Our prediction for this Euro 2024 match:
Finland and Northern Ireland, the two teams who failed to qualify for the Euro 2024 finals, face each other at Helsinki Olympic Stadium on Friday afternoon. The Finns aim to recover from a heart-breaking 2-1 loss to Kazakhstan, but bear in mind that boss Markku Kanerva should use this qualifier to test as many players as possible. All Forss, Kallman, and Uronen are pushing for recalls to the starting XI.
The Green and White Army, meanwhile, are having a qualifying campaign to forget, with the team collecting only six points in total in the process from possible 24. As Northern Ireland are on a three-game losing run on the road in Group H, we are tempted to put our money on Finland, whose display in the defeat to Kazakhstan was anything but poor. Shea Charles is banned for the visiting side, while Derby County forward Conor Washington is widely expected to sneak into the starting line-up.
Highlighted Player (Paddy McNair):
Following in the footsteps of his compatriot Jonny Evans, Paddy McNair joined the Manchester United academy in 2011 and he was surprisingly handed first team debut by Louis van Gaal at the start of the 2014/2015 season.
Despite his fragile age, the talented central defender has been putting in some very mature performances ever since, and everything suggests he could go on to become an important player at Old Trafford in years to come. After representing a number of youth sides, McNair made his first appearance for the Northern Ireland senior national team in a March 2015 friendly vs Scotland, before making another three outings as his side secured their place at the Euro 2016 finals.
Northern Ireland coach Michael O’Neill surprisingly played McNair in holding midfield in the March 2016 friendly vs Wales. After the youngster impressed in the middle of the park, O’Neill went on to suggest that the Manchester United starlet may be used in midfield rather than defence in years to come in the national team.
Highlighted Team (Finland):
Finland national football team played their first international game before the World War 1. The Finns were beaten by fellow Nordic side Sweden (2-5) on October 22, 1911, but eleven years later they recorded their biggest ever win on the international stage.
Finland outclassed Estonia 10-2 in Helsinki and, speaking of their heaviest defeat, the team suffered a 13-0 loss to Germany in Leipzig during the World War II (1940). Finland national team became a member of FIFA back in 1908, but they have yet to qualify for the finals of the major tournament. The Finns did not participate in the European Championship finals as well, but several top-class footballers were part of their national football team in the past.
Former Liverpool ace Jari Litmanen scored 32 goals in 137 appearances for Finland and Sami Hyypia is yet another notable footballer who played for the Eagle-owls. The colour of Finland’s home kits is white, while they play their away games in blue shirts and blue shorts.