On Tuesday evening, Ireland will take on Denmark in one of the biggest games in the history of modern Irish football.
Having failed to qualify for the World Cup since 2002, a victory over Denmark on Tuesday evening will see the Irish into the competition for the first time in 16 years. Failure will mean that the efforts of the last two years will all count for nought and once again, the Irish will be watching the World Cup from their couches.
Speaking ahead of the second leg, Martin O’Neill stated that, if the Irish want to win, he believes they will have to score twice.
“The Danes have the players to exploit space so we’ve got to try and open the Danes up but be very careful on the counter. We will try to be that bit more expansive if we can and deal with the ball a wee bit better but we have to find the net tomorrow night and maybe a couple of times. I think we have to score a couple of goals. We will create some chances but we have to take them.”
Although the Irish manager’s ambition is undoubtedly impressive, a worrying stat was addressed moments later when it was pointed out that over the course of Ireland’s World Cup campaign, they have managed to score just four times at the Aviva – with two of those goals coming against Moldova.
Ireland failed to score against Wales and Serbia at home while they scored just one goal against both the Austrians and the Georgians. As such, two goals or more against a side of the quality of Denmark seems like a tall order indeed.
Heading into the game, Denmark manager Age Hareide has been bullishly confident in his comments highlighting Ireland’s poor form at home and stating that he expects his own side to be the aggressor once again in the Aviva.
“If you look at the stats from qualification, nothing seems to go in that direction. They played better away from home than at home and scored more goals away from home. I think they’ll play in the same way.
“I don’t expect them to go higher than they did in Copenhagen, they just want us to make a mistake. That’s okay.
“I haven’t got the patience to play like that. We will try to attack Ireland and try to get a goal, and then we’ll take it from there.
“We had the possibility to score in Copenhagen and I’m sure we’re going to get it again.”