Northern Ireland vs Slovakia prediction, Euro 2020 play-off, football

Northern Ireland vs Bulgaria: Baraclough to break duck

Kick-off: 1945, 31/03/2021

Stadium: Windsor Park

TV: Sky Sports

Ian Baraclough is backed to finally secure a first win as Northern Ireland boss at the 11th attempt when Bulgaria visit Belfast for a World Cup qualifier.

The visitors are 23 places lower down the FIFA rankings table and have been struggling even more than their hosts in the goalscoring department.

Punters can get 9/10 for the Green and White Army to oblige and that is our first Northern Ireland vs Bulgaria prediction.

A Look At Northern Ireland’s Betting Odds

Northern Ireland opened their Group C campaign with a 2-0 defeat in Italy before losing 2-1 to the USA in a friendly at this venue.

Gio Reyna and Christian Pulisic put the Americans in charge before Niall McGinn’s excellent late strike gave his team some consolation.

Baraclough’s side showed plenty of spirit and some encouraging signs in both matches, though, and he is now keen to turn promise into points.

This is a hard-working team which beat Bosnia and Herzegovina on penalties in a Euro 2020 play-off before only losing out to Slovakia in extra-time.

“I know we’re going in the right direction, getting together and integrating a good group of players,” insisted Baraclough.

“It’s something you’ve got to be patient with at times, but if we’re not counting Bosnia then I want to get that first victory.

“I’ve gone on record before and said that if we want to be in the top two, we have to win games like Bulgaria at home.

“That’s no disrespect to Bulgaria, but we don’t want to be going into September having not recorded a victory in the first two games and then having to chase it.”

Everything points towards this being a tight tussle, but we’re hoping Norn Iron can shade it.

That makes 12/5 for a home win and under 2.5 goals a tempting option from the Northern Ireland vs Bulgaria odds.

A Look At Bulgaria’s Betting Odds

Bulgaria have failed to pick up a point from two home games against the teams expected to compete for top spot in this section.

The Lions were beaten 3-1 by Switzerland in Sofia last Thursday and then went down 2-0 to Italy at Vasil Levski Stadium on Sunday.

Yasen Petrov has been brought back from a six-year stint in China to try and revive the fortunes of a national team which finished fourth at the 1994 World Cup.

However, there is no Hristo Stoichkov or Dimitar Berbatov to build the current squad around, with just 18 international goals between them and a highest individual tally of three.

To be fair, last year’s Nations League campaign saw Bulgaria draw twice with Republic of Ireland and only go down 1-0 in both encounters with Wales.

All of those fixtures were goalless at half-time, so 13/10 for that trend to continue here is worth adding to our Northern Ireland vs Bulgaria betting tips.

That record also points us towards 7/2 for the scores to be level at the break and then the home team to prevail as a value pick.

Additional stats

Last result:

NORTHERN IRELAND 1-2 United States – Niall McGinn

BULGARIA 0-2 Italy

Head-to-head: N Ireland 0-1 Bulgaria, N Ireland 2-0 Bulgaria, Bulgaria 0-2 N Ireland

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