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Starting XI v Switzerland (home).

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Regardless of the team picked I agree that although we do not want to excide I still feel we need a goal to go to the next leg with and we should have players in the team who can do that hence you might see Ward, Saville, Dallas and all three forwards play a role.

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Michael will stick to what he knows:

 

McGovern

 

Mclouglin

J Evans

Macauley

Brunt

 

Davis

Norwood

C Evans

 

Ward/ Josh

Dallas

 

Washington/ Lafferty

 

Michael will stick to what he knows:

 

McGovern

 

Mclouglin

J Evans

Macauley

Brunt

 

Davis

Norwood

C Evans

 

Ward/ Josh

Dallas

 

Washington/ Lafferty

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For me it would be the latter.

 

For it would mean going to Basel with up to 120 minutes to get an away goal.

 

And if we can nick one out there, then Switzerland would have to go some to score twice against a team of ours which is defending for its life.

Tactical improvisation and extracting as much juice from our squad will be vital in this tie, bearing in mind the squad's lack of depth, our yellow card situation, the lack of game time/match fitness of several players and the fact we will be playing 180 minutes plus within the space of 3 days (unchartered territory for N.Ireland).

 

I fear this may be a big factor in the last 30 minutes of normal time in Basel and definitely during (potential) extra time there. This could be a game too far for the likes of Big G if he's expected to last 180 minutes - it's asking a lot for a 37-year-old who's only had two sixty minute EPL appearances in the last week to be solid/mistake-free for the whole of both matches in such a high stakes tie.

 

MON may therefore be forced to employ Flanagan in the back four at some point or hope the experience of Aaron Hughes can trump zero match fitness - if needed to endure 20-25 minutes of a final Swiss onslaught in Basel.

 

We can't be too negative in Belfast and whilst energy levels are high, yellow carded players are still in the tie and home advantage is to our favour, I think we need to show some ambition, get at least a goal and as early as possible.

 

That may mean starting with livewire Ward on the right, giving him at least a half to ruffle a few feathers and play off Washington, then replacing him with Big Josh. Paddy McNair to start in front of the back four with Corry coming on for him midway through the second half (if we're defending a lead). If not, Saville and/or Lafferty to come on.

 

All a very fine balancing act of course.

 

McGovern

McLaughlin

McAuley

J.Evans

Brunt

McNair

Ward

Norwood

Davis

Dallas

Washington

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Just as long as he doesnt over think it a la Poland in Nice.

 

Stick to what works for us.

 

Regardless of results I want to walk away from it thinking we did it our way & everyone gave their all.

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if offered now, I would take keeping it 0-0 over 2 legs and through on penalties (I hope MON has them practicing!!) Not losing a goal is the most important thing.

I genuinely don't think I could cope if it went to penalties

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We can't be too negative in Belfast and whilst energy levels are high, yellow carded players are still in the tie and home advantage is to our favour, I think we need to show some ambition, get at least a goal and as early as possible.

I see what you mean, but if Michael's recent comments are any guide, I think he'll be cautious in the 1st leg:

 

Northern Ireland need their World Cup play-off tie against Switzerland to be "close", says manager Michael O'Neill.

"We need it to be close because I don't think we are going to come through a high-scoring tie," said O'Neill.

"It's important not to concede at home. We are not a team suited to going out and chasing the game."

He added: "We want to have something to take to Basel with us. The games will be tight and close and we can hopefully go there and play on the counter-attack with something to defend."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/41877178

 

Unless, of course, it's all a bluff for to fool the Swiss manager...

 

We can't be too negative in Belfast and whilst energy levels are high, yellow carded players are still in the tie and home advantage is to our favour, I think we need to show some ambition, get at least a goal and as early as possible.

I see what you mean, but if Michael's recent comments are any guide, I think he'll be cautious in the 1st leg:

 

Northern Ireland need their World Cup play-off tie against Switzerland to be "close", says manager Michael O'Neill.

"We need it to be close because I don't think we are going to come through a high-scoring tie," said O'Neill.

"It's important not to concede at home. We are not a team suited to going out and chasing the game."

He added: "We want to have something to take to Basel with us. The games will be tight and close and we can hopefully go there and play on the counter-attack with something to defend."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/41877178

 

Unless, of course, it's all a bluff for to fool the Swiss manager...

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Here's a thought:

 

2 holding mids for the home tie.

 

McGovern

 

McLaughlin McAuley J Evans Brunt

 

C Evans McNair

 

Davis

 

Magennis Lafferty Dallas

 

 

Norwood if we need to get a hold of the ball a bit more

 

Ward/Washington if we need a goal

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Here's a thought:

 

2 holding mids for the home tie.

 

McGovern

 

McLaughlin McAuley J Evans Brunt

 

C Evans McNair

 

Davis

 

Magennis Lafferty Dallas

 

 

Norwood if we need to get a hold of the ball a bit more

 

Ward/Washington if we need a goal

No way Evans and McNair will start ahead of Norwood and Norwood has basically been playing as a holding midfielder anyway.

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Here's a thought:

 

2 holding mids for the home tie.

 

 

 

McGovern

 

McLaughlin McAuley J Evans Brunt

 

C Evans McNair

 

Davis

 

Magennis Lafferty Dallas

 

 

Norwood if we need to get a hold of the ball a bit more

 

I think he'll go two holding midfielders, but am sure one will be Norwood, with the other either C.Evans or McNair. (I'd guess the former). For Norwood has played in 44 of Michael's 51 games in charge (41 starts), second only to Steven Davis on the list.

 

Doubt he'll go with two out-and-out strikers at WP either, at least to start with, though I'm not sure which lone striker he'll choose. In order, possibly Magennis, Washington, Lafferty?

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No way Evans and McNair will start ahead of Norwood and Norwood has basically been playing as a holding midfielder anyway.

Just meant a more disruptive holding mid as opposed to how Norwood plays it in a knitting things together from that position.

 

But yeah he will start. I'm just over thinking.

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