Michael O'Neill's men come into this clash in a confident mood after their draw in Portugal, but Adam Bate feels squad withdrawals could make for a disappointing nightNorthern Ireland prepare to host Azerbaijan at Windsor Park on Wednesday evening with an unusual amount of optimism.
Michael O’Neill’s men come into this international friendly on the back of their impressive draw in Portugal in which Cristiano Ronaldo and Co. were thwarted in their attempts to claim three World Cup qualifying points.
Given that Azerbaijan were comfortably beaten 3-0 by the Portuguese in September, this should be easy enough should it not? Northern Ireland are 71/100 (1.71) favourites with Marathon Bet.
But it is worth remembering that the previous international game at the stadium resulted in a 1-1 draw with Luxembourg.
Azerbaijan have shown they can cause teams problems in recent years with wins over Albania, Kazakhstan and, most memorably, Turkey in 2010
Azerbaijan are 9/2 (5.50) underdogs with Marathon Bet. The draw is available at 57/20 (3.85).
In the goalscorer markets, Kyle Lafferty is an 11/10 (2.10) favourite to find the net at anytime on Wednesday. The Sion striker scored in his country’s last friendly, against Finland back in August.
For the visitors, Rauf Aliyev scored in the wins over Kazakhstan and Albania and is probably the best hope of a goal for Azerbaijan. The 23-year-old striker is available at 4/1 (5.00) to score his fifth international goal.
But the pick of the bets in this one is to bet against the home side getting the job done.
Northern Ireland may be the favourites but they have won just two of their last 30 international games.
There is no Jamie Ward and no Grant McCann, while most tellingly Manchester United defender Jonny Evans is unavailable.
The best bet is to back Azerbaijan not to lose in the double chance market at 5/4 (2.25) with Marathon Bet.
For the value bet, Evans’ absence means the home team could be vulnerable defensively and it would be no surprise to see goals here.
The game may be low on quality but that might not mean it is low on entertainment and 71/50 (2.42) for over 2.5 goals looks a good price with Marathon Bet.
|Azerbaijan double chance at 5/4 (2.25) with Marathon
||Over 2.5 goals at 71/50 (2.42) with Marathon|
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Adam Bate is a professional freelance journalist who specialises in football and betting. He is editor of GhostGoal which can be found here - you can also follow Adam on