Northern Ireland vs. Slovakia – Euro 2020 Playoff, November 12, 2020
Both these nations qualified for Euro 2016 and made it to the round of 16 before exiting the competition. But now only one will make it next summer’s tournament.
Northern Ireland gets the chance to play at home but will surely miss the raucous support of its home fans.
Northern Ireland vs. Slovakia Latest Odds
BetOnline makes Northern Ireland the slight favorite here, but there is very little between any of the match results odds. This will be a very close game and considering the fact that both the semi-finals needed penalties to decide a winner, the draw bet should definitely be considered.
Northern Ireland vs. Slovakia Match Preview
Northern Ireland did tremendously well to go all the way to Sarajevo and beat Bosnia and Herzegovina in the semi-final – even if the tie did go to penalties. But this is a team that has not won a game in over a year and failed to even score a goal in its two Nations League games in October.
That lack of firepower will be the main problem for Ian Baraclough’s team on Thursday and he may have to rely on his midfield to do the job of defending as well as scoring goals if Northern Ireland is to progress. But more important will be the job of restricting Slovakia captain Marek Hamsik.
The veteran midfielder is playing his club soccer in China now, but is still the most effective and talented player in the Slovakian squad. If he is given time on the ball he will be able to play passes through the Northern Ireland defense – or score the goals that puts his country through to another European Championship.
A lot will depend on the availability of some of the other big names in the Slovakia team as to how this game goes. If the likes of Skriniar and Lobotka are fully fit the visiting side would look to have the better team. Northern Ireland will take a lot of breaking down – but there are the players in the Slovakia team that are capable of doing just that.
Northern Ireland vs. Slovakia Betting Pick
Slovakia to Win+177
Slovakia was held by a determined Republic of Ireland in the Path B semi-final, but was able to keep its nerve during the penalties to set this tie up. This game is likely to be just as tight, with Northern Ireland equally tough to break down. It may be just the one goal that splits these two in the end – and Slovakia has the best player on the pitch in Hamsik. So I’m going for the away win here.