N Ireland v Greece Preview – Irish will punish Greece on Thursday
Northern Ireland will put to an end their 30-year exile form major international competition by beating Greece this week
October 6th, 2015
Martin O’Neil’s side have enjoyed a thoroughly excellent campaign, the team sitting proudly on top of Group F heading into the last two qualifying games with just one more win needed to secure a place in their first ever European Championship.
Northern Ireland’s last major tournament was the 1986 World Cup in Mexico and it would appear that following many years in the doldrums, the fans will have something to cheer next year.
In many ways, Greece are perfect opposition considering that they are sitting rock-bottom of the group following a disastrous campaign which has seen them lose twice to the Faroe Islands and manage a mere three points from their opening eight games. Changed days from when they actually won the Championship in 2004.
The Greeks narrowly missed out on a place in the World Cup quarter-finals last year and they started their Euro qualifying campaign under the guidance of Claudio Ranieri although it soon became apparent that the new manager wasn’t exactly cut-out for the international game.
Ranieri didn’t last long and to be honest, the side haven’t lifted themselves from the bottom of the table since his departure.
The reverse fixture last October saw the Irish win to the tune of 2-0, Jamie Ward and Kyle Rafferty scoring the goals on that occasion. The hosts will be confident of victory in this encounter, given that Greece have staggeringly failed to triumph in any of their last ten international matches since the World Cup.
Indeed, we share their optimism. Greece simply cannot find the back of the net, whereas Northern Ireland don’t appear to have that problem any more and moved ever closer to qualification with a 3-1 victory over the Faroes and a 1-1 draw against Hungary in September.
O’Neil’s defensive partnership of Gareth McAuley and Jonny Evans are absent through injury, but Greece won’t be expected to cause many problems and a Northern Ireland party is very much on the cards on Thursday evening.
BETTING TIP – Northern Ireland win – BetVictor 29/20