Whilst England fans are on cloud nine, Irish footballing supporters have less to cheer about and the men in green could be in for a stressful night once again as they face Georgia tonight in Dublin.
John Delaney’s paypacket – including a rather generous housing allowance – has been the focus of the build up here, although matters on the pitch weren’t much better. Ireland eventually got three points from their trip to Gibraltar in what was a laboured success thanks to Jeff Hendrick’s goal shortly after half time, but they will need to be better here.
An artificial pitch and extremely exposed stadium didn’t help in windy conditions, but the hosts were ranked 149th in the world and the performance was another reminder of how the Republic are continuing to struggle for goals. Hendrick’s strike ended the Republic’s drought of 446 minutes without a goal in all competitions and familiar foes Georgia will be a much harder task.
Georgia went down 2-0 to Switzerland on Friday but not before causing the visitors – a side with vastly more attacking quality than Ireland – a number of problems, and it took Denis Zakaria’s 80th-minute goal to make the game safe.
Georgia were promoted in Nations League D which means they will go into a playoff at least to qualify for Euro 2020, giving them a free hit at this qualifying campaign, and they have nothing to fear based on previous meetings with Ireland.
The last two meetings – held as recently as October 2016 and September 2017 – ended in a 1-0 win at the Aviva Stadium and Georgia were the better side when they draw 1-1 in Tiblisi a few months after that.
Ireland don’t look to have moved forward a huge amount since then and a number of injuries – Shane Long, Ronan Curtis, Callum Robinson, Alan Browne and Callum O’Dowda are all out – have curtailed any hopes of Mick McCarthy changing things quickly. The deployment of Wolves’ Matt Doherty on the right wing didn’t work against Georgia as part of a 4-4-2 and it’s hard to imagine Ireland cutting loose.
Republic of Ireland v Georgia
UEFA EURO 2020 Qualifier
19:45 Sky Sports Red Button / Sky Sports Main Event HD
HEAD TO HEAD RECORD
(Maximum 10 matches)
SEP 2017 WORLD CUP 2018 QUALIFIYING Georgia 1-1 Ireland
OCT 2016 WORLD CUP 2018 QUALIFIYING Ireland 1-0 Georgia
SEP 2015 EURO 2016 QUALIFYING Ireland 1-0 Georgia
SEP 2014 EURO 2016 QUALIFYING Georgia 1-2 Ireland
JUN 2013 INTERNATIONAL Ireland 4-0 Georgia
FEB 2008 WORLD CUP 2010 QUALIFIYING Ireland 2-1 Georgia
SEP 2008 WORLD CUP 2010 QUALIFYING Georgia 1-2 Ireland
Georgia are 8/13 with a one goal start on the Asian Handicap, which should be a strong runner through the game.
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