Monday, May 29, 2023

Prediction: San Marino vs Northern Ireland

Veselin Trajkovic in Free Soccer Predictions 22 Mar 2023


Verdict: Total goals under 3.5

Best odds: 4/6

Bookmaker: 888sport

The qualifying process for the European Championship next year is about to begin, with international football taking the torch from the club-level game for a week or so. In Group H of the UEFA region, which also contains Denmark, Finland, Kazakhstan and Slovenia, the opening round will see Northern Ireland take the trip to San Marino. The game will take place at the Stadio Olimpico di San Marino, which holds just over 6,600 seats.

San Marino

A few years back, Bayern Munich star Thomas Muller followed up on Germany’s comprehensive win over San Marino by publicly questioning the point of playing official games against nations with such an obvious lack of quality on a football pitch. His questions caused a proper uproar in the small Appennine Peninsula country, which forced Muller to apologize quickly for words he obviously hadn’t thought through, after getting more answers than he had bargained for.

It’s been a general feeling ever since that San Marino go into every qualifying campaign with a point to prove – not an easy task for a country of less than 35,000 people. They are obviously the ultimate underdogs in every group, which, in turn, relieves them of any pressure to deliver results and any point won is a cause for celebration.

Coach Fabrizio Constantini and his men will probably see this game as their best chance to avoid defeat in this group, so it’s likely we’ll see them put in a good shift and see where it takes them.

Team News

With Elia Benedittini in goal, we’re likely to see a back five here, formed by Michele Cevoli, Andrea Grandoni, Mirko Palazzi, Alessandro Tosi and Alessandro D’Adario. Alessandro Golinucci, Lorenzo Capicchioni and Marcello Mularoni are expected to form the midfield trio, while Matteo Vitaioli and Danilo Rinaldi pair up in attack.

Northern Ireland

Meanwhile, just as San Marino possibly see this clash as their chance to get something on the board, the Northern Irish will see it as a match they can’t afford to drop points in if they’re to even dream of making an appearance at the Euros next year. Any team that wants to play in a major international tournament simply must beat San Marino, with all due respect to the home side, and coach Martin O’Neill and his men with certainly know that, given that they face Finland in Belfast next at the end of the week.

What’s more, the 53-year-old tactician begins his second spell in charge of the country’s football team with this match, and he won’t want immediate scrutiny and criticism that would surely follow any outcome that gets anything less than three points for his team in San Marino. Even with his contract set to run until 2028 and the project obviously seen as a long-term one, that wouldn’t be a good start.

Team News

With former Manchester United defender Jonny Evans set to miss out along with a number of midfielders, O’Neill has a few issues to work around. He’s expected to line his team up in a 4-4-2 shape.

Bailey Peacock-Farrell should be between the posts. Craig Cathcart and Daniel Ballard are expected to form the centre-back partnership in the absence of Evans, flanked by Liverpool’ youngster Connor Bradley, who plays for Bolton Wanderers on loan, and Newcastle’s Jamal Lewis. Paddy McNair of Middlesbrough should be joined in the middle of the park by Gavin Whyte of Cardiff City, George Saville of Millwall, and Conor McMenamin of Glentoran FC. Upfront, Bolton’s Dion Charles should pair up with Wigan’s Josh Magennis.


San Marino are expected to put in a real fight, but their resolution is likely to be broken at some point. There shouldn’t, however, be too many goals.

Verdict: Total goals under 3.5

Best odds: 4/6

Bookmaker: 888sport


Veselin Trajkovic

Vesko is a football writer that likes to observe the game for what it is, focusing on teams, players and their roles, formations, tactics, rather than stats. He follows the English Premier League closely, Liverpool FC in particular. His articles have been published on seven different football blogs.



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