Sunday, December 8, 2019

Prediction: Republic of Ireland vs New Zealand

Tom Dunstan in Free Soccer Predictions 13 Nov 2019

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Verdict: Ireland win and under 3.5 goals

Best Odds: 6/5

Bookmaker: Bet365

Looking to find some momentum before they end their EURO 2020 qualifying campaign next week, Ireland will welcome New Zealand to the Aviva Stadium for Thursday’s friendly matchup.

Republic of Ireland

Starting with the hosts, although Ireland might still find themselves topping Group D with just one EURO 2020 qualifying matchup remaining, Mick McCarthy will know that his side will need a minor miracle if they’re to land an automatic spot at next year’s European Championships. Suffering a 2-0 loss away in Switzerland last month and now seeing both the Swiss and Denmark holding a pair of games in hand, the former Ipswich boss is desperate to keep the morale in his camp at a high. Losing just one of their qualifying matchups this year, there is no doubt that fans around Dublin will be most impressed by their side’s continued performances at the Aviva Stadium. Landing a 3-1 win over Bulgaria in their last friendly appearance in the capital, Ireland have now lost just a single matchup in front of their own supporters since October 2017. However, McCarthy will have some minor concerns over his side’s issues in the final third. Failing to find the net in back-to-back matchups, they have also failed to find the net more than once in 19 of their 21 appearances across all formats.

Team News

Mick McCarthy is waiting on the results of Aaron Connolly’s scan after the Brighton forward was forced off at half-time in his side’s defeat by Manchester United on Sunday with a groin injury.

New Zealand

As for the visitors, while New Zealand’s record on paper may have seen Danny Hay’s men win six of their last seven matchups and enjoying an unbeaten run that stems back to June 2018, they have famously struggled when up against some of the world’s more notable nations. Losing each of their last four friendly matches on the spin, including defeats against Canada, Japan, Belarus, and Northern Ireland, their 1-0 victory over little-known Oman fours years ago is their only friendly victory since way back in September 2013. Now sat down 121’st in the FIFA rankings, there is no doubt that Hay should be boosted by the on-going success of leading marksman and attacking talisman, Chris Wood. Arguably the most notable star in the New Zealand set-up, the Burnley ace once again found the net against West Ham over the weekend and will lead the line out in Dublin. It should also be noted that the 27-year-old has bagged five goals in his last five Premier League appearances.

Team News

West Ham defender Winston Reid has declared himself fit to feature on Thursday and is likely to captain the All Whites in midweek. Burnley’s red-hot striker Chris Wood will lead New Zealand’s line on Thursday.

Key Factors to Consider

  • New Zealand have lost their last four friendly matches on the bounce and have not won an away fixture over the past four years.
  • Republic of Ireland have lost just one of their last 10 matches across all competitions.
  • However, the Greens have failed to bag more than a single goal in 90 minutes in 19 of their last 21 matchups.
  • All Whites striker Chris Wood has five goals in his last five Premier League matches.
  • This is the first meeting between the two nations.

Conclusion

Desperate to bounce back from their defeat away in Switzerland last month, there is no doubt that Ireland should see Thursday as a golden chance to gain some momentum. With New Zealand so publically struggling when coming up against some of world football’s more established nations, we’re backing the Green’s to come away with a fairly comfortable victory in Dublin in midweek.

Verdict: Ireland win and under 3.5 goals

Best Odds: 6/5

Bookmaker: Bet365

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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