VOTE: Which player will be missed most at Euro 2016?

November 18th, 2015

All 24 teams have now booked their place at next summer’s tournament in France, but there will be some big absentees – who’s absence will be felt most keenly?

All 24 teams for next summer’s European Championships have now been confirmed, but with some big nations missing out the tournament will be deprived of a host of world-class talent.

The Netherlands’ clutch of attacking superstars, who finished third at the last World Cup, will all be absent, while the likes of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia and Denmark also missed out.

GALLERY: The top 20 players to miss Euro 2016

That means Euro 2016 will be without Arjen Robben, so dangerous in recent finals, Roma maestro Miralem Pjanic, striker Edin Dzeko, who was only out-scored by three other players in qualifying, and many more.

HAVE YOUR SAY | There are many huge names missing, but who’s absence will hit hardest? Which player will you most miss? Vote in the poll below and leave a comment…


Dzeko fumes at officials after play-off defeat

November 17th, 2015

Following a contentious penalty in Bosnia-Herzegovina’s 2-0 defeat to Republic of Ireland, the Roma striker has criticised the officials

Edin Dzeko was left fuming with the officials following Bosnia-Herzegovina’s defeat to Republic of Ireland in the Euro 2016 play-offs.

Martin O’Neill’s side were awarded a penalty for a soft handball after Daryl Murphy’s cross brushed the hand of defender Ervin Zukanovic, allowing Jon Walters to put Ireland ahead in Monday’s second leg.

The Stoke City striker added a second to secure a 3-1 aggregate victory and send Ireland to the finals in France next year, leaving Roma striker Dzeko to rue a number of decisions he felt went against his side.

“We can’t win a game where we don’t play. In the end we did well, although the referee was 70-30 in favour of the Irish. I would never in my life give the penalty they gave against us,” he said.

“There’s nobody to blame, we’re all in this together.”

Midfielder Haris Medunjanin was equally bemused by the penalty decision but believes Bosnia-Herzegovina were punished for a failure to secure a victory in the first leg.

“We had to be more efficient at home because we knew it would be difficult here,” he said. “The Irish played aggressively, it was difficult. The penalty didn’t exist, but there you go.

“We have to move on. We had a good chance, but we haven’t achieved our goal.”

Defiant Bosnians eye Dublin delight

November 14th, 2015

Ireland are still there to be beaten in Monday night’s play-off second leg according to several of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s key men

Bosnia-Herzegovina’s players remain confident of booking their place at Euro 2016 despite being held to a 1-1 draw by Republic of Ireland in the play-off first leg in Zenica on Friday.

Despite dominating for long periods and creating several excellent chances, the hosts fell behind on 82 minutes when Robbie Brady scored a fine breakaway goal.

Skipper Edin Dzeko restored parity three minutes later, however, and although Ireland will now head into Monday night’s return leg in Dublin as favourites, the visitors will be backing themselves to upset the odds.

“Nothing is lost,” insisted midfielder Senad Lulic. “We still have a chance. We are going to Dublin to fight for our place in France.”

Those sentiments were echoed by Lulic’s team-mate Vedad Ibisevic, who was guilty of missing two of his side’s best chances on the night.

“It was a tough game,” he said. “We are going to win in Dublin.

“We are halfway through the tie; there is a lot left to play for.”

The game came close to being called off when a thick fog engulfed the Stadion Bilino Polje at half-time, severely reducing visibility in the second half.

And home goalkeeper Asmir Begovic, who was beaten at his near post for Brady’s goal, felt that the weather conditions hampered his side.

“We couldn’t quite get the ball down and play the way we wanted,” he said. “The weather made it difficult, the fog made it tough.

“It was a tight game and it’s all to play for on Monday.”

Ireland boss O'Neill disappointed by Bosnia's late leveller

November 14th, 2015

Robbie Brady put the Irish within eight minutes of an away win but Edin Dzeko ensured netted a crucial equaliser for the hosts just moments later

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill refused to get carried away in the wake of his side’s impressive 1-1 draw against Bosnia-Herzegovina in Zenica.

Despite being on the back foot for long periods at the Stadion Bilino Polje, the visitors managed to take the lead eight minutes from time courtesy of a breakaway goal from Robbie Brady.

Home skipper Edin Dzeko levelled things up within three minutes, however, and O’Neill insists his charges will have to be at their best in order to secure qualification in Monday’s return leg in Dublin.

“The tie is still alive and the goal we scored helped greatly, but conceding the goal at the end has just put a bit of a dampener on things,” he told RTE.

“The pitch was very lively tonight and we tried to cope with it as best we could and cope with the opposition at the same time.  And we are still fighting. We’ve still got a battle to come on Monday night.”

O’Neill went on to admit that he failed to get a decent view of Brady’s opening goal due to the thick fog that blanketed the stadium during the half-time interval and hampered visibility throughout the second half.

“I didn’t see a great deal of the goal,” he said. “I was concerned at one stage in the second half that the game might be called off because of the fog.

“But the assistant referee on our side said that he could see things pretty clearly which was news to me at the time!

“Robbie has done brilliantly to score the goal.”

With key men Shane Long, John O’Shea and Jonathan Walters all in contention to return for the second leg, Ireland look well placed to book their place in France, not that O’Neill is anticipating an easy night at the Aviva Stadium.

“The most important thing is that we are still in the tie,” he said.

“There’s another battle to come and I think the players are ready for it.”

Dzeko: Ireland still dangerous despite key absentees

November 13th, 2015

The Bosnia-Herzegovina striker does not think that injuries to a number of first-team regulars will make Martin O’Neill’s side any less of a threat

Edin Dzeko has warned his Bosnia-Herzegovina team-mates to take nothing for granted against Republic of Ireland, after their 1-0 win over Germany.

The two sides meet in Zenica on Friday in the first leg of their Euro 2016 play-off, with both nations vying for a place in next summer’s tournament in France.

Ireland have suffered injuries to key players during their qualifying campaign, with John O’Shea and Shane Long in danger of missing both legs, while Jon Walters is suspended for the trip to Bosnia.

However, Roma striker Dzeko still expects the visitors to offer a stern test.

“Maybe some of their most important players are not playing in the first game, so it’s a big problem for them, but they have other good players who can jump in, so I don’t think it’s a big advantage for us,” he said.

“They have some important players, some experienced players, who can bring something different to the team – like they did against Germany, because it’s not easy doing it against them. If you win, you must be a good team.”

Asked if the Bosnians, who finished behind Belgium and Wales in Group B, are favourites to progress, Dzeko said: “No, I think it’s 50-50.

“It doesn’t matter that some of our players are playing in the Champions League because Ireland have players with a lot of experience who have already played in big games.

“I know almost all the Irish players – they all play in England in the best league in the world and they are there because they have their individual qualities, they are good players.

“Even if some of them are missing, they are a good team which will definitely never give up, I know that.”

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