We give you our preview and the latest team news as the Republic of Ireland make the away trip to Wales to take on Chris Coleman’s side in an international friendly at Cardiff City stadium.
At stake for the Irish will be a chance to boost their confidence ahead of some crunch World Cup qualifiers.
Both sides will look to this game with rather different mentalities as they are each in unique positions in terms of qualifying for Brazil in 2014, however, it’s still expected that the players will put on quite a competitive display.
With qualification for Brazil still within their grasp, Giovanni Trapattoni is likely to view this match as his last chance to iron out any final few concerns he may have about his system. Of course, while the Boys in Green will be hoping to win the tie, it’s certainly not expected that they will. Ever since their abysmal performance at Euro 2012, Il Trap has been encouraging some of the more inexperienced, younger players to prove their case.
And many have duly responded .
So far, it has worked quite well with Wes Houlahan, Conor Sammon and James McClean all performing reasonably well for the Irish over the past few months. Granted, they still have some developing to do, but the system in place at the moment is certainly far superior to what was previously in place.
More expansive football, an eagerness to get on the ball and a willingness to pressurise the opponent have all began to creep into the Irish game, and the manager must be credited with the transformation. Unfortunately, the Irish supremo will not have quite a few key players at his disposal this evening as Sean St Ledger, Anthony Pilkington and Simon Cox are all unavailable to play.
The Irish team to line-up tonight is as follows:
GK: Westwood. DEF: Coleman, Clark, O’Shea & Wilson. MID: Walters, McCarthy, Whelan & Brady. ST: Hoolahan & Long.
Chris Coleman is likely to use this match to measure how disappointing the Welsh World Cup qualifiers have really been. Currently they sit in fourth position in Group A, one point ahead of Scotland, 13 points behind table-toppers Belgium and with only a very thin sliver of hope that they will qualify.
It’s close to desperation time for Coleman and company.
The one positive they can take from their present predicament is that they have a game in hand at the moment. So, provided they can produce a morale-boosting win tonight and actually dispatch the Irish, they might not feel so bad with how they’ve done. Yes, failing to qualify would be deflating, but to win at home against a side fighting for qualification of their own is not to be sniffed at.
To do it without the services of the always sterling Gareth Bale would be even more impressive. The Real Madrid transfer target is unavailable for the clash due to injury – something the Irish camp will be grateful to hear – and so The Dragons must persevere in his absence.
The likes of Craig Bellamy, Joe Allen and Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey, who were all named in the provisional Wales squad for the friendly are all top-quality players and they’ll be keen to ruffle a few Irish feathers, as well as preserving national pride, later on Wednesday evening.
It will be a close match, but Ireland need this win ahead of their important qualifiers, and they are likely to want it more than the Welsh. Shane Long to net one and Ireland to win 2-1.
Visit Boylesports for all the latest sporting odds