Scotland travel to Ireland’s Aviva Stadium knowing that a victory would deal a huge blow to their closest opponents in the battle for Euro 2016 qualification.
Gordon Strachan’s men may be level on points with second-place Germany but few are under any illusions that the Republic are their real rivals for the sole finals berth not pre-booked for the World Cup winners of their October conquerors Poland.
The Scots are 21/10 outsiders to claim all three points in Dublin, while the draw is priced up at 2/1 and a victory for the hosts is the market leader at 7/5.
However, there are reasons enough to suspect that the visitors may have the moxie to frustrate Martin O’Neill’s men, or even beat them in their own backyard.
Their previous encounter was tight as a drum and Scotland prevailed
Gordon Strachan’s side undoubtedly had the better of the Group B encounter at Hampden Park, getting one over on the man he succeeded in the Bhoys hotseat thanks to a perfectly-realised, training ground-rehearsed set piece.
Playing away to a side expected to win suits Scotland down to the ground
In their last two road games in the section the boys in blue came close to embarrassing the Germans and drew 2-2 against the odds in Poland.
Both games saw them withstand plenty of pressure before unleashing fast, incisive attacks that garnered goals, with Ikechi Anya a superb outlet on the counter.
Against opponents that lack a Thomas Muller or a Robert Lewandowski to punish their lapses, the Scots will fancy their chances.
Aidan McGeady looks to be out for the hosts, who may also be missing Robbie Keane
The Republic’s lack of attacking riches was referred to in the section above and the fact that it could be compromised further suggests they could be blunt up front.
Having managed just one shot on target against England last time out, they are expected to be without the injured McGeady, who bagged a brace in Georgia earlier in the campaign.
Furthermore, the tragic death of two of Keane’s cousins in a recent work-related incident in Dublin suggests that even if he does decide to play, Ireland’s all time leading scorer is unlikely to be at his best for the fixture.