ALEX JONES (@AlexJ0nes9) analyses the odds as Northern Ireland travel to Austria for a Nations League showdown.
Austria vs Northern Ireland | Sunday 15th November 2020, 19:45 | Sky Sports
So, it was last ditch heartbreak for Northern Ireland on Thursday night, as a late extra time winner from Slovakia’s Michal Duris dumped them out of Euro 2021 qualification. It was a tight and scrappy affair which took a great finish from Duris to beat the scrambling Bailey Peacock-Farrell.
Their disappointment would have been extended even further when they saw Scotland had qualified, to join the other two home nations at next summer’s competition: England and Wales. Such anguish at such a late stage in the qualifying process will be a heavy blow for Ian Barraclough’s men as they travel to Austria this weekend for their penultimate Nations League contest.
Such exertion and hard work were put into their bid for Euro 2021 football and it may have taken its toll on the players as they face their final two Nations League games, already looking doomed to finish bottom of the group if they were to lose in Austria. Heads may well have dropped which wouldn’t be surprising.
With Austria keeping three clean sheets in their last four international victories, it’s an incredibly tough ask for Barraclough’s men to turn up in Vienna.
The hosts here have won three of their four games in this group, defeating Northern Ireland already in Belfast, in October. They are clear favourites to defeat the visitors on home turf here but instead of backing them outright, we can get a 5/2 shot if we back them to win by a singular goal. Every game they have won has been by just the one goal.
They played Northern Ireland in the 2018 Nations League campaign and won both ties by a singular goal, as well as last month when Michael Gregoritsch’s strike earned them a 1-0 away victory. Therefore the 5/2 with Bet365 looks a good angle considering its frequency in landing.
They tend to see out games with ease, with their all-German Bundesliga back five perhaps suggesting some chemistry when it comes to keeping opposition out. David Alaba’s leadership skills at the back have clearly been developed whilst playing at Bayern Munich, with Martin Hinteregger’s and Aleksandar Dragovic’s partnership in the middle proving resolute.
Another reason which potentially only sees them win victories by a single goal margin is their goalscoring form. The Austrians scored three goals in a match for the first time in nine games in midweek, as they saw off a weak Luxembourg team.
Their top scorer in the Nations League is Gregoritsch, with only two goals to his name. They are an extremely organised and well-drilled international team, but far from the most free-flowing and attacking side on the international scene at the moment.
- Won three of their four matches in the current Nations League campaign.
- Of their eight matches since the Nations League began in 2018, three of them have been wins over Northern Ireland.
- They have five wins altogether in these eight games, winning every game by exactly one goal, either 1-0 or 2-1.
- Never won a Nations League game since its introduction in 2018.
- Have not scored more than one goal in any of their last eight matches.
- Have seen under 2.5 goals land in six of these eight games.
The referee for this contest is Maurizio Mariani who has only officiated one Nations League game so far, which was Hungary v Russia where he dished out one card a piece. He has given 15 yellow cards in just three Serie A games this term, but note cards are much more apparent over in Italy with averages incredibly high within most referees.
My focus for this one is on the home side and I’ll be hoping they continue where they left off last month and see of Northern Ireland with a resolute and professional performance. Therefore, I’m going to chuck in Austria and Under 3.5 as well at 5/6 with bet365, considering everything outlined that looks a safer way in.
Austria vs Northern Ireland – Austria to win by exactly 1 goal (5/2 Bet365)
Austria vs Northern Ireland – Austria and Under 3.5 Goals (5/6 Bet365)