Romania v Northern Ireland: Spoils to be shared in Bucharest

Northern Ireland begin life under Ian Baraclough with a Nations League fixture in Romania and Paul Robinson expects them to earn a point...

Romania v Northern Ireland
Friday 4 September, 19:45
Live on Sky Sports

This isn't the Romania of old

Romania were unbeaten in the last Nations League tournament - winning three and drawing three to finish as runners-up in Group C4 to earn promotion.

They could only finish fourth behind Spain, Sweden and Norway in Euro 2020 qualifying, but they still have a chance of making it to next summer's delayed tournament via the Play-offs - they are due to face Iceland in October.

Mirel Rădoi is the new man in charge, and he had previously led the Under 21 group to the semi-finals of the 2019 Euros, so there is every chance that he will be able to succeed at this level.

New beginning for Northern Ireland

It is a similar story for Northern Ireland, as Ian Baraclough has stepped up from the Under 21s to succeed the departing Michael O'Neill. The latter did exceptionally well with the resources he had available, and Baraclough faces a tough task to even match it.

He should be able to improve on the country's Nations League record though, as they were beaten in all four games last time, to finish bottom of Group 3B.

The aim of their next couple of fixtures will be to have the team back in the groove ahead of their Euros Play-off with Bosnia - a tie which they are more than capable of winning if they can replicate their 0-0 draw with Holland in November 2019 or their 2-3 win in the Czech Republic a month prior.

Not much to split the teams

The hosts were beaten in their most recent home game - a 0-2 defeat to Sweden last November. Prior to that, only Spain had defeated them in Romania since a 0-3 loss to Holland in 2017, but it is worth noting that their three latest wins were over Lithuania, Faroe Islands and Malta.

Northern Ireland's recent successes have been built on strong home form, but they have had some notable away victories. In fact, during the last Euro Qualifying, they won in Estonia and Belarus, and followed that up with the aforementioned win in Czechia.

The Betfair layers have Romania trading as favourites, with their current price being around the 2.32 mark. The visitors are the outsiders at 3.65, with the draw at 3.30.

Both managers will be desperate for a strong start to their managerial careers at senior international level, and a draw is a result that wouldn't be too bad for either of them.

I doubt that there will be many goals during this game (more below), which makes the draw even more likely. There isn't much to separate the teams anyway, and the 3.30 is worth taking.

Hard to see where the goals will come from

As alluded to above, I can't see this being a high-scoring affair, which bring Under 2.5 Goals well into play at 1.66. Neither side have a prolific goal-scorer in their ranks, and Romania haven't netted more than once in a home game since early March 2019.

The Irish have been a bit more free-scoring on their travels recently, but prior to their last five away matches, they actually went seven games outside of Northern Ireland without finding the net.

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