Republic of Ireland v Georgia Tips
The Republic of Ireland welcome Georgia to the Aviva Stadium on Thursday night, with both sides hoping to secure their first win of Group D.
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Football tips: Opening game
The Republic of Ireland started the group with a decent draw in Belgrade against Serbia but whilst the result represented a solid start to their campaign, the performance was disjointed and despite leading for an hour they were perhaps somewhat fortunate to grab a point. Jeff Hendrick’s deflected effort gave Martin O’Neill side the lead and 33-year-old striker Daryl Murphy scored his first international goal in 24 attempts to level late on after Filip Kostic’s leveller and Dusan Tadic’s penalty.
Georgia went down to a narrow defeat at home to Austria – Jano Ananidze’s sensational long-range drive was the highlight of the game and the hosts may have counted themselves unfortunate not to secure a draw after Valeri Kaziashvili’s flicked header rattled the crossbar.
Predictions: Head to head
Republic of Ireland have won all seven of the meetings between the sides, although five of them have only been by a single goal. Two of those close victories were attained in the recent qualifying campaign for the 2016 European Championships. Aiden McGeady’s last minute winner secured a 2-1 victory in Tblisi, while Jon Walters scored the only goal of the return fixture in Dublin.
Anytime goalscorer – Shane Long 13/10 – The Southampton striker is certain to lead the way for Martin O’Neill’s side and his alertness in the box may prove crucial against a compact but limited Georgian defence. There are never many goals in games involving these two, but Long has already netted 16 international goals and will fancy more in this one.
Take the draw 3/1 – Yes, Georgia have never got so much as a draw against the Republic of Ireland but these games are always tight – the decisive goals last time out were scored in the 92nd minute (Tblisi) and the 67th minute (Dublin) and the visitors will now feel more familiar with the Irish threat, and should plan accordingly to damage their qualification hopes.
Preview: Team news
The Republic are likely to be unchanged from their draw in Belgrade, but despite the opposition they may not change from their rigid 4-4-2 tactics. Conor Hourihane and Danny Rogers may make their international debuts from the bench.
Georgia’s dangermen are Russian-based midfield duo Jano Ananidze and Tornike Okriashvili, and veteran Dinamo Tblisi striker Vladimir Dvalishvili.