Sunday, May 19, 2024

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

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Sports Mole previews Friday’s friendly clash between Romania and Northern Ireland, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Romania and Northern Ireland get their 2024 calendars underway with a friendly international in Bucharest on Friday evening.

While the hosts are continuing their preparations for Euro 2024, the visitors are looking to find some form ahead of the next UEFA Nations League campaign in September.


Match preview

© Reuters

Even with the return of Michael O’Neill as manager, it is fair to share that his first qualifying campaign back with Northern Ireland was something of a damp squib.

A group containing Denmark, Slovenia, Finland, Kazakhstan and San Marino was arguably as good as they could have asked for, yet they could only defeat San Marino home and away before playing Denmark in Belfast on the final matchday.

To their credit, Northern Ireland came through with a 2-0 victory over the group winners, but it should be taken into consideration that the fixture was a dead-rubber for both nations.

Northern Ireland still finished nine points adrift of fourth place as they lost their other seven matches, six of which saw them fail to get on the scoresheet.

O’Neill now has a job on his hands to find new solutions, a consequence of just five wins coming from 18 games in all competitions over a two-year period and the only time that they have avoided defeats away from home occurring in Luxembourg, Cyprus and San Marino.

Romania coach Edward Iordanescu celebrates after qualifying for the Euro 2024 on November 18, 2023© Reuters

That highlights the size of the task for Northern Ireland ahead of the trip to Romania, who are preparing to feature in just their fourth major tournament since the turn of the millennium.

Each of those appearances have come at European Championships, with Edward Iordanescu the latest name to be added to the list of managers who have guided Romania to that stage.

Iordanescu’s side are currently on an 11-match undefeated streak in all competitions, not losing since they suffered a 2-1 defeat to Slovenia in a friendly back in November 2022.

Although four draws came in a qualifying group containing Switzerland, Israel, Belarus, Kosovo and Andorra, ending the campaign with four wins in five – including a final-matchday success over Switzerland – ensured that they finished in top spot.

The Tricolours have since been placed in a favourable group containing Belgium, Slovakia and a playoff-winning side at Euro 2024, yet Iordanescu is first focused on friendly meetings with Northern Ireland and Colombia.

Romania form (all competitions):

Northern Ireland form (all competitions):


Team News

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill on November 20, 2023© Reuters

Although the same 11 players that started the triumph over Switzerland are available here, Iordanescu may tinker with his Romania XI.

Ianis Hagi and George Puscas are both obvious choices to return in attacking roles, while defender Bogdan Racovitan and midfielder Adrian Sut will hope to be handed their debuts at some stage in the match.

The experienced Razvan Marin could also be recalled in the centre of the pitch.

With Dale Taylor missing out for Northern Ireland, Jordan Thompson is in line to be drafted back into the starting lineup.

Liverpool’s Conor Bradley should also return at right-back in a team that may largely remain the same given their exploits against Denmark in November.

Aaron Donnelly, Caolan Boyd-Munce and Jamie Reid are all awaiting their first caps and will hope to be handed minutes later in the game.

Romania possible starting lineup:
Moldovan; Ratiu, Burca, Dragusin, Bancu; Cicaldau, M. Marin, Stanciu; Hagi, Puscas, Coman

Northern Ireland possible starting lineup:
Hazard; Bradley, McNair, Toal, Brown, Lewis; Thompson, Charles, Saville; Price; Charles


SM words green background

We say: Romania 3-1 Northern Ireland

With both teams expected to name their strongest sides for this contest, this could prove to be a tough ask for the visitors. While we envisage them having their moments and potentially getting on the scoresheet, it would be a surprise if Romania did not come through with a convincing win.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.




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