“We know what we have to do, we know we must compete for almost everything at every given minute and while every single international side has limitations somewhat, we are going to try to stay as strong as we possibly can and play to our strengths, which is the most important thing”
O’Neill, as usual, focusing on the positives. The first game was simply (an excruciatingly boring) prelude to the main event in Dublin. Pressure will be on Ireland to perform, while Denmark will also be looking to bounce back after a shocking display. Here are our predictions for the game.
Yellow Cards will be en vogue
The nation held its breath every time James McClean steamed in to a tackle on Saturday. A yellow card seemed inevitable, the bookies refused to take bets, yet the West Brom midfielder somehow survived. He’ll be the first man on the team sheet on Tuesday. Ireland had seven players on yellow cards going in to the first leg, Denmark also had seven for good measure. Now that the risk of missing the crucial second leg is over, and with so much on the line, the tackles will fly.
There will be goals
O’Neill is most likely plotting a 1-0 win. The Danes will have other ideas and Ireland won’t be able to defend in the same manner as in Copenhagen. Home support will not allow it. While Ireland have one of the stingiest defences in international football, both Austria and Serbia scored in Dublin. Wales didn’t, but they played the last third of the match with 10 men. Similarly, Denmark aren’t that tight away from home. This time last year, they conceded three to Poland and rarely keep a clean sheet on their travels. On a side note, Hoolahan will get some game time (most likely as a sub)!
Ireland will qualify for the World Cup
There, we said it. No jinx, please. While O’Neill reminded us on Saturday that we’re around 400 years away from playing ‘total football’, the other takeaway was that Denmark are beatable. Keep Eriksenquiet and they’re left relying on players like Bendtner. Ireland have an unbreakable team spirit. They’ll fight to the very end and this should reward them with a spot in Russia next summer.
Prediction: Ireland 2 – 1 Denmark
Image: Image: Norwich City FC