Preview: Republic of Ireland vs. Latvia
Republic of Ireland play host to Latvia on Wednesday evening in what will represent their first international fixture of 2023.
This game will act as the final preparation for the two nations’ respective Euro 2024 qualifying campaigns.
When Stephen Kenny took the Republic of Ireland reins in 2020, it was perceived to be a long-term project, and that remains the case to a certain degree.
However, Kenny is now approaching three years in the job having won just eight of his 30 matches in charge, a ratio which will need to improve somewhere down the line.
Having been drawn in a qualification group with France, Netherlands and Greece, it is fair to say that the Boys in Green have been provided with an immensely difficult proposition when considering that they have lost four of their eight matches.
Although noteworthy draws with Portugal and Belgium have been achieved under Kenny, his best win is a 3-0 demolition of Scotland, highlighting that Republic of Ireland need to go up several levels to challenge for a return to the European Championship.
They ended last year with fixtures versus Norway and Malta, losing out 2-1 to the former before registering a 1-0 win over the latter on away territory.
From Latvia’s perspective, they enjoyed an inspired UEFA Nations League campaign during 2022, collecting 13 points from six games to earn a return to League C.
While they started their group with four successive wins, they concluded it with a 2-1 defeat at home to Moldova and 1-1 draw in Andorra, results which almost cost them promotion.
Dainis Kazakevics’s side ended last year by competing in the Baltic Cup, beating Estonia on penalties before losing to Iceland in the final courtesy of the same method.
Latvia have taken the opportunity to face Republic of Ireland as preparation for their first Euro 2024 qualifier taking place versus Wales in Cardiff next Tuesday.
Republic of Ireland form (all competitions):
Latvia form (all competitions):
We say: Republic of Ireland 2-0 Latvia
With this just being a friendly, Kenny may want to take a look at as many players as possible as he considers his options for France. Nevertheless, we expect his squad to do more than enough to secure victory, potentially with a goal in each half and a clean sheet.