Chances limited for Ireland
Aside from a glorious chance for Shane Long early on, Ireland didn’t create many clear-cut opportunities over the course of the 90 minutes, an issue which Trapattoni will need to address tonight.
The better attacks, particularly in the first half, came down the left side as James McClean and Robbie Keane combined particularly well to trouble Celtic’s Mikael Lustig.
Lustig is out injured tonight, but Ireland are without their own wide threat in Aiden McGeady, so responsibility falls on McClean and Walters to exploit any Swedish weakness at full back.
Paul Green’s disruptive duties
Green is nobody’s favourite Ireland player but he silenced (most of) his critics by stifling Sweden in Stockholm.
Even before the last changes which saw James McCarthy come in to replace the injured Glenn Whelan in the centre of midfield, Green had been chosen by Trapattoni as the man to keep an eye on Kim Kallstrom and protect the Irish back four.
He did just that, sticking a foot in to disrupt Sweden on a number of occasions, although he was often wasteful when in possession himself.
Afterwards Trap likened Green to Ireland’s very own Gennaro Gattuso and, whatever about the hyperbole, there’s no doubt that it freed up McCarthy for his man of the match display. Whelan will be expected to match that kind of industry tonight.
Zlatan: dangerous, even on his quiet nights
This week Marco Tardelli admitted he is “scared” of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and his ability to change a game in an instant. Ireland’s success in subduing him was critical in gaining a point in Stockholm.
Ciaran Clark won the lion’s share of his aerial battles while John O’Shea and Marc Wilson (below) were on hand as required.
Still it is worth recalling that two of Sweden’s best chances on the night were manufactured by Ibrahimovic. It was his flick that gave Tobias Hysen the space to swivel and shoot, testing Forde:
While late on he very nearly unlocked the defence for Alex Kacaniklic:
Confident, competent debut from Forde
Before Euro 2012 Forde was Ireland’s third-choice keeper; now he is the presumptive number one, and worries about his fitness earlier this week show just how much confidence his team-mates — and the Irish public — have in him.
The trip to Stockholm was his competitive debut for Ireland and, with the exception of McCarthy, he was Ireland’s stand-out player on the night. Although his kicking was a bit wayward at times, Forde’s shot-stopping was solid and he was equal to all of Sweden’s best chances.
This save from Kim Kallstrom’s dangerous free-kick was one of a handful of important stops:
A point gained — or two dropped?
Before the game in Stockholm, most people would have snapped your hand off for a point against a Sweden team who beat England and reeled in Germany for a remarkable 4-4 draw.
But afterwards there was a sense that Ireland could have won with a bit more adventure. Trapattoni waited until the 77th minute before making his first change, leaving Wes Hoolahan with little time to exploit the space left by tired legs.
Ireland didn’t make many chances but Sweden were not the world-beaters many expected and that should give the home side confidence tonight.
Sweden 0-0 Republic of Ireland
Sweden: Andreas Isaksson, Mikael Lustig (Mikael Antonsson, 46′), Jonas Olsson, Andreas Granqvist, Behrang Safari, Rasmus Elm, Sebastian Larsson (Jimmy Durmaz, 88′), Kim Kallstrom, Alexander Kacaniklic, Tobias Hysen (Ola Toivonen, 73′), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (c).
Ireland: David Forde, Seamus Coleman, John O’Shea, Ciaran Clark, Marc Wilson, Paul Green, James McCarthy, Jon Walters, James McClean (Andy Keogh, 83′), Robbie Keane (c, Wes Hoolahan, 77′), Shane Long (Conor Sammon, 88′).
Referee: Alberto Undiano Mallenco (Spain)
Attendance: 49, 436.