PARIS (AFP) - Irish eyes should be smiling ahead of the Republic's World Cup playoff clash against France here on Wednesday despite the visitors trailing by a goal, according to team manager Giovanni Trapattoni.
"I'm confident, because in football every match is different. From the opponents to the circumstances, nothing's ever the same," Trapattoni told reporters here on Tuesday.
"I've told all my players to be confident. We can believe in ourselves."
Statistics are firmly against the men from the Emerald Isle, who haven't beaten France away since 1931 and, notably, haven't beaten a top ranked team in official competition since a win over Turkey in qualifiers for Euro 1992.
But with a place in the World Cup at stake, it's no surprise the Republic - aiming to qualify for the first time since 2002 when they made it to the second round - want to believe in a dream finale to their campaign.
While France coach Raymond Domenech says his charges are "impatient" to show their superiority, the Irish know they have everything to win.
"The pressure's on the French," said the Republic's captain Robbie Keane. "They're playing at home and the home fans will be expecting them to play well.
"We've got nothing to lose, and everything to win," added the Spurs marksman, one of the few survivors from the 2002 vintage.
Trapattoni hopes to send out the same team that lost 1-0 at Croke Park in Dublin on Saturday, when a deflected shot from France striker Nicolas Anelka gave 'Les Bleus' a first leg advantage.
"Prior to yesterday (the final training session) I wanted to make some changes," added the Italian.
"But I want all the same players to be given their chance again. They've all recovered and I'm sure they'll be ready to go another 90 minutes."
An Irish goal at the Stade de France would change the landscape dramatically for Trapattoni's men and add impetus to their bid for a place at the World Cup finals in South Africa next summer.
It needs not be said that a France goal would put Raymond Domenech's France side firmly in the driving seat, and make qualifying even more of a formality.
France and Barcelona striker Thierry Henry warned they would not be sitting back and waiting for the Irish to attack.
"We've won over there but we still have a battle on our hands. And it won't be easy because they're a tenacious side," he said.
"But when we start playing, it will be to win. We won't be sitting back relying on the goal we have from the first leg."
Despite that pledge many France players, including Henry, will be aware that the Stade de France, and its fans, have been fickle partners in the past.
Scotland striker James McFadden hushed the Stade scoring one of the goals of his career in a 1-0 win over France in September 2007.
And, it is only since a 1-1 draw with Romania earlier this year that France has lifted its game in the stadium.
Also looming is the dark memory, still talked about by many French football fans, of Les Bleus' failure to qualify for the 1994 World Cup after being eliminated by Bulgaria.
Needing only a draw from their final two qualifiers, Israel beat Gerard Houllier's France 3-2 at home despite France leading 2-1 seven minutes from the end.
Bulgaria then pounced on a fluffed cross from second half substitute David Ginola to go up the field and score their second goal to hand them a 2-1 win thus eliminating France.
That exit came 16 years ago, almost to the day, on November 17. But Domenech insists it is not on his mind: "The past is the past."
But in the back of his mind Domenech, whose wacky ways with the media has led to him having a love-hate relationship with the French public, must be praying his team of mostly world class players come good on the night.
Prompted that it could be his last match in charge, the Frenchman was his typical evasive self saying: "I'm not wavering from what my job is, which is to prepare the players for the match - not for before the match or after the match."
|Gladbach targeting DFB Pokal glory|
|Montreal Impact 1 Pachuca 1 (agg 3-3): Hosts through on away goals|
|Zouma can replace Terry - Mourinho|
|Copa Libertadores Review: Universitario, Libertad notch first wins|
|RB Leipzig´s attack worrying Wolfsburg|
|Jardim backs busy Monaco|
|De Boer: ´I´d only sign for an interesting club´|
|Martinez calls for unity|
|A-League Preview: Phoenix staying grounded|
|Danish FA agree to more pay negotiations|
|Rodgers feared sack before ´radical´ change|
|Chelsea turned Valencia´s head - Allardyce|
|Poyet spat was not a good look - Bruce|
|Gold ´hopeful´ over Reid deal|
|´No problem´ with Bruce, says Poyet|
|Sherwood confident in Villa upturn after derby win|
|Pulis stands by Foster after costly error|
|Boulogne 1 Saint-Etienne 1 (aet, 3-4 on penalties): Minnows´ run ends on penalties|
|Schalke want to buy Nastasic|
|Pardew feeling hard done by after Southampton defeat|
|Football League Review: Boro go top as Derby falter again|
|Koeman pleased with ´crucial´ victory|
|Agbonlahor eyes turnaround as Villa end wait for win|
|Equaliser at Hull hit my arm - Rodwell|
|Reus injury ´only a dead leg´|
|Lyon hope for long Lacazette stay|
|DFB-Pokal Review: Leverkusen shake off old foes Kaiserslautern|
|Aston Villa 2 West Brom 1: Benteke on the spot as Villa win at last|
|Hull City 1 Sunderland 1: Rodwell earns visitors a draw in dramatic encounter|
|Southampton 1 Crystal Palace 0: Mane wins it late on|
|Dynamo Dresden 0 Borussia Dortmund 2: Reus withdrawal overshadows Pokal progression|
|Bruce and Poyet clash in ugly touchline spat|
|Dortmund star Reus in new injury scare|
|Lyon success a source of pride for Gonalons|
|Juventus v Fiorentina: Allegri seeking improvement|
|Edu hails ´phenomenon´ Sanchez|
|´Huge money´ needed to take Cech away - Mourinho|
|Lazio v Napoli: Benitez calls for unity in trophy quest|
|West Ham´s Cole landed with FA charge|
|Leeds fan group want meeting with Hollywood star Crowe|
|Suso prepared to wait for Milan chance|
|Ashley fined £7,500 for influence in Rangers|
|Blanc praises Luiz´s versatility|
|Pochettino: League Cup heartbreak will help Spurs grow|
|Carver understands frustration with Van Gaal|
|AFC Champions League Review: Jeonbuk and Kashiwa win convincingly|
|Guardiola committed to Bayern amid City rumours|
|Hughes: Bruce is defending the indefensible|
|Espanyol v Athletic Bilbao: Stuani eyeing ´momentous´ cup final|
|Everton waiting on Baines fitness|
|I am not under pressure, Pellegrini insists|
|Guardiola demands focus ahead of Braunschweig clash|
|Van Gaal: Di Maria needs a year to settle|
|Luis Enrique vows to attack Villarreal|
|Jedinak hit with four-game ban|
|Mourinho guarantees Terry deal|
|Mowbray lands Coventry job|
|Strootman on schedule for Roma return|
|Mikel out for a month after surgery|
|Palace midfielder Jedinak accepts FA charge|
|Wigan chairman Whelan stands down, hands reins to 23-year-old grandson|
|Jedinak stays quiet on FA charge|
|England winger Johnson released on bail|
|Gareca signs four-year Peru deal|
|Sandro set for QPR return|
|Hull dealt Brady blow|
|Garcia going nowhere, insists Pallotta|
|Allardyce: Chelsea aren´t allowed to be off form|
|Arsenal boosted by Ramsey return|
|No early Barca return for Tello|
|Pirlo inspired stunning Tevez free-kick|
|Brunt vows to heap misery on Villa|
|Barry: Everton needs points on the board to avoid relegation scrap|
|Janmaat hails ´fantastic´ Van Gaal|
|Cahill vows to silence critics|
|Spurs legend Mackay passes away|
|Adrian: I get good results against Mourinho|
|Hoffenheim boss wary of rising expectations|
|Sturridge edging closer to his best - Rodgers|
|Kroos happy with deeper role|
|Terry ´fighting´ for Chelsea contract|
|Townsend: No excuses for Tottenham|
|Garcia applauds Roma´s ´magnificent´ comeback|
|Belenenses 0 Pacos de Ferreira 1: Moreira seals rare away win|
|Juve angry at Roma draw - Allegri|
|Roma 1 Juventus 1: Keita keeps slim Scudetto hopes alive|
|Celta Vigo 1 Elche 1: Controversial late penalty gives visitors a point|
|Turkish Super Lig Review: Gala extend lead at the top|
|Paris Saint-Germain v Monaco: Jardim rejects de-facto final talk|
|Stuttgart, Freiburg named in doping claims|
|Dyche hails Ings determination ahead of Liverpool showdown|
|Newcastle United v Manchester United: Mata out to make more memories|
|England winger Johnson suspended after arrest on underage sex charge|
|Liverpool back in the black|
|Jedinak charged with violent conduct|
|BREAKING NEWS: Police make arrest on underage sex charge amid reports England international is held|
|Schone delighted to extend Ajax deal|
|Montolivo and De Jong suffer injuries|
|Bayern Munich v Eintracht Braunschweig: ´Self-critical´ holders in no mood to ease off, says Muller|
|Tottenham v Swansea City: Pochettino out to banish League Cup disappointment|
|QPR v Arsenal: Austin ready for survival fight|
|Sherwood: No hard feelings over missing out on West Brom job|
|Chelsea and Everton fined for fracas|
|Villarreal v Barcelona: Final in sight for visitors|
|Stoke City v Everton: Howard calls for back-to-basics approach|
|Pearson: I understand Pellegrini pressures|
|West Brom sweating on fitness of Berahino and Ideye|
|Manchester City v Leicester City: Pellegrini demands response|
|Feyenoord and Roma face UEFA charges|
|Liverpool v Burnley: Rodgers full of respect for visitors|
|Brown has red card overturned|
|Rodgers heaps praise on Allen|
|Koeman critical of Jedinak elbow|
|Bruce hits back at Hughes over Figueroa challenge|
|Koeman sets 61-point target for Southampton|
|Ibe set to miss a month with knee injury|
|Klopp looking to maintain momentum|
|Bent out for three to four weeks with hamstring injury|
|Schmidt ready for Kaiserslautern clash|
|West Ham v Chelsea: Mourinho turning attention back to the league|
|Barca must not be distracted by Clasico, says Busquets|
|Terry rules out England return|
|De Boer demands more despite PSV win|
|Bony: We have to win every game|
|Subotic rejects Serbia call-up|
|Benitez frustrated at refereeing decisions|
|Real Madrid must learn from Villarreal draw - Marcelo|
|QPR announce losses of £9.8m|
|Rutten to leave Feyenoord|
|First trophy for ´new´ Chelsea - Mourinho|
|Icardi the future of Inter, says Ausilio|
|Patience needed from ´brilliant´ United fans - Rooney|
|Allen hails ´next level´ Coutinho|
|Points over milestones for Cisse|
|Hecking ´furious´ with Wolfsburg defence|
|CONCACAF Champions League Preview: DC United face uphill task to reach semis|
|AFC Champions League Preview: Al Ain enhanced, Wanderers prepare for Evergrande reunion|
|Coupe de France Preview: PSG, Monaco to meet again|
|Crouch happy to silence doubters|
|Blanc questions rivals´ mental strength as PSG gain ground|
|Kane: Fortune favoured Chelsea|
|Ancelotti defends Isco substitution|
|Rooney: Di Maria will come good|
|Stubborn Villarreal impress Real´s Pepe|
|PSG could not ´kill off´ Monaco - Van der Wiel|
|Serie A Review: Napoli suffer defeat at Torino, Lazio lurking|