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This week the final decisions will be made as to which teams will qualify for the European Championship next year. Of the teams that qualified for the playoffs using a complicated key via the Nations League, eight nations are still left.
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The last four participants in Euro 2021 are being sought in four finals. Among other things, the Northern Irish receive the counterparty from Slovakia. Both teams prevailed in the semifinals after competitive games on penalties. Now you are close to the big goal of qualifying for the finals.
For Northern Ireland – Slovakia, odds show that there are no real favorites. Both teams did not convince in the last few appearances, so the best bookmakers expect a close match.
Under certain circumstances, the small advantage of the home game in the end gives the green-whites the decisive final push. The game is played at Windsor Park in Belfas. The kick-off takes place at 19:45 p.m.
The green-whites have so far reached the finals of a European Championship. In 2016 they went to the round of 16, where they were knocked out 1-0 against Wales. Now the Baraclough-Elf wants to make the second EM participation clear. In the playoff final, the team from Slovakia has to be defeated to be there next year.
Northern Ireland failed in the European Championship qualifiers to Germany and Holland
In qualifying group C, the Irish failed and only finished third behind the Netherlands and the German national team. The teams from Belarus and Estonia left the men from the British Isles behind.
In the UEFA Nations League, the Northern Irish are currently fighting with Austria, Norway and Romania in League B. With three defeats and a 1-1 draw in Romania, it is currently only enough for last place in the group, which means relegation to League C. would mean.
The hosts are currently in 41st place in the FIFA table, just behind their opponents.
The biggest deficit is the very clear scoring of three goals from five games this year. In the last two duels against Austria and Norway, the green-whites failed to overcome the opposing keeper.
The Slovaks have also taken part in a European championship so far. In 2016, the Central Europeans played the finals in France. In the last sixteen, the blue-blacks met the German team and lost 3-0.
Shortly before the decisive duel with the Northern Irish, those responsible dismissed the coach Pavel Hapal, because after the defeat against Israel there was a lack of confidence to qualify for the EM 2021.
As an interim coach, Stefan Tarkovic initially takes responsibility for one game. He is supported by Marek Mintal, who among other things was active as a goalscorer at the club from Nuremberg.
The record of the Slovaks in 2020 corresponds exactly to that of the Northern Irish. The only success was achieved in the playoff semifinals against Ireland. After a goalless 120 minutes, the penalty shoot-out had to decide and the Slovaks kept the better end to themselves.
Otherwise there were three defeats against the Czech Republic (1: 3), in Scotland (0: 2) and against Israel (2: 3). A point split was achieved at 1: 1 in Israel. In the Nations League Group 2 of League B, the guests are in fourth and thus last place and have to worry about staying in the league.
We assume that the coach duo will rely on the axis Skriniar (Inter), Lobotka (Naples) and Duda (Cologne). The fact that the star and captain Marek Hamsik will be involved can be ruled out, as the placement games will take place in the Chinese Superleague.
In the European Championship qualification group E, the Slovaks only finished third behind Croatia and Wales and thus missed the direct qualification for the finals next year.
04.06.16 FI Slovakia Northern Ireland 0 : 0
09.09.09 WC Northern Ireland Slovakia 0 : 2
06.09.08 WC Slovakia Northern Ireland 2 : 1
Who will qualify for an EM for the second time in a row?
Northern Ireland was one of the positive appearances at the Euro 2016, as they surprisingly reached the round of 16. To be able to participate in 2021 as well, they have to win the playoff final against Slovakia. They were also represented in 2016 and also reached the round of 16. We are therefore expecting a tight and exciting playoff final.
Northern Ireland welcomes Slovakia at home
The Northern Irish national team played a good European Championship qualification, but in a group with Germany and the Netherlands it was only enough for 3rd place. The year 2020 does not seem to be in the sign of the Northern Irish, however, because so far only the game against Bosnia has been won. Once again, the offensive could turn out to be a major weak point.
Slovakia, on the other hand, has other problems, as they did not dismiss their coach Pavel Hapal until October. For the new coach Stefan Tarkovic, the first game is an incredibly important one. In our game analysis, we'll show you whether they can master this test or whether Northern Ireland prevails. Kick-off is on Thursday at 8:45 p.m.
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Northern Ireland - good performance in a tough group
The Northern Irish had to prove themselves in a difficult group with Germany and the Netherlands and did so. Especially against Estonia and Belarus they left nothing to be desired and won this duel. In the end they secured the expected 3rd place with 13 points from 8 games.
In addition to 4 wins, they also achieved a 0-0 home win against the Netherlands. In general, the offensive was once again the major weak point. This scored only 9 goals in 8 games and 13 goals were conceded in return. In their own stadium they only lost one of their 4 games and that was against Germany (0: 2).
New trainer in 2020
Since June 2020, Ian Baraclough has been a new coach on the sidelines. This should lead Northern Ireland to the next European Championship. The first step was successful, because in the semifinals they defeated Bosnia and Herzegovina 4-5 on penalties.
After 90 minutes the score was 1: 1. The win against the Bosnians was at the same time the only success under the new coach, because the remaining 4 games this year could not be won. In addition to a draw against Romania, they suffered 3 defeats against Austria and 2 times against Norway. In total, they scored 7 goals in 5 games this year. It is also unusual that they seem insecure defensively and have already conceded 12 goals.
The previous games under the new coach:
04.09.2020: Romania 1-1 Northern Ireland
07.09.2020: Northern Ireland 1-5 Norway
08/10/2020: Bosnia 4: 5 Northern Ireland on pens
10/11/2020: Northern Ireland 0-1 Austria
14/10/2020: Norway 1-0 Northern Ireland
Slovakia - just barely failed in qualification
In the end, the Slovaks were only missing a single point on the 2nd place in the European Championship qualification group E. After 8 days of play they can be satisfied with their record of 4 wins, one draw and 3 defeats. However, 13 points were only enough for 3rd place behind Croatia and Slovakia.
With 13 goals, they made the 2nd best offensive in the group. However, 11 goals were too many to climb to 2nd place. They only managed to keep zero in 2 games. In return, however, they were able to score 6 out of 8 games themselves. Only the 1-0 away defeat against Wales and the 0-4 home defeat against Croatia failed to mark a goal.
Bad performance in the Nations League
The year 2020 was anything but satisfactory, because they couldn't celebrate a victory in 4 Nations League games and 3 of these 4 games were even lost. The only draw was reached away against Israel. The only victory was celebrated in the playoff semifinals against Ireland.
After a goalless 0-0 draw, Slovakia won the game 4-2 on penalties. Despite this victory, coach Pavel Hapal was sacked in October 2020. He is now followed by the Slovak Stefan Tarkovic. For him, the first game is about participating in the 2021 European Championship. The conditions for a change of coach could be better.
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Betting tip and forecast
Both teams are in a difficult phase. Northern Ireland only won one game this year and Slovakia only changed their coach a month ago. The quality of the two teams is similar. We would therefore not recommend a win bet. However, Northern Ireland and Slovakia both have problems on the offensive.
We are therefore almost certain that there will not be many goals in this game. For a tip on under 2.5 goals you still get odds of 1.49. If you are already taking a little more risk, we recommend a tip below 1.5 goals.
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