NORTHERN IRELAND have already secured second place in Group C but Michael O’Neill’s men will be keen to end an impressive World Cup qualifying campaign on a high in Norway.
So which nation do the stats suggest will fare best? Unibet blogger Steve Jennings takes a look.
Norway have won 6 of their 8 previous encounters with the Irish
Northern Ireland beat Norway 2-0 back in March which is one of just two wins in eight matches against the Scandinavians. Their only other victory over Norway came in the form of a 3-0 home win in a European Championship qualifier in October 1975. Norway have won the other six encounters, conceding just two goals across those six games. This will be the first meeting between the nations to take place in Norway since the first encounter in September 1974 when the hosts won 2-1.
Norway to win (27-20, Unibet)
Nth Ireland have won 5 of their last 6 internationals
Sunday’s visitors were on their longest ever winning run (5 games) before losing 3-1 to Germany at Windsor Park on Thursday. That string of victories was against Norway, New Zealand, Azerbaijan, San Marino and Czech Republic and O’Neill’s side didn’t concede a single goal along the way. Four of those matches were World Cup qualifiers and those 12 points went a long way in helping to seal second place in Group C behind leaders Germany.
Nth Ireland to win (11-5, Unibet)
Norway have won only five of their last 19
Norway’s 8-0 win in San Marino on Thursday was their second in three games but that merely masks a poor international record over the last couple of years. With just five wins in 19 matches – two of which came against San Marino who have lost all of their qualifiers – Norway never really looked in contention to book a place at the 2018 World Cup. A 6-0 defeat in Germany last month proved the team isn’t ready to go head to head with high-level opponents at a major tournament.
Draw (11-5, Unibet)
Prior to defeat against Germany the Irish has conceded just two goals
Northern Ireland conceded more goals against Germany on Thursday than they did in their previous eight qualifiers combined. Of course there’s no shame in letting in multiple goals against the Germans. Joachim Low’s side have scored 38 times in the qualifying campaign, more than any other European nation. Against Norway, Northern Ireland will be keen to rediscover their solidity.
Norway not to score (43-20, Unibet)
Mo Elyounoussi has scored 4 goals in 4 games
He has scored just twice in all competitions for Bournemouth this season but Joshua King has enjoyed playing for his country lately. The striker found the net twice against San Marino on Thursday but has been ruled out of of the final qualifier with an injury. However, Basel striker Mo Elyounoussi has scored four goals in his last four appearances for Norway, including a hat-trick on Thursday, so Northern Ireland will still have to be careful at the back.
Elyounoussi to score first (23-4, Unibet)