Mark O’Haire’s Tips – Republic Of Ireland v Belarus
Republic Of Ireland v Belarus
Republic of Ireland continue their Euro 2016 preparation on Tuesday night with a first ever meeting against Belarus.
Republic of Ireland v Belarus, Tuesday 31st May 2016, 19.45, Premier Sports/Setanta
Martin O’Neill’s side were denied a victory over Netherlands on Friday after Luuk de Jong’s late equaliser cancelled out Shane Long’s goal in Dublin.
Despite the disappointment of conceding late on, the draw extended a promising run of form for Ireland, in which they have suffered just one defeat in their last 13 matches (W6-D6-L1) in all competitions and kept six clean sheets.
Those results have increased belief within the Ireland camp that they can make far more of an impact in France than they did in the finals of four years ago, when the Boys In Green lost all three group games to Spain, Italy and Croatia and finished with a goal difference of -8.
Players have spoken about the need to stay stronger together, eyeing the team spirit showed by Leicester during their fairytale Premier League title triumph as a reference for success as the group make their first outing in Cork since 1985.
O’Neill is expected to rotate his side to give some fringe players the chance to impress, with the deadline to announce his final squad to take to France coming on Tuesday.
James McCarthy is not likely to be risked, meaning Darron Gibson, Harry Arter and Eunan O’Kane will all hope for another chance to impress from central midfield – a position which O’Neill has already identified as a potential problem area.
Nevertheless, Irish fans should expect a solid display with the hosts now scoring in each of their last 10 internationals, last failing to score against England in June 2015.
Despite the limited game-plan on offer, the Republic have been consistent in keeping things tight at the back and clinical in the offensive third.
That handy combination should ensure O’Neill’s outfit collect a welcome victory here but odds of 6/10 are a little too skinny to get involved with considering the non-competitive nature of the contest.
Don’t Bet On Belarus
Belarus are set to be without Yegor Filipenko and head coach Aleksandr Khatskevich is keen for his troops to put in a better display than the 3-0 reverse that was seen against Northern Ireland in Belfast last week.
Prior to that convincing defeat, Belarus had enjoyed a five-match unbeaten streak but the visitors failed to land a shot-on-target last Friday and have now failed to score in each of their four outings.
The shot-shy guests may find overcoming a determined and resolute Irish side difficult in Cork so the 6/5 offered on the Republic of Ireland winning ‘to nil’ stands out here. Across the past 12 years, the Boys In Green have kept clean sheets in 18 of their 21 friendly victories and have suffered a solitary defeat in meaningless matches since 2014.
Republic of Ireland to win to nil (6/5)
*Prices correct at time of publication