O’Neill’s men can slow down Polish momentum
Defeat against the Scots at Hampden in their last Group D qualifier was a massive blow for the Republic Of Ireland but management team Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane are refusing to panic with their team still well in the hunt for qualification.
That setback in Glasgow was their first of the campaign, following on from victories in Georgia and against Gibraltar and a terrific draw against world champions Germany in Gelsenkirchen. But they’ll have to be at their best to beat Poland at the Aviva Stadium with Adam Nawalka’s team arriving in Dublin as group leaders having beaten the Germans in Warsaw and also claimed early wins over Georgia and Gibraltar, though they were held at home by the Scots.
Poland’s star man is undoubtedly captain Robert Lewandowski. The Bayern Munich striker has already netted four times in qualifying so far, though has been outshone in recent games by Arek Milik. He also plays in the Bundesliga, for Bayer Leverkusen, though is currently on loan at Ajax. We have Poland at 2/1 to win at the Aviva, a result that would see them take control of Group D, but we are not expecting the Irish to lay down.
O’Neill has lost Everton midfielder Darron Gibson to injury but is hopeful that Wigan’s James McClean and Burnley full-back Stephen Ward shrug off ankle knocks to play a full part against the Poles. The evergreen Robbie Keane is back from the MLS to captain the side and it’s imperative that they make the most of their home games with Germany, Scotland and Georgia still all to come to Dublin.
The Irish beat Poland 2-0 in a friendly at the Aviva in 2013 and have a good overall record against this weekend’s opponents overall. They’ve lost just one of their last six meetings going back to 1991, though both previous European Championship qualifiers between the countries have ended in draws.
It may be the style of play but Poland always seem to struggle to beat teams from the British Isles and we expect that to be the case again this weekend. Ireland are 8/5 to win but the draw looks more tempting at 41/20. Both teams to score at the Aviva is Evens.
The match kicks off at 7.45pm on Sunday, March 29 at the Aviva Stadium.