The Republic of Ireland have a fighting chance of reaching their first World Cup since 2002 following their 0-0 draw with Denmark on Saturday evening.
Martin O’Neils side put in a dogged defensive performance, only having 28% of possession to frustrate the home side. Whilst Åge Hareide’s team were denied by a combination of missed chances and a fine individual performance by Darren Randolph in the Irish goal.
Following the stalemate in Copenhagen the boys in green and white will be hoping to make home advantage count in the second leg, which is set to take place at the sold out Aviva stadium.
Ireland had been walking on a suspension tightrope heading into the first leg, with no fewer than eight first team players a yellow card away from missing the second leg. Thankfully for O’Neil no one was booked, meaning no selection headaches for the former Celtic manager.
Predictably the Irish kept it tight in Denmark, now the focus will slightly shift on scoring goals to fire them to their third ever World Cup. Lone striker Daryl Murphy cut a lonely figure up top for the Irish on Saturday evening, and Martin O’Neil may elect to start with Shane Long who came on as a second half substitute.
Whilst winger James McClean could also be a source of inspiration for the Irish in this crucial game. The West Brom player did grab the only goal in Irelands away 1-0 victory over Wales to ensure that Ireland qualified for the play-offs.
As for Denmark, they have a fully fit squad available for the game. Ireland did well to quell the influence of star man Christian Eriksen in the first leg and the Spurs midfielder will again be tasked with inspiring his side to a fifth ever World Cup.
Åge Hareide’s side have remained undefeated over the course of 2017 in qualification games so far, picking up five wins and three draws in that time. Goals will be important for the Danes and Hareide could turn to former Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner who finished the season as top scorer for his side Rosenborg.