Football Betting: Live on Skysports 1, ITV1 & BBC1 Scotland: Fri from 16.00: England face Bulgaria in the opening Euro 2012 qualifiers (Fri, 20.00, ITV1) with something of a defensive crisis.
England’s first competitive match since their dismal showing in South Africa is upon us already and with Fabio Capello already set to be under plenty of scrutiny, the Italian could really have done without the added hindrance of kicking off the Euro 2012 qualifying campaign without his two first choice centre backs.
The England boss will now be forced to field an inexperienced, virtually untried partnership at the heart of his rearguard in Friday’s crucial home clash against Bulgaria but bookies feel that Capello’s charges can cope in defence; Paddy Power making them odds-on at 1/3 to get the better of the visitors; Betdaq’s 10/1 outsiders.
Despite a disappointing World Cup, the hosts should justify their strong favouritism at Wembley but England could nevertheless find the going pretty tough, despite what the odds suggest. Indeed, as they did in the recent friendly against Hungary, they could concede a goal and so a decent case can be made for the 5/4 that Totesport mark against both teams finding the net.
Subsequently, Partybets’ 13/5 for Capello’s troops to register a 2-1, 3-1 or 4-1 success catches the eye although, under such pressure to perform, England could take a while to get going and 888Sport’s 6/4 for scores to be level at the break therefore appeals. Ladbrokes offer 7/2 for the ‘Three Lions’ to come out on top after that drawn first half and with a close encounter a distinct possibility, a one-goal margin of victory (5/2, William Hill), isn’t out of the question.
Due a goal for his country, Wayne Rooney is just 14/5 with Victor Chandler to follow up his penalty for Manchester United at the weekend, with the opener in this one, but a better bet at a bigger price could be Arsenal’s in-form attacker Theo Walcott, who is 7/1 (bet365) to break the deadlock and 7/4 courtesy of the same firm to get on the scoresheet at any stage.
Looking further ahead meanwhile, Capello’s side remain the obvious choice to win Group G, but bookies are giving little away; Jaxx.com offering just 3/10 for them to clinch top spot.
Also in Group G, Wales head to Montenegro, where it’s the hosts that are fancied for the points at 10/11 (Stan James). John Toshack’s side are 7/2 with bet365 to land a maximum haul but they would probably settle for a draw (12/5, Paddy Power) from what looks a tricky assignment. At 9/2 with Betfred, Northern Ireland are underdogs ahead of their trip to Slovenia, where Stan James rate Nigel Worthington’s team at 11/4 to secure a point.
Scotland head to Lithuania, where they will kick off as Ladbrokes’ 9/5 outsiders and they too might be satisfied with a point (23/10, Stan James) in a game that Paddy Power price at 7/1 to finish 0-0 and Jaxx.com quote at a safe-looking 3/5 to produce fewer than three goals. Ireland however, should fare a touch better, they’re 7/10 with Betdaq to come out on top as they face Armenia.
Armenia v Rep of Ireland, Gp B, 16:00, Skysports 1
Montenegro v Wales, Gp G, 18:30, Skysports 1
Lithuania v Scotland, Gp I, 19:15, BBC 1 Scotland
Slovenia v Northern Ireland, Gp C, 19:45, Skysports 1
England v Bulgaria, Gp G, 20:00, ITV 1