Now I know tis’ the season for sun burn, cheap flights and watered down booze but the International medley of games throws up perfect opportunity for an upset and some palpable cheddar to be made!
Last night, France were the victims of an underdog scalping, losing 2-1 to a late winner against those sneaky Swedes, who find themselves on a post-Zlatan-resurgence path, making that an impressive and equally unlikely four wins on the bounce for Janne Andersson’s blonde army.
So into Day 2 of what has potential to deliver a card rife with underdog value. Below we have laid out our top pick that gets us all tingly, have a butchers..
Azerbaijan v Northern Ireland
The match tonight held at the Tofik Bakhramov Stadium hosts two sides eager to push for the wide open second automatic qualification spot in group C. Northern Ireland currently holding second in the group have been on impressive form this campaign with sizeable home wins against Norway and San Marino and as a result of their 4-0 drumming of Azerbaijan last November, have been thrust into the heavy favourite hot-seat, priced at around 2.48 (11/4).
For Round the Outside, we love to get a sniff of underdog glory and Azerbaijan might just fit these parameters.. hear us out! Despite Northern Ireland’s strength at home, their form away from Windsor Park is enough to make a grown man cry. Michael O’Neill’s team have only scored 2 goals in their previous 6 attempts overseas, with their last away win coming roughly 360 days ago against Ukraine.
The head to head record does little to restore Irish pride either, with Azerbaijan securing a comfortable 2-0 home victory back in October 2013. Furthermore, a forgettable 0-0 back in 2004 may be too far ago to draw hard conclusions from, but certainly enhances the theory that Northern Ireland struggle on Azerbaijani soil.
It’s not just the indulgence in Irish overseas misery that has our palms sweaty, knees weak and arms heavy.. Azerbaijan have a few tricks up their sleeves too. They have only lost twice in their last eight home World Cup Qualifier games and one of those was against Germany, which barely even counts. They also produced solid performances this campaign against Norway and Czech Republic. In a group which is really hotting up for second place, Azerbaijan will see this home match as a golden opportunity to gain ground on the other runners, meaning goals will be high on their agenda.
Round the Outside sense an upset. We reckon lay Northern Ireland @ 2.5