NORTHERN Ireland end their campaign in Finland on Sunday. Chris Graham (@chrisgraham79) takes a look at whether they can go out on a high.
Finland v Northern Ireland | Sunday 17:00 | Sky Sports 1
Due to the new qualifying set up for the European Championships there will be a host of dead rubber matches in this final matchday. This is one example of that.
On Thursday night Northern Ireland qualified for their first championships in 30 years after beating Greece 3-1 at Windsor Park. An amazing achievement but how will it affect their performance here?
Sunday’s opponents Finland also received clarity in their own Euro 2016 fate as a 1-1 draw in Romania was not enough to keep them in contention for a play-off spot.
All that remains now in this fixture is the opportunity for the Irish to finish top of their group. That will be achieved by picking up a point here in Helsinki.
After four straight defeats in the middle of the campaign the Finns have gone out on a high with wins over Greece and the Faroe Islands and an excellent draw in Romania on Thursday.
Despite that positivity they go on to this game with just one win from their four home games. Defeats to Romania and Hungary are the reason they won’t be in the play-offs and it’s food for thought regarding this match.
I’ve heard a few people crowing about the Finns here but at 5/4 it’s not a price I can get excited about. True, Northern Ireland won’t be as focussed as on Thursday but the honour of topping the group must be in their minds. 13/5 isn’t a bad price.
All four of Finland’s home games so far have saw less than three goals but as you can imagine it’s a very skinny price at 4/9. This isn’t a game I have much interest in or have a strong view so will be keeping stakes to a bare minimum and backing the draw at 11/5.
Backing a team at 5/4 who have scored just twice at home in this campaign doesn’t appeal and I think the lure of finishing as group winners might inspire the Irish a little.
Finland v Northern Ireland – Draw (11/5 888 Sport)