Republic of Ireland are aiming to take another significant stride towards a place at next summer’s World Cup finals when they travel to take on Georgia on Saturday evening.
Martin O’Neill’s men have yet to be beaten during this qualification campaign and, having picked up 12 points from their opening six fixtures, the Boys in Green find themselves trailing leaders Serbia on goal difference – but, crucially, Ireland have a four point cushion over both Wales and Austria who meet in Cardiff this weekend.
Only one team is guaranteed a place in next summer’s showpiece in Russia, but prior to Tuesday’s crucial clash in Dublin between the two teams at the top of the table, O’Neill’s charges have a chance to crank up the pressure on their rivals with a vital victory from their trip to Tbilisi.
These two nations locked horns in qualifying for the 2016 European Championships and O’Neill’s team left it late to claim all three points on their last trip to the Georgian capital, with Aiden McGeady grabbing a last-gasp winner.
That result was replicated in this campaign too, with Seamus Coleman scoring the only goal of the game when the rivalry was most recently renewed.
Indeed, the Irish have beaten Georgia by a single goal margin in each of the last five competitive meetings between the nations.
O’Neill’s charges have won each of the eight previous meetings between the teams are chalked up as a 3/4 (1.75) chance with dabblebet to claim a ninth successive victory against Georgia, while 5/2 (3.50) is available that this match ends in stalemate.
Georgia have yet to pick up their first win in Group D and Vladimir Weiss’ men can be backed at 17/4 (5.25) to claim a famous victory here.
The history books would suggest another tight tussle lies in store and the 8/15 (1.53) for fewer than three goals to be scored may well prove to be popular with punters, with 11/8 (2.38) that there are no goals scored in the first half.
Better value, though, may lie in backing the Boys in Green to win to nil at 11/8 (2.38), for that particular play would have landed in three of Ireland’s last four wins against Georgia, as well as in nine of the last 11 matches that O’Neill’s team have won.