Republic of Ireland vs Denmark Preview: Crunch time for Irish as Danes flock to Dublin

The World Cup supposedly features the best 32 teams in the world, but when 26th and 19th meet on Tuesday night, one must go.

Republic of Ireland vs Denmark Preview: Crunch time for Irish as Danes flock to Dublin
Denmark and Ireland walk out in the first leg (photo: Getty Images / Stephen McCarthy)

Republic of Ireland and Denmark are set for a winner takes all clash at the Aviva Stadium on Tuesday, as each country chases a place at the  2018 World Cup in Russia.

With Northern Ireland having been knocked out by Switzerland in cruel fashion on Sunday, and Wales having been joined by Scotland in not even making the play-off, the Republic have a chance to join England as just the British Isles' second representative next year.

However, a tough Danish team - ranked seven places above them in the world rankings - stand in their way.

Finely balanced

In fairness to Ireland, they've put themselves in a promising position to qualify after coming away from Copenhagen with a scoreless draw on Saturday evening.

To say that the away side had the better of things would be wildly misplaced, with visiting goalkeeper Darren Randolph producing some stunning saves to keep the scores level, but it wasn't as easy as Denmark may have liked to unpick the Irish lock.

Ireland didn't have much luck attacking and know that they'll likely have to score at home to go through, with another 0-0 draw unlikely.

Attacking verve?

Manager Martin O'Neill admitted that his side will have to be forced to be a little more ambitious at home, something that doesn't always come naturally to them.

Indeed, Ireland's most notable victories of recent years have been smash-and-grab type wins, the latest coming earlier this year as James McClean's goal helped them see off Wales in dramatic style, securing a play-off place.

This time, it may be different. Denmark have the quality to pick off Ireland on the counter, especially with Christian Eriksen spraying the ball around.

The Danes may sit off and wait for a mistake, confident that Ireland won't be able to break them down, fully in the knowledge that a win or score draw takes them through.

"We will try to be more expansive and deal with the ball better - we have to find a way to win a match," Irish boss O'Neill said ahead of the game.

"The players have been able to do that in the last couple of years. We have talent in our side. It would be lovely to have a prolific goalscorer that you can turn to."

Hoolahan time?

In absence of that goalscorer, it may be creativity that O'Neill turns to in order to provide a spark, with Wes Hoolahan raring to start.

The 35-year-old, who stands at just 5ft 6", has rarely been considered to start of late as O'Neill looks for a more workman like style of play, tall and quick players making Ireland uncomfortable to play against.

However, despite his ageing years, you'd be hard pressed to say that Hoolahan doesn't possess the most natural talent in the home squad, talent that may be utilised on Tuesday, whether it be in a starting role or off the bench.

Meyler back in

Hull City midfielder David Meyler was suspended for the first game and will likely slot back into the midfield, whilst Shane Long is in contention to start given Daryl Murphy's first leg struggles. 

Key squad members Seamus Coleman, Jonathan Walters and James McCarthy are all out injured, making the hosts' job even more difficult.

Denmark have no fresh injury issues but may consider mixing up the attack after a frustrating first game, with Yussuf Poulsen of RB Leipzig in with a chance of being selected from the start.