Ireland were knocked off top spot in World Cup Qualifying Group D on Friday evening thanks to their 0-0 draw with Wales and Serbia’s victory in Georgia. Martin O’Neill didn’t appear too downhearted about being pushed out of the automatic qualification berth, insisting that he was happy with his side’s performance.
“We’ve 11 points on the board – I would have taken that (at the start of the qualifying campaign),” he said to reporters. “Serbia won, Austria won – they’re not out of it. Wales didn’t gain any ground on us, but we still have to go there and they are capable of winning matches.”
Ireland’s next outing is against an Iceland side which knocked England out of Euro 2016 at the last sixteen stage of the competition, however whilst points won’t be up for grabs in this international friendly, O’Neill will be anxious for his side to make a return to winning ways once again.
Indeed Iceland have been hit and miss since the turn of the year with two defeats and just a solitary victory and whilst the Irish have been plagued with injuries they are unbeaten in six outings and have suffered just a single defeat in their last sixteen home matches.
This is undeniably impressive form with a win over reigning world champions Germany part of that sequence, however can they extend this run tonight? We believe so, given that Iceland have been less than impressive since their Euro 2016 exploits. Their three victories were against relatively weak opposition and they have lost three times against stronger sides. We expect a similar outcome tonight.
This looks set to be a low-scoring clash although with Ireland tending to grind out results, we’ll be expecting them to run in as winners. Nevertheless all but eight of their last nineteen games have returned less than three goals and as such we’ll be predicting this to continue by backing Under 2.5 goals tonight.