Wales take on the Republic of Ireland in Monday’s World Cup qualifier from the Cardiff City Stadium. Chris Coleman’s side have won their last four games in Group D, and this has extended their points tally to 17 – just one behind leaders Serbia. They clinched a hard-fought 1-0 win over Georgia in their previous qualifier on Friday. Ireland, on the other hand, secured 2-0 triumph over Moldova in their last game, and they will need to beat Wales convincingly in Cardiff in order to earn a potential playoff spot. Similarly, Wales face a potentially must-win game in order to avoid missing out as the unlucky ninth side in the second-placed table.
The previous meeting between the clubs ended in a 0-0 scoreline in March. The game was notably known for Neil Taylor’s reckless challenge on Irish skipper Seamus Coleman, who sustained a double leg break. The Evertonian has yet to fully recover from the injury, and he will be a spectator when the two sides clash on Monday night.
Players to watch for:
Aaron Ramsey – Wales: The Arsenal midfielder will be the main source of creativity for Wales with Gareth Bale sidelined with a calf injury. Ramsey has excelled in the role behind the main striker, and his movement behind the Irish backline could be key towards securing a victory. The 26-year-old has scored two goals during the qualifying phase, and this has only been bettered by Bale.
Daryl Murphy – Republic of Ireland: The 34-year-old will come into the game in a rich vein of form after scoring a first-half brace against Moldova. Whilst Shane Long remains the main threat in the Irish ranks, the veteran has proved the perfect foil with his goalscoring exploits. Murphy is a potent force from set-pieces which Wales could look to avoid.
Wales have had the momentum on their side of late, and they should clinch a close win.
Wales 1-0 Ireland