Euro 2020 Qualifier Preview: Gibraltar -v- Republic of Ireland

Sat, Mar 23 2019

James McClean has been included in the starting line-up. Credit: Michael P Ryan (ETPhotos)

GIBRALTAR

Gibraltar welcome the Republic of Ireland to Victoria Stadium for their first-ever European Championship qualifying tie on home turf (kick-off 5pm).

Gibraltar played their Euro 2016 and World Cup 2018 home games in Faro in Portugal but their home ground has been deemed suitable to host games in this campaign.

Team 54 have never won a game in official qualifying, but they won twice in their UEFA Nations League campaign last year.

A 1-0 win away to Armenia was followed up by a 2-1 win at home to Liechtenstein, resulting in a third-placed finish behind Macedonia and Armenia.

Uruguayan manager Julio Cesar Rubio has masterminded the newest UEFA nation’s upturn in fortunes but he acknowledges this qualifying group will be a significant step up.

"Ireland are one of the 30 best teams in the world,” said Ribas.

“They have got a great team and we know we need to be prepared. We are here to do our best.

"We drew, unfortunately or fortunately, great teams in the group such as Switzerland and Denmark, who have had excellent results in their previous campaigns, as well as Georgia, a team which is constantly growing.

"It's for us to write our history now and continue what we started in the Nations League. We have to keep growing as a team, but always working hard with passion and humility."

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND

The Mick McCarthy era mark two kicks off in earnest with a trip to Gibraltar, where Ireland will become the first side to face the hosts in a European qualifier on home soil.

It’s a game the Boys in Green are expected to win, and win comfortably, but McCarthy is experienced enough to know that few results come easily in international football.

McCarthy has been beset by a spate of injuries in the lead-up ranging from the routine in Shane Long’s calf complaint to the bizarre as Ronan Curtis almost lost a finger in a door.

Alan Browne and Callum O’Dowda have also been forced out, leading to call-ups for Kevin Long, Josh Cullen and Shamrock Rovers playmaker Jack Byrne.

“I reckon it is my job to get results, however they come,” McCarthy said.

“If we get enough of them and we are in the European Championship in 2020, that has got to be my remit.

“I’m sure we played some scrappy times the last time I was here but I never heard any complaints when we won a game and I only hear the fans cheering and enjoying.

“If we get to the competitions everyone seem to be happy. When you are winning games people think you are playing better football.

“We will be playing two different teams in the way they play and their standard. Gibraltar will be making it as difficult for us as they can.

“Everyone is telling them they are underdogs, it is a great tag to have when the supposedly superior team is coming.”

Referee: Anastasios Papapetrou.

MATCH STATS

The Republic of Ireland and Gibraltar have faced twice before in their history when drawn together in qualifying for Euro 2016.

Ireland won 7-0 at home and 4-0 in Portugal on their way to qualifying for the finals in France.

Gibraltar had never won a competitive game in their short history as a UEFA member until last year, when they beat Armenia and Liechtenstein in the UEFA Nations League.

BETTING

Gibraltar 40/1; Draw 17/1; Republic of Ireland 1/33.

PREDICTION

Gibraltar 0 – 2 Republic of Ireland

Gibraltar

Injured: None.

Doubtful: None.

Suspended: None.

Republic of Ireland

Injured: Alan Browne, Ronan Curtis, Callum O’Dowda, Shane Long.

Doubtful: None.

Suspended: None.

Suspended: None.