MX23RW : Saturday, July 20 01:43:07| >> :600:3314972:3314972:
Jun 11, 2019 at 7.45pm UK
Belarus
0-1
Northern Ireland
FT(HT: 0-0)
McNair (86')

5 talking points ahead of Belarus v Northern Ireland

5 talking points ahead of Belarus v Northern Ireland
© Reuters
Michael O'Neill's side have the chance to win four consecutive qualifying games at the start of a campaign for the first time.

Northern Ireland head to Borisov on Tuesday night to face Belarus in their fourth Euro 2020 qualifier.

Here Press Association Sport takes a look a five talking points head of the game.

On target

For months Northern Ireland have spoken about the importance of taking maximum points from their first four qualifiers home and away to Estonia and Belarus, and Saturday's come-from-behind win in Tallinn kept alive their chances of achieving it. Northern Ireland have never previously won four successive qualifiers to start a campaign but victory in Borisov could be key to their hopes of playing in Euro 2020. Win and they will sit nine points clear of the Dutch. Sure, Northern Ireland will have played two games more but Holland's next qualifier is against Germany in Hamburg, and the pressure will all be on Ronald Koeman's men.

Super subs

O'Neill faced difficult choices when it came to his starting XI in Tallinn, with many members of his squad not playing competitive football for a full month before the match, with several others short of match fitness after struggling for playing time at their clubs. You could argue the first-half performance showed he got it wrong but what O'Neill has shown is his ability to pinpoint the problem and fix it with smart substitutions, both in this game and in March when Josh Magennis came off the bench to score the late winner against Belarus, just as he did in Tallinn.

Cooling off

Temperatures in Tallinn over the weekend were unusually high, reaching 30 degrees during the day and still in the high 20s during Saturday's match thanks to the late evening sun. Several of O'Neill's players spoke of being physically drained after the game so they will be grateful for a late kick-off time on Tuesday. Although Borisov is due to enjoy similar temperatures during the day, the match will begin at 9.45pm local time, and the mercury should have dropped considerably. An extra factor for Northern Ireland to deal with, however, is travel. Due to limited accommodation, the team will stay in Minsk, a 75-minute bus trip away from the Borisov Arena.

Digging deep

A draining night in Tallinn will leave O'Neill with further selection headaches as he must find a balance between building on the momentum of a dramatic win with finding fresh legs in his squad. He is not short of options for freshening up the side, with the likes of Magennis, Jordan Jones and Corry Evans ready to come in if needed.

No joy for Belarus

Northern Ireland will be facing a Belarus team who have lost their opening three qualifiers, conceding eight goals in the process and scoring just one. That goal came in a 2-1 loss to Northern Ireland in Belfast in March, while they were routed 4-0 by the Dutch earlier this year and went down 2-0 to Germany at home on Saturday.

ga('create', 'UA-72310761-1', 'auto', {'name': 'pacontentapi'});
ga('pacontentapi.set', 'referrer', location.origin);
ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension1', 'By Ian Parker, Press Association Sport, Minsk');
ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension2', '8511d1e1-3256-4763-9990-273036e2e207');
ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension3', 'paservice:sport,paservice:sport:football,paservice:sport:uk,paservice:sport:world');
ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension6', 'story');
ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension7', 'composite');
ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension8', null);
ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension9', 'sport:football');
ga('pacontentapi.send', 'pageview', { 'location': location.href, 'page': (location.pathname + location.search + location.hash), 'title': '5 talking points ahead of Belarus v Northern Ireland'});

body check tags ::
Share this article now:
Sports Mole Instagram banner
Michael O'Neill in charge of Northern Ireland on October 12, 2018
Read Next:
Michael O'Neill talks up Northern Ireland's character after comeback win
>

Loading ...

Failed to load data.

Loading ...

Failed to load data.

Select and display your favourite team's news and scores in this panel

Loading ...

Failed to load data.

Loading ...

Failed to load data.

Select and display your favourite team's news and scores in this panel
/esi/758/0/index.html - esi:0:site:0:-p-: {0}: - :T758:-: {0}: < ! - - T  758 {0} - - >  : 
Tables

Subscribe to our Newsletter


Transfer Talk Daily
Match previews - twice weekly
Morning Briefing (7am UTC)
Ultra close-up image of Kevin De Bruyne [NOT FOR USE IN ARTICLES]Get the latest transfer news, match previews and news direct to your inbox!

Loading ...

Failed to load data.

Loading ...

Failed to load data.

Select and display your favourite team's news and scores in this panel
Login, I already have my ad-free pass
Log in to customise Sports Mole
Buy ad-free access (show me the options)
Buy monthly ad-free access for £1.20/month
Buy yearly ad-free access for £12 (2 months free)
Settings - Logout - Manage your account
Settings - Logout - Manage your account