Republic hope for favour from Georgia
The Republic of Ireland need a favour from one of their Group Eight opponents if they are to set up a winner takes all battle with Italy next month, but Marco Tardelli does not believe Georgia can provide it this Saturday.
The Azzurri travel to Tbilisi to take on the bottom team in the group, and there is some hope of an upset in the sense that the Georgians have yet to lose on their own turf — their one 'home' defeat came against the Republic on neutral territory in Germany.
However, despite being of the opinion that Marcello Lippi's charges are vulnerable as they go through a transitional period, former World Cup winner Tardelli cannot envisage his fellow countrymen slipping up this Saturday.
“I don't think so,” says the Irish assistant, “I think that Italy will win against Georgia. I think Italy is better.”
Italy currently lead the Republic by one point at the top of the Group Eight but the defending champions have a game in hand.
Should both teams win their respective fixtures in Georgia and Cyprus this weekend, then the Irish need the group favourites to drop points at home to Bulgaria next Wednesday. Otherwise, they would arrive to Croke Park on October 10 with a four point lead and the luxury of needing just a point to qualify.
Tardelli feels that if the Republic take full points from Cyprus then that would put extra pressure on the Italians ahead of their joust with the Bulgarians.