Really enjoying life in Group D and suddenly sat in pole position to secure a spot at next year’s European Championship, Ireland will look to extend their unbeaten run in qualifying when Switzerland travel to Dublin on Thursday night.
Securing back-to-back victories over Gibraltar to build off of a 1-0 win against Georgia back in March, the only minor blotch of Mick McCarthy’s record was a 1-1 draw away at Denmark.
Collecting 10 points out of a possible 12 and holding a five-point buffer over the Danes, fans around the Aviva Stadium will be boosted by their most recent meeting against the Nations League semi-finalists.
Although Switzerland may hold two games in hand over Thursday’s hosts, Rossocrociati suffered a 1-0 loss the last time they made the trip to Dublin back in 2016 and you will be interested to know that a similar score can be found at 13/1 with Bet365.
Ireland’s injury headache
Despite Group D’s early leaders finding the confidence in their camp the highest it has been in recent memory, Head Coach Mick McCarthy has been hit with a string of injury issues.
With Crystal Palace midfielder James McCarthy the latest to withdraw from Thursday’s qualifier, the former Ipswich boss will also be unable to call upon Sean Maguire, Matt Doherty and Keiren Westwood who have all withdrawn from selection.
Although the Green’s might be forced to make a string of changes for Switzerland’s arrival in midweek, Ireland do still hold a five-point buffer at the top of Group D and entering the halfway point of qualifying, the hosts can be found at 4/1 with Betfair to clinch a spot at Euro 2020.
Elsewhere, while Ireland may have only conceded a single goal in their opening four Group D contests and their newfound defensive resolve receiving plenty of plaudits, McCarthy could be looking for Luton striker James Collins to offer a more clinical edge.
With Ireland managing to register more than a single strike in just one of their last 10 contests over the past 15 months, Collins could be handed an international debut on Thursday.
The 28-year-old has scored in back-to-back Championship appearances for the Hatters and can be found at 3/1 with SkyBet to score a maiden international goal in Dublin.
A Nations League hangover for Switzerland?
Throwing away a 3-0 half-time lead against Denmark in their final Group D appearance and also watching England clinch a Bronze Medal finish in the inaugural UEFA Nations League, Switzerland have now failed to win any of their last three matches across all formats.
However, despite now chasing down a six-point buffer to Thursday’s hosts, Rossocrociati still find themselves as a favourite with the Bookmakers to secure an automatic route to next year’s European Championships.
Switzerland can be found at 11/10 with SkyBet to finish Group D as champions.
Elsewhere, Head Coach Vladimir Petković finds himself at the heart of a potential bust-up with attacking talisman Xherdan Shaqiri.
With the Liverpool winger dramatically withdrawing from Switzerland’s squad in order to focus on club football, Petković has denied reports of a row between the two but has admitted that their relationship could be far better.
“It’s okay, could be better. But I don’t want to be pessimistic or negative right now. For me, the glass is half full. We have to accept Xherdan’s decision.”
Sadly for Switzerland’s 56-year-old boss, Shaqiri is not the only attacking option who he will be unable to call upon in Dublin.
The Germany-based duo of Djibril Sow and Steven Zuber have also been ruled out of both their matches against Ireland and Gibraltar.
With Switzerland set to field a starting XI lacking some standout performers and also failing to find the net the last time they made the trip to the Aviva Stadium, you will be interested to know that the Reds can be found at 9/4 with Ladbrokes to once again draw a blank in Dublin.