Ireland get their UEFA Nations League campaign underway against Bulgaria tonight in what will be the first match of Stephen Kenny’s reign, and to celebrate Paddy Power shops have a money-back offer if the Boys in Green are beaten (offer not available online).
Former Under-21s manager Kenny took over from Mick McCarthy in April but has had to wait four months to get in the dugout.
And Paddy football trader Brian McDonnell believes it will be a winning start for the 48-year-old in Sofia.
I think Ireland will win – It’s a new era for Irish football and I’m really excited about it.
I really like Stephen Kenny. It’s been a long wait for his first game, since he took charge from Mick McCarthy when the Euros were postponed earlier on in the year.
Stephen will use these games as preparation to determine his best team and best system for the Euro 2020 play-off against Slovakia next month.
There hasn’t been any huge surprises in his squad. Everyone who started Mick McCarthy’s last game against Denmark is included, bar Glenn Whelan and David McGoldrick who misses out due to a slight knock.
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We’re not going to see any big changes in personnel but it’s the system which might change. It might be a 3-4-3 with two wing-backs, fitting Seamus Coleman and Matt Doherty into the side, or it could be a 4-3-3.
I think Ireland will definitely keep the ball on the deck for longer periods than we have in previous years. We saw this with Kenny’s Under-21 side. They were a bit more creative and played a bit more expansive football than the senior side.
In terms of a bet, I think Ireland will win this. The players should be giving 110 per cent for the new manager. The honeymoon phase could definitely play a part as well.
Bulgaria have had a poor couple of years in international football. They finished second-bottom of their European qualifying group last season, and have one win in all competitions in their last 14 games stretching back to October 2018 as well.
Ireland did beat them in a friendly last year 3-1 at the Aviva, and it was a fringe squad that Mick McCarthy picked that day.
Bulgaria have called up a couple of uncapped players to the squad this week, including 18-year-old Filip Krastev – he’s one to keep an eye on. But I think overall Ireland have the more talented squad and should be well capable of winning the tie.
Odds against is a fine price to take but if you do want to spruce up the price a bit, Ireland to win and under 3.5 goals looks good to me as well.
Bulgaria have really struggled for goals recently, Ireland are always very tight at the back and are renowned for trying to protect leads as well, so it should be a winning start for Kenny’s side.
Bulgaria v Ireland bets
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- Our 14/1 Same Game Multi for Ireland’s trip to Bulgaria
- Our 10/1 acca for the rest of Thursday’s International action