ANALYSIS: How Ireland and Sweden wounded each other

The left-side was an area to exploit for both sides

Ireland, Robbie Brady

Ireland's Robbie Brady at the end of the game ©INPHO/Donall Farmer

It was probably going to be a must-win match for both sides but neither side was able to decisively overpower the other at the Stade de France.

So, a 1-1 draw still leaves Ireland in a nervous position with two more games to go in Group E but the overall performance was impressive for long stretches against Sweden.

Tactically, the wing-less diamond formation meant full-backs would be key for Ireland and didn't they deliver?

They certainly did. Interestingly, Seamus Coleman created the goal from the right flank for Wes Hoolahan to finish but the majority of our best crosses and attempts came from the left-hand tandem.

With Robbie Brady over-lapping from left-wing-back, it gave Jeff Hendrick licence to cut inside and that resulted in one shot that struck the bar.

Brady was excellent as a crosser and with long-range shots and noticeably our attempts were very much focused from his side.

Brady (13), Hendrick (19) and Hoolahan (20)

Unfortunately, their left side was also our weakness in the second half as we defended that lead.

While Zlatan Ibrahimovic's cross for Ciaran Clark's own goal came from that side, too often Sweden's left-back Martin Olsson found too much space for deep crosses due to our lack of a natural wide-man down that side.

Olsson wore the No 5 shirt, while Emil Forsberg wore 6

Eventually, Aiden McGeady was brought on in the closing stages as natural winger down that side to occupy the left-back but also to stay in the space that Sweden looked to exploit.

Elsewhere, Hoolahan's headline moment was the goal but his work-rate elsewhere was admirable, including six ball recoveries (more than any other Irish player) and three tackles won and an interception. 

 

Hoolahan's ball recoveries

James McCarthy got some criticism in some quarters and although his possession and passing was relatively tidy, he only made 19 passes of any description according to the Opta stats, with no tackles and no interceptions in his time on the field.

As for Sweden's main threat, he was too far from goal to be a threat as this first half graphic shows: 

However, he did spend more time further forward as the game wore and put in the cross that forced Ciaran Clark's own goal.