Sunday 22 April 2018

Revealed: Ireland and Denmark will be aiming to end a depressing global goal drought at the Aviva Stadium

Gianluigi Buffon waves goodbye to international football after Italy's World Cup hopes were ended by play-off defeat to Sweden following a 0-0 second leg draw. Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images
Gianluigi Buffon waves goodbye to international football after Italy's World Cup hopes were ended by play-off defeat to Sweden following a 0-0 second leg draw. Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Ireland will grind to a halt for tonight’s World Cup play-off clash against Denmark, but an alarming statistic suggests we should not expect too many goals at the Aviva Stadium.

After Martin O’Neill’s side played out a dour 0-0 draw against the Danes in Copenhagen on Saturday, it is all to play for in a second leg that could be extended into extra time and then be decided on penalties if no goals are scored.

And it seems that may be the most likely outcome, if the events of the last few days in tension filled World Cup qualifiers are any gauge.

Italy’s shock failure to qualify for Russia 2018 after their 0-0 draw with Sweden on Monday night continued a pretty depressing trend of results in World Cup play-offs matches around the world, with no goals scored in SIX matches since the Swede’s scored what proved to be their vital goal against the Italians to secure a 1-0 first leg win last Friday.

Since then, Honduras played out a 0-0 draw with Australia in the first leg of their play-off game before New Zealand and Peru took part in a dour goalless stalemate in their crunch clash.

The tedium was then transported on to European soccer venues, with Ireland’s 0-0 draw in Denmark and Greece’s 0-0 draw with Croatia continuing the depressing football at this vital stage of qualifying.

Switzerland’s 0-0 draw with Northern Ireland on Sunday was enough to send Michael O’Neill’s men out after a controversial 1-0 first leg defeat and then last night’s goalless match in Italy meant almost 570 minutes of World Cup qualifiers (around nine and a half hours and that is not including extra time) without seeing a solitary goal.

With so much at stake, it appears the tension of these games is getting to all players taking part, so when you settle down to watch tonight’s epic encounter in Dublin, don’t expect too much excitement in front of a sell-out crowd as this appears to be an era of international football when avoiding mistakes has become a bigger priority than going for goals.

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