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Ireland should call upon Leicester's team spirit at Euro 2016 - Petit

The former France midfielder also suggested the Irish defenders should play rough with Sweden’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Carlsberg ambassador Petit with two Irish fans.
Carlsberg ambassador Petit with two Irish fans.
Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

EMMANUEL PETIT HAS compared Ireland to unlikely Premier League leaders Leicester City in relation to this summer’s European championship finals.

The ex-Arsenal and Barcelona midfielder, who won Euro 2000 with France, visited Dublin with the Henri Delaunay trophy yesterday and spoke about the need for a strong team spirit among Martin O’Neill’s squad.

“Individually, this team has quality,” the 45-year-old said.  ”Not a lot of qualities, but if they play as a team, the way they used to play with a great spirit just like Leicester for example look at them. They play as a team and for me football is a team display.

“A lot of footballers are missing this point for me. Football is a team performance.”

First up for the Boys in Green is a meeting with Sweden at the Stade de France before they face fellow Group E opponents Belgium and Italy.

The Swedes will look to captain and talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic for inspiration but Petit believes the Irish defence are capable of keeping the Paris Saint-Germain man quiet.

Portugal Sweden WCup Soccer Ibrahimovic will lead the Swedish team in France. Source: Armando Franca

“I think Ibra is special,” Petit says. “He can do things on the pitch that no one else can do. He’s a great player but if Irish defenders can control him, then you control most of the threat going forward and as well, the spirit of the team.

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“The fact that the first game for Ireland is against Sweden, for me it is the perfect occasion to start very well in the competition.”

He added that Zlatan doesn’t enjoy when opponents are overly-physical in their approach to marking him.

“I think you don’t have to let Ibrahimovic play on the pitch the way he wants to play which means you have to fight against him in every single action.

You have to put pressure on him with good aggression. Every time he plays against tough defenders who try to beat him all the time with big personality, you’ve got trouble.

“If you let him play the way he wants to play then it’s very easy because he can do whatever he wants but you have to put pressure on him from the first minute until the end.

“Ibrahimovic hates to receive kicks all the time during the game. That gets on his nerves and sometimes he loses his control and his attention, his focus on the pitch.

“I’m not saying that the defenders have to kick him all of the time but just play as typical Irish defenders with great spirit and great aggression.”

Carlsberg ambassador Emmanuel Petit was in Dublin this week with the Euro 2016 trophy to announce Carlsberg Probably the biggest Euro Euro ticket giveaway in Ireland with over 1,100 Ireland match tickets up for grabs. To enter, go to Facebook.com/Carlsberg or visit participating outlets over the next six weeks
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