Rep of Ireland v Moldova: O'Neill's men to pass first 'must win' test

Martin O'Neill's men must take three points against Moldova on Friday night
Martin O'Neill's men must take three points against Moldova on Friday night
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There's a crucial double-header of Group D World Cup Qualifiers coming up for Rep of Ireland, but before Martin O'Neill's men can concentrate on Wales they must take the points aganst group minnows Moldova says Daniel McDonnell..

"There will be rotation in other positions but Christie should be involved for the full 90 and will have opportunities. It's worth a speculative investment."

Back Cyrus Christie To Score [9.6]

Republic of Ireland v Moldova
Friday, 19:45
Live on Sky Sports

Republic of Ireland [1.12] Moldova [38.0] Draw [11.0]

Moldova is the starter for Ireland ahead of Monday's main course away to Wales which is the last chance to keep fading World Cup hopes alive.

September was a disaster for Martin O'Neill's side with a one point return from crunch games with Georgia and Serbia ruining the good work that had left them joint top heading into that window.

Their automatic qualification ambitions have perished. Ireland now sit third and O'Neill's men must win their final two games to have any chance of making a play-off.

That return would guarantee second in the group but the caveat is that they also need results in other groups to go their way as the runner-up with the lowest number of points is eliminated.

Between now and Monday, the permutations will clear up and become more straightforward. Moldova's visit on Friday should be the most uncomplicated part of the week.

They are the poorest side in the group and Ireland overcame a wobble to win 3-1 in Chisinau last October.

Moldova have caused a couple of problems across the campaign but they have struggled to see games out. In fixtures with Austria and Wales, they held firm until the final 15 minutes and conceded twice. Across their eight outings, they've conceded 20 goals.

Granted, Ireland are shot-shy. They've only scored twice in four home matches. Key men Robbie Brady and James McClean are suspended while Jon Walters and Seamus Coleman are out for the campaign.

But they should be smarting from their September struggles and this fixture is the perfect opportunity to bring some momentum into the decider.

O'Neill is likely to stack his side with stronger experienced options initially with a view to removing suspense and resting legs later on. The combination of Wes Hoolahan, Shane Long and the in-form Daryl Murphy should be able to put the hosts in a commanding position. New call-ups Scott Hogan and Sean Maguire are options to come in off the bench to boost a flagging department.

Moldova's tendency to concede late might lend itself to a lay with a view to getting involved later on and in-running traders should keep that in mind on all markets as there's little value in getting stuck in at [1.12]. Other markets are of more interest.

Goal Lines: Over 3.0 @ [2.08]

For those who aren't familiar with the Asian Handicap markets, this offers a bit of security when it comes to taking a punt on the number of goals in the match. A straight bet on Overs in the 3.5 goals market is [2.62]. It is hard to recommend that with absolute confidence as there is a danger Ireland might pull up the brakes and make some changes with Wales in mind if they are in command - and they don't have a history of really cutting teams open and running up a number.

But Moldova still have vulnerabilities and can be exploited.

Ireland should score at least two goals in the game - it would be disappointing if they fell short of that - and the second half mindset will be vital. If a punter is on Over 3.0 in the Goal Lines then they get their money back if there ends up being exactly three goals in the game. If there's four then they collect but at the reduced odds of [2.08]. That is the sensible play here as three should be the threshold.

The straight Over 2.5 is [1.7]. That could have in-running potential at bigger odds if there's only one goal on the board at the break.

Cyrus Christie To Score @ [9.6]

The Middlesbrough player should start the game and if Ireland are on the front foot then he will spend a lot of time in the opposition half. When Ireland won in Moldova last year, Seamus Coleman was a key attacking threat made a goal. Christie is an inferior player but he can threaten in the opposition half and has already scored competitively for Ireland - a deadlock breaker against a Gibraltar side that was parked in their own half back in September 2015.

There will be rotation in other positions but Christie should be involved for the full 90 and will have opportunities. It's worth a speculative investment. He's more than double the odds to score first too.

Recommended Bets

Back Over 3.0 Goal Lines @ [2.08]
Back Cyrus Christie To Score [9.6]

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