Republic of Ireland v Iceland: Expect goals as fringe players get a chance

Martin O'Neill team are more open in friendlies
Martin O'Neill team are more open in friendlies
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Martin O'Neill is expected to make a host of changes to the Ireland team that faced Wales at the weekend, in a game that was overshadowed by Seamus Coleman's horrific injury. With visitors Iceland also likely to play some fringe players, Dan McDonnell is expecting an open affair...

"Ireland lost 2-1 to Belarus with a second string team before the Euros and this time 12 months ago they participated in a topsy turvy 2-2 draw with Slovakia. The absence of strength and depth and the change in personnel means that it may not be a tight congested battle - which would almost certainly be the case if there was points at stake."

Republic of Ireland v Iceland
Tuesday, 19:45
Live on Eir Sport/Premier Sports

Match Odds
Republic of Ireland 2.265/4 Iceland 3.8514/5 Draw 3.39/4

It is fair to say that Martin O'Neill's mind has been occupied by other things ahead of Tuesday night's international friendly with Iceland at the Aviva Stadium.

The broken leg suffered by Seamus Coleman in Friday's dour World Cup qualifier with Wales has overshadowed this entire gathering. O'Neill will have to try and make Russia without his captain and an important member of his dressing room and that's hard to take.

He wore the disappointment on his face at the pre-match press conference before the Iceland game, with his brief responses to questions about Neil Taylor's late tackle - and an earlier one by Gareth Bale on John O'Shea - giving the impression that he was just about holding back.

"They were very poor challenges," he said, in a way which suggested this was an understatement in his terms.

The Iceland match really isn't that high on his list of priorities and senior members of the panel O'Shea, Glenn Whelan and Jon Walters have been allowed to go home along with the injured James McCarthy. O'Neill will ring the changes tomorrow with Aston Villa's Conor Hourihane and Preston's Daryl Horgan likely to win their first caps at some stage.

And the reshuffle means that punting on this match should factor in Ireland's form when O'Neill juggles things around.

Ireland have been disciplined in competitive action over the past year, and they have conceded just three goals in five qualifiers. But their record is less intimidating when he mixes things up. Ireland lost 2-1 to Belarus with a second string team before the Euros and this time 12 months ago they participated in a topsy turvy 2-2 draw with Slovakia. The absence of strength and depth and the change in personnel means that it may not be a tight congested battle - which would almost certainly be the case if there was points at stake.

Iceland will mix things up a bit too. They have won three of their last four away games, netting two goals on each occasion including in their weekend win over Kosovo. And, while they can be direct at times, they do have a recent track record of involvement in high scoring encounters.

Ireland do have players with a point to prove and they are unbeaten in 15 games at the Aviva. The 2.265/4 about a home win is not an attractive price, however, and they might be worth taking on although getting heavily involved on the outcome of this match before the teams are announced could be a dangerous business. The value is elsewhere.


Over/Under 2.5 Goals

The trading prices are understandable here - unders around 1.68/13, with overs at bigger than 2.68/5. Ireland are without Walters and Hoolahan, while James McClean and Shane Long could be subs, but they will be fielding a new back four that does not scream defensive assurance.

Iceland can pose a threat too. The rationale laid out above lends itself to the opinion that there might actually be a couple of goals in this encounter with the shackles off compared to the defensive outlook against Wales. The 2.6413/8 about Over 2.5 appeals. It's also tempting to play around and take in Both Teams to Score at 2.26/5 and Over 3.5 Goals at 5.24/1.


To Score

O'Neill has indicated he will pick a fringe side and a number of the leading candidates in the goalscorer market are likely to start the game on the bench. Robbie Brady will play, though, with O'Neill indicating he will captain the side. He takes the set pieces and would probably be first up if Ireland won a penalty as well. In that context, the 4.1 about Brady to score in the 90 minutes is a fair enough shout. The 8.88/1 about First Goalscorer could be appealing too.


Recommended Bets
Back Over 2.5 Goals at 2.6413/8
Back Robbie Brady to score at 4.1

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