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24th Mar 2017

Here’s Everything You Need To Know About Ireland’s Crucial Match Against Wales Today

James Fenton

Olé, Olé, Olé. So what’s going on?

Olé olé olé back at ya. What’s going on is that tonight, Ireland play host to Wales in what could be a decisive match in ensuring qualification for the World Cup in Russia next year.

Wales, eh? They any good?

If you call the team who unexpectedly reached the semi-final of Euro 2016 good then yes. 

The Dragons performed admirably in France last summer before finally succumbing to a Cristiano Ronaldo-inspired Portugal in the last four. 

Their form has tailed off a bit since but, like us, they remain unbeaten after four games in Group D.

And of course, they possess a not-so-secret weapon in one of the world’s greatest players, Gareth Bale.

Ah, him. Is he that good? 

On his day, he can be described as pretty phenomenal. He’s not afraid to take on any defender on the planet, he can run all day and is incredible in the air. 

Oh, and we don’t want to give away any free kicks near our area. The boy can ping a ball through the eye of a needle. 

Noted. How have we been doing recently ourselves?

Unusually, we’ve started off the campaign quite well. 

We secured a hard-earned draw in Serbia back in September, perhaps helped by some lingering post-Euros euphoria. 

This was followed up by three wins on the bounce over Georgia, Moldova and Austria, the latter being a rare away win over a half-decent footballing nation. 

So, all in all, it’s looking good. Only one team from each group will qualify automatically for Russia and we’re currently top of the pile. Which is nice. 

After this game we’ve reached the halfway point with only five games remaining.

So basically, if we keep winning we can start changing those Euros into Roubles.

Sounds fine and dandy. Robbie Brady will show ’em how it’s done surely.

No can do. He’s suspended.

Ara, shite. Wes Hoolahan should pick out Daryl Murphy for a goal or two at least…

Both injured. Along with centre-backs Shane Duffy and Ciaran Clark as well as midfielder Harry Arter. Also, we’re sweating over the fitness of both Seamus Coleman and James McCarthy. 

So, yeah. A lot of absentees.

Bloody Nora. Who have we got? Should I bring me boots?

Perhaps as a precaution. 

But we should be alright with Shane Long and Johnny Walters up front, Jimmy McClean and Jeff Hendrick pulling the strings and big Darren Randolph keeping the goals out.

All the better if Coleman is passed fit to keep Bale under wraps. 

Thanks for the lowdown. So how can I catch the game? I don’t fancy heading all the way to Cardiff.

It’s in Dublin, you fool.

The game gets underway at 7.45pm at the Aviva Stadium but it’s an absolute sell-out. 

If you haven’t got a ticket you can catch it on your tellybox on RTE 2. Otherwise head to the pub!

Great. Thanks and #COYBIG! 

You’re welcome but this isn’t a real conversation. #COYBIG

(header pic credit: Football Association of Ireland on Twitter)

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