Can Northern Ireland pull off the massive upset and turn around their first leg deficit?
Switzerland v Northern Ireland - Sunday 17:00, Sky Sports
Northern Ireland were edged out 1-0 in the first leg in controversial circumstances as the Swiss were wrongly awarded a penalty, and so Michael O'Neill’s men have it all to do here. Switzerland have won their last seven at home whilst keeping five clean sheets, and going back further they’ve lost just three of their last 25 on their own turf. They’re W5-D1-L2 when hosting sides that we have ranked below them but in the world’s top 75 since 2013 (we’ve got Switzerland 15th and the Northern Irish 48th). Northern Ireland failed to muster a single shot on target in the first leg and that’s unlikely to improve significantly on the road. They don’t win a lot on their travels as their only victories in their last 11 on the road came in San Marino, Azerbaijan and the Faroe Islands. They’ve managed to score just twice in their other eight away games and so we’re backing the Swiss to win to nil.
The four previous sides to have lost at home in the first leg of a UEFA playoff since 2010 for either a World Cup or Euros each failed to score in those defeats, and didn’t have much success in the return as they managed only three goals. The return legs all tended to be tight as three saw fewer than three goals and two saw fewer than two. Northern Ireland will have to be more adventurous given that they’re behind in the tie but they lack the firepower to cause the Swiss any problems and so they can’t afford to be too gung-ho.
Under 2.5 Goals looks like a banker here, whilst we’re going to take a chance on the 2-0 correct score in favour of the hosts as we expect them to progress fairly comfortably after getting the job done in the first leg.