Football Tips

Republic of Ireland v Luxembourg: Win the only option

Ireland captain Seamus Coleman
Coleman's leadership qualities are important to Ireland

In recent years, the Republic have made the mistake of starting tentatively and allowing unfancied teams to settle into a rhythm and Kenny has spoken of avoiding falling into that trap.

Ireland earned credit for their performance in defeat to Serbia but they need points in the bank from the visit of Luxembourg writes Daniel McDonnell...

Republic of Ireland v Luxembourg
Saturday March 27, 19:45
Live On Sky Sports

Ireland must get off the mark

The plot for the Republic of Ireland's World Cup opener in Belgrade took a few unexpected twists and turns but the ending delivered a familiar feeling of frustration for Stephen Kenny.

Few observers - and this is a mea culpa - anticipated a five goal encounter that could have swung in either direction.

The idea that Ireland would score twice and lose was out of sync with all of Kenny's tenure to date with his switch to a 3-5-2 delivering joy in the sense that the curtain was drawn on Ireland's ten and a half hour goal famine and pain as a new defensive unit were unable to hold onto the lead.

Third choice goalkeeper Mark Travers was guilty of a mistake at a key moment of the game as Serbian turned the screw to extend Kenny's winless run to nine matches.

Yet the reaction in Ireland has been largely positive with an understrength young team - the least experienced XI to represent the country in a competitive game since 1982 - winning plaudits for trading punches with a superior opponent on their own patch.

There will not be a forgiving attitude if Kenny's charges fail to defeat Luxembourg on Saturday evening.

Luxembourg danger

The definition of damning with faint praise is to point out that Luxembourg are better than they used to be.

Once the whipping boys of European football, they are now fourth seeds and a level above Andorra, San Marino and the new lower tier.

They don't have any superstars in their ranks but it's a team of professionals spread around Europe and beyond, with employees of Dynamo Kiev, New York City, Racing Santander and Young Boys in their diverse squad.

In their most recent Nations League campaign, they won three of their six games, including away to a Montenegro side that won the group.

So they possess a threat of sorts, yet the anticipation is that Ireland will be on the offensive for the majority of this fixture and this may result in a change of system. A third centre half may not be required and a tweak could open the door for an additional attacking midfielder with Robbie Brady a possible contender after his late cameo midweek.

RobbieBrady1280.jpg

Ireland also have doubts around the fitness of Aaron Connolly and with the likelihood they will spend more time around the opposition box - in contrast to needing a threat on the counter attack - then it's possible that James Collins or Shane Long will come into the frame as a central striker. This is worth considering with goalscoring markets in mind.

First half importance

It would take a brave punter to steam into Ireland as heavy odds on shots and it's recommended to look elsewhere with a more conservative strategy.

Fingers were burned by anticipating a low scoring affair in Serbia and while it's hard to envisage five goals being shared here, it's worth noting that Luxembourg have scored against better teams than Ireland. Indeed, with the exception of Long, their attackers have registered more goals at this level than the Irish equivalents.

As dull as this encounter may look on paper, this game is being taken seriously by Ireland. The return of Seamus Coleman to the squad should help to fend off complacency. If Ireland start with the same zest as in Belgrade, they can take a stranglehold early. In recent years, the Republic have made the mistake of starting tentatively and allowing unfancied teams to settle into a rhythm and Kenny has spoken of avoiding falling into that trap.

This is why it's worth looking at the Half Time/Full Time market where the 2.166/5 on Ireland is advised. The feeling is that Ireland will need an interval lead to get this job done efficiently and their first half performances have arguably been better under Kenny than the second half output. They just need to make chances pay.

Brady's presence


There's a slight risk in putting forward a player who didn't start the last fixture in a goalscoring market.

But Brady really should have a key role to play in this fixture with Ireland needing a midfielder confident in the final third and the Dubliner will also be on the premises in any dead ball situations. In that context, the 7/2 about Brady to score anytime should give backers a run for their money.

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