The Republic of Ireland and England will meet this Sunday in an international friendly in Dublin, as both prepare for upcoming Euro qualifiers. The sides have only met once since the disgraceful scenes of the 1995 friendly which was abandoned, drawing 1-1 at Wembley in 2013.
Ireland manager, Martin O’Niell, has said that he hopes this match will erase the memory of the ‘debacle’ of 1995, when sections of the English support rioted after the hosts had taken the lead, eventually leading to the match being abandoned. It was a dark day for English football, and one which genuine England fans would hope will never be repeated. This is the first time that the two nations have played in Dublin since that game, and one hopes that we will only be talking about the football once the match is over.
Clearly there is a great rivalry between the two countries, and the game itself promises to have much more of an edge to it than any normal friendly. For Ireland this is a warm-up to the crucial Euro 2016 qualifier against Scotland next week, while England face Slovenia. Let’s have a look at the match betting in the build-up:
At first glance England look decidedly short to win the game. Not many teams go to Lansdowne Road and turn the Irish over, and with the added spice in this game, it’s bound to be a competitive affair. Republic of Ireland failed to qualify for the World Cup, and England’s poor tournament has been well documented, but both sides have performed well in the year since, and both can still have eyes on a place in France next year.
England top their qualification group with a faultless record, having won 5 out of 5 matches, scoring 15 goals and conceding just once. They’re six points clear of Switzerland and Slovenia – next week’s opponents – and it would take a dramatic collapse for them not to reach the European Championships next year. It’s hard to read too much into that though, and England’s reputation as a ‘flat track bully’ looks somewhat justified. The only game they’ve failed to win since the World Cup was the 1-1 draw away in Italy, and there is a sense that England fail to perform when faced with a real test.
Martin O’Niell’s men will certainly give them that, and there will be no easy victory for the Three Lions here. Republic of Ireland are almost tempting to win the match at the prices, but they are in a real battle for qualification in their Euro 2016 group, and their focus is expected to be much more on the game against Scotland next week. The Irish are currently 4th in their qualification group, but are only 3 points behind leaders Poland with Scotland and Germany sandwiched in-between. Scotland visit Lansdowne Road on Saturday 13th June, and a win for the Republic would keep them right in the mix, with Poland and Germany expected to win their respective matches against Georgia and Gibraltar.
With that in mind, the draw looks by far the best bet in this particular match, with neither side likely to want to give up the bragging rights, but neither likely to push the boat out in search of victory with those all-important games looming on the horizon. It’s a remarkable statistic that each of the last four meetings between the teams have all ended 1-1, with three of those games in the early 1990’s before the twenty-year hiatus was ended with the stalemate in 2013. If you fancy that scoreline again, the best odds are below:
1-1 Correct Score – 6/17.00+6006.006.00-0.17 with William Hill
We’re going to recommend a small side bet on this scoreline, as that has been the same score when Ireland took on Poland and Germany in recent qualifiers, and as mentioned when England played Italy in their recent friendly. These teams are far more evenly matched that the odds suggest, and although England have some of the ‘big name’ players that the media drool over, in truth, there is relatively little to choose between the two.
Martin O’Niell reduced his squad to 27 players for these next two matches over the weekend, leaving out striker Kevin Doyle along with Anthony Stokes, Adam Rooney, Simon Cox, Alan Judge and Anthony Pilkington. The only injury concern is over Paul McShane, who is still suffering from a large gash on his thigh, sustained on the last day of the Premier League season. The side is likely to be led by skipper Robbie Keane, who will be hoping to add to his record tally of international goals. The squad is made up of several experienced Premier league and Championship campaigners, along with some promising youngsters such as Ipswich centre forward Daryl Murphy.
The England squad has a few notable absentees, including Everton’s Leighton Baines who is out injured, and young players Harry Kane and Danny Ings who are representing England in the Under-21 European Championships. The likes of Ross Barkley and Raheem Sterling have swerved that tournament to be included in this squad, while Jamie Vardy and Charlie Austin have been rewarded for their excellent seasons with Leicester and QPR, with their first international call-ups. They join the more experienced strike pair of Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck, but it is in defence rather than up front that England look a little light, with only one recognized right back in Southampton’s Nathaniel Clyne.
With the game live on TV it’s also worth a small punt on the first goalscorer, and the man who stands out at the odds is Jonathan Walters of Stoke. He’s started 4 of the last 5 competitive games for the Republic, and his ability to play up front or in midfield has made him a versatile and dependable member of the Irish team. He’s often a thorn in the side of Premier League defences, and will relish the opportunity to score against England should he be given the chance. One would expect Ireland to come racing out of the blocks in front of a passionate support, and they could put England under early pressure.
Eric has been a sports journalist for over 20 years and has travelled the world covering top sporting events for a number of publications. He also has a passion for betting and uses his in-depth knowledge of the sports world to pinpoint outstanding odds and value betting opportunities.
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