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Ireland are in desperate of a result on Sunday after their defeat to England on Thursday left them winless in their last seven games, and goalless in their last five. Stephen Kenny has endured a difficult start to life as Ireland manager as he takes on the unenviable task of overhauling decades of archaic football in favour of a more attractive style.
Of course, it is going to take time, but some Irish fans are already baying for blood and Kenny could do with at least one win from his next two games. He will struggle to do so against Wales, in what will be an extremely even game if the scoreless draw in Dublin last month is anything to go by.
Both sides cancelled each other out at the Aviva Stadium last month and it could very well be more of the same in Cardiff this Sunday. Wales struggled in a drab draw against the United States on Thursday and may have to endure something similar on Sunday against what is on paper the most drab team in world football.
This may not be the most attractive price in the world, but there can hardly be more certain bets, can there? Both Wales and Ireland seem positively frightened of scoring goals, with The Boys In Green mustering one measly goal in four Nations League games and Wales only faring slightly better with three.
Those three goals have proved extremely valuable, each securing Wales a crucial win to put them top of Group B4 with two games remaining. All three goals have also come in the dying embers of each match with Wales managing to find the killer blow inside the last ten minutes on three separate occasions.
With only nine goals scored across eight matches, Group B4 has been by far the lowest-scoring group in the entire Nations League this year and the chances of Wales and Ireland just ripping up the form book and going goal crazy are slim to none.
Since Wales have scored all three of their goals late on, it goes without saying that they have failed to score in the first half of a Nations League game this year. For the most part, they have been toothless in front of goal in 2020 and their campaign would look a lot more like Ireland’s had they not managed to find late winners out of virtually nothing on three separate occasions.
Ireland, meanwhile, have not conceded a first half goal in competitive football since they lost 2-0 to Switzerland in October last year. In fact, that is the only competitive goal Ireland have conceded in the first half of a competitive game since losing 4-1 to Wales in Cardiff in September 2018. Prospects of seeing a goal in the opening 45 minutes are grim.
Wales have struggled in terms of a potent goalscorer, but the return of Gareth Bale should aid their cause. Bale hasn’t set the world alight since moving back to Tottenham, but he has shown glimpses of what he can do and is certainly several levels above anything Ireland have to offer.
Whether Bale starts or not is another thing, but surely Wales will look to secure top spot in Group B4 ahead of a potentially crucial clash with Finland. Their best chance of doing that is by deploying Bale at some stage, and he has the ability to breach the Irish defence.
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