MX23RW : Friday, October 16 04:18:16| >> :600:192870:192870:
Sep 4, 2020 at 7.45pm UK at Arena Naţională
Northern IrelandNorthern Ireland
Puscas (25')
Hagi (42'), Nistor (78')
FT(HT: 1-0)
Whyte (86')
Magennis (13'), Evans (33')
Magennis (39')

Preview: Romania vs. Northern Ireland - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Friday's UEFA Nations League fixture between Romania and Northern Ireland, including team news and injury news.

Romania and Northern Ireland kick off their UEFA Nations League campaign with a fixture in Bucharest on Friday evening.

With both teams waiting to play their Euro 2020 playoff, this encounter will prove crucial in their preparations for that occasion next month.

Match preview

Ian Baraclough pictured in May 2015© Reuters

After Michael O'Neill's successful time at the helm, former Under-21s boss Ian Baraclough has now been tasked with attempting to continue Northern Ireland's progress.

However, the 49-year-old has been ill-afforded a bedding-in period, charged with trying to make headway in two competitions over the course of the next three months.

The playoff tie with Bosnia-Herzegovina will inevitably be viewed as the priority, but Baraclough cannot ignore that his squad will have to be at their best to retain their spot in Group B of the UEFA Nations League.

With Norway and Austria arguably ahead of them in terms of their development, it leaves an away clash with Romania as arguably the most important match they will encounter of their half-a-dozen outings.

On the plus side, Northern Ireland resume the action having held Netherlands to a goalless draw and given Germany a scare in Frankfurt, albeit eventually succumbing by a 6-1 scoreline.

As far as Romania are concerned, they now have Mirel Radoi as their head coach, who has also made the step up from the Under-21s to take charge of the seniors.

Radoi must find a way to lift his squad after they blew the opportunity to claim at least a playoff spot in Euro 2020 qualifying, earning just one point from their final three matches to finish in fourth spot.

Although Norway, Sweden and Spain were the opposition, the manner of the performance led to Cosmin Contra being removed from his role in the dugout, an indication of the frustration behind the scenes.

With no player below the age of 21 being included in his first squad, Radoi is seemingly placing faith in experience over youth, but that approach may not continue if his team does not deliver in their first two games.

Romania form (all competitions): LWWDLL

Northern Ireland form (all competitions): WLLWDL

Team News

Kyle Lafferty warms up for Northern Ireland on November 7, 2017© Reuters

While Baraclough will naturally want to use his own strategy, he will also be wary of changing too much too soon.

With that in mind, his first XI could feature the majority of the team which began the stalemate versus Netherlands, with only Kyle Lafferty being drafted into the team ahead of Josh Magennis.

One other change could see George Saville removed from his left-midfield role, with Jordan Jones possibly coming into the team.

Having made alterations to the squad, changes in defence and midfield are inevitable for Romania.

Vlad Chiriches, Alexandru Cicaldau and Dan Nistor may all start on Friday evening.

Romania possible starting lineup:
Tatarusanu; Stefan, Chiriches, Nedelcearu, Tosca; Cicaldau, Nistor; Hagi, Stanciu, Coman; Puscas

Northern Ireland possible starting lineup:
Peacock-Farrell; Dallas, Cathcart, Evans, Lewis; Evans, Davis; Whyte, McNair, Jones; Lafferty

SM words green background

We say: Romania 2-1 Northern Ireland

With both teams being headed by new managers, this is a difficult match to call. While Northern Ireland have shown in the past that they can upset the odds, we feel inclined to back the home side, who will be eager to respond from their latest results.

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Ian Baraclough pictured in May 2015
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Ian Baraclough "massively disappointed" by Mark Sykes' switch to Republic of Ireland
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