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The Boys in Green have been looking forward to an international tournament for a decade, but Al Hain-Cole is expecting few fireworks as they seek to frustrate Slaven Bilic's side

After a decade in the international wilderness, the Republic of Ireland are finally back on the big stage in their first major tournament since World Cup 2002.

Giovanni Trapattoni’s men face another side looking to make up for lost time, as Croatia hope to put their disappointing failure to qualify for the last World Cup behind them.

Slaven Bilic built his managerial reputation on his team’s impressive performance at Euro 2008, where Croatia cruised though the group stages with a 100 per cent record, including a win over eventual finalists Germany.

Unsurprisingly, the Eastern European nation are favourites to win today, and are at 13/10 (2.30) with Panbet to come out on top.

Ireland’s only previous European Championship experience came in 1988 and featured a memorable win over England in their opening match.

You can get odds of 53/20 (3.65) on The Boys in Green getting off to a similarly good start this time around.

The last encounter between the two sides finished in a drab 0-0 draw in a friendly match a year ago, and the bookies are offering 43/20 (3.15) on another stalemate taking place this evening.

This defensive solidity has been a feature of Giovanni Trapattoni’s reign, as the wily Italian coach has followed in the footsteps of Jack Charlton by forging an Irish side that is exceedingly tough to beat.

This strategy has led to a 15-game unbeaten run, with only eight goals conceded in 12 qualifying matches.

The former Juventus coach would undoubtedly be delighted to see his side maintain this solidity and replicate the crucial goalless draws they gained in qualifiers against Russia and Slovakia in this encounter.

It could well be worth having a punt on Ireland successfully pulling off a similar game-plan and keeping the scoresheet blank in this game, with the odds at 13/2 (7.50) for a 0-0 draw. While under 1.5 goals at 73/50 (2.46) is a good value pick and well worth a smaller investment.

You sense that patience may be required if we are to see a goal, so backing one to go in between the 76th and 90th minute at 27/20 (2.35) seems like a sensible move.

This bet would have paid out in six of the last 10 games featuring the two sides.

 
BET
OF THE
DAY
BEST BET
VALUE BET
76-90 min goal at 27/20 (2.35) with Panbet
Under 1.5 goals at 73/50 (2.46) with PanBet

Al Hain-Cole is a Liverpool fan, experienced tipster and avid follower of European football. He specialises in accumulators and if you would like to read more from Al you can follow him on Twitter here.

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