Northern Ireland go into their Group C encounter with Slovenia today (March 29th) in desperate need of a win to boost their qualification hopes.
Priced at 3/100, Italy are overwhelming favourites to qualify for the tournament in Poland and Ukraine as Group C winners.
This leaves the remaining teams in the group chasing second spot, which carries with it the chance of progression.
The best of the nine mini-league runners-up are guaranteed a place in the finals and the rest will be entered into playoffs to determine the last entrants for next summer’s showpiece.
With Northern Ireland having lost in battling style away to Serbia on Friday, they have slipped behind Slovenia, Serbia and Estonia in the race for second.
However, they do have a game in hand over Slovenia and Serbia, who they trail by two points, meaning Northern Ireland boss Nigel Worthington has not yet given up hope of making up the deficit.
“We’ll certainly be looking to win the game as will Slovenia. To keep in sight of second spot we have to try and win [tonight] and our game in hand,” he told the BBC.
Northern Ireland are playing Slovenia for the second time in the group, with the first match having ended in a 1-0 away victory for the men in green.
A successful £10 bet on Northern Ireland to replicate this result and beat Slovenia 1-0 at bwin would return £80.
However, Northern Ireland will be hampered by the loss of several key players, including Aaron Hughes, Kyle Lafferty, David Healy and Steve Davis.
With this in mind, Slovenia should not be discounted from the reckoning, particularly given the scoreline of their last Group C match.
Playing runaway group leaders Italy at the Stadion Stozice in Ljubljana, Slovenia’s defence was breached just once in a 1-0 defeat.
Given this defensive solidity and Northern Ireland’s lack of striking options, betting on a 0-0 scoreline could reap dividends.
A £10 stake on Northern Ireland to beat Slovenia 2-1 would return £115. New customers can register here to receive a £25 free bet.