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Nov 11, 2021 at 7.45pm UK
Rep. IrelandRepublic of Ireland

Ogbene (29'), Coleman (54'), Doherty (90+3')

Pereira (71'), Pepe (72')
Pepe (82')

Preview: Republic of Ireland vs. Portugal - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Republic of Ireland vs. Portugal - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Thursday's World Cup Qualifying - Europe clash between Republic of Ireland and Portugal, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

Portugal will aim to reclaim top spot in World Cup 2022 Qualifying Group A when they travel to Dublin to face the Republic of Ireland on Thursday night.

There is nothing but pride on the line for the hosts, though, with Stephen Kenny's men already eliminated and anticipating the end of their doomed qualification campaign.

Match preview

Ireland's results may have picked up in the past couple of months, but amid Stephen Kenny's torrid winless run in charge of the Bhoys in Green, qualifying for their first World Cup since 2002 was always going to be a step too far.

It took six attempts for Ireland to claim their first win in Group A as they put three unanswered goals past Azerbaijan last time out - with Callum Robinson netting twice while Chiedozie Ogbene also registered - and their most recent battle with next year's hosts Qatar ended in a sweeping 4-0 friendly win.

Previous draws with Azerbaijan and Serbia have served to better the record on Kenny's CV, but Ireland have simply left it too late to find form and cannot finish any higher than third in Group A, which would only be a consolation prize.

Ireland's solid results since the beginning of September means that they enter Thursday's game at the Aviva Stadium unbeaten in four across all competitions - scoring nine goals in that time - and they have lost just two of their last 14 games on home soil.

Any hopes of another positive result on familiar territory are slightly far-fetched, though, with Kenny's side only going out there to give a good account of themselves while Portugal desperately seek to regain top spot in Group A.

Barring one slip-up against current group leaders Serbia, World Cup 2022 Qualifying has so far gone exactly as planned for Portugal, who will endeavour to reclaim top spot in the rankings should they win their game in hand this week.

October's fixtures saw Fernando Santos's side run out convincing 3-0 winners in a friendly battle with Qatar before producing a five-star performance to sweep aside Luxembourg 5-0, with Cristiano Ronaldo hitting a record-breaking hat-trick while Joao Palhinha and Bruno Fernandes also netted.

Ronaldo's trio of goals on the day saw him become the first men's player to score 10 international hat-tricks, and Portugal now sit one point behind Serbia with a game in hand before the two table-toppers meet on the final matchday in Group A.

It is now five wins in a row for Portugal across all competitions ahead of Thursday's encounter - during which time they have scored 16 goals and shipped just two - and Santos's side have prevailed in six of their last seven World Cup Qualifying games away from home.

The visitors were indebted to Ronaldo's record-breaking magic during a 2-1 win over Ireland in September, but their most recent trip to Dublin ended in a 1-0 friendly defeat back in 2005 courtesy of Andrew O'Brien's winner.

Republic of Ireland World Cup Qualifying - Europe form:
  • L
  • L
  • L
  • D
  • D
  • W

Republic of Ireland form (all competitions):
  • D
  • L
  • D
  • D
  • W
  • W

Portugal World Cup Qualifying - Europe form:
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W

Portugal form (all competitions):
  • L
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W

Team News

Ireland have been forced into a late squad change with Callum O'Dowda replacing James Collins, with the Cardiff City forward ruled out due to injury, while Aaron Connolly has not been selected.

Jayson Molumby and Alan Browne are both available after serving suspensions against Azerbaijan, meaning that Daryl Horgan's spot in the XI is now at risk.

Teenage goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu memorably kept out a Cristiano Ronaldo penalty during Ireland's most recent meeting with Portugal and is sure to act as the last line of defence once more.

Meanwhile, Portugal trio Anthony Lopes, Rafa Silva and Joao Mario will play no part in November's fixtures due to injury, but there is a spot in the team for uncapped goalkeeper Jose Sa.

Santos will have one eye on the meeting with Serbia at the weekend, but the Portugal boss ought to field his strongest XI here regardless, with Ronaldo being joined by Diogo Jota and Joao Felix up top due to Bernardo Silva's muscle issue.

Joao Cancelo could reprise his role at left-back with Nuno Mendes set to serve a suspension, meaning that Diogo Dalot should earn a start on the right-hand side of the rearguard.

Republic of Ireland possible starting lineup:
Bazunu; Omobamidele, Duffy, Egan; Doherty, Hendrick, Cullen, Browne, McClean; Robinson, Idah

Portugal possible starting lineup:
Patricio; Dalot, Pepe, Dias, Cancelo; Moutinho, Palhinha, Fernandes; Felix, Ronaldo, Jota

We say: Republic of Ireland 1-3 Portugal

Ireland have developed a more resilient nature in recent weeks and have witnessed Robinson score international goals for fun, so we would not put it past the hosts to breach their visitors' defence.

However, Portugal have far more on the line this week and have not suffered defeat in any World Cup qualification match since September 2016, so we can only back Santos's side to run out comfortable winners.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 3.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 3.5:data

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