Ireland face the first of two very big Nations League games within the space of a few days when they host Denmark in Dublin tonight. Martin O’Neill’s men suffered a heavy defeat away to Wales and with the Danes beating Ryan Giggs’ side, it means the Irish would be staring relegation in the face if they don’t pick up points from their next two games. That starts against Denmark, a side Ireland know well and it should be a tight, competitive game between teh sides.
The visitors will be confident though. They comfortably dispatched Ireland in a World Cup play-off last year and even without Christian Eriksen, they will feel as though they have more quality all over the pitch to record a second successive win in this league.
Ireland vs Denmark Prediction: Ireland 0-0 Denmark
Unfortunately, we’re not expecting a classic when the sides meet at the Aviva Stadium later. Ireland are very pragmatic under O’Neill, which is needed in fairness as they simply lack quality in the final third. Meanwhile, whilst it would be unfair to say Åge Hareide’s side are a one-man team, they are extremely reliant on Eriksen in the final third and his absence is going to be a major loss to the side as a lot of the play goes through him. With a draw an acceptable result for the Danes, Ireland will have to force the initiative and they simply can’t do it. This won’t be a great game and it could be devoid of real quality.
Our recommended tip: Draw
Unfortunately, betting on unders with the goals isn’t bringing great value but that’s to be expected. Therefore, punters may want to just back a straight draw. As mentioned, we think it will be goalless but if not, it will still be tight. Neither side has the craft or guile to unlock a defence in the final third and it could be a real battle. Despite the heavy play-off defeat to Denmark, Ireland are usually hard to beat at home and they know how to grind out results, but that home advantage is negated by the fact the visitors have the better side on paper. All in all, we’re anticipating a very close game and betting on the draw should give you a real run for your money and hopefully a win.
Ireland will still be reeling from the last time they faced the Danes. As mentioned, it was in November last season, with the two sides playing for a place in the World Cup. After a 0-0 away from home, the Boys in Green were demolished 5-1 on their own patch, with Eriksen magnificent. Prior to that, it’s been very even between the sides, with Denmark winning four of the previous 15 meetings, compared to Ireland’s six whilst there have been five draws.
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Players to watch: Matt Doherty & Yuri Poulsen
Doherty has been outstanding for Wolves in the Premier League and he even beat Eden Hazard to win the September player of the month. Despite that, he still can’t force his way into O’Neill’s team and there are still doubts as to whether he will play ahead of Cyrus Christie. However, the former Celtic boss surely can’t ignore the Dubliner who would flourish in the 3-5-2 formation as a wing-back, like he does for his club. He loves to get forward and will ensure they have a real attacking threat.
With Eriksen out, others will need to step up to replace his attacking threat and a lot of responsibility could be placed on RB Leipzig forward Poulsen. He has started superbly in the Bundesliga and has the pace and physicality to cause the Irish defence real problems. Capable of playing wide and through the middle, he could move about in the game and may be hard to pick up.