Northern Ireland face Belarus in a friendly match at the Windsor Park in Belfast to test their squad ahead of the Euro 2016 finals in France.
Michael O’Neill tutored Northern Ireland national team booked the ticket to their first ever European Championship by finishing top of the qualifying group. They had lost just once during the qualifying round, in a group which included Romania, Hungary and Finland. The Green and White Army continued their good form by remaining unbeaten in three friendlies thereafter.
Belarus failed to qualify for the Euros and had now set their sights on the World Cup qualifying campaign about to start in September. Head-coach Alyaksandr Khatskevich will be using the opportunity to test as many players as possible to get his tactics and team composition right. Belarus haven’t lost in their last five games, but their last three are 0-0 draws.
Northern Ireland: Team News
Michael O’Neill will be keen to see who will make into the final 23 when his team host Belarus on Friday. The team has 28 players at the moment and five of them are about to miss the flight to France.
Northern Ireland: Predicted Line-up (4-2-3-1)
McGovern – Evans, Cathcart, McLaughlin, McAuley – McGinn, McNair – Lafferty, Davies, Ward – Washington.
Belarus: Team News
Alyaksandr Khatskevich has named an 18 man squad for the friendlies against Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland. The team has plenty of experience in the likes of Captain Alyaksandr Martynovich and the veteran Alexander Hleb.
While the 21-year old Dinamo Kiev midfielder Nikita Korzun is expected to make his first senior appearance for Belarus against Northern Ireland.
Belarus: Predicted Line-up (4-5-1)
Chernik – Palyakow, Palitsevich, Martynovich, Shitov – Krivets, Hleb, Kislyak, Nyakhaychyk, Stasevich – Yanush.
Northern Ireland vs Belarus: Head-to-Head
- The teams had never met in an official match before and this will be the first time they lock horns on a football field.
- Northern Ireland are on a 10 match unbeaten run regardless of the venue and they have scored at least a goal in their last 7.
- The Norm Iron haven’t lost a home match since September 2013, which now stretches to 8 matches.
- Belarus are unbeaten in their last 5 matches, with the last three being 0-0 draws.
- Belarus are also unbeaten in their last three away games, but won only once in their last 5 with 2 draws and 2 defeats.
Northern Ireland vs Belarus: Prediction
Northern Ireland are coming with a 28 man squad and only 23 will make it to the final squad for the Euros. The players will be highly motivated and determined to impress the coach for one last time.
Belarus haven’t lost or won in their last three matches, with all of them being draws where they failed to score a goal. Northern Ireland are also in a crisis in front of goal, as they have not scored more than one goal in their last four. So the match is likely to see under 2.5 goals.
On form, Northern Ireland are clear favorites to win this fixture. But Belarus won’t back down and they will back their defensive prowess to hold their opponents to a tie on Friday night.
My Prediction for this match is Northern Ireland 1-0 Belarus.