ROSS CASEY (@Rosscasey24) shares his betting views on Friday's Nations League contest between Austria and Northern Ireland from Vienna.
Austria v Northern Ireland | Friday 12th September 2018, 19:45 | 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.
Austria, on the other hand, failed to qualify for this year's World Cup finals in Russia, and flopped at Euro 2016 with just one point accumulated from three group games.
These sides disappointed in their first Nations League games too with Bosnia defeating them both, so this match is huge in terms of relegation.
Austria had won eight of their last nine before that clash with Bosnia, so losing in Sarajevo was a huge setback.
At home though, Austria are particularly strong. They have only lost one of their last eight, which was a 3-0 loss to Brazil, and they have scored in nine of their last 10 home matches.
Only two players in their squad have scored more than 10 international goals and that is David Alaba and Marko Arnautovic. Alaba is likely to miss this fixture due to injury, but Arnautovic is the favourite to score here with best odds of 13/10. Interestingly though, he has only netted in two of the last 10 matches for Austria.
At home, Austria have seen 20 goals scored in their last seven games, with five of those going Over 2.5 Goals (which is 33/25 here) and six of the seven went Over 1.5 Goals (which is 4/9).
Northern Ireland have won only two of their last nine matches, having come out on top in five successive fixtures before that. This recent run had seen them score just three times in seven fixtures, but net four goals in their last two.
Many are predicting the loss of Kyle Lafferty for this fixture as the end of any hope for Northern Ireland, but he wasn't on the pitch when Northern Ireland scored four goals in two matches, whilst Will Grigg scored twice.
For me, Grigg offers just as much as Lafferty does and he will relish the chance to impress away from Windsor Park here. He is available at 27/5 to score which looks a great price.
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. However, both of their previous matches have gone Over 2.5 Goals and when you add the Austria home stats to that, I think 33/25 (Marathon) is a value punt.
The betting angle
This looks to be one of those sleeper matches where everyone is expecting a dour, low scoring game, but for me the Over 2.5 Goals angle seems too tempting to ignore. Five of seven at home for Austria and the last two Northern Ireland matches following suit tells me that 33/25 looks a palpable price.
Both teams will be going for three points here after losing their opening games in this competition and I am hoping for another positive Northern Ireland performance after they have registered 31 shots in their last two games.
Austria v Northern Ireland – Over 2.5 Goals (33/25 Marathonbet)