17 November 2019
Northern Ireland will try to revive their hopes of reaching the final tournament from the 2020 UEFA European Championship Qualifying (ECQ) Group C when they lock horns with the Netherlands at Windsor Park this weekend.
The hosts will have revenge on their minds, given the way the Netherlands managed to turn their reverse fixture around and seal a 3-1 home victory. Although they come into this encounter on the back of a 3-2 friendly win over the Czech Republic, they are not going through the best of times, having lost both of their previous ECQ matches, each by a two-goal margin. Before a 2-0 loss to Germany, the Norn Iron have won both of their preceding ECQ home games, scoring two goals apiece while conceding once. In fact, none of Northern Ireland’s last 21 home outings has ended in a draw, including friendlies (W14, L7). The last time they played out a draw on home soil dates back to September 2015 (a 1-1 draw with Hungary).
Given their proximity to Northern Ireland in Group C ahead of the penultimate fixture, the visitors have no margin for error here. Ronald Koeman’s men head to Belfast on a run of four successive triumphs, all of which have seen them bag at least two goals. But, things can get messy for the Netherlands when they play away from home. After failing to pick up a single win in six road trips (D4, L2), the Oranje have put together three consecutive away wins, all of which have seen them score over 1.5 match goals. Interestingly, seven of ten goals Koeman’s side has scored away from home in the ongoing qualifying campaign have come in the second half.
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