Panama vs Northern Ireland
Competition: International friendly
Date: 30 May 2018
Kick-off: 04:00 CET
Not one, but two key figures at Panama’s national team announced these last days that they will be retiring from international football after the World Cup finals. Luis “Matador” Tejada, the team’s leading scorer, and Gabriel “Gavilán” Gómez, both feel… it’s time, but only after they give their all to push the team into the last 16 of the finals in Russia. Panama will be facing Belgium, England and Tunisia in the group. Last month they faced Trinidad & Tobago in a friendly game, beat them 1-0, their first victory after three defeats and a draw in their previous four friendly matches. Especially that 6-0 to Switzerland hurt a lot, serving as a… warning that things in Russia, not only against Belgium and England, but even Tunisia, will be very tough.
Northern Ireland came so close to winning a ticket to Russia, a single goal (from the penalty spot) in the playoffs against Switzerland made all the difference, and now they have to settle for… “helping” other teams prepare for the finals, which they will be watching from a distance. They’ve played only one friendly game since those playoffs versus Switzerland, they beat South Korea 2-1 back in March. Young players have been called-up, with the UEFA Nations League already in the horizon, the start of Northern Ireland’s way – they hope – to Euro 2020.
Previous five matches:
Trinidad & Tobago vs Panama 0-1
Switzerland vs Panama 6-0
Denmark vs Panama 1-0
Wales vs Panama 1-1
Iran vs Panama 2-1
Northern Ireland vs South Korea 2-1
Switzerland vs Northern Ireland 0-0
Northern Ireland vs Switzerland 0-1
Norway vs Northern Ireland 1-0
Northern Ireland vs Germany 1-3
Panama’s next friendly game is against Norway. Northern Ireland will play against Costa Rica, on Sunday.
Panama vs Northern Ireland: Head to head Stats
This is the first game ever between these two.
Panama vs Northern Ireland: Prediction
Three days before the game, more than 20,000 tickets had been sold. Remember, this will be Panama’s first ever presence in the World Cup finals, so the people in the country are super enthusiastic about anything that has to do with that. The hosts are considered rather clear favorites to win the game, but I have my doubts.
Panama vs Northern Ireland: Betting Tips
Unfortunately, “under 2.5 goals”, my top choice, doesn’t pay more than 1.43. Even “no” on “both teams to score” pays little, 1.61. I would either leave this game aside, bet on other matches, or take the extra risk of choosing “under 1.5”. At 2.50, it feels worth it.