Chris Hughton puts on his Republic of Ireland hat and looks ahead to the massive World Cup qualifier against former world champions France at Lansdowne Road on Wednesday...
THIS WILL BE the biggest game we've had in Dublin for a while and I feel we had a bit of a dress rehearsal against Italy in our recent friendly. For 25 minutes we couldn't get close to them and, in the end, we could have got and deserved a draw.
It was good for us to play against that type of opposition going into what is going to be a very difficult game. I think the problem playing against the French, with the team they have, is that they are probably as good a side away from home as they are on home soil.
They have great pace up front, Henry will certainly play with Cisse probably alongside him. They will put out a team full of very good athletes and world class players.
With Zidane, Makelele and Thuram making their comebacks it adds all the more to it. It is an interesting one, France haven't got into a real flow as a group up to now. When the draw was made they were the obvious favourites but, by their standards, they haven't started as well as expected.
The three coming out of retirement will certainly add something to their team and will give them a lift. We've got to concentrate on the things we do very well at home and it will be a fantastic game for everybody to be involved in. This is the one game the fans have really been looking forward to.
The priority for us is to prepare properly for what will happen on the pitch - there is no point in us hyping up the players or bringing them down, whichever is appropriate, if we don't do the things we're good at doing once we get on the football pitch. That is the most important thing.
There is always a big part of your tactics that has to nullify their game because in full flow they are one of the best teams in the world. Motivation won't be an issue, this is one everybody is waiting for and you want them to relish the challenge.
We want all of our players to rise to this challenge and get us a win. The reason why the group is so tight is because games between the top four nations have all been draws. The team who gets the good win at home against one of the top four will most likely win the group.
Brian Kerr was probably be a bit more nervous than usual when waiting for fitness reports after this weekend's games, but this is something a manager get used to. You are happy when the weekend has gone and you've got no injuries, although generally this is not the case.
There will be an incredible noise at Lansdowne Road for the game and this is something we very much experience when we get on top of teams. It is a daunting place for the opposition to come to, but we as a team have to make it that good.
With the fans behind us, there are few places better to play.