Northern Ireland vs Finland predictions: 'Windsor roar' could be crucial on O'Neill's return
Michael O'Neill made a winning start to his second spell in charge of Northern Ireland with Thursday's 2-0 win in San Marino and will be keen to capitalise on that momentum against Finland on Sunday.
Dion Charles broke his international duck with goals either side of the break in Serraville on an evening that was comfortable for the Norn Iron, despite not producing an overly flattering scoreline.
Finland looked set to grab an impressive draw against Denmark but after opening the scoring, only to see his effort cancelled out by Oliver Antman, Rasmus Hojlund put the Danes back ahead in the 82nd minute before completing his hat-trick in stoppage time to seal a 3-1 win.
While Denmark are expected to top Group H in qualifying for the European Championship, Northern Ireland, Finland, Slovenia and even Kazakhstan will feel they have a chance of at least challenging for second spot in the pool.
A win on Sunday could prove crucial to the former two and hints at a cagey affair.
There is a case of O'Neill sticking with a winning team, although Josh Magennis could come in with the boss admitting he is looking to manage the workloads of both the Wigan man and Conor Washington.
Teenager Shea Charles could also retain his place in the side, despite still not having played a senior game at club level for Manchester City.
Finland's showing in Copenhagen suggests that Markku Kanerva might also stick with a similar team.
However, Marcus Forss could be included to add an extra threat in attack, while Rasmus Schuller is a contender to start in midfield.
Northern Ireland are unbeaten in their last four games against Finland.
The pair most recently met in qualifying for Euro 2016, sharing a 1-1 draw in Helsinki, with Norn Iron having earlier triumphed 2-1 at Windsor Park.
The Green and White army are also unbeaten in their last two competitive home games, drawing 2-2 with Cyprus and beating Kosovo 2-1 in last year's Nations League group stages.
Finland have won just two of their last 10 games, with both of those victories coming against Montenegro.
The Huuhkajat have also scored just once in their last three games.
This look set to be a cagey contest, with neither team prolific in front of goal at the best of times.
While Teemu Pukki still features for Finland, he looks to be a fading force, while Northern Ireland have struggled for a regular source of goals for over a decade.
They have not scored more than two goals at home since beating Israel 3-0 in September 2018 but O'Neill's reign first time around was built on grinding out wins in front of their passionate home supporters in Belfast.
That helped them qualify for Euro 2016 and a place at next summer's finals in Germany is a realistic goal.
Taking two wins from as many games to open their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign would set them up nicely and with Finland struggling for goals, the 'Windsor roar' could prove crucial to a home victory.
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