Bulgaria v Northern Ireland: High-scoring affair not as unlikely as you think

Northern Ireland striker - Josh Magennis
Josh Magennis was only fit enough for the bench against Switzerland

Bulgaria and Northern Ireland saw their Qatar 2022 dreams basically end at the weekend, and Paul Robinson is hopeful of goals between them with the pressure now off.

Three of Bulgaria’s last three have gone Over 2.5 anyway, as they have been beaten 3-0 and 3-1, while also winning 4-1 against Georgia.

Back Over 2.5 Goals @ 3.052/1

Bulgaria v Northern Ireland
Tuesday 12 October, 19:45
Live on Sky Sports

Bulgaria continue to evolve

Bulgaria were beaten 3-1 by Lithuania on Saturday, which has to be considered a disappointing result. It was Yasen Petrov's tenth game in charge of his country, and it was his fifth defeat. The disappointing thing is that it came on the back of his first two victories.

The Bulgarians remain fourth of five in Group C, level on points with Northern Ireland, but they have played a game more. Lithuania, who are bottom, are now just two points adrift.

Given the result in Vilnius, it is likely that Petrov will make changes to his XI, but they won't be too drastic, as the manager has already opted to bring through younger players, as he bids to transform the team.

Baraclough's side need to regroup

Northern Ireland's hopes of qualifying for Qatar 2022 were dealt a hammer-blow in Switzerland at the weekend. They ideally needed to win Geneva - or at least not get beat - but they ended up losing 2-0, falling behind not long after a contentious refereeing decision.

The visitors had already been warned against time-wasting, and when the already booked Jamal Lewis took too long over a throw-in in the 37th minute, he was given his second yellow by the referee.

Ian Baraclough was obviously livid with the decision, but by the letter of the law it was the correct decision. Lewis' suspension will enforce at least one change from the side that lined up against the Swiss, but with so many players already out injured, I wouldn't expect a major shake-up.

Impossible to call the Match-Odds

The betting is tight with both teams practically the same price to take the three points on the Betfair Exchange. As of writing, the visitors are 2.9215/8 for the win, with the hosts at 2.942/1 and the draw at 3.052/1.

So basically it's about 2/1 for any of the three possible outcomes, and it's hard to argue against that. Both teams are on a similar kind of journey. They have relatively new managers who have struggled to win matches, while bringing through some more youthful players - either by choice or necessity.

Achieving a Play-off place now appears a forlorn hope, whereas if either side had won their match at the weekend, they would still have that as a motivational factor. This is definitely a no bet market for me.

Take a chance on goals

Price dictates everything in betting, and while I would suggest that this game is more likely to have two or fewer than three or more, the fact that Over 2.5 is as big as 3.052/1, means that I have to back it.

Three of Bulgaria's last three have gone Over 2.5 anyway, as they have been beaten 3-0 and 3-1, while also winning 4-1 against Georgia.

Baraclough's men are on a run of three to go Under 2.5, but prior to that, three out of five had seen this selection land. Given that neither team have anything really to lose now, they could be a bit more attacking and not just sit back in hope of not being beaten.

Bet Builder

After landing a 13/2 Bet Builder on the Nations League Final, I am feeling confident about getting it right for this World Cup Qualifier.

I am going with Over 1.5 Goals, Under 4.5 Cards and Josh Magennis to score any time. It comes in at odds of 7.31, which is basically 13/2.

2021/22 P/L (1pt each bet)

Wagered: 19pts
Returned: 16.07pts
P/L: -2.93pts

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