By Mark Rawlinson
A win tonight for Giovanni Trappatoni’s Ireland side would see them move a big step closer to securing a spot in next years’ FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
They face bottom-of-the-table Faroe Islands who have not scored a single point so far in their Group C qualifying campaign.
Ireland currently lie fourth in the table, but are tied on eight points with both Austria and Sweden who are second and third respectively. An undefeated German side are eight points clear at the top of the group and are destined to secure automatic qualification to next year’s world cup. Therefore, it is set to be a three-way battle between Ireland, Austria and Sweden as to who secures the play-off spot in the group.
Wes Hoolahan is set to make his first competitive start in an Ireland shirt at the Aviva Stadium on Friday as the Norwich City midfielder comes into the team for a suspended James McCarthy.
Shane Long is also suspended from the game so Jonathan Walters will partner Robbie Keane up front who is set to make his 126th start for Ireland, breaking the record set by the now retired goalkeeper Shay Given.
The Ireland side come off the back of two good results; the 1-1 draw with England at Wembley last week and the 4-0 demolition of Georgia at the weekend.
They are obviously big favourites to win tonight’s game against the Faroe Islands who are ranked at 161 in the FIFA rankings and Paddy Power offer the best odds, although incredibly short, at 1/11.
The Faroe Islands have not won any sort of match in over two years and would be highly unlikely to do that tonight. Bet Victor provide the best odds of an extreme surprise at 66/1.
There’s another key match in the group tonight between the other two teams in with a shout of securing the play-off spot as Austria host Sweden. Austria are slight favourites to win the match with Paddy Power offering odds of 6/4. Bet Victor provide the best odds for a Sweden win at 2/1.
Scotland’s miserable World Cup qualification campaign continues tonight as they travel to Croatia. Gordon Strachan’s side are already out of the running in Group A and cannot qualify after picking up only two points from their first six games.
Another eye-catching match this evening comes from Group F as Portugal host table-toppers Russia. Portugal are third in their group and really could do with a win tonight to keep up with their opponents, who have won all four of their matches so far.
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