France coach Raymond Domenech has branded the Republic of Ireland “a sort of England B side” ahead of their World Cup play-off next month.
Giovanni Trapattoni is already preparing his side for “two cup finals” and is more than likely to use Domenech’s comments as a motivational tool ahead of the two games next month.
“Whoever our opponents were, I would have said the same thing, the objective is to qualify: but now itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Ireland, we just have to get on with it,” Domenech told the Irish Examiner.
“The advantage is that everyone knows them. They are a sort of England B side. They all play in the English league so all our players know them: some of our players play alongside them, while others against them. There will be no surprises. We know what to expect and we know what we have to do.
“They have not lost during the qualification period, and they only drew against Italy in their last match because of a last-minute goal.
We know they are a solid side, theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re all Premier League players.
TheyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re tough, but we are too.”
Ireland were handed arguably the toughest possible draw when they were paired with the 1998 winners and 2006 World Cup runners-up Les Blues, but they will go into the games in a confident mood after an unbeaten qualifying campaign, leaving them with good odds of World Cup Qualification.
France were denied automatic qualification from Group Seven by Serbia, who amassed 22 points to their 21.
Domenech’s men only lost only once – 3-1 in Austria in their opening qualifier in September last year.
Trapattoni’s men will host the French at Croke Park on Saturday, November 14 before trying to complete the job at the Stade de France in Paris four days later.
France were one of four seeded teams Ireland could have drawn with Portugal, Greece and Russia landing Bosnia-Herzegovina, Ukraine and Slovenia respectively.