TWO wins out of two for Northern Ireland so far in this campaign, but can they get anything from Greece on Tuesday? We asked Chris Graham (@chrisgraham79).
Greece v Northern Ireland | Tuesday 19:45 | Sky Sports 2
There seems to be a real malaise amongst some of the European sides who participated in the World Cup this summer. So far in these Euro 2016 qualifiers, of the 12 sides taking part who played in Brazil, seven have lost already in this campaign. That number includes the world champions Germany, as well as Spain, Holland and Greece.
What about Greece then? Well, one thing you could always rely on with the Greeks was their outstanding home form. They went into this campaign boasting no defeat at home in a competitive match since 2008. That record has already been sunk though, as new boss Claudio Ranieri oversaw a 1-0 loss to Romania on home soil in September. That loss was followed up with a draw in Finland. It doesn’t exactly bode well.
Northern Ireland will be able to smell blood and will travel to Piraeus with six points out of six to their name. Michael O’Neill’s side love upsetting big teams and have a real talent in it. Incredibly, of the seven points his side won during Brazil qualifying, four of those points were won from the top two seeds in the group – Russia (3 points) and Portugal (1 point). Barmy, eh?
So surely they can compete here? They’re up against another side suffering a World Cup comedown and a new manager under real pressure. O’Neill should be pointing out to his players that Greece are there for the taking and it’s a chance for them to make a real dent in this qualifying group.
I’m going to have to side with Northern Ireland here on the Asian Handicap. BetVictor are going 11/12 with the Irish receiving a goal start on the handicap. That means if they lose by one goal my stake will be returned. Come on Northern Ireland, Greece might just be there for the taking.
Greece v Northern Ireland – Northern Ireland +1 Asian Handicap (11/12 BetVictor)