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Here's how Ireland's World Cup 2018 rivals have fared since we last met

Ireland will be on red alert for in-form Welsh and Austrian outfits.

IRELAND COULD HAVE been handed an easier draw for World Cup qualification, but not by much.

There is nothing to fear in the quintet of opponents from Wales, Austria, Serbia, Georgia and Moldova. Ireland have never faced the latter side (ranked 124th) since they entered international football in 1991, but the rest are familiar. Here’s how they’ve fared since last meeting the Boys in Green.

Wales

Last meeting: Wales 0 Ireland 0, August 2013

Chris Coleman has made the most of the smattering of talent available to him and delivered this incredible top seeding with a brilliant run of form that amounts to a 50% winning percentage since meeting Ireland in Cardiff.

Shane Long gets past Ashley Williams Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Currently top of a group including Bosnia Herzogivina, Israel and Belgium – who account for four of their 14 points – the Principality are unbeaten in competitive fixtures since losing to Serbia in 2013.

The Netherlands are the last team to beat Coleman’s side who rely on the likes of Joe Ledley and Joe Allen to knit together moves with Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale in the starring roles.

Fifa ranking: 10

Austria

Last meeting: Austria 1 Ireland 0, September 2013.

Marcel Koller’s men have been flying since that bad night in Vienna, winning  eight of their 14 games and they remain unbeaten in Euro 2016 qualification.

David Alaba scores the winning goal Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Still powered by David Alaba and with Marc Janko providing the goal threat, Austria top a group containing Sweden, Russia and Moldova after winning five of their six competitive matches. That run includes home and away 1-0 triumphs over Russia and (because it matters to Ireland) a 2 – 1 win away to Moldova.

Fifa ranking: 15

Serbia

Last meeting: Ireland 1 Serbia 2, March, 2014.

Since coming from a goal down to win at the Aviva Stadium, thing haven’t exactly been great for Serbia. Their three wins in the 11 games since have all come in friendlies. In qualification meanwhile, one of the unfriendliest games in recent memory has been their undoing.

Filip Dordevic scores their second goal Filip Dordevic scores the visitors' second of the game in the Aviva. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

The abandoned fixture against Albania in October lead to the Court of Arbitration for sport ruling the game as a walkover for Albania and Serbia were deducted three points. As a result, Radovan Ćurčić took over the side that currently stands on -2 points with only a draw against Armenia to show for their campaign after defeats to Portugal and Denmark (home and away).

Fifa ranking: 43

Georgia

Last meeting: Georgia 1 Ireland 2, September, 2014.

It seems like only yesterday Aiden McGeady’s magic gave Ireland a 2 – 1 win over Georgia in Tbilisi and we’ll get another close look at them in six weeks before we clash with World Cup places at stake.

Shane Long throws his jersey to supporters after the game Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

The ‘Crusaders’ sit six points behind Martin O’Neill’s men in qualifying with only a 3-0 win in Gibraltar to celebrate in between five defeats.

Kakhaber Tskhadadze managed to lose only 2 – 0 to Germany in March, but have shipped eight in their two fixtures against Poland.

Fifa ranking: 153

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About the author:

Sean Farrell

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