Northern Ireland v Bulgaria: Irish to get an overdue win

Northern Irish football fans Windsor Park
It could be argued that Northern Ireland are missing having their fans more than most

Northern Ireland take on Bulgaria in a must-win game at Windsor Park and Paul Robinson thinks that Ian Baraclough will make it 11th time lucky.

The hosts are the favourites here at 1.981/1 and I make it a better than 50/50 chance that the Irish pick up their first win under Baraclough.

Back Northern Ireland @ 1.981/1

Northern Ireland v Bulgaria
Wednesday 31 March, 19:45
Live on Sky Sports

Crunch time for the Irish

The pressure is beginning to mount on Ian Baraclough and he's probably just glad that the Republic of Ireland are having even greater struggles of their own to take the focus away from his team.

They were beaten again at the weekend - this time in a friendly against the USA, and while Baraclough did give some of his fringe players a go, it took his record as their manager to played 10, drawn three and lost seven.

This is a huge fixture for them at Windsor Park on Wednesday, as if they want to nick a Play-off place in Group C, they need to be beating Bulgaria at home.

Experienced players like Jonny Evans, Craig Cathcart, Steven Davis and Stuart Dallas will be expected to act as leaders in this must win match.

Two defeats already for Bulgaria

The Bulgarians have already played twice in Group C and they have been beaten on both occasions. They were both home matches, but they did come against the two best teams in the group - Switzerland and Italy.

The problem that Yasen Petrov has here though is that his team didn't perform well in the Nations League either. They finished bottom of their League B group, taking just two points from six outings against Wales, Finland and the Republic of Ireland.

Since international football returned in September last year, they have played 10 times and lost seven of them. Their only victory was against Gibraltar.

Invest in a home win

The hosts are the favourites here at 1.981/1 and I make it a better than 50/50 chance that the Irish pick up their first win under Baraclough.

In fairness to them, only Norway have given them a good beating since he took over from Michael O'Neill, and they had some decent chances in the recent 2-0 defeat in Italy.

The visitors offer little value at 4.94/1, as they are a nation on the decline, and their Nations League performance was very poor indeed.

I don't even fancy the draw at 3.259/4, which sometimes can look attractive in Northern Ireland games. The home win is the stand-out bet here.

Avoid the goal markets at the prices

Under 2.5 Goals is the heavy favourite for this fixture, with it trading at around the 1.558/15 mark on the Betfair Exchange.

It does appear a shade too short, but it's not a price that I would want to be laying - or backing the alternative at around 2.77/4.

Bulgaria haven't scored in any of their last four on the road, and it's unlikely that Norn will put the ball in the net three times. That being said, this is a no bet market for me.

2020/21 P/L (1pt each bet)

Wagered: 56pts
Returned: 62.31pts
P/L: +6.31pts

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