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Northern Ireland vs Bosnia-Herzegovina: Belfast woe for O'Neill's men

Northern Ireland vs Bosnia-Herzegovina Match Preview and Predictions

Northern Ireland kickstart their Nations League campaign with their first meeting against Bosnia-Herzegovina in Belfast on Saturday.

Michael O'Neill's men finished second in their World Cup qualifying group which proved good enough for a play-off place but a controversial penalty in the first leg helped Switzerland secure a 1-0 aggregate win.

Bosnia-Herzegovina paid the price for throwing away a 2-0 half-time lead in Cyprus where they lost 3-2 and ultimately missed out on the play-offs by two points from second-placed Greece.

[All odds correct at time of publication]

Match information

When is it? Saturday 8th September

What time is kick-off? 14:00

Where is it being played? Windsor Park

Which channel is it on? Sky Sports Football

Northern Ireland vs Bosnia-Herzegovina Betting Tips

Here are our three best bets for the Nations League game in Belfast:

The lowdown

The days of Windsor Park being an impregnable fortress are over following defeats to Germany, Croatia and Switzerland in their last seven games, but Northern Ireland remain a tough outfit against average sides as they proved in beating the Czech Republic and Norway during their World Cup qualifying campaign.

This weekend's best bets

Check out our other football tips for Saturday:

Since then O'Neill has overseen a 2-1 friendly win against South Korea, who stunned Germany at the World Cup, although they wilted in the San Jose heat in a 3-0 defeat by Costa Rica having shared a goalless draw with Panama in equally sweltering conditions.

Bosnia-Herzegovina are unbeaten since their World Cup qualifying campaign with goalless draws against Senegal and Montenegro followed by a 3-1 win against South Korea.

Robert Prosinecki has some excellent players at his disposal and they were just seven minutes away from earning a 3-3 draw against Belgium during a World Cup qualifier in October.

Prosinecki said: "We believe in the squad, they have shown that they can play, and we will play to win against Northern Ireland. We are preparing well."

Despite Northern Ireland's impressive home record over the last few years, we fancy their technically superior opponents to edge this one at 33/20.

First goalscorer

Edin Visca bagged a hat-trick for the Bosnians in the 3-1 win against South Korea in June and the winger also broke the deadlock during Istanbul Basaksehir's victory over Akhisarspor in the Turkish Super Lig at the end of August.

At 7/1, Visca looks decent odds to score first.

Anytime goalscorer

Miralem Pjanic scored a superb long-range opener for Juventus in the 2-0 win against Lazio and his last four goals for Bosnia-Herzegovina have all come away from home.

The central midfielder looks well priced at 4/1 to add to his tally of 12 goals for his country.

Where the game will be won and lost

As ever O'Neill has drawn upon a mixture of Championship and Scottish Premiership players plus a couple of Premier League defenders in his frills-free squad, while Bosnia have the likes of Roma striker Edin Dzeko, Juventus midfielder Pjanic and many others from top-flight European leagues.

Northern Ireland are likely to create their chances from set-pieces and will be lumping the ball up to Kyle Lafferty at every opportunity, while we expect a more cultured approach from the visitors who are dangerous from the flanks.

Prosinecki's side have made inroads into the opposition in the first half recently and so the next of our Northern Ireland vs Bosnia-Herzegovina betting tips is for the first goal to be scored between 21-30 minutes.

Feature match previews

If you're interested in tips on this week's internationals, check out our in-depth previews below:

That was the case against the Koreans and they were only a minute out with a 20th-minute opener in the 1-0 win against Bulgaria - also away from home.

Northern Ireland's 3-0 defeat in Costa Rica also saw the deadlock broken between that period, so 6/1 looks a decent price as does 11/10 on the visitors to score the first goal.

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Warren Barner
@warren_barner in Football