The Republic of Ireland defied the fog in Zenica to take the lead in the 82nd minute of the first leg but Edin Dzeko’s equaliser just three minutes later means this one is still very much in the balance, though the away goal could prove crucial for the Republic and they’re also boosted by the probable return of Long, Walters, and O’Shea for this all important second leg.
The Republic were unbeaten in their five home matches during this Euro qualification campaign, the most notable of their results being a 1-0 win over World Champions Germany. With the exception of a 7-0 thrashing of Gibraltar, these home games tended to be tight affairs with the other four all having fewer than three goals and the last two having fewer than two. We have Bosnia ranked as the 48th best side in the world and the Republic’s record in competitive home games against teams ranked 25-75 shows a strong draw trend with a W3-D11-L1 record since 1997, including draws in eight of the last nine and with fewer than three goals in four of the last five.
Bosnia got off to a slow start in this qualification period as they failed to win any of their opening four games but five wins in their last six was enough to secure a playoff spot. After a 0-0 draw in Wales in their opening away game, their final four away games all as the only side not to score at least twice against them was minnows Andorra. In the 11 Euro playoff matches since 2003 where we have the home side ranked higher, they are unbeaten with a W6-D5-L0 record in these games. The Republic of Ireland haven’t scored more than one goal in any of their home qualifiers in this Euro Campaign but Bosnia are vulnerable at the back and so we’d expect the home side to score. However, Bosnia are also dangerous in attack and the Republic’s strong draw trends suggest the 1-1 correct score is worth a punt with extra-time and penalties very possible.
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