Who would have thought it? Put your hands up if you honestly thought that we would be just ninety minutes from booking our tickets to Poland/Ukraine.
Well, here we are then, 4-0 up from the first leg, at home and taking on a weakened and dispirited opposition for a place at Euro 2012. Yes don’t wake up in a sweat, this ain’t a dream, the Irish are heading to the Euros! Oh wait we have to play this game first, well anyway, it’s Ireland v Estonia in the 2nd leg, kick off 7.45pm
Let’s be honest, following the heartbreak in Paris, nothing would make up for that but Tuesday evening’s scenes at the Aviva Stadium should go a long way to healing those wounds . It’s going to be a party atmosphere at Lansdowne Road, such an atmosphere that surely the new stadium will not have witnessed before and the fans will be hoping to test its newly laid foundations as the Boys in Green take to the field, just one game away from the Euros.
We can’t throw this one away can we? No surely not, we are unbeaten in ten games and have conceded just one goal in those games and with Trap making just the three changes for Tuesday, we have got this in the bag. Despite the Italian and his players not getting too carried away, they must believe that they can forget their holiday plans for June next year.
In comes the returning Kevin Doyle for a rather unlucky Jon Walters. The Wolves front man comes back in from suspension to partner the hero from Tallinn, Robbie Keane up front while Doyle’s club team mate Stephen Hunt also comes in. Jon Walters must feel he is desperatedly unlucky not to start on Tuesday after a near faultless performance on Friday. He bagged his first international goal despite not doing too much, the glimpses he showed were promising.
The team has a lot more experience with Doyle and Hunt in and with the return of John O’Shea, is this Trap’s front line starting XI? The Sunderland man replaces the injured Stephen Kelly but apart from that it was as you were from the first leg. Keith Andrew’s performance in Estonia was a plus and it seems he is back to his best but maybe a few people will be disappointed that the gaffer didn’t give the likes of Coleman and McCarthy a chance. Some would argue that it’s still all to play for and an early away goal could unsettle Ireland but surely putting the quality of Coleman and McCarthy into midfield wouldn’t affect that?
After finishing second in a highly competitive Group C Slovenia, Serbia and Italy, Estonia gave themselves the opportunity to qualify for a major tournament for the first time in the nation’s history. They have now lost 7 out of their 10 losses however, and Tarmo Ruutli’s side really need a strong performance to at least show their place in the playoffs was warranted. Konstantin Vassiljev will seek to get back to scoring ways after having scored 5 goals in the competition. Stepanov and Piiroja received red cards in the first leg and won’t be available for the clash in Dublin.
If you’d like to bet on Republic of Ireland v Estonia, odds place Estonia as 9/1 underdogs while the draw is valued at 10/3. We predict though that the Boys in Green should win 2-0.
Rep of Ireland: Shay Given, John O’Shea, Sean St Ledger, Richard Dunne, Stephen Ward, Stephen Hunt, Glenn Whelan, Keith Andrews, Damien Duff, Kevin Doyle, Robbie Keane (C)
Let us know your predictions for the game via the comments box below and Twitter @RyanBailey37
It’s sure to be a party atmosphere and you can follow all the action with our live blog from the Aviva Stadium starting at 6.45pm.