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Republic of Ireland v France preview: Dublin delight for Les Bleus

The Republic of Ireland begin their quest to qualify for a first major tournament since Euro 2016 when they take on France in Group B of European Championship qualifying on Monday.

Stephen Kenny's side were typically entertaining as they edged out Latvia 3-2 in Wednesday's warm-up friendly, a match in which their new kid on the block, Evan Ferguson, grabbed his first international goal.

The 18-year-old will be full of confidence after transferring his Premier League form with Brighton onto the international stage but, if he starts, will face a much sterner test against a talented French back-line.

In fact, last year's beaten World Cup finalists arguably have the deepest playing pool of all the nations and, led by new captain and all-around superstar Kylian Mbappe, will not anticipate any issues from their trip to Dublin, especially after outclassing the Netherlands 4-0 on Friday.

WhatRepublic of Ireland v France
WhereAviva Stadium, Dublin
When19:45, Monday 27th March
How to watchViaplay Sports 1
OddsRepublic of Ireland 6/1, Draw 10/3, France 9/20

France to prove simply too good

The Republic have plenty of talent coming through, but as with previous generations of emerging stars, finding regular top level football is proving difficult, with Ferguson the only player that started against Latvia who is anywhere close to being a Premier League regular.

The average age of the starting XI for that game was 23.63 and while some experienced heads such as Seamus Coleman (34) and John Egan (30) are likely to return on Monday, there is a real air of inexperience about Kenny's squad.

It is arguably a similar story for Les Bleus as despite centurions such as Olivier Giroud and Antoine Griezmann still being involved, former captain Hugo Lloris and striker Karim Benzema, who had 242 caps between them, have retired from international football.

Meanwhile, Raphael Varane and Paul Pogba are both unavailable for this month's fixtures through injury but France showed on Friday that they remain a real force and a repeat 4-0 is 18/1 in the Correct Score market.

While the Dutch looked underpowered in Paris, they still had some attacking class and Ferguson's potential aside, are a level above the Republic, so another win to nil in the Result/Both Team to Score market at 6/5 is an obvious option.

Saying that, Les Bleus are not exactly watertight and gave the Dutch a few half chances. Mike Maignan also saved a penalty from Memphis Depay, albeit it was a questionable call to give a handball against Dayot Upamecano.

If the Republic do score, they may not do so again and one goal for the hosts is 6/4 in the Home Team Exact Goals betting.

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Megastar Mbappe always an inspiration

When France click, they have an air of the Harlem Globetrotters about them, with new skipper Mbappe leading the way.

After scoring a hat-trick in last year's World Cup final, Friday's brace took his tally to five in his last two internationals, with that haul excluding his successful spot-kick in the penalty shootout at the Lusail Stadium.

This season's packed schedule means injuries have been a bit more of an issue for the Paris Saint-Germain star but he has still mustered 38 goals in 45 appearances for club and country.

Sunday will signal his 68th international cap and he is 21/20 to score at Anytime. He also provided an assist on Friday, putting to bed any negative speculation regarding his relationship with Antoine Griezmann by laying on the opener for the Atletico man.

Having netted a brace against Monday's opponents in their last competitive meeting at Euro 2016, Griezmann is 2/1 to score at Anytime. Another Mbappe strike from outside the box is 14/1, while Griezmann has been boosted to 22/1 to do the same.

Cards could be something to look for

That match for France on Friday was an open but also niggly affair, with six yellow cards handed out by referee Maurizio Mariani.

There were five in Ireland's last competitive game against Armenia in September last year, two of which turned into reds.

A Republic player to look for to be carded is Jayson Molumby. The industrious West Brom midfielder has received nine yellow cards in the Championship this season and is 13/8 in the Player to be Booked options.

For France, 11/2 Adrien Rabiot could be a contender, having been yellowed against the Dutch and in his last game for Juventus, a 1-0 win over Inter Milan.

The same can be said for Upamecano, who is 15/4 in that market, having been yellowed for Bayern Munich at Bayer Leverkusen before unfortunately receiving the same treatment for giving a penalty away against the Dutch.

Corners are also something to look for. There were eight at the Stade de France on Friday, while 11 were taken in the Republic's match against Latvia.

Over nine in this game is 11/10 in the Corners market and that has been achieved in the pair's last two meetings, a 2018 2-0 friendly win for France and a 2-1 success for Les Blues at Euro 2016.

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