As Ireland entered Tuesday’s play-off draw as second seeds, Martin O’Neill could take comfort in his record against top-seeded opponents in his tenure.
Ireland took it to the Germans, drawing 1-1 in Gelsenkirchen in 2014 before defeating them 1-0 in Dublin – outscoring the highly-rated side 2-1 win overall over two matches.
The home victory saw Ireland secure a play-off but just like today, O’Neill’s side were placed in pot two as the second seed.
Bosnia-Herzegovina were drawn and the eastern Europeans were heavily fancied given the form of Eden Dzeko and Miralem Pjanic at the time. Robbie Brady scored in a famous and foggy 1-1 away draw with Jon Walters netting a brace at the Aviva to send Ireland to France.
Finally, in our latest qualification campaign, Ireland were fourth seeds following a poor 2014 World Cup qualifying performance. Ireland managed four points off second seed Austria and last Monday defeated Wales to clinch a play-off spot.
Both games saw home draws and 1-0 away wins with Ireland edging both sides overall as they finished behind group winners Serbia. It bodes well for whoever Ireland draw and is proof that they thrive in the underdog role.
Ireland have progressed in two of their last three play-offs and given their momentum and belief, they will fancy themselves against any opposition.
Having drawn Denmark, this gives Ireland a great chance of progressing. Recent play-offs against Estonia and Bosnia-Herzegovina went the way of the Irish and that experience should stand to the Boys in Green.
Should Ireland avoid defeat in the first leg in Copenhagen, it will all to play for as they bring the Danish back to a full house in the Aviva with World Cup qualification on the line.
Nick Menezes, Pundit Arena
Check out the latest episode of The Mixer, Pundit Arena’s Irish football podcast, where we spoke with Joe Gamble.