Knowing that their qualification to EURO 2020 still sits in their own hands, Ireland will look to extend their buffer at the top of Group D when they travel to Georgia on Saturday afternoon.
Keeping the morale in their camp at a high with a 3-1 win over Bulgaria in a friendly matchup last month, Mick McCarthy’s men are yet to taste defeat during qualifying and the fans around Dublin are really starting to believe.
Now holding a two-point buffer over the chasing pack and with Denmark hosting Switzerland also on Saturday, the Greens should see this as a golden opportunity to widen the gap.
On the flip side, while Ireland might have next year’s European Championships in their sights, Georgia have seen their ambitions all but disintegrate.
Despite snatching a point off of the Danes last time out, Saturday’s hosts have recorded just a single Group D victory, with that result coming thanks to a 3-0 victory over whipping boys Gibraltar.
You might be interested to know that with Ireland picking up a 1-0 win when the two nations met back in March, a similar scoreline can be found at 9/2 with Bet365 this weekend.
Georgia’s resilience not enough
While Vladimír Weiss may find his men priced as high as 500/1 to secure a top-two finish in Group D next month, the former Slovakia boss should take some solace from his side’s continued resolve.
Picking up a 0-0 draw against qualifying contenders Denmark last month, The Crusaders have kept clean sheets in two of their last three qualifying appearances.
Although their qualifying dreams might be off the table, Georgia have gained some plaudits for their resilient approach.
While Ireland might travel to Tbilisi as a favourite with the bookmakers, Saturday’s hosts should also take some solace from their most recent performances on home soil.
Aside from a 2-0 defeat against UEFA Nations League semi-finalists Switzerland back in March, Weiss’ men have not lost any of their other 10 matchups at the Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena, a run that stems back to October 2017.
You might be interested to know that Georgia can be found at 12/5 with 888Sport to clinch just their second Group D victory this weekend.
Coming from behind to snatch a last-gasp equalizer against the Swiss in Dublin last month, that result almost epitomized Ireland’s newfound grit under returning boss Mick McCarthy’s.
Handed the chance to potentially extend their buffer at the top of Group D to four points with just three matchups remaining after this weekend, the Greens now have their destiny in their own hands.
Yet to taste defeat in any of their Group D appearances so far and taking points off of both the Swiss and Denmark this year, the former Ipswich manager sees his side priced at 4/5 with Bet365 to clinch an automatic route to next year’s European Championships.
One man who could be thrust into the limelight this weekend after receiving his first senior call-up earlier in the week is Brighton winger, Aaron Connolly.
With McCarthy praising the arrival of the 19-year-old after bagging a famous top-flight brace against Spurs last weekend, you might be interested to know that Connolly can be found at 9/4 with Ladbrokes to score a maiden international strike this weekend.