Northern Ireland welcome Switzerland to Windsor Park, Belfast, for a crunch Group C clash as both teams look to boost their bid to qualify for 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Victory could see Northern Ireland leapfrog Switzerland into second with Bulgaria not in competitive action in this round of Qualifying, whereas the Swiss will stay second and extend their gap over Bulgaria to five points with a win.
Northern Ireland have no fresh injury concerns to report ahead of this match but Paddy McNair is suspended after being booked in their win over Lithuania last Thursday.
George Saville however returns after missing that match through suspension, although he was left out of Sunday’s friendly win in Estonia, with majority of those who started that match set to return to the bench, but at least one player will retain their place due to McNair’s absence.
Switzerland also have no fresh injury concerns as manager, Murat Yakin ponders rotating his squad after contesting a physical goalless draw against Italy on Sunday.
- Northern Ireland have won just one of four previous World Cup Qualifiers against Switzerland (W1, D1, L2).
- Switzerland won one of two previous away World Cup Qualifiers against Northern Ireland (W1, L1), with both matches finishing 1-0 to the winning team.
- Both teams scored within same match in just one of four previous World Cup Qualifiers with Switzerland winning 2-1 at home in November 1964.
- Northern Ireland are winless in their last eight home matches across all competitions (D3, L5).
- Switzerland haven’t suffered two consecutive goalless draws in all competitions since being held away to Greece then Cyprus in February and March 2013 respectively.
Although Group C is incredibly difficult for Northern Ireland, this is a huge opportunity for them to put themselves in with a shot of going second if they can replicate their performance against Lithuania, whilst avoiding the high defensive lines mistake made by those who played against Estonia on Sunday.
Switzerland meanwhile will pose a tough test with their strong all-round quality yet could only scrape a goalless draw against Italy on Sunday, following a physical contest where they really did most of the defending and wasted chances.
On that note, I do expect a tough contest here but if Northern Ireland can find a way to match Switzerland then a draw could be a good possibility here.
Prediction: Northern Ireland 1-1 Switzerland
Result: Northern Ireland 0-0 Switzerland