Having made a fantastic start to their qualifying campaign, Northern Ireland travel to take on minnows San Marino on Friday evening, knowing that a win would leave them in an extremely strong position in Group C. San Marino have lost all of their matches to date, conceding 30 goals in the process, while scoring just one.
World Cup 2018 Qualifying – San Marino Stadium – Friday 1st September – 19:45 UK Time
Best Odd of: 70 at Ladbrokes
Best Odd of: 11 at Coral
Best Odd of: 1/33 at Ladbrokes
Northern Ireland have won four of their six matches in Group C to date, with Michael O’Neill’s men hoping to qualify for their second consecutive major competition, having made a name for themselves at Euro 2016 in France last summer. Meanwhile, with a population of just over 30,000, it is little wonder that San Marino continue to compete on the international stage.
San Marino Team News & Form
As previously mentioned, San Marino have lost all of their matches in Group C to date, with heavy defeats coming at the hands of Germany, Norway and Friday’s opponents, Northern Ireland. Former San Marino international Pierangelo Manzaroli is currently tasked with the job of managing the national team, with the boss having a small pool of players to select from. Just three of San Marino’s players are based outside the country, with this trio plying their trade in the lower leagues in Italy. Just two of the current squad have ever scored an international goal, with Captain Alessandro Della Valle being one of these. A 7-0 defeat to Germany back in June is unlikely to dampen the spirits of the San Marino team.
Northern Ireland Team News & Form
Northern Ireland currently sit second in Group C, four points clear of the Czech Republic and five points behind run away leaders Germany. Manager O’Neill has named a squad packed full of talent from the English and Scottish Premier League’s, as well as elsewhere. It remains to be seen as to whether Jonny Evans will take part in the game, with concerns over his fitness, as well as a potential transfer away from West Bromwich Albion. Familiar names such as Steven Davis, Kyle Lafferty and Gareth McAuley are expected to be named in the starting eleven once more, with Craig Cathcart having been ruled out through injury already.
Head to Head
The two teams have met on three occasions in the past, with Northern Ireland coming out on top each time. Their last meeting came back in October, when Northern Ireland claimed a comfortable 4-0 victory in front of their home support. The duo also met in both 2008 and 2009, with Northern Ireland coming away with an 7-0 aggregate scoreline from these two matches.
Betting Odds and Predictions
With odds of 1/33 on from Ladbrokes for Northern Ireland to claim all three points on Friday, it is more attractive to look at more diverse markets when it comes to placing a bet on this match. With San Marino having scored just one goal throughout qualifying, betting on Northern Ireland keeping a clean sheet is certainly appealing, with odds of 1/6 available at William Hill.
Elsewhere, backing Northern Ireland to win with over 3.5 goals being scored is an excellent option, with Ladbrokes offering odds of 1/1 for this market.
Top Betting Tip
However, our top betting tip for this match is to bet on the second half being the half with the most goals, which is available at odds of 1/1 at Ladbrokes also.