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Preview: Gibraltar vs. Republic of Ireland

Sports Mole looks ahead to the Euro 2016 qualifying tie between Gibraltar and Republic of Ireland in Group D.

Republic of Ireland return to Euro 2016 qualifying action on Friday when they make the trip to minnows Gibraltar in Group D.

Martin O'Neill's side are expected to beat the Gibraltans at the Estadio Do Algarve and keep alive their chances of reaching the tournament.


Gibraltar

Joseph Chipolina of Gibraltar celebrates after Lee Casciaro of Gibraltar (not pictured) scored their first goal during the EURO 2016 Qualifier match between Scotland and Gibraltar at Hampden Park on March 29, 2015© Getty Images

To put it mildly, Gibraltar are a bit out of their depth against the higher-ranked teams in international football.

Jeff Wood's side currently sit at the bottom of the Group D table after losing their first six matches of qualifying.

Gibraltar have conceded 34 goals and scored just once in that time, making them officially the worst team in qualifying so far.

They host Ireland on the back of a 7-0 thrashing by world champions Germany on home turf in June. Their only goal during the qualification process came against Scotland in a 6-1 hammering at Hampden Park three months earlier.

Gibraltar are likely to be on a hiding to nothing against the Irish on Friday after slumping to a 7-0 defeat in Dublin at the end of 2014.

Three of their six matches in Euro 2016 qualifying have seen them lose by a 7-0 scoreline. Their most encouraging result was a 3-0 loss to Georgia - a narrow defeat by Gibraltar's standards.

Recent form: LLLLLL
Recent form (all competitions): LLLLLL


Republic of Ireland

Republic of Ireland's striker Robbie Keane celebrates after scoring his team's second goal during a UEFA 2016 European Championship qualifing football match against Gibraltar on October 11, 2014© Getty Images

Republic of Ireland travel to Gibraltar knowing that they must win in order to keep the flames of their qualification hopes flickering.

Ireland occupy fourth position in the Group D standings, three points adrift of second-placed Germany and four back from leaders Poland.

Martin O'Neill's men have won just one of their last six matches in all competitions - a 4-1 friendly victory over the USA in November.

When it comes to Euro 2016 qualifying, the Irish have failed to win any of their previous four games. Their most recent triumph was a 7-0 battering of Gibraltar in Dublin nearly one year ago.

Ireland have one of the best defences in the group, conceding five goals and keeping one clean sheet in their six matches to date. They have also scored an average of two goals per game.

Robbie Keane will be looking to add to his personal tally of three goals in qualifying so far. The veteran striker has found the net a total of 65 times in 140 appearances for his country.

Recent form: WWDLDD
Recent form (all competitions): WLWDDD


Team News

Bournemouth player Eunan O' Kane celebrates after opening the scoring during the Capital One Cup Fourth Round match against West Brom on October 28, 2014© Getty Images

Uncapped duo Eunan O'Kane and Adam Rooney have been named in the Ireland squad.

Experienced striker Kevin Doyle is also back in the fold after impressing for the Colorado Rapids in the MLS.

However, the likes of Kieren Westwood, David McGoldrick and Damien Delaney all miss out.

Gibraltar possible starting lineup:
Perez; Garcia, R Chipolina, R Casciaro, J Chipolina; Gosling, Walker, Payas, K Casciaro; L Casciaro, Priestly

Republic of Ireland possible starting lineup:
Given; Coleman, Brady, Wilson, O'Shea; McCarthy, Whelan, Hendrick, Hoolahan; Walters, Keane


Head To Head

The only previous meeting between these sides came in Dublin in October when Ireland earned a resounding 7-0 victory.


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We say: Gibraltar 0-4 Republic of Ireland

It is more a case of by how much Ireland are going to win by rather than if they are going to claim the three points. It would be one of the biggest shocks in recent international football history if Gibraltar earn a draw or better against Martin O'Neill's men. That is simply not going to happen. Ireland will triumph comfortably.


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Who will come out on top in Friday's Euro 2016 qualifier?

Gibraltar
Republic of Ireland
Draw
Gibraltar
22.6%
Republic of Ireland
72.0%
Draw
5.4%
David McGoldrick for Ipswich Town on January 10, 2015
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