According to the bookmakers it’s certain that Irish eyes will be smiling tonight as they aim to keep up their flying start to Euro 2020 qualification with a win against Gibraltar. That might surprise observers who remember the narrow and nervy 1-0 win in the reverse fixture, when howling wind and an alien pitch didn’t help the men in green, who laboured to victory.
Since then things have improved, with a 1-0 win against Georgia and a draw against Denmark providing an excellent boost to their campaign after Shane Duffy stole what was a very fortunate point after a rear-guard action managed to fight off an onslaught from the hosts.
At Lansdowne Road, with a much wider pitch and in conditions that should hopefully be much calmer, the gap in quality between the sides should show more clearly. Ireland are a functional side, but the resolute nature and experience of Shane Duffy and Richard Keogh is a good platform for fullbacks Seamus Coleman and Enda Stevens to work on, and if they get forward then we might see more attacking flair from Glenn Whelan and Conor Hourihane in midfield, and David McGoldrick should get more of a chance to shine upfront too.
Gibraltar ought to be much less of a challenge at home, in any case. They have lost 14 of 15 away matches since joining UEFA/FIFA, and the first of those was a 7-0 trashing at the hands of none other than Ireland.
Republic of Ireland v Gibraltar
UEFA EURO 2020 Qualifier
19:45 Sky Sports Main Event HD
HEAD TO HEAD RECORD
(Maximum 10 matches)
MAR 2019 EURO 2020 QUALIFYING Gibraltar 0-1 Ireland
SEP 2015 EURO 2016 QUALIFYING Gibraltar 0-4 Ireland
OCT 2014 EURO 2016 QUALIFYING Ireland 7-0 Gibraltar
It did occur three years ago, and Ireland are without the legendary Robbie Keane, so the gap should be closer here, although it looks pretty safe, given all the evidence, to suggest that Ireland should be comfortably clear. They’ve won each of their three meetings to nil, so a correct score might be a value play.
A more conventional bet might also be to back the second half to have the most goals. That has been the case in the three previous meetings against Gibraltar and it was also how the visitors ended up losing to North Macedonia and Georgia.
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