Wales v Northern Ireland: Which home nation makes the last eight?
With the group stage over, it’s time for the serious stuff to begin at Euro 2016, and against the odds, both Wales and Northern Ireland find themselves still in the mix. But as they prepare to meet in Paris, who will make the quarter-finals?
Wales were an expectant 8/13 to qualify, but the pre-tournament 5/1 on Chris Coleman’s men to top the group showcases the clinical football the Dragons have produced thus far, decisively claiming wins over Slovakia and Russia to claim Group B’s bragging rights.
For Michael O’Neill’s Northern Ireland, they were one of the longest shots to qualify at 2/1, thanks to a group containing Poland, Ukraine and World Champions Germany.
But in Lyon, the Green and White Army, roared on by a rolling band of incredible fans, beat Ukraine 2-0 and their progression was assured after results elsewhere went their way.
The sides have met six teams in the past, with five of those coming in the last 12 years.
Wales are unbeaten in those five meetings, with three draws including a 1-1 share at the Cardiff City Stadium in late March.
With that in mind, it may worth picking this game to head into extra-time.
With Norn Iron restricting the attacking talents of Poland and Germany to one goal apiece, Bale and the rest will have a job in breaking down Gareth McAuley’s back-line, and a draw can be backed at 21/10.
But if you fancy Bale to net again – he already has three goals in France – the world’s most expensive footballer is 7/2 to bag the opener at the Parc des Princes, with Kyle Lafferty Northern Ireland’s most likely first scorer according to the bookies at 8/1.
This game is tough to call on the 2.5 goals line, with all of Wales’ group games seeing three or more, and all of Northern Ireland’s seeing two or fewer.
But Norn Iron’s resolute, organised and disciplined defence looks well placed to contain Wales, and under 2.5 goals is 4/11.
Don’t worry about a lack of goals spoiling the spectacle however. This is sure to be one of the most atmospheric and passionate contests of the entire tournament.
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