Northern Ireland v Austria
Sunday 11 October, 19:45
Live on Sky Sports
Green and White Army on cloud 9
A superb penalty shoot-out win for Northern Ireland on Thursday means that they are just one game away from a place in next summer’s rescheduled Euro 2020 tournament.
Before that though, they have two Nations League fixtures to play, with this one at Windsor Park being the first.
Given the gruelling nature of their success in Bosnia, it is highly likely than Ian Baraclough will rotate his team – especially as they travel to Norway on Wednesday.
The Irish are already bottom of League B Group 1, and while they will want to avoid relegation to League C, qualifying for Euro 2020 is the priority.
Austrians back in the groove
Austria were also involved in action last week, but as they had already qualified for the Euros, their fixture was a home friendly against Greece.
Franco Foda had the luxury of resting some of his players for that match – and they still won 2-1, after coming from behind.
As for their Nations League campaign so far, they have won one and lost one so far. They opened up with a fantastic 1-2 success in Norway, before falling to a disappointing 2-3 home defeat to Romania.
Unlike their opponents here, I expect the Austrians to put out their best XI.
It is no surprise that the hosts are the outsiders at [5.4] on the Betfair Exchange. The draw is [3.8] and the away win is the favourite at around the [1.78] mark.
The last time Northern Ireland took the pitch at Windsor Park, they were thumped 1-5 by Norway. That was Baraclough’s only home game in charge to date, and it was their heaviest home loss in 18 years.
Fans are expected to be back in the ground for this match, but only 600, so it’s not like the atmosphere will be like it usually is on this ground.
If this was a normal match, I wouldn’t consider backing Austria at odds-on, but given the circumstances, I wouldn’t be against it.
For a bit of a bigger price though, I am going to tip Austria -1, which is currently trading at around [3.2] on the Betfair Exchange.
As usual with a Northern Ireland fixture, Under 2.5 Goals is the favourite at [1.75]. The Over is [2.2].
I think that there could be goals in this game. Austria’s last three have all seen Over 2.5 backers collect – with both teams getting on the scoresheet each time.
As previously mentioned, Baraclough’s team were beaten 1-5 in their last game here, and they are yet to keep a clean sheet since Michael O’Neil departed – but they haven’t failed to score themselves either.
Key Opta Stat
Northern Ireland are yet to register a win in the UEFA Nations League (P6 D1 L5), losing all three of their home games.