It's hard to read the Irish media without seeing stories of our economic recovery. Many indicators such as GDP, exports and employment are now higher than they were prior to the economic crash in August 2008.
Another recovery that people are probably just as excited about is that of the Irish national football team. This recovery can be measured by the FIFA World Rankings. In March this year, the national team re-entered the top 30 teams and were ranked 29th in the world. This might not seem overly spectacular but it's not so long ago that the team reached an all-time low. The night in July 2014 when Germany lifted the World Cup in the Maracanã, Rio coincided with Ireland sitting 70th in the world.
Since then, a slow recovery under Martin O'Neill has turned into a rapid improvement. Ireland now sit 31st in the world.
The Dutch side that Ireland will face later tonight, were ranked 17th in the world on the 5th of May 2016. This matters because the value of the rankling points that can be won are based on the strength of the opposition. The better the ranking, the more points on offer (full explanation here).
The reason these points matter is because they will dictate the seeding pots that countries are placed in for future UEFA Euro and World Cup qualifying draws. A decent performance tonight could result in some 'easy' points.