It’s a crucial clash in the European Championship Qualifications, as Republic of Ireland host Switzerland in a Group D clash, kicking off on Thursday night at 7:45pm local time in Dublin. Ireland are leading the group at the moment, but have played twice the amount of fixtures than Switzerland who were in the UEFA Nations Finals this past summer.

Home Team: Republic of Ireland

Following Martin O’Neil’s spell as Ireland manager where they failed to qualify for the last World Cup and finishing bottom of their UEFA Nations Group, Mick McCarthy has been brought in to steady the ship and hope to qualify them for the European Championships next summer. Ireland did qualify for the Championships in 2012, and in 2016, as they’ll be going for a 3rd consecutive championships. So far, they have been going about their business in the right way, picking up three wins out of four, and only drawing away at Denmark. It has to be said, that the three wins did come against Georgia at home, and a double against minnows Gibraltar. Nonetheless, they have put the fate of their destiny in their own hands, and a win here would be huge for their chances.

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Away Team: Switzerland

Switzerland have only played two matches in the European Championship qualification so far, due to them being involved in the UEFA Nations League during the summer. As they qualified for that, overcoming the likes of Belgium, they appeared in the inaugural tournament this past summer, but unfortunately lost both of their matches – firstly to hosts Portugal, before losing on penalties to England in the 3rd place play-off.

Their attention now turns to the qualification for next summer’s European Championships which they should fancy themselves of qualifying for. Along with Ireland, the other likely candidate to qualify is Denmark, who they played in their previous fixture. Goals from Granit Xhaka, Remo Frueler and Breel Embolo gave themselves a 3-0 lead, but unbelievably they squandered it with 6 minutes left on the clock as it finished 3-3. Switzerland have six matches across the next couple of months, and will hope to win at least 4 in order to guarantee qualification.

Head to Head

Switzerland and Ireland have met each other 16 times in their history, with Ireland winning on 8 occasions, to Switzerland’s 5 successes. Half of these meetings were in friendlies, whilst the other eight games were qualification matches for the World Cup or the European Championships. Their most recent competitive meetings were back in the 2004/2005 season, when qualifying for the 2006 World Cup. Both matches finished in draws, with Switzerland eventually going on to qualify for the tournament, but Ireland didn’t. Prior to that, they also met in the qualification group for Euro 2004, with Switzerland winning home and away in that campaign to cement their place at the championships. Ireland have beaten Switzerland at home in a couple of friendlies, but haven’t beaten them at home in a competitive outing since 1985.

My Predictions and Betting Tips

Ireland are at 14/5 to win here, with Switzerland slight favourites at 23/20. For the sides to draw, that is priced at 2/1. Switzerland certainly have the quality in their team to get a win here, but instead, I am going to opt for a draw. Ireland have been defensively resolute since Mick McCarthy has taken over, so a low scoring draw (1-1 at 5/1), or even a 0-0 (11/2), would be my tips. Backing it to be a 1-1, 2-2 or 3-3 draw is at 7/2.

For goal scorers, I’d back defender Shane Duffy to score at 9/1 at any time for the hosts, and for the visitors, Haris Seferović is at 11/8 to score at any time. I’d feel confident in backing there to be less than 2.5 goals in the game at 1/2 and also would bet on the half time score to be 0-0 at 11/8.

Finally, for the tipsters, a score cast of Shane Duffy to score first in a 1-1 draw is priced at an incredible 70/1!

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