It’s the hope that kills you, as the famous saying goes. And Ireland fans will be more familiar with that motto then most national team fans, but we should change to ‘it’s the luck that kills you’. Due to the very strange Uefa Nations League set up, we can finish bottom of a three man NL group and finish 3rd in our Euro 2020 qualifying campaign, play terrible, barely score any goals, barely create any chances (defend very well it has to be said) and still be in with a good chance of playing at home in the rescheduled Euro 2020 in Dublin.
The Republic of Ireland Game
It follows that thousands of Irish football fans are sure to be visiting betting sites such as https://www.mrgreen.com/ie/, placing bets on Ireland winning, is it the heart ruling the head here? As it stands the rescheduled game from March 2020 to October is more than likely a favourable change.
Firstly, Ireland have a new manager in Stephen Kenny, the results in the recent Nations League games would indicate we are still underdogs against Slovakia but under Mick McCarthy we were really stale, and no fans then were confident of us getting past Slovakia in March. A new manager bounce is just what is needed. The downside is Kenny has very little time to work with his players. Meanwhile Slovakia, look in far worse shape now while we are going up, Slovakia’s recent results against the Czech Republic losing 3-1 at home and drawing 1-1 away to Israel look very poor when you look at the stats in both games.
If we do progress past Slovakia, Northern Ireland looked lost under their new manager Ian Baraclough and getting hammered 5-1 at home to Norway was the kind of result that happened in pre Michael O’Neill days. Bosnia on the other hand had good results drawing away 1-1 with Italy and losing 2-1 to Poland at home, it has to be noted both games were against far stronger teams then Ireland, Slovakia and Northern Ireland played.
Judging the likelihood of which team progress from the four team play offs based on their recent games it would be Bosnia favourites, Slovakia and Ireland joint second with Northern Ireland a distant fourth.
Ireland v Slovakia in the past
In recent years, the results against Slovakia have been draws. Although we have not lost any against them, we have drawn with them on many four times in 2007, 2010, 2011 and 2016 and winning once in the UEFA European Championship back in March 2007.
It is important for Kenny’s boys to remember that Slovakia were only one point away from automatic qualification for the tournament. They are not going to be easy opponents to beat and underestimating them will be a mistake. They are the highest ranking of the teams in Path B. Key players include Milan Skriniar, who is a centre-back currently playing with Inter Milan. In addition, Marek Hamsik was the legendary Napoli midfielder and keeper Martin Dubravka playing for Newcastle United, has been to the rescue in many games.
The Euro 2020 Play-Offs Format
There are 16 nations that are taking part in the Euro 2020 play-offs. There are four play-off paths and we are in path B. The other teams in the path to the finals include:
- Bosnia & Herzegovina
- Northern Ireland
Slovakia v Ireland and Bosnia & Herzegovina v Northern Ireland October 8th.
Winners play the final on October 12th – Bosnia or Northern Ireland will be at home for the final.