Luxembourg v Northern Ireland
Friday 25 March, 19:15
Live on Sky Sports
The Red Lions are starting to roar
Luxembourg finished fifth in their World Cup Qualifying Group, but a tally of nine points from their eight games is a decent enough haul, and they are certainly an improving nation.
Luc Holtz has been in charge of the side for 12 years now, and they also had a good performance in the Nations League too – finishing second to Montenegro in their League C Group.
Gerson Rodrigues will again lead the line for the hosts on Friday, fresh from scoring five of the team’s eight goals in qualifying. Of note though, he hasn’t been scoring for Troyes recently, and his last goals were actually for Luxembourg, back in November.
Nations League the focus for Norn
Ian Baraclough had a bit of an in-different start as Northern Ireland boss, but they ended up finishing third behind Switzerland and Italy in their World Cup Qualifying Group, and they couldn’t have expected much more.
They are now aiming to build up a bit more momentum ahead of what looks to be a very winnable Nations League Group, and Baraclough will be keen to do well in that as it gives an additional chance to qualify for the major tournaments.
As far as the team news goes, Paddy McNair and Bailey Peacock-Farrell have been ruled out and Liverpool defender, Conor Bradley is a doubt with a knee injury. In better news, Leicester defender, Jonny Evans is available for both of the upcoming friendlies.
These two teams haven’t played each other since 2019, and while Northern Ireland won it 1-0, they had home advantage, and it could be argued that while they have regressed slightly since then, Luxembourg have improved.
The layers on the Betfair Exchange still make the visitors the match favourites though, with their price currently trading at around the 2.47/5 mark. The draw is 3.02/1 and a home win is available to back at 3.412/5.
The recent form of Rodrigues does concern me for the hosts, but I have this down as a low-scoring affair anyway.
I think the draw is definitely the way to play this one. It isn’t a defeat for either team, and they can still build on it ahead of the Nations League.
As mentioned above, I can’t see this one having too many goals. That being said, I am not going to back Under 2.5 at a prohibitive 1.548/15 on the Exchange.
I would actually play this another way, and take on a Correct Score. On the day, a 0-0 draw should find it’s way to around 8.07/1 on the Exchange, so if it’s that price or bigger, it’s definitely worth a punt. It’s a scoreline that has featured in two of Ireland’s last five outings.
Just a small Bet Builder on this game, which follows my theme of hopefully not much happening in it.
As a treble on the Sportsbook you can have Under 1.5 Goals, Under 0.5 First Half Goals and Under 9.5 Corners at just shy of 5/1.
Key Opta Stat
Northern Ireland’s players have only scored one goal between them in their last 465 minutes of play in international football, a Conor Washington goal against Bulgaria last October. Their only other goal in this time was a Benas Šatkus own goal for Lithuania last November.