Gibraltar kick-start their Euro 2020 Qualifying campaign when they host Republic of Ireland at a sold-out Victoria Stadium this evening.
Photo © William Gracia
The two sides meet for the first time since 2015, when Ireland won 4-0 in Faro. Both teams have new managers and new faces within the team since then, and this evening’s game is the first European Championship qualifier to be hosted on the Rock.
At yesterday’s press conferences, both managers were in good form as they looked forward to the game – for Mick McCarthy it is his second debut as Ireland manager, and he’ll be looking to repeat his first competitive game in his first stint as manager, when Ireland won 5-0 against Liechtenstein back in 1996.
Julio Ribas spoke passionately about the importance of having these games back in Gibraltar, and emphasised the importance of the Gibraltarian fans in supporting their team – both sides will have healthy support with Ireland bring a strong contingent over, which should make for a cracking atmosphere.
The weather will be an interesting factor in today’s game as well – the Irish press who were gathered at the Victoria Stadium yesterday all noticed how windy it was at the ground, and with a severe weather warning issued until Sunday, the game should be played under less than ideal conditions.
Neither manager, as expected, gave much away in terms of team selection – Ribas never tends to show any of his cards to the press – but McCarthy did hint at Seamus Coleman making his 50th cap for the national side from the start, while up front there is the potential for Sean Maguire of Preston leading the line.
Unsurprisingly, Ireland are heavy favourites at a best price of 1/18 to win, while Gibraltar are as big as 50/1 to pull off a shock victory – the draw is 20/1 which shows how heavily the bookies fancy Ireland to get off to a victorious start.
There is potentially value to be had elsewhere in the betting though – if Sean Maguire does start then 15/4 for him to score first would be a good price, while for Gib, Joseph Chipolina, top scorer in the Nations League for his side, and expected to be on penalties should Gib get one, is as high as 33/1 to score at any point in the match.
Finally, if you are looking for a correct score bet, a repeat of the 4-0 in Faro is 6/1, while if you fancy Gib to repeat their heroics from the Armenia match, then 1-0 Gibraltar is a whopping 125/1.
FG’s Predicted XI:
Gibraltar: Goldwin; Sergeant, R. Chipolina, J. Chipolina, Olivero; Anthony Hernandez, Bardon, Walker; Casciaro, De Barr, Pons
Republic of Ireland: Randolph; Coleman, Duffy, Egan, Stevens; Arter, Whelan, Hourihane; McClean, Brady; Maguire