With Gareth Bale and Robbie Keane ruled out of Wales’ friendly against the Republic of Ireland, goals will be hard to come by at the Cardiff City Stadium and the 25/4 for there to be no goalscorer is appealing, as injuries force Chris Coleman and Giovanni Trapattoni into big changes ahead of next month’s World Cup qualifiers.
Wales’ qualification hopes lie in tatters after losses against Croatia (twice), Serbia and Belgium in Group A, but with Ireland locked in a three-way battle for second place in Group C, Trapattoni’s men will be playing for places, with James McCarthy given another chance to show his worth in midfield, after finally forcing his way into the first-team following the Republic’s poor showing at last year’s European championships.
Dragon’s coach Coleman will be looking to build on two wins from three games in 2013, but with Bale missing and Cardiff City veteran Craig Bellamy without an international goal in nearly two years, it is hard to see Wales troubling the back of stand-in Ireland goalkeeper Kieran Westwood’s net.
Since the end of 2011, only three of Wales’ eight goals have been scored by a player other than Bale – with two coming in the 2-1 win over Scotland in March – and with Coleman short of options up front, Charlton Athletic striker Simon Church could be given the chance to add to his single goal in 22 games for the national side.
Trapattoni’s Boys in Green are hardly over-laden in the goalscoring department either – their last five strikes came from 33-year-old L.A. Galaxy star Keane’s mercurial boots – and with Shane Long’s nine goals in 37 appearances the only other strike record of any note amongst the Green Army ranks, Ireland’s success in attack largely depends on how well the West Brom man performs up-front on his own.
With inexperienced Hull winger Robbie Brady drafted into the side, Long cannot expect the service he received last season when bagging nine goals for the Baggies and with the return of the Premier League this weekend sure to have an impact on the game’s intensity, a bet on no goalscorer – which also pays out if only own-goals are scored – is the pick.