Thursday 21 September 2017

What channel, what time and what are the implications? - Everything you need to know about Ireland vs Wales in Dublin

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill, left, and captain Seamus Coleman during a press conference at the FAI National Training Centre in Abbotstown, Co Dublin. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill, left, and captain Seamus Coleman during a press conference at the FAI National Training Centre in Abbotstown, Co Dublin. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile

Jack O'Toole

Wales come to Dublin on Friday night to take on Ireland at the Aviva Stadium in what is essentially a must-win game for Chris Coleman's side in their bid to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

A win for Ireland would be a major step towards qualification, and short of a major collapse, O'Neill's side would be favoured to top Group D, but a win for Wales would put the Dragons right back in contention. Here is everything you need to know about tonight's game.

FORM GUIDE

Ireland enter tonight's game with their best start to a qualification campaign since Giovanni Trapattoni's Ireland led Group 8 heading into the halfway stage of the 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. Trapattoni's side would ultimately falter down the stretch, and finish in second place to Group winners Italy, but O'Neill's Ireland team would take a gigantic leap towards qualification if they can beat Wales on Friday.

After getting off to a slow start against Serbia in Belgrade in their opening game, Ireland have won their last three games in a row with wins over Georgia, Moldova and Austria. Ireland have scored seven goals from four games, and even more impressively have conceded just three, with two clean sheets in their last three games.

However, Ireland face a Wales team tonight that will be undoubtedly buoyed by the return of Real Madrid winger Gareth Bale.

Bale returned to football in February after sitting out three months with an ankle injury, and has scored seven goals from his last 10 games for Wales, including four already this campaign.

However, his goals for the national team have largely been in vein with Wales drawing three consecutive games after an opening round win over Moldova.

Chris Coleman's side have taken the lead in each of their last three contests but have gone on to draw each game, a positive sign for Ireland who have scored five of their seven goals this campaign in the second-half.

IT'S A BIG GAME FOR...

James McCarthy: After sitting out the best part of the last three weeks with a hamstring injury, James McCarthy will most likely be thrust into the Irish midfield despite having seen limited game time with his club side Everton. McCarthy has not played since the Toffees' 3-2 loss to Tottenham on the 5th of March, however, his fitness will once again be a big point of contention and will be monitored very closely by Ronald Koeman and the Everton medical staff should he play.

With Harry Arter and Wes Hoolahan both out injured, and with Robbie Brady suspended, Ireland are shorter than usual for options in midfield and will most likely rely on McCarthy and Burnley midfielder Jeff Hendrick in the absence of the aforementioned McCarthy.

WHERE IS IT ON?

The Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

WHAT TIMES DOES IT START?

Kick off is 7.45pm.

WHAT CHANNEL IS IT ON?

The game will be broadcast live on RTE2 with coverage starting at 7.00pm. For those readers abroad, all the action is also on Sky Sports 1 and you can, of course, follow our live blog on Independent.ie.

BEST STAT

Ireland's home record - Ireland are undefeated at home in competitive games under O'Neill and have not lost a game at the Aviva since May 2014, where Ireland defeated 2-1 by Turkey in what was just O'Neill's fourth game in charge.

WHAT ARE THE ODDS?

Ireland are 6/4 favourites for the tie while Wales are generously priced at 11/5. Odds for a draw are 2/1.

PAST THREE MEETINGS:

Wales 0–0 Ireland, Friendly, August 2013.

Ireland 3–0 Wales, Nations Cup, February 2011.

Wales 2–2 Ireland, Euro 2008 qualifier, November 2007.

FORM GUIDE:

Ireland: LWDWWW

Wales: WLWDDD

VERDICT

Ireland are in the midst of an injury crisis in what O'Neill described this week as 'the worst list of lame' that he has had during his time as Ireland manager. However, with that said, Ireland still have enough quality in their side to get a result, and should do so against a Wales side that has struggled to find ways to win during the qualifiers after a highly successful campaign at last summer's Euro's in France. Ireland 2-1 Wales.

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