Football Tips: Your 3 prize punts for Northern Ireland’s trip to Ukraine

Our tipster Andrew Cunneen ponders the possibilities as Northern Ireland takle Ukraine in a friendly on Thursday.


* All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change.

The big differentiator between the two is actually that Ukraine (or *the* Ukraine as we call it here for some reason) actually qualified for the Euros.

Northern Ireland went close to qualifying, only to fall at the final hurdle.


Whether this friendly puts things into focus for them or not is another story, but Ukraine will almost certainly want to test their mettle against a defensive unit that has generally been rock solid for some time now.

Is a trip to Ukraine something that will entice Northern Ireland into being anything other than cannon fodder? I doubt it. Here’s your three best bets.

Thursday 7pm: Ukraine v Northern Ireland
Sky Sports Main Event


Short-Price Punt: Ukraine to Win

Northern Ireland do not care. I cannot hammer that point home anymore than I currently am. In the middle of a campaign to see them qualify for the next World Cup, a rake of their players coming back from competitive seasons in Europe and a long-haul to Kiev in June – I’d argue motivation to win a game has rarely been this lacking.

And who are we to complain about it? That’s just the nature of pre-tournament friendlies isn’t it? One side needs them and the other obliges in case the favour ever needs to be returned. Ukraine will Win here.

Value Play: HT/FT: Ukraine/Ukraine

Isn’t Ukraine/Ukraine like a knock-off version of New York, New York that they would have turned into a stage musical after the Soviet Union fell apart? Either way, it’s also the most likely occurrence in this here game of football.

Ukraine will likely send out their first-choice XI for the Euros opener in this first half then pull them at half-time. The beauty of that is – once Northern Ireland are behind, they could be playing my nephew’s U12 B-team in Kiev – they’re not getting back into it.

It’s the gorgeous reliability of pointless friendlies in the month of June that does it for me. There’s value in HT/FT Ukraine/Ukraine.

Long Shot: First Half Handicap (Ukraine -1)

If this is the first-choice Ukrainian XI, I’d probably fancy them to stick a couple past a semi-interested Northern Ireland unit at home to begin with, let alone all the mitigating factors.

And yes, I do understand that enthusiasm and fear of injury are two concerns for bettors in this market, but there’s a reason it’s the long shot – and I still find the First Half Handicap (Ukraine -1) price to be worth backing given how much of a motivational discrepancy there’ll be between the teams.

Tips for Ukraine v Northern Ireland

Short-Price Punt: Ukraine to Win
Value Play: HT/FT: Ukraine/Ukraine
Long Shot: First Half Handicap (Ukraine -1)

* All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change.


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What do you think?