Belfast Telegraph

Five talking points ahead of the Republic of Ireland v Denmark World Cup play-off

Martin O'Neill will send the Republic of Ireland into World Cup play-off battle with Denmark on Tuesday evening with a mouth-watering trip to Russia firmly in his sights.

Here, we take a look at some of the talking points surrounding one of the biggest games in Ireland's recent footballing history.

SPILLING THE BEANS?

Denmark midfielder Thomas Delaney likened the task of trying to break Ireland down in the first leg to "opening a can of baked beans with your bare hands". That the Danes did not manage to do that often enough will be a source of satisfaction to O'Neill and, while he knows his team will have to score to progress, it is not in his nature to throw caution to the wind.

COMETH THE HOUR...

Under both Giovanni Trapattoni and O'Neill, the Republic have based their recent qualifications for major tournaments on defensive resilience, although they have demonstrated a capacity to turn on the style when they need it most. They produced one of their best performances for years against France in Paris in November 2009 under the Italian, and have beaten world champions Germany, Italy and Wales in do-or-die encounters under their current manager.

ERIKSEN ALERT

Christian Eriksen was identified as the main danger to Ireland's qualification hopes as soon as the draw for the play-offs was made, and they dealt reasonably well with him at the Parken Stadium. However, Denmark boss Age Hareide will be looking for more from his talisman in Dublin and if his team-mates can provide him with time and space, he has the capacity to cause major problems.

SEARCH FOR A HERO

Ireland's last two skirmishes with the play-offs have ended rather well, with a 5-1 aggregate victory over Estonia and a 3-1 success over Bosnia & Herzegovina taking them to the Euro 2012 and 2016 finals respectively. However, Robbie Keane, whose double in Tallinn set them on their way in 2011, has retired from international football and Jonathan Walters, who struck twice at the Aviva Stadium to see off the Bosnians, is injured and a new hero is required.

SPOT OF BOTHER?

Ireland have not been involved in a penalty shootout since their exit from the 2002 World Cup finals at the hands of Spain, but they may need to negotiate one on Tuesday evening. However, they are not saddled with the enduring angst of successive generations of England players and, having practised penalties in training, O'Neill is confident his players will not be found wanting.

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