Azerbaijan v Northern Ireland
Saturday June 10, 17:00 BST
Live on Sky Sports 4


A bright start to Group C has been undone by back to back defeats for Azerbaijan. The most recent loss at home to Germany can be forgiven - although a 1-4 scoreline isn't ideal - but the 4-0 thrashing they took at Windsor Park in November was pretty shambolic.

What that means for Robert Prosinečki's side now is that the second half of their qualifying campaign needs to be pretty flawless to make the top two and have a chance of playing in Russia next summer.

They do have the advantage of having three of their five games to play in Baku, but their overall win record at home isn't great, so I would be hugely surprised if they challenge either Northern Ireland or the Czech Republic for second.

Northern Ireland

The Northern Irish are in the box seat when it comes to who will be finishing as runners-up to Germany in this group. They are in second place - two points better off than the Czech Republic and three clear of this weekend's opponents.

A trio of wins and a draw from their opening five fixtures has put them where they are and the most pleasing thing for Michael O'Neill will surely be that his side have racked up 10 goals thus far. They haven't been known as a high-scoring team, but they've netted four on two occasions already - including against Azerbaijan.

Gareth McAuley has chipped in with one of those goals and he is expected to start at the back, despite missing the end of the season through injury. Further up the field, Liam Boyce and Josh Magennis are being tipped to start given that Conor Washington and Jamie Ward are unavailable.

Match Odds
Azerbaijan 3.90 Northern Ireland 2.36 The Draw 3.10

The visitors are the favourites to take all three points and I can understand why some would be sorely tempted to take odds-against given the fact that they won the reverse fixture by such a wide margin.

The Irish dominated in the air that day and while they will have the edge in that department again, I would be truly surprised if the hosts haven't learned anything from that experience.

I'm certainly leaning towards the draw at the 3.10 mark. O'Neill's side may have won three of their five away fixtures in European Championship Qualifying, but this is probably a trickier fixture than those and, given their strong position in the group, I wouldn't surprised if they deemed a point as a decent enough result.

Over/Under 2.5 Goals
Over 2.5 Goals 2.98 Under 2.5 Goals 1.46

The market is heavily favouring under 2.5 goals and I have to agree. I usually go against the grain and back overs in Northern Ireland matches but they are all usually at Windsor Park.

I'm not suggesting that you get stuck into the under at 1.46, but I'm equally not as tempted to have a flutter on over 2.5 at almost 2/1. Scorelines of 0-0 or 1-1 seem to be the obvious route to go, so if you don't want to bet on something that represents unders, then you may as well do 0-0 and 1-1 at around 5/2 dutched.

Recommended Bets
Back The Draw @ 3.10

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