Monday, September 27, 2021

Prediction: Ireland vs Azerbaijan

Tom Dunstan in Free Soccer Predictions, World Cup 3 Sep 2021

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Verdict: Ireland win & under three goals

Best Odds: 2/1

Bookmaker: Unibet

Looking to put their midweek heartbreak behind them, Ireland will welcome Azerbaijan to Dublin for what is a must-win showdown on Saturday evening.

Ireland

Starting with the hosts, eventually hit with more qualifying heartbreak earlier in the week, there is no doubt that Ireland will be trying to find the positives from their trip to Portugal. Despite taking a shock lead away at the former European champions, Stephen Kenny’s side saw Cristiano Ronaldo bag a last-gasp brace as they slumped to a devastating 2-1 defeat. Still looking to try and find their first competitive win under the former Dundalk boss, the Greens know that they face a must-win showdown on Saturday evening. With a friendly 4-1 romp away at Andorra on June 6th the only boost that Ireland have managed to find on their extended blip, Kenny’s side are also yet to pick up a World Cup qualifying point this year. Failing to hang on to what would have been a famous night in Portugal earlier in the week, this weekend’s hosts have lost all three of their Group A contests, a run highlighted by a woeful 1-0 defeat at home against Luxembourg back in March.

Team News

Limping off with a knock in midweek, Dara O’Shea is a major doubt that this weekend, meaning Andrew Omobamidele could get a first international start.

The likes of Conor Hourihane are also pushing for a recall to Stephen Kenny’s starting XI.

Azerbaijan

As for the visitors, while Ireland might have managed to pick up some real positives from their trip out to Portugal in midweek, Azerbaijan had another night to forget on foreign soil. Heavily outplayed away at Luxembourg when making a return to Group A duties, Gianni De Biasi’s side were hit with a deserved 2-1 defeat and they’re tipped as a landslide pick to lift the wooden spoon this year. Despite snatching a friendly 2-1 win away in Belarus on June 6th, it appears that was just an ever so minor bounce for the European strugglers. Much like Saturday’s hosts, Milli komanda are yet to pick up a qualifying point for any of their three attempts and they will be aware that they should face another stern test in Dublin. Managing to pick up just a single victory from any of their last 12 matchups across all formats, a run that stems back to a Nations League win against Cyprus 12 months ago, Azerbaijan have also lost each of their last five World Cup qualifying contests on foreign soil.

Team News

All introduced at half-time, the trio of Mahir Emreli, Anton Krivotsyuk and Namiq Alasgarov could all be set for a starting role on Saturday evening.

Bagging Azerbaijan’s only two qualifying goals, Emin Mahmudov will lead the line in Dublin.

Key Factors to Consider

    • Saturday’s meeting in Dublin is the first time that this weekend’s opponents have faced off against each other.
    • Ireland’s last-gasp 2-1 loss against Portugal earlier in the week means that they’re still waiting for a competitive win under Stephen Kenny.
    • Neither Ireland nor Azerbaijan have picked up a single Group A from their three matchups this year.
    • Saturday’s guests have lost each of their last five World Cup qualifying matchups on foreign soil.
    • Each of Ireland’s last five home fixtures across all formats have seen under 2.5 goals by the final whistle.

    Conclusion

    While Ireland might have suffered real heartbreak out in Portugal earlier in the week, the Greens will be desperate to build off of those positives. Only minutes away from grabbing what would have been a famous victory against the now-former European champions, Saturday’s hosts should be smelling a real chance here. Knowing that they face a must-win showdown in Dublin this weekend, Stephen Kenny’s side are rightfully tipped as a standout shout. With Azerbaijan also suffering their own 2-1 defeat away at Luxembourg in midweek, the Blues have shown a host of issues on foreign soil. Losing each of their last five World Cup qualifying contests on the road, we’re backing a home win here, even if we don’t expect a host of goals.

    Verdict: Ireland win & under three goals

    Best Odds: 2/1

    Bookmaker: Unibet

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Tom Dunstan


    Formerly of The Independent, Tom is a freelance football and boxing journalist from Essex, England. Currently working for three online publications, Tom is a graduate of the University of Falmouth and has spent the last two years writing across Australia, New Zealand and Asia. He can be followed at @IamTomDunstan

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