Northern Ireland will be aiming to overcome a 1-0 first-leg deficit when they travel to Basel to take on Switzerland in Sunday’s World Cup qualification play-off clash.
A controversial penalty saw Michael O’Neill’s men fall to a damaging home defeat at Windsor Park, and they are 11/2 (6.50) outsiders with bet365 to get back into the tie with a victory here.
Boasting nine wins from their last nine competitive fixtures on home turf, the Schweizer Nati are priced at just 8/15 (1.53) to make sure of their place in Russia by coming out on top once again at St. Jakob Park, or 14/5 (3.80) to settle for a draw..
Having missed out on automatic qualification despite collecting more points than five of the nine group winners, Vladimir Petkovic’s team were always going to provide tough opposition for the hosts.
Indeed, you can’t help but feel that home advantage would prove crucial if the Green and White Army were to stand any chance of emerging victorious in this tie, having lost just once in 10 competitive matches in Belfast.
While the penalty decision was certainly harsh to say the least, the first-leg deficit now makes it very difficult for a team that were an outside bet to qualify for back-to-back major finals for the first time in their history.
Dominant throughout in the away leg, a home side that has won 14 and lost just one of their last 17 competitive games in their own back yard should have little trouble in wrapping up qualification in Basel.
In fact, it is hard to see Northern Ireland managing so much as an away goal considering they have lost five of their last nine fixtures outside their own borders, failing to score in six of those matches.
Realistically, odds of 6/5 (2.20) seem rather generous on Switzerland winning to nil for the eighth time in 10 competitive matches in front of their own fans.