Sports Mole preview Saturday’s Nations League clash between the Republic of Ireland and Scotland, including predictions, team news and possible line-ups.
Republic of Ireland be the host of Scotland Saturday night after suffering back-to-back losses at the start of their UEFA Nations League country.
While the home side got off to the worst start possible in Group B1, Scotland top the table after beating Armenia on Wednesday night.
After an eight-match unbeaten streak, optimism was high in the Republic of Ireland side ahead of a group with several well-matched sides.
However, successive defeats against Armenia and Ukraine without disturbing the scoresheet left Stephane Kennyfaced with the realistic possibility of being left adrift at the bottom of the group.
While the second leg against the minnows of the Armenian group will not come until the last day, the Republic of Ireland must find some additional speed in their remaining matches with Scotland and Ukraine.
Although the latter of these nations fielded a very different side on Wednesday, they were well worth their 1-0 win, with the decisive goal coming from Viktor Tsyhankov just after halftime.
It has been almost seven years to the day since these nations met in Dublin, an own goal of John O’Shea handing Scotland a 1-1 away draw.
The Tartan Army will be hoping they can rely on their own players to score the goals on this occasion after staging one of the best away runs in their recent history.
Scotland have picked up three wins and a draw in their last four matches on the road, with wins over Austria, the Faroe Islands and Moldova followed by a draw in a second game in Austria.
The disappointment of not qualifying for the World Cup still lingers Steve Clarkbut they responded in the best possible way on Wednesday by beating Armenia.
Anthony Ralston and Scott McKenna both on the scoresheet, with the pair scoring their first goals for their country as they ended a three-game winless streak.
Republic of Ireland Nations League Form:
Form of the Republic of Ireland (all competitions):
Scotland Nations League Form:
Form of Scotland (all competitions):
Kenny hopes that Seamus Coleman could recover from a groin injury in time to feature in this contest.
John Egan is also a fitness doubt after coming off against Ukraine, leaving Dara O’Shea in line to take his place in the final three.
Kenny may also feel the need to tinker with his offense with Michael Obafemi most likely to have a chance in the center.
Scott McTominay may be one of a number of players who are being restored to the Scotland side, whether in defense or central midfield.
Aaron Hickey is an option on the left rear if Andrew Robertson rest, but Nathan Patterson will remain on the substitutes’ bench after returning from an ankle injury.
Possible starting line-up from the Republic of Ireland:
Keller; O’Shea, Collins, Duffy; Christie, Cullen, Hendrick, Stevens; Robinson, Obafemi, Knight
Possible starting line-up for Scotland:
Gordon; McTominay, Hendry, McKenna; Ralston, McGinn, McGregor, Robertson; Armstrong, Adams, Christie
We say: Republic of Ireland 1-1 Scotland
Despite their dismal record in the Nations League, the Republic of Ireland will hope to change their fortunes at some point. While it doesn’t necessarily happen on Saturday, we think the Green Army will do enough to claim a hard-earned share of the spoils in a close game.
For a data analysis of the most likely outcomes, scores and more for this match, please click here.