Le crunch game

Spare a thought for Mick this morning, he should be in Paris by now, drinking preparing for tonight’s crunch game against France. At the BBC’s World Cup blog Bryn Palmer gives five reasons why Ireland can win.. although he’s not completely convinced they will. Perhaps the thought of Wales being the only home nation to go through to the next round might act as an additional spur… and RTÉ’s match preview ends on this note

With Ireland’s form and morale under such a cloud, and so much on the line for the French, the prediction game is even more fraught than usual. Given the talent in both sides, it is only possible to go as far as to say only that if Ireland can perform at or near their best, they should win. Obviously, if they can only manage an effort similar to those we have become familiar with in the past five or six games, a tournament-ending hiding awaits.

Adds At the Guardian Paul Rees quotes Ireland defence coach Graham Steadman, “Stop Chabal and we shut up the crowd.” And John O’Sullivan on the French.