Wales and Scotland will attract plenty of interest at 5/4 and 11/10 respectively for Euro 2016 qualification after their impressive weekends’ work, but Northern Ireland still look by far the best bet of the trio for a spot in France at 11/8.
Michael O’Neill’s men may have dropped points for the first time in this campaign away to Romania, but there was no disgrace in losing 2-0 to Anghel Iordanescu’s improving outfit.
Romania have been beaten just once in their last 10 fixtures on their own patch, a run that includes a 0-0 draw with Argentina in March, and currently sit just a point ahead of O’Neill’s men at the top of the group.
Furthermore, the Green and White Army will be hugely buoyed by other results in their mini-league in Gameweek 4, particularly the one that came down the line from Piraeus
Greece’s 2016 race already looks run following their comical 1-0 loss at home to the Faroe Islands, which saw coach Claudio Ranieri get the chop less than six months into his Ethniki reign.
The 2004 European champions are left with a solitary point from their four matches so far, three of which have been home losses.
Hungary, who Northern Ireland beat 2-1 in Budapest in their opening Group F fixture, probably did O’Neill and co a favour by seeing off Finland at home, as Mixu Paatelainen’s men now lie five points off second place and visit Windsor Park next time out in March.
A fourth win in five from O’Neill’s boys would surely make this mini-league a three-horse race between Romania, Northern Ireland and Hungary, practically guaranteeing the British side a place in the playoffs.
However, considering Northern Ireland are the only country in the group to have played just one of their fixtures at home thus far, a second-place automatic berth looks well within their reach.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
Fancy a flutter? Sign up today to claim up to £100 in free bets.