The Republic of Ireland will run out at the Stade de Geneve on Tuesday evening knowing victory over Switzerland will secure a place at the Euro 2020 finals.
However, they will also be acutely aware that anything less could leave them having to beat Denmark in Dublin next month if they are to get there and, having lost 5-1 to the Danes in a World Cup play-off clash at the Aviva Stadium in November 2017, they would prefer their quest not to go to the wire.
Here, the PA news agency takes a look at the talking points surrounding the game.
Aaron Connolly announced himself on the senior international scene with a thrilling late cameo in Georgia when he came off the bench and very nearly won a game in which Ireland had found themselves hanging on for long periods before his introduction. Manager Mick McCarthy was irked by suggestions that the 19-year-old should have been thrown in earlier or even started in Tbilisi, but the clamour for him to be handed a role against Switzerland has only increased since.
Turgid in Tbilisi
Apart from John Egan’s earlier header, which came back off the post, the Republic created little of note as an attacking force in Georgia until Connolly exploded on to the scene, prompting an unfavourable reaction from those who felt victory in Tbilisi represented their best chance of edging towards qualification. The midfield trio of Glenn Whelan, Connor Hourihane and Jeff Hendrick simply did not see enough of the ball to bring James McClean, Callum Robinson and James Collins into the game, and Ireland will have to have greater control in that area of the pitch if they are going to pose any kind of threat in Switzerland.
The case for the defence
If goals have been difficult to come by for Ireland – they have managed only six in as many qualifiers to date – they have been mercifully rare at the other end with Denmark’s Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Switzerland’s Fabian Schar the only men to date to find a way past keeper Darren Randolph. Randolph, Seamus Coleman and Shane Duffy have been ever-present in a rearguard which will be strengthened by the return of Enda Stevens from suspension, and a fifth clean sheet of the campaign could prove invaluable.
McCarthy has always insisted he was going anyway, but he brought an end to his first spell in charge of the national team in November 2002 following a 2-1 European Championships qualifier defeat by the Swiss at Lansdowne Road. Just months after leading the Republic to the last 16 at the World Cup finals in the Far East despite his bust-up with skipper Roy Keane, McCarthy opted to walk away following a disappointing start to the campaign, and a win in Geneva might bring a little added satisfaction.
The Swiss will head into the game intent upon victory as they attempt to make up for a double disappointment. They would have returned from Dublin last month with three points had David McGoldrick not cancelled out their lead with an 85th-minute header, and their qualification hopes were dealt a further blow in Copenhagen on Saturday evening when Yussuf Poulsen condemned them to a 1-0 defeat which means they trail both the Irish and the Danes by four points having played a game fewer.
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