The Republic of Ireland face Denmark on Tuesday evening looking to reach the 2018 World Cup. The first leg ended in a 0-0 draw, so the winners at the Aviva Stadium will be the team to book their place in Russia.
The Republic of Ireland have lost just one of their last 11 competitive home matches
Apart from the 1-0 defeat to Serbia in September, Martin O’Neill has won six and drawn four of his 11 competitive home matches in charge of Ireland, most recently beating Moldova 2-0 last month. Three days later, they secured a playoff spot with a 1-0 victory in Wales. This is the eighth time the Republic have participated in a playoff for a major tournament, progressing three of the last four times. If they are to qualify this time, the hosts will have to create far more chances at the Aviva Stadium than they did in the first leg, when they managed just two shots on target.
Ireland are unbeaten in their last five meetings with Denmark
The stalemate in Copenhagen was the Republic’s third draw in their last five encounters with Denmark. Ireland won their last home match against the Danes, a 3-0 friendly victory back in March 2002. If was five years until the next meeting: Denmark were thrashed 4-0 at home in a friendly in August 2007. The Republic have conceded just one goal across those five encounters. Tuesday’s visitors will know changing that statistic with an early strike at the Aviva could see them through on away goals if the scoreline finishes level.
Denmark are unbeaten in their last five away games
Age Hareide’s side have won three and drawn two of their last five away matches, scoring nine and conceding just three. However, they had a tough time breaking Ireland down in the first leg, and that’s likely to continue here. The hosts have kept a clean sheet in their last three games, and they could keep their opponents out in four straight competitive internationals for the first time since November 2001. If the Republic can do that and nick a goal at the other end, we’ll be seeing them at Russia 2018.
Denmark haven’t lost a single international in 2017
Both sides have been incredibly hard to beat this year, which could result in extra-time and penalties. Denmark have been particularly resolute, winning four and drawing four of their eight matches this calendar year. They haven’t tasted defeat since a 1-0 loss against Montenegro all the way back in October 2016 – 13 months ago. The Danes are aiming to qualify for their fifth World Cup finals; they missed out in 2014, and could fail to qualify for two successive tournaments for the first time since 1990 and 1994.
Christian Eriksen has created 38 chances in qualifying, more than any other European player
By scoring eight goals and assisting three in the qualifying campaign, Christian Eriksen was directly involved in 55% of Denmark’s goals. The eight goals he scored himself mean he outscored every other midfielder in European qualifying. The visitors will need some of the Tottenham playmaker’s magic in the second leg, or all of his remarkable displays over the last couple of years will have gone to waste. Eriksen and his teammates are once again tasked with beating goalkeeper Darren Randolph, man of the match in Copenhagen.