Northern Ireland vs Belarus predictions, betting tips and match preview for the Euro 2020 Group C fixture between two sides who will do very well to finish above the likes of Germany and the Netherlands in their qualification pool.
The Green and White Army got off to the perfect start in midweek when they beat Estonia 2-0 at home. Although far from a classic, the result and performance was typical of those so often produced by Michael O’Neill’s side – who habitually edge past their adversaries and upset the established order. Their opponents on Sunday, meanwhile, were thrashed 4-0 by a much-improved Netherlands side. Belarus will be all too aware of the fact that qualification will almost exclusively rest on their ability to beat Northern Ireland and Estonia, so this one is already very much a must win for the visitors.
There’s something about the home side’s resoluteness that makes them extremely fanciable when entertaining the weaker half of the European nations, and I can see them making it six points from six with two matches played. Northern Ireland are 8/11 to see off the Belarusians which would probably put them top of the group depending on what happens in Amsterdam.
One of the better-known players among Northern Ireland’s ranks is former Premier League stalwart and current Rangers midfielder, Steven Davis. The Ballymena-born playmaker has been at the centre of most of his country’s recent success and found the net on Thursday night to round off a comprehensive display. Davis has made over a century of international appearances after making his debut in 2005 and has carved out a reputation as a sort of ‘Mr. Reliable’ type figure whilst still retaining the captaincy. At the age of 34, the former Southampton man isn’t quite the box-to-box midfielder he once was but his influence within the set-up is unremitting.
With a crucial penalty awarded against Estonia in midweek, it was Davis who stepped up to convert the decisive opportunity and effectively secure the win with 15 minutes remaining. Any spot-kicks awarded on Sunday will surely be be taken by Davis once again, making the 13/2 price on him scoring at anytime a tad on the lengthy side. I, for one, won’t be ignoring.
If there’s one thing we can be fairly certain off when these two lock horns, it’s that goals are unlikely to be plentiful. Northern Ireland have scored three or more only once in the last two years, so the chances of them dishing out a thumping look slim. True, they’re not up against one of the continent’s most dangerous teams which will surely prove to be a contributing factor in the way they’ll approach the game.
Michael O’Neill will trust his defence to stifle a pretty insipid Belarus front line and is boosted by the return of veteran centre back Gareth McAuley. A solitary goal might well be enough here, with that fact in itself rendering it extremely improbable that the Northern Irish go for the throat. A 1-0 win, whilst not nailed on, looks unquestionably the most obvious selection on the correct score market due in no small part to the home side’s incredible penchant for narrowly coming out on top in crucial games.