TALLINN, ESTONIA - NOVEMBER 10: Republic of Irelands Robbie Keane looks on during a Republic of Ireland training session at A Le Coq Arena on November 10, 2011 in Tallinn, Estonia. (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
Ireland and Estonia are both bad teams. That makes things rather boring. Estonia are worse though!
The last time Ireland found themselves with an international playoff game on their hands... well, you know what happened (and if you don't, combine a certain French New York Red Bulls striker and the last word before the ellipsis and you'll get a good grasp of the situation). I'll stop with the Thierry handball puns now - I'm made a good fist* of things already and my wordplay's never been particularly dextrous anyway. Just a case of man's reach exceeding his grasp, I suppose**.
*Don't worry, I hate myself too.
Estonia vs. Ireland is probably the least compelling of Friday's four Euro 2012 playoff matches. Estonia are in thanks to a few fluke results and Serbia's hilarious inability to win (or, in one notable case, even play) games in Qualifying Group C, while Ireland somehow beat out the might Armenia for second spot in Group B behind Russia. Out of the eight teams that made the playoff spots, it'd be difficult to portray these two sides as anything but two of the bottom three.
But that's alright. At least both will think they have a good chance of winning. Imagine Ireland vs. Portugal or Estonia vs. Croatia. Those ties would have a 4% chance of being interesting, while this version should see attacking football, however dubious the competence of those involved may be. Ireland are probably the better side and should be favourites to advance, but Estonia have showed that on good days they can hang with the big boys, having beaten Serbia in Belgrade.
Then again, Estonia also lost to the Faroe Islands in a game that mattered, which is sort of like being outplayed by a team of penguins and a porpoise: embarrassing unless you're hunting squid. Actually, you know what? One of these teams has lost a competitive match to the Faroe Islands. They are terrible by definition. This preview is over. 7500 to Holte can take you the rest of the way.