Monday, November 29, 2021

Prediction: Northern Ireland vs Italy

Tom Dunstan in Free Soccer Predictions, World Cup 14 Nov 2021

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Verdict: Italy win to nil

Best Odds: 19/20

Bookmaker: Unibet

Looking to cause Italy a real upset at Windsor Park on Monday night, Northern Ireland will host Italy when this year’s World Cup qualifying run comes to an end.

Northern Ireland

Starting with the hosts, while Northern Ireland might have known that they had no chance of booking a spot at next year’s World Cup finals, they would have been glad to find some kind of a boost. Although they might have once again failed to find their best over the weekend, Ian Baraclough’s men did muster a 1-0 win against Group C whipping boys Lithuania. Now with their sights simply set on trying to end their qualifying campaign with what would be a real shock at Windsor Park, the Greens will also be hoping to find some stability on home soil. Including a 2-1 defeat against the USA in a friendly showdown earlier in the year, Friday’s win against Lithuania was remarkably Northern Ireland’s first home victory from their last 10 attempts, a run that stems all the way back to September 2019. However, while Baraclough’s side might be dreaming of a miracle, they do hold what is a worrying record against Monday’s opponents. Including a 2-0 loss in the reverse meeting back in March, the Greens have failed to win any of their last five contests against Italy, a run that goes back to 1958.

Team News

In what is a real blow to Northern Ireland, both Stuart Dallas and Paddy McNair are real injury doubts ahead of Monday night.

McNair pulled up with a hamstring problem late in Friday’s 1-0 win over Lithuania and is likely to miss out here.

Italy

As for the visitors, while Italy might have stunned England as they were crowned European champions over the summer, the Blues have shown some signs of a wobble over the past couple of months. Watching Chelsea star Jorginho blaze his last-gasp spot kick over the bar when they welcomed Switzerland to the Stadio Olimpico, Roberto Mancini’s side had to settle for a 1-1 draw on home soil. In fact, while many might have tipped Gli Azzurri as a standout pick to storm their way to next year’s World Cup finals, the former Manchester City boss finds his side desperately seeking a win here. With the Swiss expected to bag maximum points when they face off against Bulgaria, Italy make the trip to Windsor Park with just their goal difference keeping them at the top of Group C. Nevertheless, while Mancini’s men might be going down to the wire on Monday night, it should be noted that the Blues have lost just a pair of their last 22 straight World Cup qualifying contests on foreign soil.

Team News

All missing out over the weekend, Giorgio Chiellini, Ciro Immobile, Nicolo Zaniolo, and Lorenzo Pellegrini are not expected to feature on Monday night.

Likewise, Davide Calabria, Cristiano Biraghi, Alessandro Bastoni and Salvatore Sirigu have now been ruled out too.

Key Factors to Consider

    • When the two nations faced off in the reverse meeting back in March, Italy picked up a 2-0 victory.
    • Northern Ireland have managed to win just one of their last 10 straight home fixtures across all formats.
    • Italy have lost just a pair of their last 22 straight World Cup qualifying contests on foreign soil.
    • The Blues are unbeaten in each of their last five meetings against Monday’s hosts, recording four wins and a single draw.
    • Italy have conceded just a single goal in any of their last 10 matchups on the road.

    Conclusion

    While Italy might have failed to find top gear with much stability since their European success over the summer, they should be confident of finishing off the job on Monday night. Losing just a pair of their last 22 straight World Cup qualifying contests on foreign soil, Northern Ireland will know that they face a stern test at Windsor Park. Despite landing a much-welcomed 1-0 win against Lithuania over the weekend, the Greens have continued to show a host of issues on home soil. With Italy landing a 2-0 victory when the two nations faced off in the reverse fixtures back in March, we’re backing a similar outcome here.

    Verdict: Italy win to nil

    Best Odds: 19/20

    Bookmaker: Unibet

    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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