MARK O’HAIRE (@MarkOHaire) takes a look at the best betting opportunities for Ireland’s crucial Euro 2016 play-off second leg with Bosnia on Monday night.
Republic of Ireland v Bosnia | Monday 19:45 | Sky Sports 1
Irish eyes are smiling. The Boys In Green put in another 90-minute shift to pocket a richly deserved and gritty 1-1 draw in Zenica on Friday night. It wasn’t aesthetically pleasing but it was another example of the spirit and battling qualities amongst this group where the desire to reach another major tournament still burns strong.
Martin O’Neill’s men defied the odds and are now the bookmakers’ favourites to qualify because of the away goal notched by Robbie Brady eight minutes from time. Edin Dzeko’s equaliser not long after levelled proceedings but the Irish are in control of the tie knowing Bosnia must score to stand any chance of booking their place at next summer’s finals in France.
So what did we learn from the first encounter? Dragons head coach Mehmed Bazdarevic was under fire even before a ball was kicked over his odd team selection. And even during the clash, the home boss made a few baffling calls and tactical switches. We also learnt there’s doubt and a vulnerability about Bosnia.
Defensively the Dragons can be got at. The ponderous backline looked far from assured when put under pressure with/without the ball and an Irish side with Jon Walters and a potentially fit John O’Shea and Shane Long in tow will be stronger come Monday night in Dublin.
Sure, Bosnia still possess match-winning quality that the Republic just can’t compare with. The regular thrusting attacks down the right exposed Ireland’s frailties with Stephen Ward at left-back and of course, Bazdarevic’s men bossed the ball for long spells, creating the better openings.
The visitors will hope to pile on the pressure and I would expect them to grab a goal. Since World Cup qualification started back in 2008, the Dragons have W11-D4-L5 of their competitive away games, failing to score in just six of those 20 road trips. Ireland’s home record across the same span reads W10-D8-L3 shutting out their opponents in just seven of those 21 matches.
The flip side is positive though; ROI have only failed to find the back of the net once during this qualifying campaign whilst Bosnia have conceded eight goals in games against Cyprus, Belgium and Israel in their most recent three competitive away days (excluding Andorra).
With that in mind, Both Teams To Score looks a little too big at 6/5 (888), so I’ll get involved. I also think a repeat 1-1 correct score has some serious legs but rather than back it, punters ought to have a small play on Betfair’s 12/1 that either side wins the tie in extra-time and also take the 12/1 from Betfair on either side winning the tie on penalties.