Austria came into Group D as one of the favourites to qualify, although their campaign isn’t going as expected.
The home side are already 3 points behind Ireland in the group table and although there is still a while to go, failure to beat Martin O’Neill’s men would put them at significant risk of not qualifying for the tournament.
Austria have only managed to obtain 4 points from their opening 3 games, with their only win coming against Georgia (2-1) back in September.
In their most recent World Cup qualifier, Austria suffered a disappointing 3-2 defeat against Serbia and as a result, dropped to 4th in the Group D table. Failure to get anything out of the game against Ireland could see Marcel Koller’s side drop even further down the table.
Austria’s other World Cup qualifier ended in a 2-2 draw against Wales.
There is no doubt that the home side shouldn’t be in the position they are in, in light of the quality of their squad. Koller has the likes of David Alaba, Dragovic, Mark Janko and Arnautovic at his disposal and so surely it’s only a matter of time before results start going their way.
Republic of Ireland
Compared to Austria, the Republic of Ireland will be very happy with how they’ve started their qualification campaign. Martin O’Neill’s side are joint top of Group D with Serbia.
In their most recent World Cup qualifier, Ireland beat Moldova 3-1 as a result of James McClean’s brace and Shane Long’s effort.
However, Shane Long will miss the match against Austria, along with James McCarthy and Stephen Ward, who all miss out through injury.
The Republic of Ireland are unbeaten in 4 games, although Austria are tougher opposition compared to most others they’ve faced of late.
In their other World Cup qualifying matches, Ireland have managed to pull off a 2-2 draw against Serbia and a 1-0 win over Georgia.
Ireland also have some decent players in their squad, such as Harry Arter, Jeff Hendrick and Robbie Brady and therefore Austria should have a tough game on their hands.
A win for the away side could extend the gap at the top of Group D to 6 points and put them in a great position to qualify for the tournament.
To conclude, this game should be one of the most entertaining qualifiers we’ll see this weekend and I am expecting both teams to fight for the win. I think this will be a tight affair which could well end in a draw and therefore I recommended backing the Republic of Ireland +0.5 at 1.92 which looks value, considering the form they’ve been in of late.
Prices correct at time of writing.