Republic of Ireland face Bosnia Herzegovina in the first leg of their Euro 2016 play-off on Friday evening and given the amount of notable absentees from his travelling squad, it seems sensible that Martin O’Neill play the containment game in the Balkans.
Strikers Shane Long and Jonathan Walters miss the trip through injury and suspension respectively, while Newcastle goalkeeper Rob Elliot and defenders John O’Shea and Paul McShane are both missing.
Hull midfielder David Meyler is another injury doubt. Although the Irish can draw inspiration from earning a point at world champions Germany earlier in Group D, losses in Scotland and latterly Poland don’t breed confidence that a win is on the cards, especially with a depleted side.
Having finished Group B particularly strongly by winning three consecutive games, including a 2-0 defeat of Wales on their own patch, the odds are understandably on Bosnia’s side.
Playing for the draw?
In scrapping their way through the group of death and taking four points from Germany in the process, this Irish side are well versed in fighting hard for the cause – very much in the image of assistant manager Roy Keane.
A draw would be a fantastic result in light of those missing from the starting line-up and a string of vital late goals during their campaign epitomises the spirit within the camp, rendering the draw an attractive proposition for punters.
Bosnia are sure to go for the jugular straight from the off and blessed with Roma star Edin Dzeko, who topped scored in qualifying for his country with seven goals, the Irish rearguard will be in for a testing night.
Dzeko looks ripe for a goal
It may be a case of the Irish having to claw their way back into the game after a Dzeko opener, with the 4/1 shot to break the deadlock looking like the best exponent of Ladbrokes Sharp Shooter* offer.
However, although Bosnia are sharp in attack with the likes of Dzeko’s Roma teammate Miralim Pjanic pulling the strings, they conceded almost twice as many goals as O’Neill’s charges in reaching this point, scoring two less as well.
Other bets to exploit
There is plenty of scope for some joy on the counter attack, especially in the second period when Mehmed Bazdarevic’s troops will likely tire first from taking the game to their guests.
If Ireland can hang in there and keep it down to a one-goal lead max at half-time, exposing the 1-1 correct final score could be a corker at 11/2.
Bosnia/draw in the half-time/full-time market is another way to go by this theory at hugely-profitable odds of 14/1.
* Sharp Shooter: For full terms and conditions click here
Republic of Ireland to win with BTTS, was 8/1, NOW 10/1
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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