Live on BBC1 Scot, Skysports 2 & 3: Fri from 19.15: The Home Nations are in action in Euro 2012 qualifying, Scotland travel to the Czech Rep.
Scotland may top Euro 2012 qualifying group 1 but they hardly head to Prague in scintillating form having required a last-gasp Stephen McManus goal to sneak a victory at home to lowly Liechtenstein last time out. Hosts, Czech Republic however, are hardly in the best shape themselves after a home defeat to Lithuania in their opener, but they are nevertheless odds-on favourites at 3/4 with Betdaq to send Craig Levein’s side home empty-handed while bet365 offer 9/2 for an away win and Ladbrokes chalk 5/2 against it finishing all square in the Synot Tip Arena.
The latter isn’t without appeal given that the Scots played out a goalless encounter in their first match, in Lithuania and another 0-0 scoreline is available at 15/2 (William Hill) ahead of this one. Indeed, with goalmouth incidents set be at a premium, a safe-looking wager is 888Sport’s 4/6 marked against a match tally of fewer than 2.5 goals, although the form of Kenny Miller for Rangers is bound to encourage the Tartan Army to back him at 15/2 with Betfred to break the deadlock.
At the redeveloped Landsdowne Road, Ireland entertain Russia and having taken maximum points from games against Armenia and Andorra, Giovanni Trapattoni’s men are tremendous value at 13/8 (Paddy Power) to make it three out of three at the expense of Dick Advocaat’s side; beaten at home by Slovakia in their last fixture.
A close encounter is on the cards in Dublin, where the teams are just 8/15 with Victor Chandler to come up with fewer than three goals between them and Ireland are an enticing 13/2 (888Sport) to grab the only successful strike of the match.
In Group G, leaders England are inactive at the weekend before tackling Montenegro at Wembley next Tuesday but Wales and Bulgaria are in action, locking horns at the Cardiff City Stadium. The match marks Brian Flynn’s first match in charge and the caretaker boss is 8/5 courtesy of Totesport to preside over a victory against a team arriving on the back of two defeats ‘to nil’.
However, the Welsh lost and drew a blank in Montenegro and there’s little in the formbook to suggest they have what it takes to land three points here, especially in the absence of strike duo Craig Bellamy and Robert Earnshaw. Bulgaria might nick it then and they’re worth considering at 15/8 with bet365, nevertheless, Wales’ home advantage suggests that some insurance might be in order; it’s available with William Hill, who offer the visitors at even money in the ‘Draw No Bet’ market.
Predictably, Northern Ireland are Partybets’ 4/1 underdogs ahead of the visit of Italy. However, Cesare Prandelli’s charges are perhaps not as formidable as they once were, as illustrated by their slightly fortuitous 2-1 victory in Estonia and they might not have things all their own way at Windsor Park. Coral rate Nigel Worthington’s troops at 5/2 to nick a point but the value is arguably in the handicaps, where the hosts are handed a goal start by Paddy Power at odds of 6/5 while an interesting alternative is Partybets’ 3/4 for Northern Ireland to get on the scoresheet.
Bulgaria to beat Wales ‘Draw No Bet’ – evens (William Hill)
Northern Ireland (+1) in the handicaps against Italy – 6/5 (Paddy Power)
Double on the matches involving Scotland and Ireland to produce fewer than 2.5 goals apiece – 8/5 (Stan James)