Like England, the Republic of Ireland sit atop their Euro 2012 qualifying group, although one bad result for the boys in green could see them feature in the dreaded play-offs or (even worse) miss out entirely.
Ireland, Russia and Slovakia all sit on 13 points after six games played and it is imperative that Giovanni Trapattoni’s side claim victory in Dublin on Friday night considering that they travel to Moscow next week for another crunch clash.
The home side are even-money favourites (Paddy Power – £100 free bets) to claim victory at the Aviva Stadium, a ground which saw the Republic win the recent Home Nations tournament thanks to wins against Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
However, it is also a ground where Russia claimed a 3-2 win last October and Trapattoni will impress on his side that they need to keep things tighter against the Slovakians and wait for their chances to come along.
The home side have plenty of firepower in the form of Robbie Keane and Shane Long, while Kevin Doyle is often a star turn for his country. Keane has recently made the move to LA Galaxy, although there is no questioning his commitment when he pulls the green jersey on.
Slovakia had a decent run in the 2010 World Cup and will look to secure a draw in Dublin before a winnable match at home to Armenia next week. They are 9/4 (bet365 – £200 free betting) to claim a valuable point and 10/3 to come away with a maximum haul which will leave Ireland’s qualifying hopes dangling by a thread.