DAN MCCULLOCH (@DanMc1984) shares his betting views on Thursday night's World Cup qualifying clash between Northern Ireland and Germany.
Northern Ireland v Germany | Thursday 5th October 2017, 19:45 | Sky Sports
At first glance, Northern Ireland look overpriced here. They are unbeaten at Windsor Park in four years and have yet to concede a goal at home during this campaign.
Additionally, for all Germany’s undoubted credentials they have struggled on the road against sides of a similar standing to Michael O’Neill’s men. They were extremely fortunate to beat Czech Republic last month and in qualifying for Euro 2016 they lost away to Poland and Republic of Ireland and conceded two goals to Scotland.
On recent evidence, however, the gulf between these two has seemed so vast that I cannot take the 12/1 on offer for a home win. For example, when facing the same opponent in Euro 2016, the Green Army had just two shots to their opponents 29.
In Hanover last October it was a slightly more respectable 25-4 count in favour of Germany. Therefore, whilst I have no doubt that Windsor Park is an intimidating atmosphere, I just can’t see how Northern Ireland can contain an opponent that creates clear opportunities with the regularity of Die Mannschaft.
The betting angles
Instead, I am going to back favourite and Under 3.5 goals. Bet ictor value that at 21/20, which is clearly taking Germany’s attacking prowess into account. However, Windsor Park is not the best footballing surface going which makes me conclude that whilst Joachim Lowe’s side will ultimate emerge victorious, it will not be easy for them.
Not one of the last 12 competitive Northern Ireland games have seen both teams score and only three of the 12 have seen Over 2.5 Goals (San Marino x2 and a home game with Azerbaijan).
If the home side are to score, set pieces seem like the viable option for them. Their 2-0 victory against Czech Republic last month saw both goals come via this method and consequently I like the look of a couple of defenders in the anytime goalscorer market.
Gareth McAuley is 12/1 with Marathon and Jonny Evans is 28/1 with the same firm. McAuley has nine goals in 72 appearances for his national side and managed six goals for West Brom last term; Evans has found the net twice in the last month and whilst I am not a fan of Tony Pulis, I do accept that he has improved the pair of them in both boxes.
Given that Northern Ireland’s attackers are likely to be feeding off scraps in open play, I expect them to load the box at every set piece opportunity so both represent excellent value.