Norway v Northern Ireland: Irish defence to hold firm in Oslo

Can this Northern Ireland team make it to Russia?
Can this Northern Ireland team make it to Russia?
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Michael O'Neill's Northern Ireland conclude their World Cup Qualifying Campaign in Oslo and with a point still a possible necessity, Paul Robinson thinks that he will adopt a defensive approach.

"Northern Ireland have only conceded goals against Germany in this qualifying campaign and their defenders will know all about Norway’s main attacking threat – Bournemouth’s, Joshua King."

Back Under 1.5 Goals @ [2.86]

Norway v Northern Ireland
Sunday 8 October, 19:45 BST

A long road back for the Norwegians

The Norwegians haven't qualified for a major tournament since Euro 2000 and they have missed out once again as the best they can do is finish third in Group C - six points adrift of Northern Ireland in second.

Lars Lagerbäck is the latest manager given the chance to try and revive the fortunes of a nation that is the only team to have played and never lost to Brazil - they have faced them four times without defeat.

The former Sweden boss was appointed earlier this year and it was against the Northern Irish at Windsor Park. They were beaten 2-0 on that occasion, but since then they have taken seven points from a possible 12 in qualifying and drew against Sweden in a friendly.

Enthusiasm must be tempered however as the victories were at home to Azerbaijan and away at San Marino. They couldn't beat the Czech Republic on this ground and they were thrashed 6-0 in Germany.

One more point needed for the Irish

Michael O'Neill continues to take Northern Ireland from strength to strength and although their five match winning streak was ended by Germany on Thursday, it's hardly the end of the world to be beaten 3-1 by arguably the best national side in the world.

The situation is complicated for the Irish as there are nine groups and only the best eight runners-up go into the Play-offs. As things stand, even a defeat would see them have enough points to make the top eight, but a point would absolutely guarantee it.

They have played four times on the road in Group C to date and after beginning with a 0-0 draw in the Czech Republic, they lost 2-0 at Germany, before winning 1-0 and 3-0 at Azerbaijan and San Marino, respectfully.

Hard to call a winner

There is no denying that Norway have improved under Lars Lagerbäck as after missing out in the Play-offs during their Euro 2016 Qualifying campaign, their results were pretty poor.

I wouldn't say that he has turned them into a truly competitive nation just yet though and he clearly needs more time to bed in the next generation of players.

This match doesn't mean anything to them in terms of this competition as while they could finish anywhere between third and fifth, given the respective fixtures of the teams in third and fifth, whatever their result against Northern Ireland, they will almost certainly stay in fourth.

Their opponents don't need to win the game either - they just need a draw. While I'm sure that Michael O'Neill will tell the press that they are going to Oslo to win, I can absolutely guarantee that he would take a point prior to kick off - as would his players.

I very much doubt that the Irish will get on the foot too often and leave themselves exposed at the back so out of the three match results options - home win [2.56], away win [3.25] and draw [3.25], I would have to side with the latter.

However I'm more keen to take something at a bigger price though as I like the look of 0-0 in the Correct Score Market at [8.6]. It's a full two points bigger than 1-1 and I just can't see there being many goals at all in this close-fought fixture.

Solid NI defence to get the job done

A quick overview of the goal markets now and Over 2.5 Goals is trading at around the [2.48] mark, with the Under at [1.65]. It's no surprise at all which way the layers are leaning as neither team really need to win.

Northern Ireland have only conceded goals against Germany in this qualifying campaign and their defenders will know all about Norway's main attacking threat - Bournemouth's, Joshua King.

I'm happy to go even lower when it comes to goals though as I think that Under 1.5 could prove a worthwhile investment at [2.86].

This selection would have landed in two of Northern Ireland's four away games in Group C and it also covers us if our 0-0 is scuppered by just a single goal.

Recommended Bets
Back Under 1.5 Goals @ [2.86]
Back A 0-0 Correct Score @ [8.6]

2017/18 P/L (1pt each bet)

Wagered: 15pts
Returned: 24.37pts
P/L: +9.37pts

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