Northern Ireland face the daunting task of attempting to come away from the Estadio Do Dragao with their dignity intact when they take on European giants Portugal on Tuesday night. The World Cup 2014 qualifier should result in a routine Portugal win, with Christiano Ronaldo and co predicted to run riot following their frustrating defeat to fellow Group F side Russia. Paddy Power have installed Portugal as the odds-on 1/10 favourites, while the Green and White Army have been handed huge outside odds of 25/1 to come away with a shock victory, with a draw available at 8/1.
Portugal will still be reeling from their 1-0 defeat to Russia last Friday. Despite dominating possession they failed to breach a resilient Russian defence, and as a result lost ground on the Group F leaders. Paulo Bento will now be looking for his men to respond in style and get their hopes of a top of the table finish back on track with a convincing victory at home to Northern Ireland.
Michael O'Neill's men are still searching for their first group win having picked up just one point from their opening two matches. Northern Ireland are yet to win a match since O’Neill’s appointment and the odds are most certainly against them of claiming a surprise victory on foreign soil. Their task has been made all the more difficult as they will be without the suspended Gareth McAuley and the injured Chris Brunt and Shane Ferguson.
Northern Ireland will look to draw inspiration from the creditable draw they held their opponents to when the countries last met back in 2005. On that occasion Warren Feeney scored a second-half equaliser to level matters against the then Euro 2004 runners-up. It is likely to be a different story this time around, with Portugal expected to open the floodgates, with a 4-0 win available at 13/2 and a 3-0 result priced at 5/1.
Goals could easily be on the cards with Northern Ireland's leaky defence conceding an average of three goals per game since O'Neill's appointment in December. Meanwhile the hosts have scored at least three goals in seven of their last nine qualifiers on home soil. Paddy Power Bookmakers have Portugal priced at 7/5 to four goals or more, with the game at evens to contain over 3.5 goals.
Ronaldo has scored 14 goals in 11 games for club side Real Madrid this season but was unable to work his magic for his country against Russia last week. Ronaldo, who will earn his 100th cap on Tuesday, now has the chance to bounce back, with Paddy Power pricing him at just 9/5 to open the scoring. Ronaldo can also be backed at 5/6 to score two or more goals and 5/1 to score a hat-trick. Alternatively Helder Postiga could be good value at 7/2 to open the scoring, with the striker in good form having scored two goals in his last three games for Portugal.
Northern Ireland have lost their last seven consecutive away games and will do well to come away with a draw at 8/1. They can be backed at 11/5 to score exactly one goal, with a 1-1 scoreline available at 17/1, while a 1-0 win can be found at 80/1. Meanwhile David Healy is a long shot at 14/1 in the first goalscorer market, where as Dean Shiels and Kyle Lafferty are both available at 16/1 to grab the opening goal of the game.
Portugal v Northern Ireland Tips
Tip#1: Christiano Ronaldo to score two or more goals @ 5/6 with Paddy Power
Tip#2: Portugal to win 3-0 @ 5/1 with Paddy Power
Tip#3: Northern Ireland to score exactly one goal @ 11/5 with Paddy Power
25/1 Northern Ireland
Correct Score Odds
7/1 Portugal 1-0
9/2 Portugal 2-0
10/1 Portugal 2-1
80/1 Northern Ireland 1-0
375/1 Northern Ireland 2-0
100/1 Northern Ireland 2-1
20/1 Draw 0-0
17/1 Draw 1-1
45/1 Draw 2-2
First Goalscorer Odds
9/5 Christiano Ronaldo
7/2 Helder Postiga
9/2 Nelson Oliveira
9/2 Eder (Braga)
7/1 Silvestre Varela
8/1 Ruben Micael
8/1 Raul Meireles
10/1 Miguel Veloso
Odds supplied by PaddyPower.com, who provide live betting in-running throughout the match.
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