Odds: Northern Ireland 11/1, The Draw 17/4, Germany 33/100
Now that all the euphoria surrounding Northern Ireland’s victory over Ukraine has subsided, the tricky situation they find themselves in can be contemplated with greater clarity.
Their cockle-warming, odds-mocking success at the expense of Mykhaylo Fomenko’s side guarantees them third place, but not qualification for the knockout rounds.
It’s possible, of course that the three points they possess after two games may well be enough to see them into the knockout rounds of Euro 2016.
However, four may well, in the end, be necessary to guarantee their progress into the last 16. Either way their objective is clear against Germany is clear – don’t go behind.
That will be easier said than done against the world champions of course.
Die Mannschaft will need to win and likely win well against Michael O’Neill’s men to ensure they top the section and ensure the easiest round-of-16-foe possible.
Level on points on Poland, with a +2 goal difference to the Poles +1, their rivals for pole position play the already eliminated Ukrainians in their third game.
Germany also have something to prove after underwhelming in their 0-0 draw with the Poles, a clash which they might have lost but for some wasteful finishing from Robert Lewandowski and Arkadiusz Milik.
It’s impossible not to anticipate wave after wave of German attacks crashing down on the Norn Irn rearguard and equally unimaginable they will hold out, but how to make some money from the long-odds-on favourites obliging?
Win, Lose or Draw?
Considering Northern Ireland are 12/5 to avoid defeat, they haven’t done a lot of losing in recent memory.
The group-opening defeat to Poland was their sole loss in 14 outings and even that could have been a draw had the same Milik that played Germany got over the shot that ultimately downed them that afternoon.
Unsurprisingly, Norn Irn’s being hard to beat springs from a miserly rearguard – it’s now 15 games since they gave up more than a single goal.
As such they might lend themselves to handicap wagers nicely, especially given the tournament’s tendency for low-scoring encounters.
Just seven of the first 24 matches at Euro 2016 saw a nation prevail by more than a single goal.
O’Neill’s men are 83/100 to claim victory with the benefit of a one-goal head start, but the more appealing +2 handicap wager only pays out at a measly 7/5.
Of greater interest, given the likelihood that a one-strike cushion may not be enough to see Northern Ireland home, is the half-time draw.
Holding out until the oranges are served is a speciality of the house so far as they are concerned and it’s now 22 matches since they were last in arrears at the interval.
That pays out at 27/20 against the Germans, who haven’t been particularly fast to assert themselves in internationals this campaign, leading just one of their last ten by more than one goal at the mid-way point.
Northern Ireland matches this season have followed a very distinct pattern in relation to the under/over debate.
Namely, that if the opposition are sufficiently resolute to stop them bagging more than twice then those that bet south of the divide are rewarded.
In total, eight of their 11 games since September last year have produced two goals or less, while at least one side has failed to find the net in each of their last six.
Their opponents have rewarded unders backers three games in a row.
Who will do the damage?
In the unlikely event that Norn Irn are able to find the net then regular set-piece profiteer Gareth McAuley, with three goals in qualifying and one here in France, must rank a tasty scorer outsider at 15/2.
However, in the more plausible scenario that Germany bag then Sami Khedira must rate an interesting alternative to the front runners in the betting, he averages as many shots per game as any member of Joachim Low’s squad.
Six of Northern Ireland’s last seven outings have seen at least one team keep a clean sheet, as have Germany’s last three.