Northern Ireland vs Switzerland preview, betting tips and predictions: Martin O'Neill's side on the brink of history

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Northern Ireland to win and under 2.5 goals

Northern Ireland to win 1-0

Switzerland to win in both halves

 

Northern Ireland reached the top of the world when they qualified for, and subsequently got to the knockout stages of, Euro 2016. For so long minnows of the European game, they hadn’t been to a tournament since 1986, the World Cup in Mexico. But Michael O’Neill’s side now have the chance to continue their rise in Russia next year. A talented Switzerland squad is what stands in their way; it’ll be tough, but if they can reach anywhere near their top level, they will stand a good chance of progression.

The most impressive thing about this Northern Irish side is that they have no real stand out stars. Jonny Evans is a brilliant centre back who has been in great form for a few years now, while his West Brom teammate Chris Brunt is also a real threat, but their team ethic and O’Neill’s approach are the real backbone to their success. They performed admirably in a group with world champions Germany, finishing second, while the Swiss finished behind European champions Portugal.

We believe this one could go either way, but Northern Ireland do have a great chance of going through.

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Form

Defeat in their last qualifier caused absolute heartbreak for Switzerland, as it resulted in them losing top spot in their group and allowed Portugal to sneak in and claim top spot on goal difference. They were mightily unlucky and if they can pick themselves up they will certainly fancy their chances of going through. Their issue is, psychologically, if they can bounce back, but they looked good by scoring 23 and conceding seven goals in ten games, losing just once.

The odds were stacked against Northern Ireland from the start in their group, but nevertheless they performed excellently to pip Czech Republic to second in their group. Back to Back defeats put a dampener on their campaign, but conceding just six goals in all meant they had a defence sturdy enough to provide the backbone for their great form. Six wins and one draw proved enough. It will take a lot for Switzerland to break them down.

The odds were stacked against Northern Ireland from the start in their group, but nevertheless they performed excellently to pip Czech Republic to second in their group. Back to Back defeats put a dampener on their campaign, but conceding just six goals in all meant they had a defence sturdy enough to provide the backbone for their great form. Six wins and one draw proved enough. It will take a lot for Switzerland to break them down.

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Team News 

O’Neill may be without a number of key men for this clash. Veteran defender Aaron Hughes is a doubt but should be fit for the return, but Paddy McNair has been included in the squad and could feature. Brunt will be another huge player in this game for the Northern Irish.

Watford’s Valon Behrami and former Arsenal defender Johan Djourou are likely to miss out, but the Swiss will hardly be short of strength in their squad. Current Gunners star Granit Xhaka is a class act and will be involved, while Stoke’s Xherdan Shaqiri will be hoping to take his club form into this game after scoring against Leicester at the weekend. As one of Europe’s brightest talents, Schalke’s Breel Embolo will be a real threat for Switzerland and probably the man to carry the biggest threat for Northern Ireland to be aware of.

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