After a devastating extra time loss at the hand of the Slovaks on Thursday night, Ian Baraclough must rejuvenate the squad for the last two games of 2020. A year to forget for many reasons, mostly outside of football, but can Northern Ireland finish the year with two good results? First up, it’s a trip to Vienna to face the Austrians.
With a tough 120 minutes having taken its toll on a number of the squad, changes are envisaged for this clash, also due to the fact that the game in Belfast against Romania on Wednesday looks likely to be a play-off to avoid relegation, assuming that the Norweigans continue their good form by beating the Romanians.
Austria travelled to Luxembourg for a friendly on Wednesday and comfortably won 3-0. They currently sit top of Group 1 of League B of the UEFA Nations League and will be hoping to cement their footing at the top of the table by completing the double over Northern Ireland and promotion to League A.
The Austrians have kept things tight so far in this campaign with all four of their games being decided by one goal margins. Similarly, our last three fixtures have been decided by a single goal too, so a tight contest can be expected.
There is no doubt that this is a tough fixture and it will be hard for the team to pick themselves up from Thursday night’s disappointment, but this squad is professional and will be ready to go on Sunday night.
LAST TIME AROUND
Northern Ireland 0
Austria 1 (Gregoritsch)
Austria’s FIFA Ranking: 25
Austria’s Form: WWWWL
HEAD TO HEAD
NI wins: 4
Austria wins: 5
PREDICTED NORTHERN IRELAND LINE-UP
McGovern, McLaughlin, J. Evans, Flanagan, Lewis, Dallas, Davis, McNair, Whyte, Lafferty, Magennis