When Northern Ireland walk out for their European Championship debut against Poland, they will have gone 444 days since last tasting defeat on the international stage.
Having lost a friendly 1-0 to Scotland in March last year, Northern Ireland have failed to lose in 14 games. This has persuaded some to determine Michael O’Neill’s men as Euro 2016’s answer to Leicester and as a result back them to win the tournament at 250/1.
Arguably more realistic is that they will go home from Group C without registering a single point (13/5), with their first step towards glory coming against the team who netted more goals than anyone else in qualifying for the finals.
Poland scored 33 goals in a group that contained three Euro 2016 qualifiers, with Robert Lewandowski scoring 13 times in 10 appearances.
Having scored important goals against the Republic of Ireland and Scotland too in the latter stages of qualifying, the Bayern Munich striker obviously has to be considered as the main threat to Northern Ireland’s hopes of obtaining a positive result.
However, taking the 3/1 on Lewandowski opening the scoring may not be the most sensible move, on the basis that this was something he only did once during qualifying.
Instead, it is the 8/5 on the wincast of Lewandowski scoring at any time in a Poland victory that appeals more greatly at 8/5. Poland simply beating Northern Ireland can be backed at a more-than-fair 7/10.
But when it comes to the most attractive bet for the encounter in Nice, it is the 5/4 that Poland will be the first of the two teams to score two goals which sticks out.
Poland’s scoring exploits in qualifying have already been mentioned and they have found the net at least twice in six of their last nine matches. Northern Ireland have only done so in three of their last 11 and these were against Greece, the Faroe Islands and Belarus.
Despite their tough qualifying group, only Germany, England and Austria could top Poland’s 70 shots on target in reaching the Euros, which was 24 more than Northern Ireland managed against much easier competition.
Poland are 1/1 to score over 1.5 goals and the 5/4 on offer is pretty much the same bet given that Northern Ireland are far from the most lethal in front of goal.
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All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.