IRISHMAN Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) shares his betting views on the big Group D contest from Dublin on Sunday night.
Republic of Ireland v Poland | Sunday 19.45 | Sky Sports 5
I can’t deny it, ever since the 14th November I’ve buried my head in the sand at every mention of international football and Euro 2016 qualifiers. I travelled to Glasgow to support Ireland in full belief we could escape Celtic Park with at least a point; the 1-0 defeat really hit hard.
You see, I really really really really really really want to spend a fortnight in France next summer following the Boys in Green at another international tournament. The thought of Ireland missing out on an expanded 24-team competition is already making my heart bleed with jealousy and contempt.
So whilst England fans have been bored silly by the new qualifying structure, us Irish fans along with our neighbouring nations of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have been completely and utterly energised by the process. The stakes have been raised and we don’t want to be left at home whilst you lot are out their living la vida loca across the Channel.
It just means Sunday’s meeting against Poland is absolutely pivotal to Ireland’s potential progress and the thought of losing in Dublin just isn’t an option. The Boys in Green trail the Poles by three points and Martin O’Neill’s already accepted that the pressure if firmly on his side to draw level with the group leaders.
O’Neill insists Ireland will “go for it” and sure, we need three points. But the Boys in Green haven’t beaten a side ranked above them in a competitive game at home since that famous 2001 victory over the Netherlands. And the Roy Keane, Damien Duff and Niall Quinn team stand head and shoulders above the 2015 vintage, sadly.
It’s not all doom and gloom. Ireland do boast a fairly impressive record on home soil – only Sweden, Germany, Russia and France (x2) have come away from the capital with three points since 2002 and a Polish team that have failed to record a competitive away win against any major nation since 2006 will certainly find the going tough on Sunday night.
Visiting boss Adam Nawalka has chosen to leave out Borussia Dortmund midfielder and skipper Jakub Blaszczykowski but in Robert Lewandowski and Ajax's Arek Milik, the Poles have the potential to hurt a far from convincing Irish backline.
They showcased both their strengths and weaknesses in a thrilling 2-2 draw against Scotland in Warsaw earlier in the campaign and a repeat performance wouldn't be too surprising come Sunday night.
The play? I like the look of Both Teams To Score at 23/20 from William Hill. It’s proven a winner in nine of Ireland’s last 12 home qualifiers (only failing against Gibraltar, Faroe Islands and Slovakia) and as already mentioned, Poland have the capabilities to join the goals party.
O’Neill’s team must play on the front foot, which in turn should lead to opportunities at both ends and with both teams almost inseparable from a betting perspective, the likelihood of a draw should also be taken into account. So I’ll have a small stab at BetVictor’s 11/2 that the fixture ends 1-1.
Republic of Ireland v Poland – Both Teams To Score (23/20 William Hill)
Republic of Ireland v Poland – 1-1 correct score (11/2 BetVictor)