Group D has become one of the more open World Cup Qualifying Groups, with no team certain to go through. Friday night sees third-placed Wales, with six points, travel to Dublin to take on group leaders Republic of Ireland, who have ten points. Both teams have played four games.
The Republic of Ireland have a strong home record at the Aviva Stadium and haven’t lost there since September 2013, a run of nine games. However, in the build up to this crucial clash with Wales, Martin O’Neill’s side have been hit with a spate of injuries to key players. Additionally, the era of Shay Given and Robbie Keane is now behind them and players like Shane Long have become their present and future. They’ve started well on the road to Russia, with 10 points won from a possible 12 and have also beaten Italy and Germany within the last two years. A victory over Wales would give them a seven point advantage over their rivals, which would make Welsh qualification for Russia very difficult.
On the other hand, Wales will have Gareth Bale available to them and he’ll be the best player on the pitch from either team. He’s been the difference maker for them in the past and if the game remains level at the end, he has the ability to turn the result in his team’s favour.
Ireland vs. Wales Predictions
Injuries have hit Martin O’ Neill’s side hard and ageing veteran John O’Shea will be expected to stop Gareth Bale. This could be a source of motivation for the Irish team, although it could prove to be a difficult night ahead for the men from the Emerald Isle. Ireland do top the group however and the pressure is more on Wales to get a result than the Irish.
Ireland vs. Wales Betting Tips
Head to Head
- Wales have won one and drawn three of their opening four games.
- Republic of Ireland have won three and drawn one of their games.
- Wales have not beaten Ireland since 1992, a run stretching six games.
- The last time these two sides met, they drew 0-0 in a friendly in 2013.
Ireland Team News
Ireland will be without first choice defensive pairing Shane Duffy and Ciaran Clark through injury. Also on the injury list is Wes Hoolahan, while Robbie Brady is suspended. However, James McCarthy and Shane Long have both returned to the squad after missing November’s qualifier against Austria.
Wales Team News
Wales are at full strength and have both Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale in their squad. Their only withdrawal is Ipswich Town midfielder Tom Lawrence, who has been replaced by teenager Harry Wilson. Liverpool teenager Ben Woodburn could make his debut if he plays.