Northern Ireland vs Switzerland Prediction, H2H, Lineups & Betting Tips
Northern Ireland vs Switzerland prediction for round one of the 2018 FIFA World Cup playoffs at the “Windsor Park”. Northern Ireland hopes to reach the FIFA World Cup finals for the fourth time and “The Green and White Army” has one last enemy to take down. Switzerland, however, arrives in Belfast as a favourite drawn out from the seeded teams and Vladimir Petkovic’s side surely regrets for a missed opportunity to qualify directly through the group stage. Read on what our betting experts have to state in a detailed match preview, prediction and more free World Cup betting tips.
H2H History: Northern Ireland vs Switzerland
Northern Ireland and Switzerland were opponents in Group 5 of the 1966 FIFA World Cup qualifying when both sides won their home rounds, but Switzerland finished on top and thus qualified to the finals in England. First match on 14 October 1964 was victorious for Northern Ireland – 1:0 in Belfast, after a successfully executed penalty by Johnny Crossan. Exactly one month later, 14 November 1964, Switzerland won 2:1 in Lausanne, although legendary George Best opened the score for the away side. Nevertheless, there was a quick response by the Swiss team with the following first-half goals by Rene-Pierre Quentin and Jakob Kobi Kuhn.
The clash on Thursday night, 9 November 2017, will be the first competitive football encounter between these two nations since the Swiss victory in Lausanne. Anyway, there were two friendlies in the past two decades as Northern Ireland won first one of them on 22 April 1998 – 1:0 in Belfast, after a goal scored by Darren Patterson.
Six years later, 18 August 2004, Switzerland staged a home game which has ended without any goals and bored the small number of spectators at the “Letzigrund” in Zurich.
In overall: Northern Ireland boasts with two wins over Switzerland (both at home soil) against one for Switzerland in all four fixtures.
FIFA World Cup Playoffs: Northern Ireland vs Switzerland 09.11.2017
After a memorable performance at the UEFA Euro 2016 finals, Northern Ireland strives to keep on writing history and Michael O’Neill’s men are surely inspired after some great results in Group C of the 2018 World Cup qualifiers. “The Green and White Army” was second, behind reigning World Cup champion Germany, and finished above teams like the Czech Republic and Norway. Moreover, Northern Ireland conceded just six goals in all 10 qualifying rounds and five of them were against Germany, while the sixth one came in a meaningless last round visit to Norway.
Michael O’Neill is ambitious to leave his name next to those of Peter Doherty and Billy Bingham, who led Northern Ireland at the World Cup finals in Sweden (1958 – Doherty), as well as in Spain and Mexico (1982, 1986 – Bingham in both occasions). However, a domestic manager in O’Neill’s face, who already qualified and led the “Green and White Army” in its first ever European Championship campaign, has nothing to lose here and Northern Ireland can only win, especially when they’re considered as an underdog in this tie.
As we have already highlighted into our introduction, Switzerland surely regrets for a lost chance to finish over Portugal and to book tickets for Russia without having to play a two-legged playoff. Unfortunately, Vladimir Petkovic lost the decisive qualifying duel to Fernando Santos when Portugal won 2:0 on matchday 10, so Petkovic must face another difficult challenge against an extremely dedicated outfit.
“The Schweizer Nati” hopes to regain the lost momentum after losing in Lisbon, which has been preceded by 10 consecutive wins (9 in the World Cup qualifiers) and Switzerland were basically topping the group until the last round. Of course, we must consider that most of these victories were accomplished against not so pretentious sides like Andorra, Belarus Latvia and the Faroe Islands, but we should not underestimate both victories over Hungary, and a 2:0 win vs Portugal in opening day of the qualifiers.
Match Preview: Team News, Squads and Missing Players
Apparently, Northern Ireland is the less popular team but they do offset with an incredible level of devotion and teamwork. Even though vast majority of the Northern Irish footballers play in the United Kingdom (England and Scotland), most of them are in lower-league sides and are not so recognizable for the global community. Well, that wasn’t an issue when Northern Ireland won in five successive qualifying matches and made a crucial step to the playoffs.
Michael O’Neill is expected to stick within a 3-5-2 formation, with a centre-back trio and two wing-backs who must be effective enough in either phase. Watford’s defender Craig Cathcart, who is one of the popular Northern Irish players, remains sidelined with a knee injury but that seems to be the zone where O’Neill has some reliable options such as Aaron Hughes, Jonny Evans, Gareth McAuley. They have all been proven on the English Premier League stage and the Northern Irish boss must decide whether to start with all of them, or he can add more energy in the line by using younger Conor McLaughlin.
Former Manchester United player Paddy McNair (Sunderland) is back in contention but he’s been used as a midfielder lately, so O’Neill may consider him a polyvalent option.
Other players with certain international experience are expected to start in midfield – captain Steven Davis, Corry Evans and Oliver Norwood are all pretenders to build the central midfield trio, while Chris Brunt looks irreplaceable at the left flank. In the meantime, Niall McGinn, Stuart Dallas and Jamie Ward are all competiong for the right wing-back position.
When it comes to attack – Will Grigg won’t be on fire once more, as he hasn’t been called for the national team for an year, but top scorer Kyle Lafferty and Josh Magennis are ready to start. Conor Washington may also claim a starting position but we have reasons to believe that Michael O’Neill will rather name a duo Lafferty/Magennis, who both provide more physical strength.
Switzerland is eager to reach the FIFA World Cup for fourth time in a row, but “The Rossocrociati” often do that without the need to be involved in the playoff round. Last time when Switzerland had to made a playoff breakthrough was in November 2005, when the Swiss team qualified despite a 4:2 loss in Turkey, after winning 2:0 at home in the first leg. This has been followed by a unforgettable display at the 2006 World Cup in Germany where Switzerland have been eliminated at the Round of 16, although they didn’t concede a goal in the whole tournament. That came as a result of a lost penalty shootout against Ukraine. Later on Switzerland qualified to the 2010 and 2014 World Cups, losing just once in both qualifying campaigns.
Vladimir Petkovic announced his group for the playoffs and we can quickly note absence of experienced players like Johan Djourou, Valentin Stocker, Josip Drmic and Eren Derdiyok. Djourou’s absence seems to be the most discussable position and we have three younger players competing for a starting position next to Fabian Schär – Nico Elvedi, Manuel Akanji and Leo Lacroix. Under these circumstances, captain Stephan Lichtsteiner and Ricardo Rodríguez are both who must contribute with their defensive experience.
Granit Xhaka, Blerim Dzemaili, Remo Freuler, Xherdan Shaqiri and Haris Seferovic will maintain their starting roles in midfield and attack, but Admir Mehmedi’s position is under serious question. Bayer Leverkusen’s forward doesn’t get much first-team chance in the past weeks so he can be replaced by Steven Zuber, who plays more often at Hoffenheim and can be more useful when the team needs to defend.
Northern Ireland vs Switzerland Prediction and Betting Tips
Switzerland are the favourites remaining very stable in the qualifying games, but Northern Ireland are those showing huge progress and team spirit in the last months. Swiss team won four times and scored ten goals in five away games throughout the qualifiers, but Northern Ireland’s current form represents much greater threat compared to their previous opponents. Furthermore, Northern Ireland showed teeth at home turf by scoring in each game, winning and keeping a clean sheet in four of them, losing only to Germany (1:3).
We believe that Northern Ireland won’t lose the game in Belfast and they can even dream about something bigger, if they want to be competitive enough in the second leg at Swiss soil. Our betting prediction is backing the home side – Asian Handicap +0.25 (0, +0.5) on Northern Ireland.
Possible Lineups of Northern Ireland and Switzerland
Venue: “Windsor Park”, Belfast.
Referee: Ovidiu Hategan from Romania.
Northern Ireland: Michael McGovern – Jonny Evans, Gareth McAuley, Conor McLaughlin – Chris Brunt, Oliver Norwood, Steven Davis, Corry Evans, Stuart Dallas – Josh Magennis, Kyle Lafferty. (3-5-2)
Switzerland: Yann Sommer – Stephan Lichtsteiner, Nico Elvedi, Fabian Schär, Ricardo Rodríguez – Granit Xhaka, Remo Freuler – Xherdan Shaqiri, Blerim Dzemaili, Steven Zuber – Haris Seferovic. (4-2-3-1)