Gibraltar v Republic of Ireland – Estadio Algarve at 19:45 live on Sky Sports 1
Playing alongside Scotland in the group of death are the Republic of Ireland, whom also must have been devastated to be drawn in such a competitive group when just a top three finish was needed to at least reach the playoffs.
Unfortunately for Martin O’Neill’s team, they have slipped further behind the group leaders than they would have liked to by this stage of the qualifying competition. They have just four games left to salvage their fading hopes of reaching the finals next summer.
This was due to their two most recent results which were a pair of 1-1 home draws with Poland and Scotland, two matches which represented their best chance to make an impact on the group standings as the race for qualification heated up.
When you consider that their last two games are at home against world champions Germany and then away to current group leaders Poland. It is clear that tonight’s match against the minnows from the rock and Monday’s home game against Georgia are absolute must wins, if they are to have chance of squeezing into third place.
However, this first match should be nothing more than a glorified training exercise, because the tiny outcropping of Gibraltar can only boast a team of part timers who currently don’t even have a FIFA ranking.
Their current qualifying record reads P6 W0 D0 L6 GF1 GA34…….
Included in this dreadful run of defeats is a 7-0 mauling by the Republic last October and although Gibraltar are playing at ‘home’ this time out, we can expect a similarly comfortable night for O’Neill and his team.
Gibraltar’s last three home games all ended in one sided defeats for UEFA’s newest members, two 7-0 thrashings by Poland and Germany were bad enough, but losing 3-0 at home against Georgia is perhaps even worse.
Naturally, the Republic of Ireland are priced up as very, very short favourites to win the match and the Asian handicap betting line is way up at +/-4.75 for this one. However, Ireland despite putting seven past them last time, do not score a lot of goals.
In fact they have only score more than once in just four of their last nine outings and those games were against Oman, Georgia, Gibraltar and the USA. This does not fill me with confidence about their chances of racking up a big win tonight, especially when they struggled to a 2-1 win in Georgia this time last year.
The value is clearly with the huge underdogs here and although I am 100% that the Republic of Ireland will win the match with plenty to spare, the only betting option here is to back the home side to cover against the misfiring Irish.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Gibraltar +4.75 at 1.89
Prices correct at the time of writing
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