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Nov 14, 2014

Network Front | The Guardian: Scotland v Republic of Ireland: Euro 2016 qualifier live!

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Scotland v Republic of Ireland: Euro 2016 qualifier live!
Nov 14th 2014, 18:44, by Barry Glendenning

It seems that Robbie Keane wont be starting for Ireland, who look to have named Shane Long and Jon Walters up front in their (unconfirmed) starting eleven. It looks like a 4-4-2, with Aiden McGeady, Jeff Hendrick, James McClean and Darron Gibson in midfield. Interesting.

Back to the football: So how will this match go? Lord knows but I am looking forward to finding out. Its a celtic (hard c) derby between two middle-ranking European teams who, lets face it, arent particularly good but are both capable of giving anyone, including World champions Germany, a tough game on their day.

Scotland need a win while Ireland would probably be happy enough with a draw and with sides coached by Martin ONeill renowned for their caginess on the road, it will be interesting to see if Ireland sit back and try to hit Scotland on the break or get caught up in the atmosphere in what is likely to be a rocking Celtic Park and go all out for the win. Either approach will be fine with me.

Pre-match palaver III: In the most literary and literal example yet of his book-promoting duties causing a distraction in the build-up to an Ireland international, Roy Keane found himself making headlines again this week.

Irelands team hotel, The Portmarnock Links in north Dublin was the scene of a bizarre altercation on Wednesday night, when a middle-aged US-based Ireland fan who is close friends with Jack Charlton and his son, asked the Ireland assistant manager to sign a copy of the autobiography hes been publicising in recent weeks.

Pre-match palaver II: Republic of Ireland players Aiden McGeady and James McCarthy were born and reared in Glasgow and Falkirk respectively, but each both men are eligible to play for the Republic of Ireland through their grandparents and were widely expected to be subjected to a lot of abuse from the home crowd tonight for deserting the country of their birth. McCarthy has had to pull out of the squad through injury, which McGeady will singlehandedly ship the accusations of treachery from his irate compatriots.

Former Scotland international Gordon McQueen threw petrol on the fire earlier this week, saying that he didnt approve of Scotsmen playing for other countries and hoped the two players would have a horrible time of it tonight. Ive got no time for these players, said the man who played alongside . Youre born in Glasgow but then you go and play for somebody else? Whats that all about? Im not having that at all. Will it be hard for them coming back here with Ireland? I really hope so. I hope they get a horrible reception because they deserve it. Youre either Scottish or youre not Scottish.

Pre-Match Palaver I: Theres been quite the to-do in Ireland over the allocation of tickets for this match, with FAI chief executive John Delaney having been highly critical of the 3,209 tickets given to Irish fans by the Scottish FA. Travelling Irish fans have in turn been highly critical of Delaney, whose association have no loyalty scheme in place to ensure hardcore travelling fans who rarely miss away games got tickets for this one.

The upshot? Ireland fans have been buying tickets from the Scottish FAs website and tonight thousands of them will be sitting cheek by jowl with their Scottish counterparts in Celtic Park . Although its unlikely therell be any trouble between these like-minded celts who have excellent records for behaving themselves at football matches, Delaney has rather inflamed the situation by suggesting the Scottish FAs refusal to increase Irelands allocation could lead to crowd violence.

The mood: Both teams come into this evenings game hanging five on waves of optimism, with players from both teams reinvigorated and apparently enjoying their international football once again following the vaguely oppressive and authoritarian regimes of Craig Levein and Giovanni Trapattoni respectively.

Former Celtic managers Gordon Strachan and Martin ONeill are the men in the dug-outs tonight and both will be confident of victory in a game between two evenly matched sides who are each playing with a confident swagger that was conspicuous by its absence from the previous regimes.

Good evening everybody. Welcome to our minute-by-minute coverage of tonights Euro 2016 Group D qualifier between Scotland and the Republic of Ireland at Celtic Park.

In one of the tournaments tougher qualification groups, Poland are currently in the second half of their match against Georgia in Tbilisi, where they lead 1-0 2-0 3-0. A win will put them on 10 points, three clear of Ireland, having played one game more. Beneath Ireland in Group D, Germany and Scotland trail them on four points each.

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