The Daily Star’s Chief Football writer, Danny Fullbrook, gives his verdict on this weekend’s televised matches in the Euro 2012 qualifiers .
Serbia v Northern Ireland, Fri 25th Mar, 19.30, Skysports 1
Friday’s TV games include Serbia v Northern Ireland.
Chris Baird captains the Northern Ireland side because it is his 50th cap,
but leading his team out will probably be the happiest moment as Serbia will win this game and are 8/15 () to do so, which is hardly a great bet so why not plump for a 2-1 scoreline which is 8/1 with Skybet instead.
But that logic never works out so Saturday’s game is bound to be far tighter than anyone would reasonably expect. The last time England visited the Welsh capital when Sven Goran Eriksson was in charge they won by a solitary goal scored by Joe Cole, while Paul Robinson made a series of great saves. A repeat scoreline is 11/2 with 888sport.
The chances of Wales producing a major upset has been diminished by the fact Gareth Bale is out of the clash with a hamstring injury, which is a shame for the spectacle, but not for John Terry and the rest of the England defenders.
Even with the majority of the 70,000 expected crowd at the Millennium Stadium behind them, Gary Speed’s side face a major uphill battle. They have lost all of their first three games in Group G, scoring once while conceding six. England’s draw with Montenegro in their previous game was a knockback, but they should be strong enough to win this game.
For me they will win 2-0, which is 11/2 with Betfred, but a more interesting bet might be the first goalscorer. Andy Carroll is likely to start alongside Wayne Rooney and the Liverpool man is 6/1 to score first (bet365). But given what Terry has been through in the build-up to this game, he usually responds in the only way he knows how – leading from the front – so he is chalked up by Stan James at an attractive 20/1 to score first.
But if you think that Wales might upset the applecart then simply back them to win on the nose which is a massive 8/1 (Paddy Power).
Rep. Of Ireland v FYR Macedonia, Sat 25th Mar, 19.45, Skysports 1
The Republic on the other hand are a far tougher prospect, especially with Damien Duff enjoying a swansong in the back end of his career.
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