Republic of Ireland v Wales – Aviva Stadium, Dublin at 19:45 live on Sky Sports 1
Chris Coleman’s Wales travel to Dublin this Friday night for their 2018 World Cup Qualifier with the Republic of Ireland. With just one team from Group D able to guarantee themselves a place in Russia, every match is crucial. With current form and home advantage on their side, Ireland come into the match as favourties. But there is some value on Wales on the Asian Handicap market.
Republic of Ireland
Martin O’Neill’s Ireland currently sit top of group D after taking 10 points from their opening 4 matches. It puts them above Serbia in 2nd place and 4 points clear of Friday’s opponents and top seeds Wales.
Ireland haven’t lost since they were knocked out of the Euro’s by hosts France last summer. They’ve played 5 matches since, winning 4 and drawing 1.
The Boys in Green come into this match on the back of famous win in Austria, defeating the much fancied side 1-0. That came after wins over Georgia and Moldova, as well as a draw away to Serbia.
Unfortunately for the Irish, they have been hit by an injury crisis, meaning five players who were in the side that defeated Austria will be missing on Friday.
Ciaran Clark, Shane Duffy, Harry Arter and Wes Hoolahan are not available which is a real blow. Daryl Murphy is also not available through injury, while James McCarthy is a doubt. Robbie Brady is unavailable through suspension.
Fortunately for Ireland, this is not a game they must win. O’Neill and Keane have said they will adopt a positive attitude and try to win the game, but quietly, I’m sure they would take a draw.
Most of the build up this week has been focused on the availability of Gareth Bale. When he damaged his ankle last November, it was thought he would be out until April. He recovered by the end of February however and has given Wales a real boost ahead of a tough and crucial fixture.
The Dragons are by no means a one man team, but after a run of 3 consecutive draws in this qualifying campaign, they need everything they’ve got to get qualifying back on track. Currently 4 points behind leaders Ireland, this really is a game they can’t afford to lose.
I expect the Welsh to come out of the blocks quickly, using their pace in attack to stretch their weakened opponents on what is a wide pitch. The trouble is, what was once a solid defence, conceding just 4 times in 10 matches when qualifying for the Euro’s, has already leaked as many goals in this campaign in 4 matches.
Asian Handicap & BTTS
This match should have a real derby feel to it. Wales go to Dublin needing to avoid defeat at the very least, but 3 points will be the aim for Coleman.
The Irish are missing a handful of first team players but bring some good form into the match. They are also a tough nut to crack at at home and avoiding defeat will be seen as a positive result and maintain their place at the top of group D.
A draw is a likely result, however, I think Wales offer some value here. I expect them to take the game Ireland and would rather be on the more aggressive team in what is an important fixture for them.
I also think that there will be goals in this match. Historically the Irish love a score draw and the Welsh have drawn 2-2, 1-1 and 1-1 in their last 3 outings. Both teams to score at 2.10 looks a great bet.
Asian Handicap Recommendation: Wales +/- 0 at 2.29 and BTTS at 2.10
Prices correct at time of writing.
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