Northern Ireland produced a majestic performance to return from Portugal with a point in their last World Cup qualifier last month and now Michael O’Neill will be hoping that his side can use that gutsy 1-1 draw as a catalyst for more success and he will be buoyant heading into Wednesday’s Group F clash with Azerbaijan at Windsor Park.
Niall McGinn’s first-half strike in Lisbon was cancelled out by Helder Postiga late on, but their battling qualities were evident all over the pitch and O’Neill will be asking for much more of the same against lowly Azerbaijan, who sit a point below them in Group F, and the bookmakers fully expect the home side to pick up three points and Paddy Power have installed them 7/10 favourites.
A win would cement Northern Ireland’s place in fourth place in the group and many would agree that if they stand any chance of breaking into the top two then this a must-win game, but they showed when slipping up against Luxembourg that they can be a Jekyll & Hyde side and so punters could be attracted by the 4/1 about Azerbaijan, whilst the draw is on offer at 13/5 with Paddy Power.
Northern Ireland will be without some key personnel for the fixture and Jonny Evans, who was a rock against Portugal, will be a major cog missing at the heart of the defence, whilst Grant McCann will be another integral member of the squad not available, and so they could struggle to get the better of an Azerbaijan side, who showed spirit when grabbing a draw at home to Israel earlier in the year.
With that in mind, the 7/10 certainly offers very little value for punters, so it may be better to opt for parity at the end of 90 minutes and the 13/5 about a draw is the way to go in the win market, but there are a number of other options available in the latest betting from Paddy Power.
Both teams have often had a problem with scoring goals and it’s no surprise that 0-0 is fairly short in the correct score market and the 7/1 could be an attractive betting proposition, whilst the 11/2 about a 1-1 finish could be another possibility in what could be a real war of attrition, as defeat for either side will almost condemn them to another unsuccessful qualifying campaign.
McGinn’s strike against Portugal showed the speedy winger’s abilities in the final third and he could well be a handful for the Azerbaijan rearguard and the 6/1 on offer could be the best value on show in the first goalscorer betting for Northern Ireland followers, whilst the 13/2 about no goalscorer could be used as a safety net in what is an important clash for O’Neill’s spirited squad.
Northern Ireland v Azerbaijan Tips
Tip #1: Northern Ireland v Azerbaijan - Draw @ 13/5 with Paddy Power.
Tip #2: Match Result to be 0-0 @ 7/1 with Paddy Power.
Tip #3: HT/FT - Draw/Draw @ 10/3 with Paddy Power.
7/10 Northern Ireland
Correct Score Odds
9/2 Northern Ireland 1-0
6/1 Northern Ireland 2-0
7/1 Northern Ireland 2-1
7/1 Draw 0-0
11/2 Draw 1-1
16/1 Draw 2-2
11/1 Azerbaijan 1-0
25/1 Azerbaijan 2-0
14/1 Azerbaijan 2-1
First Goalscorer Odds
9/2 Kyle Lafferty
5/1 David Healy
5/1 Dean Shiels
6/1 Andrew Little
6/1 Niall McGinn
13/2 No Goalscorer
13/2 Billy McKay
7/1 Will Grigg
8/1 Vagif Javadov
9/1 Patrick McCourt
9/1 Rauf Aliyev
9/1 Vugar Nadarov
Odds supplied by PaddyPower.com, who offer live betting in-running for all World Cup qualifying games.
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