Northern Ireland - Luxembourg Preview: Jonny Evans a doubt for must-win match
Michael O'Neill's team will be desperately keen to record three points when they face the minnows at Windsor Park but will be wary of their near-shock result against Portugal
By Oliver Platt
Hughes, McAuley, J Evans, Cathcart
Ward, Shiels, Brunt
Schnell, Bukvic, Blaise, Janisch
Mutsch, Payal, Gerson, Bettmer, Da Mota
Northern Ireland are waiting on the fitness of Jonny Evans, who felt pain from an ankle which he underwent surgery on over the summer but still went on to play 90 minutes against Russia.
Corry Evans was disappointing in the 2-0 defeat to Fabio Capello's team so Dean Shiels could return to the side in support of Kyle Lafferty. Andy Little is in contention for a place on the right flank, but Jamie Ward may be given another start, while Craig Cathcart is likely to continue out of position at left-back.
Luxembourg ran Portugal close in their opening World Cup qualifier on Friday and could name an unchanged team with captain Rene Peters injured.
Daniel de Mota stunned Paulo Bento's team by scoring the first goal of the match and should continue in an advanced left wing position in support of Aurelien Joachim.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Northern Ireland have not qualified for the World Cup since 1986, when they were eliminated in the first round.
- They made the second group stage in 1982, and achieved their best performance in 1956, when they reached the quarter-finals.
- After one game, Northern Ireland sit bottom of their qualifying group on goal difference following their 2-0 defeat to Russia. Luxembourg lost 2-1 to Portugal.
- Aaron Hughes (pictured right) is the most-capped player currently in the Northern Ireland squad, with 81 appearances to his name.
- Luxembourg coach Luc Holtz was a player-manager for eight years with Etzella Ettelbruck before retiring and taking over the country's Under-21 team in 2008.
- Holtz played the last time Luxembourg faced Northern Ireland in 2000, when David Healy and James Quinn led the Green and White Army to a 3-1 victory.
- The European minnows were managed only by foreign coaches from 1949 until 1978, when Arthur Schoos took over.
- Luxembourg's first three international matches were all against France – they suffered 4-1 and 8-0 defeats in 1911 and 1913 before beating Les Bleus 5-4 in 1914
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Top 3 Predictions
Northern Ireland 2-1 Luxembourg
- 18.18 %
Northern Ireland 2-0 Luxembourg
- 15.15 %
Northern Ireland 3-0 Luxembourg
- 12.12 %
|World Cup Qualification 2014 (Europe) (WCQE)||11 Sep 2012||Northern Ireland 1 - Luxembourg 1|
|26 Mar 2013||Northern Ireland 0 - Israel 2||WCQE|
|6 Feb 2013||Malta 0 - Northern Ireland 0||FR|
|14 Nov 2012||Northern Ireland 1 - Azerbaijan 1||WCQE|
|16 Oct 2012||Portugal 1 - Northern Ireland 1||WCQE|
|11 Sep 2012||Northern Ireland 1 - Luxembourg 1||WCQE|
|Returns:||Northern Ireland £65.00||Sign up with bet365 for a free bet up to £200|
|Returns:||Draw £43.33||Sign up to Paddy Power for £250 in free bets|
|Returns:||Luxembourg £290.00||Sign up with William Hill for a free bet up to £25|
|9||D. da Mota||Striker|
Northern Ireland's defence was made to work hard against Russia but the pressure will be on their attack to deliver in this must-win game. Chris Brunt has as much pedigree as any of the country's midfielders and forwards and will be asked to be creator-in-chief on Tuesday. The West Brom playmaker has hoped to play in a central role but could find himself on the left flank once again.
|D. da Mota|
Luxembourg will have more chance of toppling Northern Ireland than they did Portugal but they might still need something spectacular to find their way past the home defence. Daniel da Mota produced such an effort to stun Cristiano Ronaldo and company and although the Euro 2012 semi-finalists recovered to earn three points, the margin of victory was slim and will encourage the central European minnows.
Northern Ireland will be wary of taking Luxembourg too lightly after they came close to achieving a shock result against Portugal but that does not change the fact that this is a must-win match for Michael O'Neill's team. They have quite a task on their hands in grabbing one of the top two places ahead of Russia or Portugal, and failure to win games like this will quickly erase any hope they might have.
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed