Fans and players of the Republic of Ireland alike will be licking their collective lips ahead of Gibraltar’s visit to the Aviva Stadium in just the tiny footballing force’s seventh sanctioned international.
Having seen Allen Bula’s side handed a 7-0 rude awakening on home soil in their European Championship Qualifying Group D debut against Poland it’s not hard to see why.
Yet, while Martin O’Neill’s side are a mere 1/100 for victory over ‘Team 54’, with their visitors 66/1 for three points and the draw a 27/2 shot, the expected goal-laden catharsis will not occur.
Available at odds as healthy as 87/100 to triumph with the benefit of a five-goal handicap, there’s plenty to like about the ultra-minnows’ chances of a respectable result.
Firstly there’s the Boys in Green’s rather tame scoring record to consider.
They’ve not hit more than three goals since a 4-0 home win over recently vanquished foes Georgia 16 games back.
Meanwhile, the Republic last treated their fervent home support to a five-course goal fest back in May 2011 – 43 internationals have passed under the bridge since.
Then there’s the Gibraltarians’ largely stubborn progress through the first seven games of their life as an ordained footballing nation.
Just twice has a two-strike handicap been surmounted with them in arrears and they’ve avoided defeat in half of their fixtures – no San Marino this lot.
A savaging at the hands of the largely workaday Poland outfit might beg to differ but they do have a world-class centre-forward in Robert Lewandowski.
That 7-0 loss also demonstrated Gibraltar’s resolve in another sense, namely the half-time score, which saw the Poles leading 1-0 from Kamil Grosicki’s tenth-minute effort.
It was the fifth time in six games that the Republic’s visitors had shipped once or less before the half-time whistle, making the 29/20 about under 1.5 first–period goals a potential value bet.