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Ireland were absolutely brilliant against Portugal on Thursday night. I was at the match and I’m still on a little bit of a high from it. It was a nice result with the draw and a very good performance to go with it, we even could have nicked it at the end. It just keeps the momentum building for Stephen Kenny, and the supporters seem to be right behind him.
They also want to see the young lads that Stephen has introduced – the likes of Chiedozie Ogbene, Jamie McGrath and Gavin Bazunu – do well, and you could feel that in the ground on Thursday night. Now all eyes, turn to the game with Luxembourg on Sunday evening.
Sunday 7.45pm – Luxembourg v Ireland
Sky Sports Football / RTÉ Two
Ireland are now unbeaten in five games and they have a little bit of a run going now. That coincides with the fact that Kenny has had the vast majority of his players fit and available to him. That has been shown in the continuity of his team selections. That helps hugely when it comes to building up relationships between players and the understanding is growing between them.
Defensively, Ireland are sound now and they have a very good goalkeeper in Bazunu. Shane Duffy and John Egan have been outstanding in the last few games too. They really are putting in a shift for The Boys In Green, but this is a massive match on Sunday. Ireland simply have to get a victory in it because the games that have let us down in this group have been against the lesser lights.
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I fancy Ireland to get the job done away from home in this one. I know Luxembourg beat Azerbaijan on Thursday, so it won’t be easy away from home by any means. Any away fixture in international football is difficult these days.
Luxembourg have certainly improved from what the perception of them used to be, they are not minnows anymore. But, with the momentum Ireland have behind them and the confidence now in the team, I reckon they can go to Luxembourg City and pick up a win.
I would take a 1-0 away success for Ireland here and I would snap someone’s hand off for it if it was offered to me now. That’s because I believe it’s very important for Kenny and his charges to finish third in the group. We’ve seen Ireland put up good showings without getting results, but this is a game where the result is all that matters. I believe that we will get that though, and if that means a scrappy 1-0 win, I’ll certainly take it.
However, Ireland are trying to play football the right way now, even against the likes of Portugal they are getting it down on the deck with plenty of passe and the public are rowing in behind that now. If The Boys In Green play anywhere like the performance we saw in both Portugal games, it should be enough to see them claim the three points on offer here.
Chiedozie Ogbene and Callum Robinson looked Ireland’s most dangerous players on Thursday night, and that makes them the obvious angle to look at in the goalscorers markets. Robinson looked really sharp against Portugal, and is brimming with confidence after scoring five goals in the previous international window.
However, Ogbene also played really well against Cristiano Ronaldo and Co. His performance was the real positive for Ireland coming out of the game. I’d really love to see him add to the goal he got against Azerbaijan in Ireland’s last away fixture on Sunday night. Another goal would do his confidence the world of good and I’m tipping him to get it.
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