Ireland V Denmark: Things to watch out for next Tuesday

by Ger McCarthy

We’ve been here before

The Republic of Ireland possesses more play-off experience than any other European country and that will be crucial in the second leg at the Aviva.

Unbeaten in their previous seven competitive away games and with a record of two wins, two draws and a single loss on home soil during the World Cup qualifiers, Martin O’Neill’s side has developed a knack of getting results in tight games.

Tuesday will be no different so here’s hoping we have another positive play-off memory to add to Iran 2002, Estonia 2012 and Bosnia and Herzegovina 2016.

Same again Randolph

An ever-present during the World Cup qualifiers, Darren Randolph underlined his importance with three crucial first-half saves. Granted, his third stop was unorthodox but a marvellous one-handed acrobatic save from Poulesn denied the hosts a winner right at the death.

A similar display is needed from the 30-year-old in the second leg but the Middleborough shot-stopper can expect an equally busy evening if Ireland defends as deeply as they did in Copenhagen.

On the plus side, Ireland’s goalkeeper heads into the most important game of the year in good form and after conceding a paltry six goals during his eleven previous appearances.

O’Dowda deserves another look

Bristol City’s midfielder was the surprise inclusion in Martin O’Neill’s starting line-up at the Parken Stadion and although he saw little of the ball, O’Dowda deserves another chance in the return game.

The 22-year-old played superbly in his first competitive start against Moldova a month ago and will not be overawed by the occasion.

O’Dowda’s pace and ability to stretch opposing defences will be a valuable asset on home soil provided Ireland play to the attacking midfielder’s strengths.

Nothing to fear

A Danish side not too dissimilar in setup or tactics failed to find the net when it mattered most on Saturday night but are unlikely to deviate from their game plan in Dublin.

Unsurprisingly, Christian Eriksen pulled the strings in midfield and will do so again on Tuesday. Denmark must discover more of a cutting edge in the final third where much more will be expected of Andreas Cornelius, Nicolai Jorgensen and Pione Sisto.

Denmark won away from home against Kazakhstan, Armenia and Montenegro during the group stage but Tuesday night will be a different kind of pressure and played out amid a much more hostile atmospehere.

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