Ireland v Portugal: All you need to know ahead of World Cup qualifier

Stephen Kenny’s team take on Portugal on Wednesday night at the Estadio Algarve

So, what’s happening?

Stephen Kenny’s Republic of Ireland team have three World Cup qualifiers in six days in this international window - first up on Wednesday they take on Portugal. They will then return to Dublin for the qualifiers against Azerbaijan at the Aviva Stadium next Saturday (5pm) and Serbia on Tuesday (7.45pm).

What time on Wednesday?

Ireland’s Group A World Cup qualifier against Portugal kicks off at 7.45pm (Irish time) at the Estadio Algarve.

The story so far . . .

The opening round of qualifiers back in March saw Ireland travel to Belgrade where they put on a good show, they even scored, twice, but still lost 3-2 to Serbia. Three days later they lost 1-0 to Luxembourg at an empty Aviva Stadium. Things can only get better.

Can I get tickets?

Irish fans can’t attend Wednesday’s match in Faro. Fifa and Uefa confirmed earlier this month away supporters will not be allowed to attend any of the September qualifiers. One-third of the stadium capacity will be allowed at the 30,305-seater Estadio Algarve - so 10,100 Portuguese fans will be there to cheer on their team.

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So how do I watch it . . .

The game will be live on RTÉ 2, with coverage underway from 7pm. Our live blog will be up and running 30 minutes before kick-off. Sky Sports’ coverage starts at 7.30pm.

Do we have a full team?

The injured Jason Knight is a big loss in the middle of the park, Enda Stevens and Callum O'Dowda also missed out on the squad through injury. West Brom attacker Callum Robinson is unavailable after testing positive for Covid-19. Chiedozie Ogbene has impressed Kenny with his form for Rotherham United but he misses out with a hamstring injury. Alan Browne is both injured and a Covid close contact.

Bohemians goalkeeper James Talbot comes into the squad to replace Bournemouth's Mark Travers who has been ruled out of the three matches through illness. The Ireland squad is:

Goalkeepers: Caoimhín Kelleher (Liverpool), Gavin Bazunu (Portsmouth), James Talbot (Bohemians)

Defenders: Séamus Coleman (Everton), Matt Doherty (Tottenham Hotspur), Shane Duffy (Brighton and Hove Albion), John Egan (Sheffield United), Dara O'Shea (West Bromwich Albion), Ryan Manning (Swansea City), James McClean (Wigan Athletic), Andrew Omobamidele (Norwich City), Nathan Collins (Burnley)

Midfielders: Josh Cullen (Anderlecht), Jeff Hendrick (Newcastle United), Conor Hourihane (Aston Villa), Harry Arter (Nottingham Forest), Jamie McGrath (St. Mirren), Jayson Molumby (Brighton and Hove Albion)

Forwards: Aaron Connolly (Brighton and Hove Albion), James Collins (Cardiff City), Daryl Horgan (Wycombe Wanderers), Adam Idah (Norwich City), Troy Parrott (MK Dons), Shane Long (Southampton), Ronan Curtis (Portsmouth).

And Portugal . . .

Cristiano Ronaldo is one goal away from surpassing Iran forward Ali Daei's 109-goal international record. Leicester City's Ricardo Pereira had to withdraw from the Portugal squad after picking up an injury last weekend.

Goalkeepers: Anthony Lopes (Lyon), Diogo Costa (Porto), Rui Patrício (Roma).

Defenders: João Cancelo (Manchester City), Nélson Semedo (Wolves), Domingos Duarte (Granada), Gonçalo Inácio (Sporting Lisbon), Pepe (Porto), Rúben Dias (Manchester City), Nuno Mendes (Sporting Lisbon), Raphael Guerreiro (Borussia Dortmund), Danilo (Paris Saint-Germain).

Midfielders: João Palhinha (Sporting Lisbon), Rúben Neves (Wolves), Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United), João Mário (Porto), João Moutinho (Wolves), Octávio (Porto), Bernardo Silva (Manchester City), André Silva (Leipzig).

Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United), Diogo Jota (Liverpool), Gonçalo Guedes (Valencia), Pedro Gonçalves (Sporting Lisbon) Rafa (Benfica).

Past meetings

In 13 meetings with Portugal, Ireland have won four and drawn two. The last meeting, a 2014 friendly, ended in a 5-1 Portugal win. The previous three meetings ended in an Ireland win in 2005, and draws in 2000 and 2001 World Cup qualifiers.

How’s the weather looking?

The forecast for Wednesday evening in Faro is clear, sunny skies, with temperatures above 21 degrees. There’ll be a gentle breeze.

What are the bookies saying?

Portugal, with Manchester United-bound Cristiano Ronaldo, Liverpool's Diogo Jota, Manchester City's Ruben Dias and Bernardo Silva, have two wins and a draw so far in the group. They won the European Championships in 2016, the Nations League in 2019. And they come into Wednesday's match as massive favourites at 2/11. Ireland are priced at a hefty 17/1. A draw is priced at 5/1 (Paddy Power at Tuesday lunchtime).

Eamon Donoghue

Eamon Donoghue

Eamon Donoghue is a sports journalist with The Irish Times