Ireland have yet to drop a point in four competitive international meetings (one friendly) with Georgia as Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane try to get their Euro 16 campaign off to a winning start in Tbilisi on Sunday evening (5pm).
World champions Germany look assured of topping Group D despite more changes in personnel than Manchester United. But Ireland could easily find themselves in a knife-fight for second place – with Scotland and Poland – and can’t afford to drop any points on the road against a Georgian side who’ve given them problems before.
The Paddy Power Blog delves into the history books to try and boost your e-wallet by a few euros and postpone the Monday morning blues.
It’s about as original as a Sylvester Stallone sequel – but the facts don’t lie. The much-traveled LA Galaxy striker has 62 goals in 132 internationals and that strike rate will be needed more than ever in this campaign as Ireland look to reach consecutive Euro finals.
The 34-year-old has hit the onion bag five times against Georgia in the four games he’s played against them – including two in the friendly clash in June 2013. He may be entering his 16th year up top for Ireland but no-one in green comes close to his goals tally.
The Boys in Green have visited the Georgian capital twice before and come away with a 2-1 result both times. Damien Duff and Gary Doherty gave Ireland the points in a 2003 Euro qualifier before Kevin Doyle and Glenn Whelan repeated the trick five years later in a World Cup smash up.
Ireland also won the home leg of that South Africa 2010 campaign to give them three 2-1 wins in five appearances against Sunday’s opponents.
With Ireland scoring just six goals in their last eight friendlies (including the 2-0 mid-week win over Oman) goals could be at a premium. But four of the five meetings between the sides have produced three goals or more (4-0, 2-1,1-2,2-0,1-2).
The trick might be to back more than 2.5 goals in the total goals market. That way you can prove your patriotism down the pub by screaming your head off every time Ireland score and still allow yourself a smug smile if the Georgians get one to keep the goals tally chugging along.