Cyprus v Northern Ireland: Pressure on after slow start
Cyprus v Northern Ireland betting tips, odds and preview
Ian Baraclough will be desperate to finally secure a first Nations League victory on Sunday as we pick out some Cyprus v Northern Ireland betting tips for the Group C2 clash.
The Northern Ireland boss was left frustrated on Thursday after a below-par performance which saw the campaign begin with a 1-0 home defeat to Greece.
His team will be out to make amends at the AEK Arena in Larnaca, with the match kicking off at 5pm BST on Sunday and being shown live on Premier Sports.
Nations League drought goes on
Despite the best efforts of another sell-out crowd at Windsor Park, Northern Ireland were too flat for too long against Greece.
They only raised their game when two 34-year-olds – Kyle Lafferty and Niall McGinn – came off the bench to chase a result in the final half an hour.
But they could find no answer to Tasos Bakasetas’ 39th-minute strike for the visitors as Gus Poyet took victory in his first competitive game in charge of Greece.
Greece hold on and it's not to be for Northern Ireland tonight 🇬🇷
Bakasetas' goal is the difference between the teams at Windsor Park ⚽ pic.twitter.com/gAKQMfm4Bs
— Premier Sports (@PremierSportsTV) June 2, 2022
It means Northern Ireland are still without a win after 11 attempts in the Nations League, while Baraclough has only one victory in the same number of fixtures at Windsor Park in all competitions.
On Wednesday the manager had set his side a points target of 12 for their four fixtures this month, but this is a result that leaves Northern Ireland already facing an uphill task in their goal of promotion out of League C.
No joy for Cyprus
Cyprus also got off to a slow start as they slipped to a 2-0 defeat against Kosovo in their opening match.
They fell behind in the 65th minute to Valon Berisha’s opener before Edon Zhegrova doubled Kosovo’s lead in the 78th minute.
Looking at the #YourCall options for Cyprus v Northern Ireland betting tips, the best option may be under 1.5 goals in the first half, under 2.5 goals in the second half and either team to win at 11/10 given that a draw is not of much use to either team.
Golden oldies can show the way
Baraclough blamed rustiness for Northern Ireland’s performance against Greece and will hope his players look sharper in their second match of the international window.
With a squad of players drawn from different leagues, many of whom have not played a competitive match in several weeks, Baraclough said the fitness levels of his side played a role.
“I thought in the first half you could see a team of players that haven’t played for a little while,” he said.
“Not everybody, but there was rustiness, we couldn’t get the first pass away, couldn’t find the through ball, the cohesion and the timing of runs.
“The intensity looked a little low. Some were holding back, not sure if they could make the 90 minutes. In the second half we had more intensity and that gets the crowd going a bit more and it takes us forward more.
“I’d have liked more crossing. I think we turned down crossing, and certainly when you bring a guy like Laff on who thrives on crosses, Dion Charles as well, that’s the impact of the substitutes that you’re looking for.”
"We need to learn how to win football matches…" 😬
Northern Ireland midfielder George Saville speaking after their defeat to Greece in the Nations League, as their winless run in the competition continues 🔊🔛 pic.twitter.com/ugyDuibvIk
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) June 3, 2022
Manchester City’s Shea Charles came on to make his debut with 10 minutes to go, the 11th player to be handed his first cap by Baraclough, but though there were several youngsters on at the end, it was Lafferty and McGinn who had offered hope of finding an equaliser.
“Sometimes you do need that experience,” Baraclough added. “Sometimes you give kids a chance and we will do – I thought Shea Charles looked very assured and that’s a credit to him – but some of the younger ones were panicking at times, not wanting to give the ball away.
“You are going to make those mistakes but you need to learn from it.”
All odds and markets correct as of date of publication