Coutinho v Eriksen

The one player Ireland need to stop to beat Denmark


Amidst all the talk of Dele Alli and Harry Kane, Pochettino will be glad his star Danish midfielder hasn’t caught the eye of the big European fish.  At least not yet. With stats as consistently impressive as Coutinho only without all the hype, Christian Eriksen has been calmly delivering for Spurs season after season.

The 25 year old midfielder has wracked up 34 goals and 40 assists in just 143 games at a club only recently beginning to approach the top. But it’s his quiet manner and general workload that Martin O’Neill will be scared of. Eriksen had an 80% tackle success rate and has made over 700 recoveries for his team since joining.

He’s scored 3 goals in 9 games At time of writing and looks set on that. He’s a great player and he’s in form.  So how do you stop him hurting Ireland?

It’s not easy. Eriksen’s style of play belies an intelligence which makes it seem like he’s working hard. But while he’ll actively harry opposition players without the ball, he’s more likely to play the smart pass and let the ball work for him than run while in possession. This is what Ireland have to look for. The deceptive nature of his play.

Of course deception was where former Ireland star Robbie Keane always held all the cards. And he was about to find out a certain German knew how to play them too.

The Curse of the Jade Elephant continues

Didi Hamann was to be found in back alleys, in the lowest kind of dens and hideouts in the city. He ran a travelling burlesque show frequented by the worst gangsters in Mumbai.  It didn’t take Keane long to follow the trail to the Golden Monkey piano bar’s flickering neon sign. He was shown to a table and ordered his signature drink, TK red lemonade and a shot of Paddy with a pack of tayto. Then the music stand arted.  Didi made a pretty game looking broad all things considered, his long, delicate eyelashes, lips poured out just so.  But it was his voice that drove the punters wild.  They said they based Jessica Rabbit on his salad days. Thing was, Keane wasn’t here for the music.

“I know you know something!” It was an hour later and Didi was blowing smoke from his long filtered cigarette into Keane’s eyes. He was grinning.
“I cannot give an opinion”. He whispered. Keane hoped he wouldn’t have to get rowdy. He never had much time for Hamann as a player but his act was first rate. People travelled for miles to hear his Kurt Weil playlist.
“Don’t do it for me,” Robbie grimaced, “do it for the dead footballers. And the ones in danger.”
“You’re looking in the wrong places. In amongst the old faces.” Didi grinned.  “Why do you want to solve this case anyway?”
“It’s been my boyhood dream to solve this case.” Keane slugged back the last of his TK and emptied the tayto bag into his mouth.
“and what about the jade elephant?”
“There is no Jade elephant you fool. It’s a myth. A fairy tale told to kids to scare them out of playing football.”
” You’d better not be lying to me.” Keane tore down a poster of Kenny Dalglish from above his mirror, crushing it in his hand. “Or I’ll be back.”

Right at that moment, somewhere else in the city, a ship was making port. The gang plank hit the promenade with a smack and footsteps echoed right the way down to the end of the dock.  Things were about to get a whole lot worse. Duffer was back.

Read the first part here

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