If Northern Ireland was one big restaurant then heartbreak would be the only thing on the menu. Chef Baraclough is in the kitchen and the utensils have minds of their own, as they concoct yet another dish that promises so much but ultimately lets you down. A recipe for disaster, if you will.
But that’s enough culinary comedy, there is still football to be played after all.
Wednesday 7.45pm: Northern Ireland v Romania
Sky Sports Mix
This game in and of itself is fairly high-stakes as it happens. It didn’t seem like it would be with ten minutes left in Northern Ireland’s clash with Austria as they led by a goal to nil. But two late Austrian goals now mean that anything other than a win for the Green and White Army in this fixture will see them relegated to Group C of the UEFA Nations League.
For Romania? Well, sit in and force an unimaginative Northern Irish side to try and break you down. If they fail, you’re safe. It feels like the tension just never stops with Northern Ireland, doesn’t it? Here’s your three best bets.
Romania, in a way, have been blessed by the cancellation of their game against Norway. The camp got to spend a bit more time together, they don’t have the negative vibes from taking a hammering from Erling Haaland and all of their focus would be on this game, while Northern Ireland split their focus and wasted more energy in Austria.
These international windows are already incredibly taxing given the amount of football played within the logistic framework of COVID-era international travel and any break you can get is a major boost. Romania have been given the leg-up in this one, so to speak – and I expect them to take full advantage of both an energy and emotion-depleted Northern Ireland unit by scoring first.
Inevitably, Romania sit in and protect what they have with the early advantage and the soft concession of one goal always seems to take place, only when the opposition require two.
This is the psychological element of football that truly requires more attention, because every single squad that ever had a two-goal cushion would go on to cough up a needless path back into the game for the other side.
It’s exhausting, but we can benefit from the likelihood of Northern Ireland Coming From Behind to Draw at least.
I know this is a weak enough price, but I do think it accurately reflects the probability so I couldn’t turn you off it.
In a game where nobody will want to attack until they’re forced, time is already your friend when backing Under 2.5 Goals here – and with every tick of the clock that passes, the more you’ll realise that you’re watching two sides that generally fail when the pressure is on them to create.
Northern Ireland v Romania tips
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