Our football match prediction:
A place at the 2018 FIFA World Cup finals will be at stake when Northern Ireland and Switzerland face each other in the two-legged tie. The Green and White Army did remarkably well to qualify for the 2016 European Championship and they want to give fans yet another reason for celebration. Michael O’Neill’s men are tough to beat at home and they are likely to rely on their rock-solid defence in Thursday’s football match against Switzerland. The Rossocrociati, on the other hand, were producing thrilling performances in Group B, but they eventually finished the process in second place in the standings despite being level on points with Portugal. Switzerland are seen as favourites to win the upcoming double-header, but seeing that Northern Ireland are a real force to be reckoned with at home, we predict that the two teams are going to share the spoils at Windsor Park.
Highlighted Player (Steven Davis):
Born in Ballymena on 1 January 1985, Steven Davis is probably the most famous Northern Irish footballer of the 21st century, and he was one of team’s youngest ever captains, having been awarded the armband just over a year after making his debut for the national team. The combative midfielder has spent his entire career up to date in the UK, enjoying successful spells with Aston Villa, Fulham, Rangers and Southampton, while representing the country of his birth at various youth levels before getting a chance to shine at the biggest stage. Davis soon established himself as a leader of the Northern Ireland football team, missing just a handful of competitive fixtures since making his debut in 2005. The central midfielder scored 2 goals to help the national team finally secure their place at a major tournament, with an impressive Euro 2016 qualifying campaign likely to remain fresh in the minds of both the players and fans alike in years to come.
Highlighted Team (Switzerland):
While missing the first ever World Cup, Switzerland played at next four, reaching the quarter-finals on three occasions, but they were unable to repeat the success in next six appearances. Nati reached the first knockout stage in 1994, 2006 and 2014, but they couldn’t make the next step. When it comes to their European Championship appearances, the situation is even worse, as the team only qualified for the 1996, 2004 and 2016 finals, while they automatically qualified for the 2008 tournament together with co-hosts Austria. Switzerland national team of late have profited from the multicultural environment, as they appear to have closed the gap behind top European sides and also adopted a more adventurous style of play. The new generation is probably the most talented yet, with players like Xherdan Shaqiri, Granit Xhaka, Stephan Lichtsteiner, Ricardo Rodriguez and Valon Behrami all held in high regard. Nati now have a unique chance to try and reach the closing stages of a major tournament as their key men are either at their peak or will be there in the next couple of years.