Our man Daniel McCulloch (@danmcc84) believes there’s value looking at Northern Ireland in Sunday night’s UEFA World Cup qualifying action.
Norway vs Northern Ireland | Sunday 8th October 2017, 19:45 | Sky Sports
Norway’s record of 16 goals in their nine qualifying matches may sound impressive but it does need a little bit of context; 12 of those goals came against San Marino; Across the other seven games they have found the net just four times and they consisted of two penalties, an own goal and an 87th minute consolation in a 2-1 defeat to the Czech Republic.
This coupled with Northern Ireland’s defensive prowess means that it is unsurprising that Marathon Bet’s 61/100 is the best price you can get on under 2.5 goals.
Whilst I believe this to be a more than fair price, there are a couple of other bets at bigger prices that I like the look of.
The first is a 0-0 scoreline at 13/2 with William Hill. Not only have Northern Ireland yet to concede a goal to anyone other than Germany in this campaign but they have also struggled to find the net away from Windsor Park. Aside from the 2-0 defeat in Hanover, their results have consisted of a 0-0 draw in the Czech Republic, a 1-0 win over Azerbaijan and a 3-0 victory over San Marino.
It is worth noting that they did not score the winner in Baku until the 92nd minute and the game against the Group C’s minnows was also goal-less after 70 minutes. The difference between those two encounters and this one is that Northern Ireland needed to win them. On this occasion, they know that a draw guarantees a playoff spot.
In theory, Norway can still finish between third and fifth but given the quality of opposition that their rivals are facing, the fourth place feels like a nigh-on certainty so, in reality, they have little more than national pride to play for.
Obviously, neither side will want to end on a defeat so if there is an early goal I think there would be a genuine desire for the opponent to get back into the game so I would also recommend a safe play and back the draw at 11/5 with Bet365. 0-0 feels the most likely result to me but it’s always good to have an insurance!
Norway vs Northern Ireland – draw (11/5 Bet365)
Norway vs Northern Ireland – correct score 0-0 (13/2 William Hill)