These two sides bring up the rear in Group A with Portugal and Serbia vying for top spot, but while Azerbaijan would have expected to be fighting it out at the bottom, Ireland will be hugely disappointed with their current standing.
They find themselves completely out of the picture for qualification and anything other than three points will mathematically seal their fate.
They’re four points adrift of third-placed Luxembourg having played a game more than the minnows, so an improved performance is an absolute must for a side low on confidence.
Ireland have now won just a single game from their past 17 appearances, with all but one of these coming under current boss Stephen Kenny.
Although they’ve only conceded more than once in three of these matches – against England, Serbia and Portugal – the struggle for output remains a huge concern.
They’ve netted more than once in just two of those 17 games, with one of those a friendly win over Andorra, drawing a blank in nine of them in total.
There has been a slight improvement with just one defeat from Ireland’s past six fixtures, with four of them ending in stalemates, while they only failed to score in one of those recent matches.
That includes a 1-1 draw hosting Azerbaijan last month, though Troy Parrott’s brace against Andorra leaves him as the only Irish player to score more than one goal across their past 15 outings.
Things are similarly bleak for Azerbaijan, who have only tasted victory once in 14 appearances over the past 12 months, coming via an injury-time winner in a friendly away to Belarus.
That includes seven defeats form nine outings in 2021, though six of those losses came by 1-0 or 2-1 scorelines as the exception saw them go down 3-0 to Portugal.
With that in mind, this looks set to be a close affair, though Ireland should hope to take at least a point given Azerbaijan last took a victory on home turf back in November 2018 against the Faroe Islands.
Still, the visitor’s record makes it hard to back them for the full three points, especially given they’ve only done so away from home in two of 19 trips since November 2017 (W2-D8-L9), coming against Gibraltar and Andorra.
AZERBAIJAN AND THE REPUBLIC OF IRELAND TO DRAW