Thursday, October 19, 2017

Prediction: Norway vs Northern Ireland

Dan Steeden in Free Soccer Predictions, World Cup 6 Oct 2017

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Verdict: Under 2.5 Goals

Best Odds: 4/7

Bookmakers: Bet 365

Northern Ireland head to Norway on Sunday knowing that a draw will guarantee them a spot in the playoffs to make it to the World Cup in Russia next summer. The hosts can’t mathematically qualify but can pip the Czech Republic to third place in Group C simply for pride’s sake. With this in mind the game could be a fairly dull affair.

Norway

The home side have very little to play for in this game other than pride. They can finish anywhere between third and fifth in Group C depending on the results of these remaining games on Sunday, but the Scandinavian side have already missed out on qualification. Three wins, one draw and five losses is an uninspiring record, and Norway have actually lost to every team in the group other than whipping boys San Marino.

The important thing to note for this game is Norway’s struggles in front of goal. Aside from their 12 goals against San Marino, Norway have scored just five goals in seven games, and Northern Ireland’s defence has been highly impressive. The hosts will be without striker Joshua King, who is the joint top scorer in the group with five goals, and this could be a game in which the home side really struggle offensively.

Team News

Joshua King picked up a hamstring injury during Norway’s win over San Marino on Thursday, and it looks as if the Bournemouth striker will miss this game as a result. This is a big blow for Norway as King is their top scorer through qualifying, and his injury takes most of the sting out of the side’s forward line.

Northern Ireland

Michael O’Neill’s side have had an impressive qualifying campaign and have already guaranteed themselves a second place finish in Group C. A draw in this game would send them into the playoffs where they should have a decent shot at qualification. The only nation that Northern Ireland have conceded against in this qualifying campaign is Germany, and they are coming off a 1-3 defeat to Die Mannschaft on Thursday night. The result is unlikely to knock the Green and White Army’s confidence though as they beat Norway 2-0 at Windsor Park in March.

The visitors’ defence has been their strength throughout qualifying as they have conceded just five goals in the nine games, all of which came against Germany. The fact that they require just a draw from this game makes it unlikely that Northern Ireland will take any risks, and they can lean on their defence against a Norway side that has struggled for goals against anyone that isn’t San Marino. Their trip to the Ullevaal Stadion should be a low-scoring affair as Michael O’Neill will look to grind out a result.

Team News

There is little injury news to report. It is interesting to note however that there are six players in the Northern Ireland squad who are one booking away from a on-game suspension, so it remains to be seen how many of them Michael O’Neill will risk in this game.

Key Factors to Consider

  • The last game between the two sides ended 2-0 to Northern Ireland.
  • Northern Ireland have only scored 10 goals in seven games (against teams that aren’t San Marino)
  • Under 2.5 Goals has paid out in five of Northern Ireland’s seven games (against teams that aren’t San Marino)
  • Norway have scored just five goals in seven games (against teams that aren’t San Marino)
  • Norway’s top scorer in qualifying Joshua King is injured and won’t feature in this game.

Conclusion

Northern Ireland only need a draw from this game and Norway’s top scorer is out for this game. These are the only two factors that matter here as this should be a very low scoring game. Probably not one worth watching, but definitely one worth betting on.

Verdict: Under 2.5 Goals

Best Odds: 4/7

Bookmakers: Bet 365

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dan Steeden


Dan is a recent graduate of the University of Birmingham and an often frustrated Wigan Athletic fan. When not despairing at events unfolding at the DW Stadium he can be found fangirling over Antoine Griezmann or staying up into the early hours of the morning to cheer on the Seattle Seahawks.

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