on is Gary Doherty.
Early noughties, defender-turned-attacker, Gary Doherty.
*looks in thread after nearly being finished with this post;
See? He's scared shitless.
Anyway, I don't know why you would expect anything merely resembling a footballing gameplan from a native of a country, whose greatest export is Paul McGrath, and whose most famous moment in modern years, happened during a 4-0 loss to Spain.
But let's get serious for a moment.
I'm lining up like this (when defending):
Now I realize that seems extremely defensive, with my team being so far back (on average), but I hope you get the point of what I'm trying to illustrate without you thinking I'm going Chelsea-bus on you all.
But make no mistake - this is a defensive side.
Now, starting with the first line of defense - attack:
You might think that Higuain's position slightly-to-the-left of the central axis is an overlook on my part (I'm sure a tactically inept and ultimately inexperienced 21-year old Dylan Curran will think the same), or perhaps a glitch in the 'formation codes' of the virtual reality of ForzaInterForums.com.
Higuain isn't going to do much of running, and is known for being, ehem, at times, lazy. My Mourinho-like self will of course try to force him to imitate left-back Eto'o in terms of helping the team out as much as possible, but there's only so much one can do. When that's the case, I'd much prefer to have him slightly to left, forcing Dylan's team to start play on his left side - with, let's be honest here, the worst player on the pitch, Ghoulam seeing much of the ball.
Of course, Alves will get past Higuain lazily running at him 8 out of 10 times, but when he does, he'll have part of the squad that's seen as perhaps the team best at pressing of all time, Neymar and Barcelona respectively, storming at him, my team moving diagonally to the left to support most of the time. This means that 'The Republic of Ireland national football team', as I'm sure will be written on the team lineups, has one of three choices - give to ball to Nainggolan (which I will take 100 percent of the time, compared to Iniesta and Motta), give to ball to Robben who has to drop so back deep that he's not much of a threat (Marcelo can keep up with him 1v1 despite his defensive shortcomings, and I'll be sure, unlike any other football coach in the freaking world, to make sure he DOES NOT allow Robben on the inside - if he's on the outside, he's more McGeady () than Messi, and then you're forcing him to cross, with his weaker foot, to.... That's right, not-exactly Jan Koller) or force Motta to come to gather the ball and then having a limited amount of options (Iniesta won't be a factor - I'll come back to this).
Or, y'know, play a long ball to Ghoulam (pft) who'll then have part of the hardest working team in the world, Mahrez and Leicester respectively, pressuring him (slightly - it's not like he'll do anything with the ball anyway). See, as well as being world-class on offense, both my wings are known for being quite the workhorses when needed in defense too. This will be a huge advantage for me, when Dylan's trying (and failing desperately) to set up play.
Now, as for the midfield, Kroos will be directly opposite the half-Belgian, half-'I-came-to-money-and-this-is-the-haircut-I-have-to-show-for-it', and I'm comfortable with that. He's not the best on defense, but it evens out with Nainggolan not being the best on offense. I'll give Nainggolan as much time as he needs on the ball to fuck up (without me letting him walk the ball into the net of course), meaning I'll have Xhaka do his best "Gary Medel"-impression;
Running all over the field, infinite stamina, never letting you breathe, following you into the locker room when you have to piss, but, y'know, if Gary Medel were actually half-decent, able to tackle, and able to grasp the premise of not leaving your position because you have the IQ of a 5 year old and thus leaving your team exposed. The "Granit Xhaka", I call it.
It's Xhaka's job to push up on Motta to close down on his passing options, when he inevitably wanders into our half. And anyway, I'll have my hands full with Iniesta.
Don Andres is the key to this tie, I feel. We all know what the little magician can do.
Of course, he won't have much to say, when he's being shadowed by every-tireless Lahm (and the bulldozer Xhaka, when he isn't occupied) ALL-FREAKING-GAME-LONG. I can afford to do this and leave room in front of my defence at the same time, as Aubameyang isn't going to drop deep, dribble a couple of players and then thunder it right into the top corner. He'll wait all day for that through ball, that isn't going to ever come because Iniesta and Motta (to a lesser extent) won't have time on the ball, to utilize his speed
The alternative is Robben and Costa coming centrally to pick up the ball, and that's certainly not where they are at their best.
I'm playing a relatively deep backline, as I know the threat Aubameyang's pace posesses (I've mostly covered that in some of the above, but on the awfully low off-chance that things don't go exactly my way, I have to have a plan B). But it won't be a problem, as I've got the fastest centerback in the game, acting as a sort of sweeper when Miranda pushes slightly up1 if Iniesta gets through my second line of pressure or Costa is forced in centrally, playing on, covering and following Aubameyang on the side of his preferred foot.
Varane is England and Aubameyang Ireland pre-18th century.
He's pretty much toast is what I'm trying to say, and so is, I feel, most of Dylan's offensive gameplan. The Gabonese certainly won't combine tiki-taka, Suarez/Neymar/Messi/Iniesta-style with the latter to create space, that's for sure.
*We will not attempt, in any way, shape or form, to utilize the offside trap
As long as Robben is kept on the outside (easier said than done, probably), and Aubameyang nulified, Costa is the biggest worry. Good thing I have one of the most balanced and defensively-capable right backs in the game to cope with him. If he gets past Liechtenstein, boom, Miranda - and no, don't try to tell him he has a girly name.
Mahrez, Xhaka and Lichtsteiner should be more than enough to keep the right side of mine secure.
Anyway, that's my defensive gameplan.
Now it's late, and I'll go to bed thinking of how to handle this from an offensive point of view, and of when I have the time to write it up.
My initial thought may/may not be to give the ball exclusively to Higuain, in hopes of him not killing his teammates/the ref/the opposition/me/his family in attendance.
It is with great pleasure that I announce to you, the good people of FIF, the 8th Wonder of the World!
Now that you've changed pants and finished off that box of kleenex, let's get into the meat and potatoes of it. I may go through my opponents """team""" but, best foot forward, I'm going to walk you through my selection of all time greats (bar Ghoulam, the fuck was I thinking.)
-Starting in goals I think I'll put the man that many (correctly) call the greatest goalkeeper playing football today. Manuel Neuer. For every Stankovic volley that catches him out, his quickness off the line snuffs out 50 more potential attacks. That's without even touching his super reflex saves should (perish the thought) OC have the nerve to take a shot.
-Moving onto arguably the best attacking RB of the last decade, Dani Alves. The man has won it all at club level, and for a defender to have the technique to not look out of place in his link ups with such greats as Suarez, Messi, Neymar, Henry, Eto'o etc while on his forages forward, is a testament to his greatness. Defending obviously isn't going to be his strength but he can still hold his own. A great threat for when Robben inevitably cuts inside and plants the seed of panic inside OC's rather frankly, substandard defence.
-Leonardo Bonucci. Try to rob him? Think again. The man has matured into a fine defender with bags of balls () and tenacity. At the centre of the best defence in Serie A (dare I say, the world?) Bonucci also posesses a fine range of passing in his locker, which the pace of Robben, Aubameyang and Costa are more than willing to take advantage of.
-Javier Mascherano. Has anyone in OC's squad torn their anus in a match? (I'm not even referring to what Robben is going to do to Marcelo). That kind of commitment leads to a nice clean sheet for me. Proven himself in England and in Spain, comfortable as a CB or DM and capable enough on the ball to start for Barcelona. A machine. A fucking top machine.
-Ghoulam. Ah, he's solid enough and tall. No complaints. Thankfully your RW is a one season wonder who without the genius of Ranieri guiding him, will falter and stutter back to Ligue 2 form.
-Thiagone Need I say more? The heart of the team. Between himself and Iniesta, good luck trying to nick the ball of us. A force in the air too.
-Nainggolan. The engine of my team. When Kroos is looking for his next sideways pass, and Lahm is reconsidering his retirement, Radja will be hunting you cunts down and dishing out large portions of tackle, aggression, and shit hair.
-Iniesta. My key player. If he wants to put Aubemayang through on goal at any stage in the match, he'll fucking do it ok and there's nothing you can do about it.
-Douglas Costa. Was going to pick Hazard but he's had a shit season. Direct, quick, knows how to pass and can cause any fullback a problem.
-Arjen Robben. As long as you show him outside he shouldn't cause much of a threat. . .Right? wrong.
-Finally, the goals. Now admittedly, there are few CB pairings in this competition I'd rather not face for pace than Varane and Miranda. Thankfully though he can still use the world class passing and movements of Robben and Iniesta to work the space and punish you. Unstoppable when given the right (Irish) guidance (me).
That's the only thing you got right in this post.
You've made it personal. Gary Doherty was before his time. Too advanced for football some may say. Guardiola is playing players everywhere and it's deemed "revolutionary", yet the "most complete player on earth" Doherty is unfairly sniped at for the simple crime of being too versatile. Shame. Shame on you.
Firstly, Pints McGrath is a bit before my time, but I think I can speak for all of us when I can say he holds the illustrious prize of Ireland's greatest black footballer, just pipping Clinton "Clinical" Morrison.
Also, the most famous moment in modern years isn't our fans, it's that time we played Germany twice in a campaign and took 4 points off them. Like so;
You will be able to see a replay from Aubameyang if you step the fuck up to my team.
Now, I read all the bollocks, or "tactics" as non-442 playing continentals play and have disregarded it as ramblings of an insane man.
It's quite simple really, My vastly superior determination running through my side will put a marker on the game and the ball will be mine to do with as I please. As Higuain dreams of playing non-competitive matches and dreaming of a world with goals twice the size in important games, Bonucci will be picking out exceptional runs for my front three, and failing that, allowing Motta and Iniesta to test and probe for as long as they please. This works perfectly as Marcelo (AKA Mr. Has to Defend About 6 Games per Year) will have ended up on his arse by the sheer quality of Arjen Robben who will be free to receive the ball. Robben will tear down the right and cut inside. He will cut inside as many times as he fucking well pleases. If he wants to pop the ball into the top hand corner, he will. If he wants to leave it for someone else to tap in after his defence end up on their arse, he will.
Rinse and repeat.
A vote for Dylan, is a vote for winning. A vote for Denmark, is a vote for...Krohn-Deli?
Also I'm banning anyone who doesn't vote for me for a week.