Win required for Randolph against Ogbonna's Italy

Irish Independent sports editor Shane Scanlon is a Hammers fan, and can’t wait to see Darren Randolph and Angelo Ogbonna go head-to-head in Lille on Wednesday evening…
It is a measure of Belgium's dominance over the Republic of Ireland last Saturday that West Ham stopper Darren Randolph shipped no blame for any of the goals in the 3-0 defeat. In the post-match analysis, the keeper was exempt from criticism for the 'Bordeaux bashing'.
The 29-year-old was left exposed by the men in front of him. The problems at the root of this drubbing lay further out the field, and Ireland fans clinging onto straws of hope for Wednesday evening's match against Italy will pray there is not a repeat in Lille.
All three Belgium goals came in the second half, but the warning signs were there from early on as Ireland sat back in midfield and allowed their technically superior opponents – particularly Tottenham's Mousa Dembele, Manchester City playmaker Kevin De Bruyne and Chelsea wizard Eden Hazard - to dictate the pace of the game. 
Martin O'Neill's men got away with it for the first half, although Yannick Carrasco did manage to put the ball in the net. His 26th minute strike, however, was ruled offside after Randolph had initially made a superb reflex save to tip his header onto the crossbar.
One alarming stat from that first half was the revelation that Randolph had attempted more passes (17) than any of his outfield teammates. They can ill-afford to play in a similar fashion against the Italians.
On the basis of what we saw last Saturday, common sense dictates there is little reason for optimism against The Azzurri, but strangely, there is a well of hope filtering through the ever-enthusiastic Green Army. This is based on a skewed logic: Italy are certain to finish top of Group E no matter what the result and reports suggest that manager Antonio Conte could make as many as eight changes to his line-up.
The 29-year-old was left exposed by the men in front of him against Belgium. The problems at the root of this drubbing lay further out the field
So, the misconception is growing that Ireland will face a 'second-rate' Italy, which, in reality, is a contradiction in terms. No such term exists in Italian football, as Roy Keane was quick to point out on Tuesday. "Their mentality will be to go and get a result," Ireland's assistant manager warned. "If anyone thinks for one minute that they won't be at it, even if they talk about changes, that's a dangerous game. The players that come in will be champing at the bit, wanting to impress the manager."
On that note, a player who could come in is Randolph’s fellow Hammers teammate Angelo Ogbonna. Having watched the victories over Belgium and Sweden from the bench, the centre-back is odds-on to start this evening, and anyone who saw his debut season at the heart of Slaven Bilic's well-organised defence will testify to his quality.
While the Hammers faithful will fondly recall his dramatic, extra-time winner against Liverpool in the FA Cup replay at the Boleyn Ground, Ogbonna comes from the school of classic, no-nonsense Italian defending – a centre-half who uses his strong physical attributes, solid technical skills, and good turn of pace to keep forwards at bay.
It is worth noting that Ogbonna's move to West Ham last July was ultimately sparked by his failure to break into the Juventus starting back-four. He was coming off the back of being an unused sub in the Champions League Final defeat to Barcelona and was desperate to get regular first-team football at a high level, so he jumped at the exciting opportunity offered by West Ham.
You might ask why Ogbonna couldn't break into the Juventus first team; well, the two centre-halves in front of him were his current international team-mates Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini - both of whom were simply outstanding in Italy's two wins to date. That's the level of competition he has been facing.
Randolph already knows that his West Ham colleague is no 'second-rater' and the rest of Ireland is likely to learn that in Lille this evening. Only a victory will do for O'Neill's men and that's a tall task against any Italian team.