Our football match prediction:
Windsor Park will host the match between Northern Ireland and Croatia. The Green and White Army did remarkably well to qualify for Euro 2016 finals and they are now on a quest to book their place at the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Northern Ireland face Croatia in their final game in 2016 and, no doubt, the hosts will be happy with one point from Tuesday’s football match against the star-studded visitors. The Croats are on the right track to qualify for the showpiece tournament in Russia and they have been producing fine displays of late without injured star Luka Modric. The Real Madrid midfielder has overcome his injury, but he is unlikely to be risked against Northern Ireland. Anyhow, regardless of which players will be deployed in the starting XI, we predict that the in-form visitors are going to emerge triumphant in Tuesday’s clash.
Highlighted Player (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 (Croatia):
While the national football team of Croatia also played international matches between 1940 and 1944, they only resumed their duties in 1990 after the country gained independence from Yugoslavia. Vatreni enjoyed a remarkable start on the international stage, winning the third place on their first ever World Cup appearance in France in 1998, while crashing out in the group stage at the 2002, 2006 and 2014 tournaments. Croatia also reached the quarter-finals at the 1996 and 2008 European Championships, proving they are rightly considered one of Europe’s top sides at the start of the 21st century. Long-serving captain Darijo Srna is their most capped player with over 130 appearances for the national team, whereas former Real Madrid striker Davor Suker is one of their most famous players and top scorer with 45 goals. Other notable footballers to have played for Croatia include Luka Modric, Zvonimir Boban, Robert Prosinecki, Ivan Rakitic and Mario Mandzukic. Miroslav Blazevic and Slaven Bilic are the coaches that have been behind team’s biggest success stories up to date.