Monday, April 22, 2024

Prediction: Ireland vs Belgium

Tom Dunstan in Free Soccer Predictions 20 Mar 2024

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Verdict: Belgium win

Best Odds: 12/11

Bookmaker: Luckster

Looking to open 2024 with a statement on foreign soil, Belgium will travel to Dublin on Saturday evening when they meet Ireland.

Ireland

Starting with the hosts, parting ways with Stephen Kenny back in November following a frustrating three-year reign under the former Dundalk boss, Ireland have the feel of a squad seeking a much-needed boost. Drastically falling short in their bid to book a shock EURO 24 ticket, the Greens also came under a huge amount of scrutiny. Signing off their Group B nightmare with a 2-0 loss at the hands of European giants Holland, interim boss John O’Shea will certainly be bracing himself for another heavyweight challenge here. Continuing to show a string of issues in the final third, Ireland have won just a pair of their previous nine appearances across all competitions over the past 12 months. It should also be highlighted, O’Shea’s temporary squad have collected just a single win from their last five showdowns in Dublin.

Team News

In what is a huge boost for Ireland, influential skipper Seamus Coleman has returned to Irelan’s squad and should make a first appearance since a 1-0 loss to France 12 months ago. The uncapped trio of Sammie Szmodics, Jake O’Brien and Finn Azaz have all been handed a maiden call-up and could earn their respective first senior caps on Saturday evening.

Likewise, there are returns to the squad for Michael Obafemi, Robbie Brady and Callum O’Dowda. Notching five Premiership goals for Scottish giants Celtic since completing a January move from Norwich, 23-year-old Adam Idah should spearhead Ireland’s charge.

Belgium

As for the visitors, while Belgium might have come under a huge amount of scrutiny as they failed to book a World Cup knockout stage ticket 15 months ago, the European giants have certainly found their feet under Domenico Tedesco. Breezing their way to this summer’s European Championships and not really having to get out of third gear, the former Schalke boss will be calling for his superstar squad to open the New Year with a statement in Dublin. Last seen on November 19th storming their way to a routine 5-0 romp against Azerbaijan, the Red Devils are unbeaten in all of their previous 11 straight appearances across all competitions. With their flurry underlined by an action-packed 3-2 victory away at Austria on October 13th, Tedesco’s side should be excited by a trip to the Aviva Stadium on Saturday evening.

Team News

Dealing with a recent minor groin injury, Belgium have confirmed that Manchester City superstar Kevin de Bruyne will not play any part over the next fortnight. Likewise, in what was a pair of shock announcements, both Thorgan Hazard and Yannick Carrasco have also been omitted from Tedesco’s squad.

Breaking a string of records during Belgium’s qualifying adventure last year and notching 14 goals in his eight Group F appearances, Romelu Lukaku should play a leading role here. Premier League stars such as Manchester City winger Jeremy Doku and Arsenal’s Leandro Trossard have been included Tedesco’s squad.

Key Factors to Consider

    • When Ireland and Belgium last met for a friendly showdown in March 2022, Saturday’s opponents played out a 2-2 stalemate in Dublin.
    • Belgium are unbeaten in all of their previous 11 straight appearances across all competitions.
    • Romelu Lukaku bagged a stunning 14 goals in his eight Euro 24 qualifying appearances last year.
    • Ireland have managed to muster just a pair of wins from any of their previous nine showdowns across all competitions.
    • The Greens have also recorded just a single victory from any of their last five contests in Dublin.

    Conclusion

    While Belgium might have been forced to settle for a 2-2 stalemate when they travelled to Dublin two years ago for a friendly contest, the Red Devils should be smelling a golden opportunity here. Cruising their way to this summer’s European Championships and once again tipped as a leading contender, Saturday’s guests will be looking to cash in on an Ireland squad who are at the heart of an extended crisis. Despite turning to O’Shea on a temporary basis last month, the one-time Manchester United defender couldn’t have asked for a tougher challenge.

    Verdict: Belgium win

    Best Odds: 12/11

    Bookmaker: Luckster

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Tom Dunstan


    Formerly of The Independent, Tom has spent the past six years as one of our senior writers and betting experts. Alongside working with numerous publications from across the globe, Tom also graduated from the University of Falmouth in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Digital Media.
    Spending almost the past decade working in countries such as Australia, New Zealand and Canada, he has also spent time featuring in sports radio. Tom can be followed on Instagram - @iamtomdunstan

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