Northern Ireland welcome Serbia tonight for a key Euro 2012 qualifier which is particularly tricky to call, if bwin’s latest football betting odds are anything to go by.
Nigel Worthington’s men are battling valiantly in their quest to reach Poland and Ukraine, picking up a respectable nine points from six Group C fixtures to date, with just one defeat.
While leaders Italy look out of sight, a play-off place is still very much within their grasp, as they trail second-placed Slovenia by two points with a game in hand.
However, they must surely see off Serbia – who sit a single point behind them in fourth place – if they are to have any chance of keeping their qualification dreams alive.
Nemanja Vidic and company have been far from convincing so far during their qualifying campaign, but they will draw confidence from a 1-0 friendly victory at Windsor Park in November 2009.
Serbia also notched a 2-1 success in the previous meeting between the two sides in Belgrade in March, with second-half goals by Marko Pantelic and Zoran Tosic rescuing them after Gareth McAuley’s opener.
A repeat scenario – Northern Ireland winning at half-time but Serbia being ahead at the final whistle – is available at a whopping 35/1, while another 2-1 win for the visitors is priced at 33/4.
Interestingly, Worthington’s men are yet to concede a goal in front of their passionate home support in their three qualifiers in Belfast to date and are priced at 11/5 to extend that streak.
Furthermore, there have been just four goals scored at in all Northern Ireland’s home matches and Serbia’s away matches combined thus far, while the eastern Europeans are yet to concede before the break on their travels.
With that in mind, a cagey opening to the fixture can be expected, so backing the scoreline to be 0-0 at half-time could attract some support at football betting odds of 7/5.
Along the same lines, punters could get on the 5/4 being offered by bwin for more goals to be scored in the second half than in the first 45 minutes.
However, with both teams desperate for a victory to keep their qualification hopes alive and kicking, it would be typical if they cancelled each other out and had to settle for a share of the spoils.
A wager on the total number of goals being even at 83/100 therefore looks like a solid conservative play, but backing a 1-1 scoreline could well be the standout bet at 19/4.
Punters who use their free £25 bet for joining bwin.com on this outcome will net a cool £143.75 if their desired result comes in at Windsor Park.
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