There are few things that can comfort you when your team has won just one of its last 17 games, but a home tie against Luxembourg is surely one that can bring some cheer back to supporters of Northern Ireland.
Odds of 21/50 suggest Michael O’Neill will secure his first win in charge and despite Windsor Park no longer being a destination of fear for Europe’s national sides, lowly Luxembourg – who have won just two of their last 50 away matches – should be beatable.
The visitors are rated as 25/4 outsiders, with the draw available at 17/5, but better value punts can be found in determining the potential winning margin for O’Neill’s men.
For example, backing the draw in the 0-2 handicap market at 16/5 will see handsome returns should Northern Ireland take a comfortable two-goal winning margin.
And given that they rattled three past Finland at Windsor Park in a drawn friendly last month, such a win seems comfortably within their reach.
Having said that, a narrower victory seems more likely due to the possibility of some Irish jitters caused by their desperate form – seven defeats in their last eight matches – and the pressure of being expected to win on home soil.
It should also be noted that Luxembourg handed mighty Portugal a huge fright on Friday by scoring first in an eventual 2-1 loss.
Taking all that into account, I will be plumping for Northern Ireland to win by a single goal, by backing the draw in the 0-1 handicap market.
At odds of 23/10, new customers using the free £20 bet they receive when registering with bwin to follow this tip would pocket a cool £66 if successful.
Another bet worth looking at is for Northern Ireland to win to nil at 23/20. The defensive showing was fairly positive in a 2-0 loss to Russia on Friday and O’Neill is clearly trying to rebuild confidence from the back.
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