Stephen Kenny has had a tough time since he got appointed the new manager of Ireland, back in April of 2020. The ex-Dundalk manager has only recorded three victories out of his first 18 games, with those coming against Andorra, Azerbaijan and Qatar.
Ireland will still be feeling the heartbreak from their 2-1 loss in this fixture two months ago, where we saw Cristiano Ronaldo get two late headed goals to win the game and become the highest scoring international player ever.
Portugal are yet to lose a game in their World Cup Qualification group, going W5-D1, while they have also only conceded four goals across those six games. A Selecao have a game in hand against top of the group Serbia and will be determined to secure the top spot for automatic qualification.
The last time these two teams met the Portuguese managed 29 shots with only seven on target with 73% possession, and manager Fernando Santos would have been displeased with his team for making it such a difficult game. A missed Ronaldo penalty in the first half and Bernardo Silva smashing it over the bar from ten feet out could have come back to haunt them.
Portugal -1 Handicap
Although qualification for Ireland is almost impossible at the moment, sitting fourth in the group and one point behind Luxembourg, the Irish fans will be in full heart and song at the Aviva Stadium on Thursday as it’s the first time since the beginning of Covid that they will be playing in front of a full house of Irish fans.
In Ireland’s last eight games in all competitions, they have managed a record of W3-D4-L1, drawing against top of the group Serbia which gave them a much-needed point.
They have an even goal difference with eight goals scored and conceded. Callum Robinson will be hoping to start up front after it was announced that Aaron Connolly would be out due to a heel injury, though the Boys in Green won’t be too worried about this considering that Robinson has netted five times in his last two appearances.
Coming off a 5-0 thrashing of Luxembourg in their last outing, where Ronaldo got his tenth international hat-trick, Portugal will be looking to carry on their good form having won their last five games on the trot.
They have conceded just two goals in these five, one against Qatar and Ireland. Portugal have taken their strongest squad possible with the likes of Ronaldo, Bruno Fernandes and the Manchester City trio of Joao Cancelo, Bernardo Silva and Ruben Dias, so they’re certainly not taking this one lightly.
Seven of their last eight victories have come by at least two clear goals, so we suspect to see Portugal run riot on a team that has struggled for form under current management.
PORTUGAL -1 HANDICAP