Our prediction for this Nations League match:
Romania kick off their UEFA Nations League campaign with a home match against Northern Ireland at Arena Nationala. The Tricolorii aim to bounce back from a heavy 5-0 loss to Spain, and they will surely use this game to prepare in the best way possible for the Euro 2021 playoffs semis against Iceland. A man to keep an eye on in the home team will be Slavia Prague midfielder Nicolae Stanciu. Northern Ireland are preparing for the Euro playoffs semi-final as well.
The Green and White Army are likely to adopt a defence-minded approach in Friday’s football game, but preventing Romania from scoring in Bucharest is easier said than done. Joel Cooper could make his senior debut against the Tricolorii, while Mark Sykes has been left out of the squad. In their last meeting in Bucharest Romania recorded a 2-0 win over Northern Ireland, and the history is likely to repeat itself.
Highlighted Player (Anton Tatarusanu):
Anton Ciprian Tatarusanu is one of Romania’s most famous goalkeeper at the moment, and he has surprisingly spent the majority of his career up to date in his native country. The highly rated shot-stopper joined the most famous club on domestic stage Steaua via Juventus Bucuresti and Gloria Bistrita and he would go on to spend next seven years in the capital, making over 130 league appearances and featuring in over 40 matches in European competitions.
The big club move finally materialised in the summer of 2014 as he waited his contract to expire before signing for Fiorentina, and he quickly established himself as the number one goalkeeper at Artemio Franchi.
When it comes to international stage, Tatarusanu has spent much of his career competing with Costel Pantilimon for the starting berth in the national team, and he has emerged a winner, making 30 odd appearances for the Tricolorii since 2010. Bar any surprises, Tatarusanu will make his debut appearance at major tournaments at the Euro 2016 finals.
Highlighted Team (Northern Ireland):
Competing first under the Irish flag and then as an independent entity, Northern Ireland are one of world’s oldest national teams, but they haven’t enjoyed too much success in history. Led by Danny Blanchflower, the Irish impressed at their first ever World Cup finals appearance, reaching the quarter-finals in 1958, but they have since only played at the 1982 and 1986 tournaments, reaching round 2 and crashing out in the group stage respectively.
Northern Ireland had failed to qualify for 13 successive European Championship finals before finally booking their ticket to the Euro 2016 in France, and the fans hope this success will only be a sign of things to come. Without a doubt, George Best is the most famous footballer to have ever put on the green shirt, scoring 9 goals in 37 appearances, but he couldn’t help the national team close the gap behind Europe’s top sides.
Some of the other high-profile footballers include Pat Jennings, Aaron Hughes, David Healy, Keith Gillespie, Steven Davies and Gareth McAuley.