Ireland can hold Poland in Warsaw but may have to leave their fate in others’ hands
Ireland’s victory over world champions Germany at the Aviva on Thursday stunned the footballing world and has given Martin O’Neill’s squad every chance of securing an automatic place at Euro 2016.
They now head to Warsaw knowing a win will see them leap-frog Poland, who seem to be suffering from big-stage nerves as the end of the qualifying campaign looms.
A high-scoring draw – 2-2 or bigger – would also see Ireland qualify automatically and there are several other scenarios by which the Irish could find themselves in France next summer. Any draw would suffice should Germany lose at home to Georgia as they have a better head-to-head record against the Germans. They could also qualify, even if they lose, as the best third-placed team in a group and are guaranteed a play-off place at worst.
O’Neill’s biggest job since Thursday has been keeping his players’ feet on the ground and lowering expectations. Ireland rode their luck at times against Germany in Dublin but worked tirelessly to close down Joachim Low’s team and Shane Long took his chance when the visitors’ defence momentarily switched off.
We have priced up Long at 14/5 to be an Anytime Scorer in the Stadion Narodowy but Poland’s captain Robert Lewandowski heads our First Goalscorer market at 16/5. He’s scored 14 in his last six competitive matches, including a brace against Scotland on Thursday, and is the main threat to Ireland’s hopes of automatic qualification.
But Adam Nawalka’s team will be just as nervous as Ireland as their form lately has been patchy, though they have scored 14 times in their four home matches in Group D to date with only Scotland avoiding defeat.
It is certain to be a nervy encounter in Warsaw but victory for Ireland will be a tall order. However, O’Neill’s men look more than capable of getting a draw (13/5 in our Full Time Result betting) if they can keep Lewandowski in check and it will be then be up to that famed luck of the Irish holding out.
The match kicks off at 7.45pm on Sunday, October 11th at the Stadion Narodowy, Warsaw
Odds are provided at time of writing, please check your betslip to confirm they have not changed before betting.