Friday 15 December 2017

'The stars have aligned in a positive fashion' - Confidence is high ahead of crucial World Cup qualifier

4 May 2017; James McClean of Republic of Ireland celebrates with Daryl Murphy, right and Aiden McGeady after scoring his sides third goal during the international friendly match between Republic of Ireland and Uruguay at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile
4 May 2017; James McClean of Republic of Ireland celebrates with Daryl Murphy, right and Aiden McGeady after scoring his sides third goal during the international friendly match between Republic of Ireland and Uruguay at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile

Conor Neville

On Sunday evening, Ireland have a chance to effectively kill off Austrian interest in this World Cup cycle.

And while Ireland might be missing Coleman, Long and Clark this weekend, the Austrian absentees list is quite a job to detail.

Ireland's 1-0 win in Vienna in November seems to have engendered widespread apathy in the Austrian setup.

The most lurid demonstration of this is full back Andrea Ullmer's decision to schedule his wedding for this weekend. Much to the fury of his manager, he has refused to change it.

On this week's episode of The Punter's Platform, Dan McDonnell notes that the build-up provides several reasons for Irish optimism.

"The stars have aligned in a positive fashion," McDonnell says.

"Everything is going wrong for Austria. They're already missing Arnautovic, they've a couple of suspensions, they're missing three goalkeepers, they're also missing a left-full from Red Bull Salzburg who has decided to press ahead with his wedding instead."

There is thus a frankly worrying level of consensus among our tipsters that Ireland will win at the weekend. A straightforward Irish win can be backed with Ladbrokes at 5/4.

Should the Serbians dispose of a Bale-less Wales, that will surely be the end of our neighbours.

Ireland and Serbia wins will make this group a two-horse race for the automatic qualification spot.

Niall Cronin of The Herald spies a nice longer-term bet in Ireland going unbeaten for the rest of the group. Lest anyone thinks he's being unduly cocky, he does foresee plenty of draws as part of this quest.

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