First off, I would like to send out my apologies to fans of Italy’s national squad. I originally thought that with their undefeated record of 6 wins and two draws that there was no logical way Italy could miss the top seed to the division, but Ireland is only four points back with an undefeated record of 4 wins and 4 draws.
So the match this Saturday is not only between the top two squads in the bracket, but if Italy chokes against both Ireland and Cyprus on Wednesday then Ireland could win the group outright and secure a World Cup birth. But it is impossible for Italy to miss the second seed playoff match. They have a nine point lead over third place Bulgaria.
And as stated earlier, Ireland has been impressive so far this qualifier. Led by Premier League legend Robbie Keane the roster is made of many Premier League players including Shay Given, Richard Dunne, Darren Gibson, Kevin Doyle, John O’Shea, Kevin Libane, and Damien Duff to name a few. Playing in the division with the toughest World Cup team from last go around isn’t easy, but Ireland has proven to be a worthy opponent and are one of the strongest #2 seeds in total points.
Ireland has not had huge success in the history of the world Cup, but they have proven their worth on recent occasions. Although the club did not make the Cup in 2006, they did make the event three out of the four previous Cups. In fact all three trips the made it to at least the second round and in 1990 they even made it to the quarter-finals.