Northern Ireland vs San Marino recommended bets
Northern Ireland vs San Marino match preview
Safe to say, 2023 has been a miserable year for Northern Ireland, so will their supporters have a rare victory to enjoy?
Back on matchday one, Dion Charles’ brace saw the Green and White Army leave Stadio Olimpico di Serravalle 2-0 winners.
Since then though, it’s played five and lost five for Michael O’Neill’s team, most-recently beaten on the road in both Ljubljana and Astana last month.
This makes it the first time since 2001 that Northern Ireland have lost five successive matches in the same campaign.
On Tuesday, it was confirmed that Belfast will host matches at Euro 2028, part of the UK & Ireland’s successful bid, but the Northern Ireland team looks a million miles away from competing at that level.
On the flip side, if the home fans think they’ve got it bad, they should try being San Marino supporters!
So far in 2023, it’s played six and lost six for la Serenissima, conceding 21 and scoring zero, including a pair of 4-0 drubbings at the hands of Denmark and Slovenia in September.
This though is just the norm for a side that’s never won a competitive game in 172 attempts, losing each of their last 42 qualifiers in-a-row, dating back to a goalless draw with Estonia in 2014.
Fabrizio Costantini’s team therefore remain rock bottom of the FIFA World Rankings, just below Guam, Sri Lanka, Turks and Caicos Islands, U.S. Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands and Anguilla.
Northern Ireland have won all five previous meetings with San Marino, scoring 16 goals and conceding none, so this clash at Windsor Park will surely have a similar outcome, despite the host’s continued struggles.
Northern Ireland team news
Jonny Evans will captain the side, winning his 105th cap, given that Steven Davis may well have played his last game for the national team, as he’s currently Rangers’ caretaker manager.
Ali McCann, Gavin Whyte and Shayne Lavery are out injured, so Isaac Price could start in midfield, alongside this team’s bright, young hope Shea Charles.
Goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell has only ever kept nine clean sheets in 35 competitive international appearances, but will surely be hopeful of adding to that tally here.
Predicted XI (4-5-1): Peacock-Farrell; Hume, Ballard, Evans, Lewis; McNair, Saville, S Charles; D Charles, Washington, McMenamin.
San Marino team news
Lorenzo Lazzari is the last San Marino player to score a goal, bagging a 94th minute equaliser away to Saint Lucia last November.
The most-recent la Serenissima player to net in competitive football is star attacker Nicola Nanni, on target in a 7-1 home drubbing at the hands of Poland, this 769 days ago.
Will both facts change in Belfast?
Predicted XI (5-3-2): Benedettini; D’Addario, Di Maio, Rossi, Franciosi, Battistini; Mularoni, Golinucci, Capicchioni; Lazzari, Nanni.