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Republic of Ireland v Denmark: Another tight encounter likely in Dublin

Daniel McDonnell expects another tension filled night at the Aviva on Tuesday
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Martin O'Neil's side head home with their World Cup qualification hopes in the balance, Daniel McDonnell gives his verdict on whether they can book their ticket to Russia...

"The debate ahead of the second game is if O'Neill will encourage his players to really go for it. He welcomes David Meyler back from suspension and his inclusion in midfield would free Jeff Hendrick to move to the right of a 4-5-1."

Republic Of Ireland v Denmark
Tuesday, 19:45
Live on Sky Sports Main Event

Martin O'Neill's side enter the return leg of their World Cup qualifier with Denmark knowing that any kind of home win puts them into next summer's finals. They didn't get the away goal they wanted from Saturday's drab first leg in Copenhagen, but they did keep a clean sheet and succeeded in frustrating their hosts.

Danish midfielder Thomas Delaney compared the task of breaking down Ireland to the challenge of opening a tin of baked beans with bare hands. Ireland's approach to the game is best summed up by the fact that the player that made the most passes was goalkeeper Darren Randolph with 31. Safety first was the priority. Instead of the risky through ball, Ireland played the percentages and went long. It wasn't pretty but the players felt it was effective.

They need to produce a performance on home soil that consigns any memories of Denmark to the dustbin. If Denmark succeed in scoring in Dublin, Ireland will need two to advance. Denmark's manager Age Hareide pointed out on Saturday evening that O'Neill's men tend not to do that so often. But they did hit that target in their last play-off decider, the crunch Euro 2016 encounter with Bosnia two years ago.

On that occasion, the Irish had the security of an away goal in the bank - after a 1-1 draw in the away leg - which gave them the knowledge of knowing that a scoreless draw in Dublin would be enough. They did more than that by registering a 2-0 win in an assertive performance where they were aggressive in the opposition half from the outset and got their reward.

The debate ahead of the second game is if O'Neill will encourage his players to really go for it. He welcomes David Meyler back from suspension and his inclusion in midfield would free Jeff Hendrick to move to the right of a 4-5-1. The alternative would be to go with two strikers, which O'Neill has tended to do in home matches.

But he is light on options and selecting both Shane Long and Daryl Murphy would leave him short of an attacker on the bench in case of emergency. The uncapped Scott Hogan is his only other option. Selecting Long ahead of Murphy would freshen things up and leave the bigger man in reserve. Denmark have options in the forward department too, and they lacked subtlety in round one with Christian Eriksen well shackled by a busy Irish midfield.

The Aviva Stadium is not a particularly intimidating venue but there have been exceptions to the rule and a high intensity Irish approach will be required to really get the crowd going and avoid the situation where Hareide's side monopolise possession.

Denmark's status as narrow favourites is most likely drawn from the fact they had the better chances and have a good record away from home. But a score draw will do for them and it's a leap to think that getting involved on a 90 minute win for the away side is the play.

The [3.1] about Ireland is not especially tempting either; they are very much capable of grinding out the result but they are unlikely to go ahead early if they do so. Given the likely in-play movements, laying the visitors at [2.8] appeals as the bet.

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Half Time - Draw [1.83]

The [1.83] about the sides being level at the break stands out. Both sides have spoken about the importance of getting the first goal, but they don't need it inside 15 minutes as much as O'Neill indicated on Monday that his side would try and be more expansive. Certainly, with the crowd on the backs, expect a passionate showing in the early minutes but they are unlikely to throw caution to the wind.

Meanwhile, the Danes are hopeful that they will get more space if Ireland commit bodies. They should have no reason to fear O'Neill's side, but their manager is experienced and they might well take the view that curbing Ireland's enthusiasm and quietening the crowd would be half the battle. That points to the game being all square at the halfway point

To Score: Ciaran Clark [10.5]

With the main markets not exactly screaming obvious value with punters wise to the fact this should be low scoring with the potential to go all the way, this is a left field call.

Denmark were very conscious of Shane Duffy's threat from set pieces on Saturday and he was well shackled every time he ventured forward. But Ciaran Clark did wriggle into space on a couple of occasions with Duffy the priority. He's [10.5] to get on the scoresheet and with Ireland sending players forward for every corner and throw-in then a small play should at least give people a run for their money.

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