Martin O'Neill orders Ireland players to study videos of Wales talisman Gareth Bale ahead of crunch World Cup qualifier
Monday 20th March 2017
By Chris Wathan
The Ireland boss is doing everything he can to make his side stop Bale at the Aviva Stadium on Friday night
Wales' Euro 2016 heroics has already been committed to film – but Martin O'Neill is plotting a video nasty after ordering his Ireland stars to study DVDs of Gareth Bale ahead of this week's World Cup clash.
Bale was and remains the danger man for any opponent looking to end Wales' run of glory that made such an impression last summer that they released a feature-length documentary of their story.
And, having successfully recovered from an ankle operation he underwent in December, he will be expected to lead the Welsh charge in Dublin as they look to close the gap on the group leaders.
The Republic currently head Group D, two points above Serbia and four points Wales, with Friday's game marking the half-way mark of the qualifying campaign.
And the Boys in Green boss O'Neill had urged his defenders to get the videos out of Bale as a way of stopping the Real Madrid man.
The former Celtic and Aston Villa chief said: “I have some thoughts about trying to keep him quiet.
“Would we end up man marking him? I think great players can escape that as well and you get totally obsessed with something.
“But I think players, if he comes into their area, they should try and react to that. I think players should look at these things on DVDs – if I was marking on him or getting close to him, I’d be looking to see if he turns that way or this direction.
“It's something we will do when we meet up, just to have a look at certain things – just as I'm sure Wales will do with some of out players.
“I think it's something you want to do as a player. If I’m a defender, I want to know who I’m playing against each week and I’d want to know as much as I possibly can and I don’t think you should always be relying on somebody handing you something.”
Chris Coleman on Ben WoodburnChris Coleman on Ben Woodburn
Chris Coleman has already warned that trying to target Bale can be a waste of time having seen the 27-year-old cope with all the demands of rising to the very top of the game.
And he has insisted he is not worried what the plan is to stop him – including any bid to get under his skin after seeing a rare reaction and red card in a recent game for the La Liga giants.
But O'Neill knows all about Bale's threat having voted for him as his first choice for last season's Fifa player of the year, and admitted of attempts to keep him quiet: “I must admit he has turned a couple of players in La Liga just recently, when you thought it was impossible to get out of it and then he’s just in three strides he’s away from them because of his pace. He’s a handful.
“There is no doubt about it, he’s a top quality player, he’s world class and it is difficult but I think there is things you can do to try and defeat what he’s trying to do.”
O'Neill – who admits his men have lost a little of their momentum gained when they won in Austria last November to take them clear at the top of the group – also placed Coleman in his votes for manager of the year on the back of Wales' incredible Euro campaign.
And he has admitted the bid to reach Russia is still wide open, adding: “I think the game has taken on an enormous importance.
“Bale is a world class player and he will cause you problems, but they’ve got a number of quality players playing in their side, Ramsey and Allen, they can play a bit. Wales’ efforts in the Euros are not that long ago. It’s a big game for us, we’ve got to approach it in the manner that we’re at home, we’re going to try and win it.
“I wouldn’t know how to play for a point. If you were to say to me, it’s three minutes to go and we’re hanging on, you’d take it. Depending on the circumstances. But I think we’ve got to go with the same sort of approach as we have done in the four games we’ve played.”
What will be the result of Ireland v Wales?
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