The home team are certainly heavily backed by the bookmakers in this one. And to be fair, it’s not without justification. Northern Ireland won their pool to qualify for the last European Championships and came close to competing in last year’s World Cup, falling second behind Germany. In contrast, Estonia finished fourth in their group in the last Euro Qualifiers and had to settle for the same position in the World Cup qualifiers.
On the other hand, Estonia have shown some fire in recent international friendlies, besting Finland and going to a stalemate against Iceland. Meanwhile, Northern Ireland have to look back to their 2018 clash against Israel for their last victory, and haven’t yet completed this year. Will that little bit of extra time on the field give Estonia the edge? Or will Northern Ireland prove the bookmakers right and walk away with the victory?
Northern Ireland vs Estonia Prediction: Northern Ireland 2-0 Estonia
While we don’t have anything to look at in 2019 in terms of Northern Ireland performances, we did see enough of them last year to get a reasonable view of their talent and capabilities. And while Estonia have proven themselves to be no pushovers in recent friendlies, we have to agree with the consensus and conclude that their opponents have more potential on the field right now.
On top of that, Estonia have failed to score in their losing matches fairly consistently throughout the latter half of 2018. With that in mind, our scoreline prediction is 2-0 in the favour of Northern Ireland.
Our recommended tip: Northern Ireland win to nil
The home side have performed better on the international stage than their opponents in recent years. Northern Ireland have managed to secure much better results in both the previous 2016 Euro Qualifiers and last year’s World Cup qualifiers, with Estonia falling short on both counts. Therefore, Northern Ireland are the clear favourites for this contest. Paddy Power are offering low-risk Northern Ireland match odds of 4/11, while Estonian fans have to settle for higher-risk 6/1 odds on a win. However, we recommend that you predict Northern Ireland will win to nil to get low-risk odds of 10/11 and a higher potential ROI.
Despite our prediction, we have to admit that history suggests this may be a closer game than many predict. These two have faced each other four times, and each has won twice. However, just as important as these results is how recently they took place.
Their most recent matches were back in 2011 and before that in 2006 and 2004. So, these are certainly not modern enough to concern today’s players too much, but are still in their fans’ collective memories. Unless there’s a rather unexpected stalemate, one team or the other will be breaking the deadlock here.
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Players to watch: Kyle Lafferty & Steven Davis
Northern Ireland: Kyle Lafferty
The Rangers forward may not have seen the back of the net in a game for his home country since 2016. However, the fact that he remains so highly anticipated really does go to show just how exceptional his performance during the Euro 2016 qualifiers really was. He’s an astoundingly talented player and possibly the one to get Northern Ireland back to their winning ways. We’re sure that he’ll be hungry to make that difference here.
Estonia: Konstantin Vassiljev
While perhaps not everyone’s first pick, history does justify our choice here. Konstantin Vassiljev shocked Northern Ireland in their last meeting, with his goals – one from the penalty spot – netting Estonia the 2-1 victory in that Euro 2012 qualifier. Not only that, but this was in response to a goal by no other than Kyle Lafferty. It will be very interesting to see if history repeats itself here. Estonia certainly would be happy if it did.