Together with Serbia, Northern Ireland and Slovenia will be fighting for the second place in the group, meaning that this tie will be extremely important for both sides. After losing their respective qualifiers at the weekend, both teams will be looking for a return to winning ways and everything suggests we will see a very interesting game at Windsor Park.
Selection worries for Worthington
After failing to qualify for the World Cup, Northern Ireland went on to lose five straight friendly games, while failing to score a single goal during that period, so it was little wonder their fans were pretty pessimistic before the start of the Euro 2012 qualifying campaign. Nevertheless, Nigel Worthington’s side managed to beat Slovenia away in their first qualifier, despite being completely outclassed in that match, before sharing spoils with Italy at home. However, away draw with Faroe Islands proved Northern Ireland still have a lot of work to do if they want to make it to the European Championship. The team had a good chance to further improve their position in the standings as they scored the opening goal in Serbia last weekend, but they ended up losing the game 2:1 and are now under big pressure to win this game. The hosts, nonetheless, face a pretty difficult task as they have numerous selection worries, while Slovenia are also desperate to win the game.
David Healy misses out through suspension, while key players Kyle Lafferty, Aaron Hughes and Jonny Evans are all doubtful. The good news is that Steven Davis is in contention after recovering from a hamstring injury.
Must win game for Slovenia
Slovenia have really raised their profile over the last few years and they even managed to qualify for the 2010 World Cup, following some impressive performances in the World Cup qualifiers. Matjaz Kek’s side played really well in South Africa and they were very close to making it to the knockout rounds, but ended up being eliminated in the group stage. The Slovenians were very unlucky to lose to Northern Ireland at the start of the Euro 2012 qualifiers as they completed outplayed their opponents, but this will be a perfect opportunity to get revenge for that game. After brining one point from Serbia, Slovenia beat Faroe Islands and Estonia, and they remained second despite the home defeat to Italy at the weekend, although they will have to win this game if they plan to remain there. The visitors clearly have more than enough quality to win this game and I believe they will show Northern Ireland who is the boss here.
Striker Tim Matavz is still doubtful with injury, while Zlatko Dedic should be fit to play. Milivoje Novakovic and Miso Brecko have recovered from their respective injuries, but Bostjan Cesar is suspended.
Northern Ireland have failed to prove they can match the best sides in the group and the hosts could be without several important players in this clash. Slovenia, on the other hand, have really matured over the last few years and their superior technical skills should help them win this game.
Our prediction: Slovenia to win with 0:0 Asian handicap
Odds: 2.00 (1/1)