Northern Ireland entertain Greece this evening knowing victory will guarantee them a spot at Euro 2016.
Their opponents are bottom of Group F and without a win from eight games thus far, but their slight upturn in form means Michael O’Neill’s men are far from assured of the three points that will end their almost 30-year absence from any major international tournament.
Prospects of a home win have been further hindered by the suspension of talismanic forward Kyle Lafferty, who has plundered seven of the team’s 12 qualifying goals thus far.
Despite this, they still assume 7/5 favouritism to win the match and they’ll turn to the second-highest scoring member of the rank and file to fire them over the line here.
West Brom centre-back Gareth McAuley has notched three times in the current campaign.
It’s a tally universally-revered, multi-million pound attackers such as Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard, David Silva, Mario Gotze and Harry Kane have been unable to best, while Andres Iniesta, Robin van Persie, Diego Costa and Christian Benteke are amongst the masses trailing in his wake.
Two of McAuley’s trio of strikes have been deadlock breakers and, with Lafferty in the sin bin, the Baggies stopper rates an excellent first goalscorer bet at a beefy 18/1.
He’ll need to be at his sharpshooting best to perforate a Greece backline who have kept three clean sheets from their last four outings, competitive or otherwise.
Having seemingly abandoned any attacking inclinations on their travels, focusing instead on frustrating their foes, Greece are unlikely to overly vex McAuley’s stellar defensive abilities, allowing him to concentrate on improving his impressive scoring record.