WILLIE DUNCAN (@Willie_Duncan) analyses the odds ahead of Northern Ireland’s latest World Cup qualifying contest against Germany on Tuesday night.
Germany v Northern Ireland | Tuesday 19.45 | Sky Sports
One of the most one-sided games that I can remember watching at this summer’s European Championship was the group game between Germany and Northern Ireland.
The Germans won 1-0, but Michael McGovern had the game of his life for the Green and White Army and, in the end, the fact that Northern Ireland managed to keep the score down proved pivotal as they progressed to the last-16 as one of the best third-placed teams.
On Tuesday night, the rivalry will be renewed when Michael O’Neill takes his men to Hannover, where Joachim Low’s side will be determined to preserve their perfect start to the World Cup 2018 qualification campaign.
Die Mannschaft have scored six goals and have collected six points from their opening two matches against Norway and Czech Republic respectively and the fact that the Germans have been so utterly dominant is, perhaps, ominous for the boys from Belfast.
Northern Ireland, too, will be pretty pleased with their efforts on the road to Russia, following up on a goalless draw in Prague last month with a routine 4-0 victory over San Marino at Windsor Park on Saturday evening.
O’Neill’s outfit, however, have failed to find the net in five of their last seven fixtures and three of their four goals at the weekend came in the final 11 minutes of a match in which San Marino had been reduced to 10 men just four minutes into the second-half.
Northern Ireland rarely made it across the halfway line against the Germans this summer and the 28/1 quotes available for an away win are a pretty useful indicator of just how hard it’s going to be for the visitors against the 2014 World Cup winners this time around.
Germany have conceded just three goals – two of those were penalties – in their previous 10 matches and the 4/6 quote for Low’s men to win without conceding certainly looks fair – but better value is to be found in backing the home side in the handicap market.
The odds compilers are offering up an outstanding 6/5 (Paddy Power) for Germany (-2) ahead of Tuesday’s tussle and given the gulf in class between these two teams, it is a price that is certainly worthy of attention.
Northern Ireland may have got away with a narrow loss at the European Championships while you have to go back to 2012 for the last time that the Green and White Army were beaten by more than two goals in a game.
However, unless Michael McGovern is able to produce another heroic performance in goal – and unless O’Neill’s side carry huge, huge slices of the luck of the (Northern) Irish, then backing Low’s men to win by three or more goals at 6/5 (Paddy Power) looks like a solid selection.
The selection would have landed in both of Germany’s Group C games on the road to Russia so far and backing the four-time world champions to show their considerable class once again is the recommended play for punters here.
Germany v Northern Ireland – Germany -2 handicap (6/5 Paddy Power)