Trap's record as a manager is one of the reasons for Irish supporters to be cheerful ahead of today's game. INPHO/Donall Farmer
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In Trap we trust? 4 Reasons Ireland can beat Russia today

Think Ireland have no chance today? Here’s why Giovanni Trapattoni’s men have scope for optimism.

BEFORE IRELAND’S GAME with Russia today, here are four reasons to be optimistic for this crucial Group B clash. Pssst… Don’t mention our past record against Russia.

1. Ireland’s away record

Under the likes of Mick McCarthy and Brian Kerr, Lansdowne Road was regarded as something of a fortress, while it was Ireland’s away form that let them down. However, under Trapattoni, the opposite seems to be the case. In fact, Ireland have never lost a competitive away fixture under Trapattoni. Think back to the second leg World Cup play-off in Paris. Or the two occasions when we played Italy away from home during his tenure. In Paris and in the World Cup qualifier against Italy, Ireland even played like the home team at times and made good use of possession, proving we have the capability to challenge top teams away from home.

2. Our defence

Even Trapattoni’s most vehement critics will admit that Ireland’s defence has been the best it’s been in years under his regime. The Slovakia game on Friday was the sixth consecutive game in which the side have kept a clean sheet. Admittedly, many of these games were friendlies in which one could question the opposition’s level of commitment. But irrespective of the occasion, containing teams of the calibre of Italy and Croatia is no mean feat. And while Ireland’s defence today has a less-than-familiar look to it, both O’Dea and Kelly have performed well when called upon in the past.

3. Russian arrogance

There is no doubt that Russia are a talented side, however their group form to date bears more than a whiff of arrogance about it. Despite disposing of Ireland in a highly efficient manner last October, they have been considerably less impressive on other occasions – they laboured to 0-0 draw away to Armenia, while they also lost to Slovakia at home. Despite claims to the contrary, last week’s unconvincing 1-0 win against Macedonia was further proof that Russia lack consistency and tend to underestimate opponents at the best of times.

4. Trap’s managerial record

While he has received much flak of late from the Irish sporting public and some have questioned whether he is the right man for the job, Trapattoni’s past record indicates that he is the perfect man to guide the team to victory today. He is the only manager to have won all international club competitions (European Cup, Cup Winners’ Cup, Super Cup, Intercontinental Cup and the UEFA Cup). He has also managed Serie A-winning teams on an incredible seven different occasions. Moreover, though the one major absence from his CV is success at international level, Trap’s tenure in charge of the Italian national team was hampered by dodgy officiating as much as anything, as Italy were beaten by South Korea in the 2002 World Cup following a series of poor refereeing decisions.

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