Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Prediction: Northern Ireland vs New Zealand

SoccerPredictions in Free Soccer Predictions 31 May 2017

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Verdict: Northern Ireland to win to nil

Best Odds: 5/4

Bookmaker: bet365

The friendly game at Windsor Park will serve as a good opportunity for both sides to gauge their form ahead of important competitive fixtures as Northern Ireland prepare for the all-important qualifier against Azerbaijan and New Zealand begin preparations for the 2017 Confederations Cup.

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland seriously improved their profile over the last few years, qualifying for their first ever European Championship finals in 2016, and they even managed to get past the group stage, albeit losing three of four matches in France. The excellent performance at Euro 2016 definitely served as a major lift and Norn Iron continued in the same manner. Michael O’Neill’s side enjoyed a bright start to the 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign, taking 10 points from first five fixtures. Northern Ireland impressed to win each of three home games without conceding, scoring ten goals in the process, while they held Czech Republic to a goalless draw and lost to Germany on the road. Midway through the campaign, Norn Iron sit five points behind leaders Germany and two and three points clear of Czech Republic and Azerbaijan, their next opponents. The international friendly against New Zealand will serve as a very good test for the game in Baku, so we expect head coach Michael O’Neill to field a strong side on Friday evening.

Team News

Defenders Gareth McAuley and Craig Cathcart are unlikely to be risked against New Zealand, while Conor Washington (getting married) and Jamie Ward (injury) miss out as well.

New Zealand

New Zealand return to the biggest stage for the first time since 2009 and they will be looking to make their fourth appearance at the Confederations Cup a much more successful than the previous ones. Taking into account their two World Cup appearances as well, the Kiwis have yet to win a game at a major tournament and that is exactly what they will be looking to do in Russia. New Zealand have been drawn in a difficult group alongside Euro 2016 champions Portugal, CONCACAF giants Mexico and hosts Russia, and many believe the opening fixture against the host nation is their best chance of causing an upset. The loss of captain Winston Reid was undoubtedly a huge blow for the Kiwis, who also have problems up front as Leeds United striker Chris Wood is often left isolated in the final third. The fact that New Zealand only managed 6 goals in four matches during the third stage of the World Cup qualifiers against really weak opponents is definitely a cause for concern as they will not be up against some of world’s best defenders. Before they travel to Russia, the Kiwis will take on rock-solid Northern Ireland, and we don’t think they will do too well at Windsor Park.

Team News

Winston Reid is out through injury, while Jake Gleeson, Moses Dyer and Jai Ingham have all been overlooked for the Confederations Cup squad.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Northern Ireland and New Zealand have never met before
  • Norn Iron won six of last eight home games
  • They kept a clean sheet in each of those wins
  • New Zealand only managed 10 goals in last 9 fixtures
  • The visitors are without key defender Winston Reid

Conclusion

Northern Ireland have been in fine form, especially at their Windsor Park and their back line has been nearly impeccable, with six wins without conceding recorded in last eight home games. Meanwhile, New Zealand have struggled up front even against weak sides from Oceania, so we don’t think they can fare any better on Friday.

Verdict: Northern Ireland to win to nil

Best Odds: 5/4

Bookmaker: bet365

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