ROSS CASEY (@Rosscasey24) shares his betting views on Saturday’s Nations League contest between Northern Ireland and Bosnia from Belfast.
Northern Ireland v Bosnia | Saturday 8th September 2018, 14:00 | Sky Sports
The Nations League provides a great chance for both of these nations to reach EURO 2020 after both missed out on this summer’s World Cup.
Northern Ireland are a defensively-minded outfit who frequently outperform their performance data and tend to rely on set-pieces to win tight games against decent opposition.
That was certainly the case when they reached EURO 2016 and let’s not forget that they were only a dodgy handball away from reaching the World Cup when they finished in front of both the Czech Republic and Norway in their group before falling foul of the referee in their play-off against Switzerland.
Bosnia, on the other hand, failed to qualify for Euro 2016 and also this year’s World Cup finals in Russia, having ended up third in their qualifying group behind Belgium and Greece.
Northern Ireland have won only one of their last seven matches, having come out on top in five successive fixtures before that. This recent run has seen them score just three times in those seven fixtures, losing four times including a 3-0 defeat via Costa Rica last time out.
Despite their lack of goal action of late, forwards Kyle Lafferty, Josh Magennis, Liam Boyce and Will Grigg have been in goalscoring form for their clubs and they will give Michael O’Neill a bit of a selection headache.
Usually, I would go towards the Under 2.5 Goals market with Northern Ireland as they don’t tend to concede many and score even less. But due to this fact, and that Bosnia failed to scored to score in four of their last six matches, that selection is as short as 4/9, which is too short to recommend.
Manager Robert Prosinecki is given the task of trying to get Bosnia back to a major competition. They are unbeaten in four matches heading into this one, but are nowhere near the team they were a few years ago.
Only Miralem Pjanic and Edin Dzeko are the true talent left in this squad now, which is more workmanlike than they were before.
I mentioned before about the lack of attacking threat Bosnia have and again that is proven when noticing that Under 2.5 Goals has landed in four of Bosnia’s last five matches.
The betting angle
I must admit that I have found this one very hard to call from a betting perspective as I am expecting a low scoring game which has been covered by the bookies.
And with Northern Ireland uncertain who will lead their line, I will bank on Edin Visca to score (11/2 Bet365).
Dzeko has not scored for his country in seven matches whilst the Istanbul Basaksehir man scored a hat-trick last time out and has scored four in that time.
He looks a speculative punt at 11/2 here, especially as other firms have him at 3/1.
Northern Ireland v Bosnia – Edin Visca to score (11/2 Bet365)