MARTIN O'NEILL will be keeping one eye on Wales’ trip to Georgia tonight but he will know three points against Moldova are more important in keeping the Republic’s hopes of World Cup qualification alive.
Do the stats suggest they can pull it off? Unibet's Steve Jennings takes a closer look.
Republic of Ireland and Moldova have met just once before
Ireland ran out 3-1 winners in the only previous meeting between the nations in October last year, thanks to Shane Long’s opener and a James McClean brace. The Republic’s main rivals for second spot in Group D, Wales, fared well in their two games against Moldova, winning 4-0 at home and 2-0 away. Ireland will have to replicate the Dragon’s back-to-back wins against Friday’s opponents if they want to be in Russia next summer.
- Ireland to win is 1-14 at Unibet
The Republic have failed to win any of their last four qualifiers
Despite winning the reverse fixture in Moldova, Ireland are winless in their last four World Cup qualifying matches, drawing three and losing one. Those draws, including dropped points against Wales and Austria at home, could cost them dearly when it comes to qualification. The Boys in Green haven’t been on a longer winless run in a World Cup qualifying campaign since going five games without a win in October 2000.
- Moldova to win is 40-1 at Unibet
Martin O’Neill’s side have scored just twice in their last four World Cup qualifiers
Across those four games without a win, the Boys in Green have scored just twice: Jonathan Walters struck in the home draw with Austria before Shane Duffy found the net in the away draw with Georgia. Worryingly for the Republic, they don’t seem to have an out-and-out goalscorer leading the line. McClean, who struck twice in the 3-1 win over Moldova last year, is Ireland’s top scorer in qualifying with three goals. However, even he has failed to find the net in any of his last four qualifying games.
- Shane Duffy is 16-1 at Unibet to score first
Moldova have failed to win any of their last 18 qualifying matches
Ireland’s qualifying form looks relatively promising when compared to Moldova’s. Friday’s visitors are without a win in 18 qualifiers (both World Cup and European Championships), drawing four and losing 14. They almost ended that run in June after going 2-0 up at home to Georgia, only to end up throwing away what seemed like a stable lead and drawing 2-2. They have scored just four times and conceded 20 in their eight 2018 World Cup qualifying games so far, which provides a good indication of why they are bottom of Group D.
- The draw is 9-1 at Unibet
Defeat to Serbia last time out was the Republic’s first competitive loss at home under Martin O’Neill
The Boys in Green may have been struggling for points and goals lately, but that doesn’t mean they are easy to beat. Serbia’s 1-0 victory in Dublin last month was Ireland’s first defeat in nine World Cup qualifiers following a run of four wins and four draws. It was also their first competitive home defeat under O’Neill, who had previously led his side to five wins and four draws in nine games. Their last home win came in the form of a 3-1 friendly victory over Uruguay in June; the Irish fans will be eager for the team to produce those kind of results in competitive matches.
- Ireland win to nil is 1-3 at Unibet