IRELAND welcome Bulgaria on Wednesday night in the Nations League. Daniel McCulloch (@DMcCulloch1984) shares his favourite fancies.
Republic of Ireland vs Bulgaria | Wednesday 18th November 2020, 19:45 | Sky Sports
It has been a bit of a horror start for Stephen Kenny as Republic of Ireland manager. His side have scored just once in their last seven matches and failed to find the net in any of their last six matches.
Kenny has certainly not had luck on his side, with COVID, injuries and suspensions depriving him of so many players on each occasion. Indeed, while even the best Ireland XI is fairly limited, I do feel that they are better than the current results are suggesting.
Once again Ireland will be without several key players for tonight’s encounter with Bulgaria. Seamus Coleman, Enda Stevens, John Egan, James McCarthy, James McClean, Matt Doherty and Jeff Hendrick would all consider themselves to be first team regulars when fully fit yet all are absent for this match.
It is therefore a tough ask for Ireland to pick up their first victory in Kenny’s reign but I do believe the underlying numbers suggest that they have been unfortunate and can get a result here. Across the six matches in which they have failed to score they have managed 62 shots, of which 19 were on target.
Expected Goals (xG) stats suggest they should have scored seven or eight goals given the quality of some of these chances and it is not as if it has been one unfortunate game. Ireland have managed double figures in terms of shots in every game except the one against England.
Their opponents on Wednesday night, Buglaria, have huge problems of their own and their sole victory in 2020 came against Gibraltar. They have lost at home to Wales, Finland, Hungary and Belarus this calendar year and have managed just six goals in their eight matches in 2020, half of which came in the win against Gibraltar.
In terms of bets, I was really tempted by Ireland and Under 2.5 goals, which is available at 23/10 with Betway. However, I will keep it simple and just take the Ireland and Under 3.5 Goals, which is 6/5 with Boylesports.
I do believe a 1-0 home victory is the most likely scoreline but given that 5/1 is not available, I will simply see what I can get on the exchange come kick off.
Republic of Ireland vs Bulgaria – Republic of Ireland to win and Under 3.5 Goals (6/5 Boylesports)