Having recorded a 1-0 triumph over very good Switzerland side, Republic of Ireland will be looking to keep the momentum going with a strong performance against Slovakia. Repre were quite disappointing in the goalless draw vs Latvia and no doubt they will be looking to show improvement at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.
Republic of Ireland
The Green Army did well to end the barren run and qualify for the Euro 2012, but having lost all three group games at the tournament finals, they were hoping to get a new chance to impress. Republic of Ireland were then placed in arguably the toughest qualifying group for the Euro 2016 qualifiers, but they not only pipped Scotland to the third place, but also went to win the play-offs vs Bosnia-Herzegovina. But, having since been drawn alongside Italy, Belgium and Sweden in Group E, not too many people expect the Irish to reach the knockout stages. And while team’s away performances do need to improve, Ireland are slowly becoming a genuine force to be reckoned with at home, having now won four straight game at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin without conceding a single goal. With quite a few star players missing, Martin O’Neill’s charges have got to be given credit for upsetting Switzerland on Friday, with Ciaran Clark’s goal proving enough for an important win. And with Slovakia also experiencing problems up front, a low-scoring affair appears on the cards.
Kevin Doyle has had a surgery on his leg and while he misses the Slovakia game, his appearance at the Euro 2016 finals is not in doubt.
Robbie Keane, Jonathan Walters and Daryl Murphy are all out injured, while Wes Hoolahan, James McClean and James McCarthy are pushing for starting places.
Slovakia have only made it to the 2000 World Cup finals since gaining independence from Czechoslovakia, and they are set to make their first ever appearance at the European Championships in France. Repre did well to beat Ukraine to the second place in their qualifying group, and they continued with very good performances in international friendlies. Slovakia ended the year 2015 on a high, recording back to back wins over Switzerland and Iceland, but the new year did not exactly have the best of starts. Despite outclassing minnows Latvia in Trnava, Jan Kozak’s charges eventually had to settle for a goalless draw, and this was another proof that their attack was not in fine working order. Slovakia have largely struggled up front when facing Europe’s top sides and having failed to score in three of last four Euro 2016 qualifiers, while also struggling against Latvia, Repre could find it hard to break rock-solid Republic of Ireland in Dublin.
Marek Hamsik and Martin Skrtel both suffered knocks in the Latvia game, but they should be ready to face Ireland in Dublin.
After making just two substitutions against Latvia, coach Jan Kozak has revealed that some fringe players will be given a chance to shine.
Key Factors to Consider
- Slovakia have never beaten Republic of Ireland (D3 L1)
- Last three meetings between the two sides ended in draws
- Ireland and Slovakia played out a goalless draw in their last meeting
- Rep of Ireland won last four home games without conceding
- Slovakia failed to score in four of last seven matches
Republic of Ireland have turned their Aviva Stadium into a real fortress and they are now searching for a fifth successive win with a clean sheet. Slovakia, too, are strong at the back, but they have problems up front, so chances are we will not witness too many goals on Tuesday evening.
Verdict: Both teams to score – No
Best Odds: 8/11
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