Both sides seem more comfortable in defence than in attack and our expert is therefore bracing himself for an uninspiring affair when they face off at the Aviva Stadium
Giovanni Trapattoni’s men are still firmly in the mix for a play-off spot in qualification for Brazil 2014 and are favourites at 1/2 (1.50) with Paddy Power to prepare for Friday’s clash with the Faroe Islands with a win on Sunday.
Their opponents, meanwhile, have gone five games without tasting victory and are available at 11/2 (6.50) to pick up just their fourth away win in 27 games.
There have been no draws in the previous four encounters between these sides, but you can get odds of 14/5 (3.80) on them sharing the spoils this time out.
Trapattoni has drawn plenty of criticism from all corners for his pragmatic style of play, and there is no doubt that the veteran Italian coach prioritises tactical solidarity over individual flair.
Unfortunately, this approach can often lead to some rather uninspiring matches, and this seems like the most likely result when the hosts come face-to-face with Temuri Ketsbaia’s well drilled outfit.
The Crusaders have scored just nine goals in their last 16 fixtures, and this lack of cutting edge means that they are sure to come to the Emerald Isle with a defensive game plan., making a high-scoring match look decidedly unlikely.
A bet on under 2.5 goals would have paid out both in four of Ireland’s last five and five of the visitors’ last six matches, and looks particularly safe when the two conservative teams clash, at odds of 8/11 (1.73).
The visitors’ main attacking threat is undoubtedly posed by Alexander Kobakhidze, the Dnipro winger whose eye for goal has seen him score three of his side’s last 10 strikes.
Considering his pedigree, the 26-year-old offers exceptional value at 5/1 (6.00) to hit the back of the net against the Boys in Green.
|Under 2.5 goals at 8/11 (1.73) with Paddy Power
||Alexander Kobakhidze to score anytime at 5/1 (6.00) with Paddy Power|
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Al Hain-Cole is an 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.