Through Irish Eyes: We’re terrified of Bale ahead of crunch clash

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Gareth Bale’s ankle injury in November was initially joy to the ears of Irish fans with reports suggesting the Real Madrid star could even be ruled out of tonight’s massive World Cup Qualifier between the Republic of Ireland and Wales.

But with Bale returning to fitness and the Irish now sweating over their own injury crisis, Chris Coleman’s boys look good value to grab a share of the points from their trip to the Aviva Stadium.

For the Boys In Green, Robbie Brady is suspended and our attacking options were dealt an extra blow when Wes Hoolahan and Harry Arter were ruled out.

Injuries could cost the home side

The loss of these three main men suggests Ireland will struggle for inspiration in the final third of the pitch. The Republic’s defensive solidity will also be questioned with the new centre-back pairing of Ciaran Clark and Shane Duffy also missing.

So in the match betting, Ireland look uneasy favourites at 7/5 while the draw is priced at 19/10 and Wales to grab a much needed win is a 9/4 shot.

Having dropped points in the opening fixtures and with a tough away trip to Serbia up next, Coleman’s game plan will be to attack from the off against a wounded Irish side.

Yet Martin O’Neill’s outfit never lay down and die. They have a knack for holding on to points in difficult and sometimes extremely ugly games.

Wales’ attacking early game plan and Rep. of Ireland’s inevitable fight back would suggest there could be a bit of value in the Half-Time-Full-Time market with HT/FT – Wales/Draw @14/1.

It’ll be tough keeping tabs on Bale!

When thinking back to the way Ireland struggled to deal with the clever movement of Antoine Griezmann against France in Euro 2016, it’s obvious that Gareth Bale in a similar role could be the deciding factor.

Bale is a constant goal threat from anywhere on the pitch and at 4/1 looks the most likely first goal scorer.

Both teams are fallible at the back and so 7/2 about the score draw looks reasonable and at the bigger prices Bale 1-1 Scorecast @ 22/1 would be worth a flutter.

Group D could have a very different look come the end of this round of fixtures. Ireland currently lead the pool and are 7/4 to win the group and 1/2 to qualify for World Cup 2018.

While Wales, who are four points off the top, are currently 5/2 to win the group and 10/11 to qualify.

Oh, and given what I’ve said about how much we’re fearing Bale, this set of Headline Boosts looks handy…

Shane Long to score and Ireland to win – NOW 4/1

Gareth Bale to score anytime – NOW 7/4

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

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Declan Marron

Declan lent his voice to various radio projects before finding a home with Ladbrokes where his ramblings are now encouraged. Declan is the bookies' Irish Football reporter and can be spotted and heard giving updates on Irish international and club matches. He is also a long-suffering Liverpool supporter and defied his Dublin upbringing to support Limerick FC.