Northern Ireland will attempt to get their UEFA Euro 2020 qualification campaign back on track when they clash with the Netherlands once again.
Northern Ireland (15/2)
Over the course of the last few years, Northern Ireland have built up a reputation for themselves as being a bit pluckier than your average national team. They don’t have the most quality within their squad but they do have a lot of grit, and that sort of physical determination has gotten a lot of teams pretty far in both the Euros and the World Cup over the years. With one or two more star names they could really be a bit of force, but for now, just challenging for qualification is a big goal.
In their last six games the only two games that Northern Ireland have lost were against the Netherlands themselves in a dramatic 3-1 defeat and a 2-0 loss at the hands of 2014 world champions Germany. They managed to pick up three wins along the way against Estonia, Belarus and Luxembourg, and they also managed to edge out a fun win over the Czech Republic.
The work that Ronald Koeman has done to improve the state of the national team has been well documented, but it’ll all be for nothing until qualification for the European Championships is secured. They’re top of the table right now and it’d take a minor miracle for them not to make it through, but they also want to make a bit of a statement. They’ve already experienced what it’s like to battle Northern Ireland, and this time around they’re going to be in hostile territory.
The only loss in the last six for the Dutch was a 1-0 defeat to Portugal in the Nations League Final, which hit them hard to say the least. They managed to beat England 3-1 in the semi-final to get to that point, and then in Group C of the Euro qualifying stage, they beat Germany, Estonia, Belarus and, of course, Northern Ireland, within an incredibly successful month.
It’s going to be a tight game with the fate of both teams in next year’s Euros being on the line. The Dutch are clearly the stronger unit throughout the core of their squad, but in a game of this magnitude, you could certainly argue that doesn’t really matter. It’s going to be a back and forth battle and we tend to believe it’s going to be fairly physical, which should hardly come as much of a surprise. We believe in the operation being put in place by Northern Ireland, and we can see them fighting towards a valiant draw at Windsor Park.
While both sides are certainly capable of scoring goals, we can see this being a bit more of a stalemate than usual – which is why we’re going to go ahead and back the under 2.5 market.
Verdict: Back the draw at odds of 18/5 and the under 2.5 goals scored at odds of 19/20. (All odds are taken from bet365).