Northern Ireland face a crunch UEFA Nations League test as they welcome Austria to Windsor Park, Belfast, in Group B1.
Victory for Northern Ireland could lift them as high as second depending on Romania’s result against Norway earlier in day, whereas Austria could climb to first in the group with a win and Romania failing to beat Norway in their match.
Northern Ireland have no fresh injury concerns after Thursday’s Euro 2020 Play-off semi-final win in Bosnia on penalties, although Ian Baraclough could rotate his squad ahead of Wednesday’s trip to Norway.
Austria have been hit by a mixture of withdrawals and injuries as goalkeepers – Cican Stankovic and Alexander Schlager are out alongside defenders; Andreas Ulmer, Phillipp Lienheart and Gernot Trauner.
- Northern Ireland lost both of their two previous meetings against Austria in 2018-19 UEFA Nations League (L2).
- Austria have won just one of five previous trips to Northern Ireland (W1, D1, L3), although neither team have kept clean sheets during their previous clashes in Belfast.
- Northern Ireland has scored just once in their last three home matches across all competitions, Paddy McNair’s sixth minute goal in last month’s 5-1 defeat to Norway.
Having scrapped their way to victory on penalties in Bosnia on Thursday, this is is a tough test for Northern Ireland as they face a strong Austrian team who will certainly be a strong threat with their 4-4-2 formation, which will pose defensive tactical questions for Stephen Kenny.
Austria however aren’t exactly the finest defenders with just one clean sheet in their last seven, providing hope for Kenny’s men if they can get on the attacking front foot and produce a clinical display.
I am therefore hoping to see a fiercely fought battle here but Austria do seem to possess that sharp threat up front to fight back from behind, which might make the difference here the longer it stays goalless or locked at 1-1.
Prediction: Northern Ireland 1-2 Austria
Result: Northern Ireland 0-1 Austria