The World Cup is undeniably the most popular sports tournament in the world, both from a fan and betting standpoint. The next World Cup is slated for 2018 in Russia, and several teams are still playing for the chance to feature in the coveted tournament. Both of the Irish teams—Ireland and Northern Ireland—are in the running for a spot. Irish fans can find opportunities for legal online gambling in Ireland to bet on either team for the Playoff games and the World Cup (should either team qualify). Of course lines are available for betting on any soccer team in the world, not just Irish teams.
The Republic of Ireland narrowly qualified for the World Cup Qualifier Playoffs. The 26th ranked squad beat Wales in the final group stage match, moving them up to second in their group, behind Serbia. They are set to play Denmark, who are ranked 19th in the world and finished second in their group under Poland. Ireland manager Martin O’Neill is optimistic about their draw, relating his squad’s excitement to be still in contention.
Ireland’s squad is well-balanced with youthful and experienced players. Captain Seamus Coleman is one of the faster players in the tournament, which compliments James McCarthy’s technical ability. Defender John O’Shea is one of the veteran presences. Former captain Robbie Keane will be missed, as he retired from international football in August. It should be an interesting matchup.
On the other hand, Northern Ireland is ranked 23rd and is coming off 2 straight losses to Germany and Norway in their final qualifying matches. However, they racked up enough points to overtake Czech Republic in the standings and make the Playoffs. The Northern Irish are set to face off against Switzerland in the Playoff stage. The squad is made up of mostly players in English leagues, including Chris Brunt, Gareth McAuley and Jonny Evans (all play for West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League.
Their matchup is tougher against Switzerland, who won 9 of their 10 qualifying matches. They are the highest-ranked team in the Playoffs and only lost to Portugal, the reigning European champions. Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill is confident his squad can go through, but only if they do not concede any away goals in the first leg. Away goals are vital in international tournaments, as they count for double the goals. If Northern Ireland can withstand the Swiss attack, they may be able to sneak an away goal or 2 in the second leg.
Both Irish teams are considered the underdogs in their respective games. Fans can find legitimate online sports betting options through licensed offshore sportsbooks. These betting destinations run lines on international leagues, tournaments and more. Should either Irish team advance, fans can bet on them throughout the World Cup. Offshore betting is considered legal per the Irish gambling laws in place.
The first leg of the Ireland v. Denmark game is slated for November 11, while the first leg of the Northern Ireland v. Switzerland game is on November 9. Only 4 of the 8 teams in the Playoffs will make it through to the World Cup. The other teams vying for spots are Croatia, Greece, Sweden and Italy.