So the draw for the play-offs for Euro 2016 have been completed and Ireland head to Sarajevo to face Edin Dzeko’s Bosnia and Herzegovina. Most Irish fans will be thinking that it could be worse. You could have been in Cardiff watching the rugby.
With the rugby side being knocked out of the World Cup by Argentina the pressure now falls on the footballers to give the country a reason to go back to celebratory drinking not the depressing ‘sit in the corner crying’ drinking that is currently happening across the country.
The draw itself throws up an interesting tie for the Irish side. A 1-0 win courtesy of Shane Long in 2012 was the only meeting between the sides. But that was a friendly and no-one gave a shite so you can expect a slightly different story this time round. Coming third in Wales’s group the Bosnians took four points off the Welsh and picked up a draw against Belgium.
Dzeko and Asmir Begovic will be the most familiar names to all you beautiful Premier League fans out there. But probably the biggest threat the Zmajevi posses is in the form of the little magician Miralem Pjanic. A fan favourite among all you FIFA fans out there the Roma midfielder can land a football on Steve McClaren’s single remaining hair.
Ireland are 11/10 to qualify for the tournament in France next year, but with Long out injured and the only other creative player we have apart from Wes Hoolahan being Darren Randolph the omens aren’t looking good. But, while Bosnia play the type of football that makes you want to blow your head off, they always seem to rally when they are written off. No one gave Ireland a hope against ze Germans, but they won. Nick a draw away in the first game and there’s a huge chance to go to France and avenge 2012.
The first leg ending in a draw looks extremely tempting and is worth a flutter. Ireland have drawn five of the 12 playoff games they’ve played since 1966. Four of those have been 1-1 which is a grand. Martin O’Neill has a tendency to sit back, defend and attempt to hit teams on the break because his attacking options are the equivalent of David Blunkett’s F1 skills. A draw in the first game and a win in the second leg at home would be a great reason to take a couple of days off and have several pints.