Monday, December 9, 2019

Prediction: Belarus vs Northern Ireland

Verdict: Northern Ireland win

Best Odds: 17/10

Bookmaker: Bet365

Looking to carry on their stellar start to their EURO 2020 qualifying campaign, Northern Ireland will travel to Belarus on Tuesday night.

Belarus

Starting with the hosts, while an impressive campaign in the inaugural UEFA Nations League may have seen Belarus secure promotion to League C when the tournament comes back around in 2021, it has been a sluggish EURO qualifying campaign for Igor Kriushenko’s side. Suffering a 2-0 loss at home to former world champions Germany last weekend, the White Wings have lost all three of their opening Group C appearances and their continued defensive issues will be a concern for fans around the Borisov Arena. Already shipping eight goals in their opening three outings their goal difference sees them sat behind Estonia at the foot of the group. Also suffering a 2-1 loss when they made the trip to Belfast at the end of March, Kriushenko will also be demanding his side make some vast improvements on home soil if they’re to pull off a shock victory in midweek. Aside from picking up routine victories over San Marino and Luxembourg in their Nations League campaign, Belarus have failed to win any of their other six matches at the Borisov Arena.

Team News

The hosts cut eight players from the squad which faced Northern Ireland in March, including former Arsenal man Alexander Hleb.

Northern Ireland

As for the visitors, while Belarus might be enduring a very sluggish start to their EURO 2020 qualifying campaign, Northern Ireland find their confidence at a continued high. While they may have gone about it the hard way away in Estonia over the weekend, two last gasp strikes secured Michael O’Neill’s side a 2-1 victory and saw them skyrocket to the top of Group C. Despite losing all four of their inaugural UEFA Nations League appearances and suffering relegation to League C next time around, few across Europe would have expected the Greens’ eye-catching start to qualification. Now winning all three of their opening fixtures, including their 2-1 win over Belarus back in March, Tuesday’s visitors now find themselves sat ahead of both Germany and Holland in Group C. Scoring a pair of goals in each of their three victories and really starting to shine in the final third, one man to watch on Tuesday could be Bolton striker, Josh Magennis. Now finding the net in back-to-back matches while away on international duty, the 28-year-old also scored the winner against Belarus the last time the two nations met.

Team News

Northern Ireland remain without Will Grigg through injury, while they’re set to keep faith with the side which won in Estonia.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Belarus have lost all three of their opening Group C matches.
  • When the two sides met back in March Northern Ireland came away with a 2-1 win.
  • Northern Ireland have won each of their opening Group C matches.
  • The visitors have also scored a pair of goals in each of their victories.
  • Bolton striker Josh Magennis has scored in back-to-back matches while away on international duty.

Conclusion

While Northern Ireland’s form outside of Belfast has been a minor concern for Michael O’Neill, there is no doubt that Tuesday’s visitors will be boosted by their late winner at Estonia on Saturday. Now winning each of their three opening Group C outings, coupled with Belarus’ woeful start to qualifying, we’re backing the Greens to carry on what has become a stellar start to qualification.

Verdict: Northern Ireland win

Best Odds: 17/10

Bookmaker: Bet365

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Dunstan


Formerly of The Independent, Tom is a freelance football and boxing journalist from Essex, England. Currently working for three online publications, Tom is a graduate of the University of Falmouth and has spent the last two years writing across Australia, New Zealand and Asia. He can be followed at @IamTomDunstan

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