The Republic of Ireland get their Euro 2016 preparations underway tonight with a home tie versus the Netherlands, a side who represent very solid opposition ahead of a tricky group in France for the Emerald Isle.
Having seen off Bosnia-Herzegovina last November, Ireland are preparing for their second successive Euros, and will be desperately hoping to improve on their 2012 showing.
Three defeats ensured an early exit for the Boys in Green four years ago, but steady improvements under Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane has given Ireland renewed hope to impress this time around.
Though plonked in a group with tournament regulars Italy, Zlatan-inspired Sweden and summer hopefuls Belgium, Ireland have nothing to fear, having beaten world champions Germany 1-0 at the Aviva Stadium last autumn.
Shane Long netted the winner on that famous day, and we’re boosting the Southampton striker to score and the Republic of Ireland to win tonight from 5/1 to 7/1.
This evening’s fixture is Ireland’s first of two pre-tournament friendlies, and the Dutch will provide a solid opponent, though they lack the quality which saw them reach the World Cup final in 2010.
Danny Blind’s side won’t be going to France, after a disastrous qualifying campaign saw them finish fourth in what was a relatively weak group featuring Turkey, Iceland and the Czech Republic.
Recent away wins in Wales and England however will remind O’Neill’s men of their quality, so this should give Ireland a relatively accurate yardstick of what will be required next month.
Having lost just one of their last 12 matches however – a run stretching back to November 2014 – the home side will be justifiably confident of a win this evening.
Billed as 9/4 outsiders, an Irish victory could be a popular one for those looking to kick-start the weekend in the black, with Holland ranked 5/4 favourites given their recent away success.
All of those five Dutch games saw 2.5 goals, which is over evens at 5/4 to occur again in Dublin.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.