Diminished firepower leaves Ireland lacking at home to Scotland


Ireland’s EURO 2016 Group D fixture at home to Scotland was never likely to be a rip-roaring classic, going by the history of clashes between these sea-split neighbours, but news that the hosts will be shorn of their greatest ever goalscorer means there’s one standout bet to be on.

Only one of the past eight Ireland v Scotland meetings have seen over 2.5 strikes ripple the onion bag, with five of those fixtures not even managing more than one.

Bar a 4-1 friendly win over USA in November, Martin O’Neill’s Boys in Green have struggled like mad in front of goal of late, with a 0-0 draw at home to England last time out following on from three sub-2.5-goal EURO 2016 qualifying fixtures on the spin against Germany, Scotland and Poland.

Ireland struck just twice over that triptych of trials, with both goals coming in the last minutes of creditable draws against the world champions and the shock Group D leaders, while Shaun Maloney’s solitary effort gave Gordon Strachan’s side victory over his Celtic predecessor’s lot.

O’Neill would have hoped for better at the Aviva Stadium, with Ireland in need of a win to supplant Scotland in third place and gain a qualification advantage, but the loss of 65-goal striker Robbie Keane means you’ll struggle to find a finer bet than Ladbrokes’ 8/15 about this clash featuring under 2.5 goals.

Scotland are no Brazil either, registering single-goal hauls in six of their last eight games, and the Tartan Army are on tenterhooks over the fitness of Sunderland’s Steven Fletcher – a striker who notched just eight club-and-country efforts in 40 2014/15 appearances, three of them against Gibraltar.

With little firepower in reserve on either side, two goals or less looks nailed on.

Ireland are a top-price 7/5 to atone for their Hampden defeat by winning at home, with Scotland 12/5 and the draw 21/10.

Speaking of top prices, Ladbrokes will not be beaten on their odds for all correct score and first goalscorer bet from 8.00am on the morning of this match.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Iain Houten

Iain has been contributing pieces to various websites on an array of subjects, including sports, politics and art, for over four years. Despite blue being his favourite colour, the teams he supports all wear red.