Republic of Ireland vs DenmarkEuro 2020, KO: 19:45 Nov 18, 2019, Aviva Stadium
IT'S D-Day for the Republic of Ireland as Denmark come calling for a Dublin showdown that will decide which nation guarantees their place at Euro 2020.
The Aviva Stadium will be packed to the rafters as the Irish public bid to cheer Mick McCarthy's men on to a famous victory that will exorcise the ghost of their World Cup play-off mauling by the Danes.
When the Scandinavians last visited Irish shores the stakes were just as high, with that play-off for Russia 2018 on a knife-edge after a 0-0 draw in Copenhagen.
But after Shane Duffy had headed Martin O'Neill's side into an early lead the Republic suffered a catastrophic collapse, tumbling to a 5-1 defeat as their defence was ripped apart.
That horrific defeat signalled the beginning of the end for O'Neill after the high of steering the Irish to Euro 2016, where they famously defeated Italy before bowing out in the last 16 to hosts France.
Mick McCarthy returned for a second spell at the helm for the Euro 2020 qualifiers but faced a daunting task getting out of a group that contained Denmark and Switzerland.
Few pundits gave the Irish much hope of a top-two finish so it's to McCarthy's immense credit that they head into the final qualifier with a chance of jumping above the Danes.
The high point of McCarthy's first spell in charge came when he led the Irish to a famous home win over a star-studded Netherlands side to book a play-off spot for the 2002 World Cup.
In this build-up to this clash, the Republic of Ireland boss has claimed defeating the Danes would top even that triumph at Lansdowne Road but he will need every player to be at the top of their game.
McCarthy will take heart from his side's 1-1 draw in Copenhagen, with Duffy netting a leveller five minutes from time, but this time they will need to go a step further and actually beat Denmark.
That's no mean feat as their opponents have lost just one competitive game in the last three years – and even that was on penalties to Croatia in the World Cup last 16.
McCarthy's success in this campaign has been based on making the Irish extremely difficult to beat and they have conceded just four goals in their seven qualifiers.
But they have also netted just six times in a group containing whipping boys Gibraltar so do they have the cutting edge to take down a side as good as Denmark?
The stats suggest they don't and the Irish have also lost their wildcard with injury ruling out exciting Brighton youngster Aaron Connolly. His pace and energy might have caused some problems but McCarthy at least has Sheffield United's David McGoldrick fit to start up front.
Ireland have done well to keep pace with both Denmark and the Swiss but they don't have the same quality of player and that was underlined in their last qualifier.
Victory in Switzerland would have taken the Irish through with a game to spare but they lost 2-0, a result that all but guaranteed the Swiss their place at the finals.
I backed Switzerland to win that night without conceding and all my tips would have come up had Ricardo Rodriguez not missed a penalty in the second half.
McCarthy's players gave everything that night only to come up just short and I've a horrible feeling the same thing might happen again in this game.
Their best hope is to nick a goal from a set-piece or counter attack and if the Irish are to prevail then a 1-0 victory looks as good a bet as any. It's 17/2 with BetVictor and that's a good option for anyone seeking a longer-odds bet.
It's hard to see a repeat of the six goals we saw when Denmark last visited Dublin, with Boylesports pricing over 5.5 strikes a whopping 25/1, and even under 2.5 goals is as short as 8/13 with Betfred. There's not much value in that but try both teams not to score, which is 9/10 with BetVictor.
With so much at stake, and the slate for yellow cards wiped clean for the finals, I expect to see a few bookings in what should be a fiery encounter. Over 3.5 cards is 8/13 with Bet365 and I'd be hugely surprised if that didn't come up.
For player cards, I'm going for a couple of midfielders as I expect the battle to be pretty intense in the engine room. Lasse Schone appeals for the Danes at 4/1 with Unibet while Ireland's Conor Hourihane looks good at 12/5 with William Hill, if he starts.
Christian Eriksen ran riot on his last appearance at the Aviva, bagging a hat-trick, but has been out of form and favour at Spurs this season. The midfielder scored twice in Friday's 6-0 win over Gibraltar though and appeals here at 13/5 with Betway for anytime scorer.
Ireland defenders might be a good option in the same market as a set-piece offers their best hope. Duffy is 12/1 with Betway to complete a Danish hat-trick while Ciaran Clark is even bigger at 20/1 with Unibet.
This Euro 2020 match between Republic of Ireland and Denmark will be played on Nov 18, 2019 and kick off at 19:45. Check below for our tipsters best Republic of Ireland vs Denmark prediction. You may also visit our dedicated betting previews section for the most up to date previews.
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