INTERNATIONAL football obsessive Mark O'Haire shares his betting thoughts on Saturday night's Nations League contest between Republic of Ireland and Denmark.
Republic of Ireland v Denmark | Saturday 13th October 2018, 19:45 | Sky Sports
Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill has said he won’t stop his players from discussing last November’s humiliating and dream-crushing 5-1 World Cup qualifying play-off defeat to Denmark ahead of Saturday’s revenge mission.
After a 0-0 first leg draw in Copenhagen, hopes were high that the Boys in Green could reach Russia and qualify for the World Cup finals. Shane Duffy handed Ireland a sixth minute goal gave Ireland a precious lead in Dublin during the second leg before the wheels came off and Cristian Eriksen ran riot.
It was something akin to a Michael Myers movie and such was the backlash, O’Neill considered his position and debated leaving for Stoke thereafter before deciding to stay put and throw his lot at the Euro 2020 push. However, the Republic have continued an ugly downward spiral since.
Reports of turmoil behind the scenes – most of which has been caused by Roy Keane – have coincided with a collection of dreadful on-field performances, such as the 4-1 thrashing by Wales in Ireland’s Nations League opener. It means, should ROI lose here, relegation to the third-tier of this competition looms.
O’Neill looking to change tact
Only four of O’Neill’s squad started Premier League games last weekend but the returning Harry Arter should give Ireland a boost in midfield. But the main topic of conversation around the camp appears to revolve around whether the experienced boss will switch to the wing back system on Saturday.
O’Neill trialled the formation in a friendly draw in Poland after the mauling in Cardiff but is yet to test it out in a competitive contest. With in-form Wolves star Matt Doherty and Sheffield United flyer Enda Stevens both impressing this season, it makes sense for Ireland to change tact.
Millwall's Shaun Williams could be brought in to a holding role, giving Arter a bit more freedom in his preferred box-to-box position. Nevertheless, options are limited with Shane Long a doubt, while skipper Seamus Coleman is sidelined, along with regular first-teamers Jon Walters, Robbie Brady and James McCarthy.
Denmark back on track
Following their evisceration of Ireland 11 months ago, Denmark went on to reach the Last 16 of the World Cup before bowing out on penalties to eventual runners-up Croatia. The Danish Dynamite arrived as potential dark horses, although Age Hareide’s charges were well below par in a series of dour displays.
Nevertheless, the Red-Whites found their feet when sweeping Wales aside in Copenhagen during their Nations League opener, a match that came just days after their controversial friendly fixture with Slovakia where an amateur XI was forced to represent the nation.
Spurs superstar Eriksen scored a brace in that showdown but Denmark’s headline act will be missing when Hareide’s troops turn up on Saturday night.
Dynamite missing their chief threat
Eriksen was Ireland's chief tormentor during the play-off ties, and the set-piece king scored 11 goals en-route to Russia. What’s more, Denmark’s talisman has scored exactly half of the Scandinavian’s past 26 competitive goals and played a key role in 22 in his last 21 appearances since the start of qualification for the 2018 World Cup.
The Danes' poster boy has missed just five games since the start of 2015 and the Red-White are W0-D4-L1 across these encounters, where they’ve netted just once.
Hareide’s preference for defensive organisation and a direct system revolves primarily around Eriksen’s creative influence. His absence is a major blow to the visitors, although the Red-White do remain fair favourites considering Ireland’s only success in seven came against the USA in a non-competitive encounter.
The betting angle
With the Danes unable to call upon their leading light, and their nine outings since their last trip to Dublin (excluding that Slovakia fixture) featuring just 10 goals in total, it’s easy to see why Under 2.5 Goals is trading at 8/13 (Boylesports).
It's occurred in 12 of Denmark's last 13 when excluding that one-off game against Slovakia, while over half those games saw just one strike or less. Meanwhile, 12 of Ireland’s last 17 have seen Under 2.5 Goals, adding further credence to a probable low-scoring duel.
However, if we chuck Denmark double chance into the mix, we can glean a decent value even-money shot that will see us profit should Denmark win 1-0, 2-0, or the encounter ends 0-0 or 1-1. The away side are unbeaten in competitive football for two years.
Republic of Ireland v Denmark – Denmark double chance and Under 2.5 Goals (1/1 Bet365)