Portugal suffered a potentially critical 1-0 defeat at the hands of Russia on Friday night, leaving them three points off the pace in Group F and in need of a maximum return against Northern Ireland this Tuesday.
Paulo Bento's side have already narrowly avoided a huge upset in this campaign after coming back from 1-0 down to beat Luxembourg 2-1 in their opening fixture. But it is difficult to see Norn Iron giving the Portuguese similar problems here.
Michael O'Neill's side are without a win since beating the Faroe Islands in August of last year. A run that spans nine matches and includes, most recently, a 1-1 home draw with Luxembourg.
The visitors are without Grant McCann and Alex Bruce, who both withdrew from the squad and have yet to be replaced.
Portugal are priced at odds of [1.11] for the three points, and there is no reason to oppose them even at that price. Northern Ireland's slim chances of causing an upset are reflected by their odds of [44.0], while the draw is [11.0].
The Asian Handicap market, however, offers some more rewarding returns for backing the home side. Portugal -3.0 can be backed at around the [2.6] mark, while Portugal -2.5 is a [2.0] chance.
Northern Ireland have scored only one goal on their travels since March 2011, so any play on the goals markets relies heavily on the Portuguese. Rather than back the [2.2] available on the match having more than 3.5 goals, it makes sense to back the Any Unquoted selection in the Correct Score market at the slightly bigger odds of [2.6].
One notable sub-plot to this fixture is that Cristiano Ronaldo will earn his 100th cap for his country and move within 27 appearances of Portugal's most-capped player Luis Figo. The world's most expensive player is priced at odds of just [1.34] to mark the occasion with a goal, but a much more appealing [3.0] to get the first of the match.comments powered by Disqus