The EURO 2020 qualifying campaign kicked off yesterday with the first 10 games. We’ll briefly reflect on what happened and then focus on today’s action. If you still haven’t done so, have a look at the EURO 2020 qualifiers guide which breaks down the new rules and what they mean for your bets. It also contains a couple of outright picks, and today is the last day in which you can bet on one of these selections.
Thursday betting summary
Scotland went into yesterday’s game away to Kazakhstan as the bookies’ favorites. I mentioned in Thursday’s piece they would have difficulties, however very few people had predicted what the extent of those difficulties would be. Scotland were demolished and outplayed in every department. They were down 2:0 inside only 10 minutes which happened to them for the first time in more than 40 years. The key missing players in defence and at the goal provided the Kazakhs with a lot of space which they took advantage of perfectly.
After the game, pundits and fans in Scotland are wondering whether this was the most humiliating defeat in their national team history. My proposed pick of backing the draw at 3.30 didn’t materialize, instead – the home win at average odds of 3.75 (11/4) was the winning result. Alex McLeish has serious issues to address and he’s lucky that their next game is versus San Marino.
Elsewhere, as expected, the teams of Cyprus, Northern Ireland, Netherlands, FYR Macedonia and Belgium achieved comfortable victories, although the pre-game betting odds were in the lower spectrum, hence risking more of your bankroll for modest potential winnings. I don’t like betting on such short odds in general, though if you are feeling super confident in several picks, combining them in a multiple with carefully calculated stake can be done from time to time, but with caution.
An example why I feel like that is Croatia’s tough win at home to Azerbaijan. The pre-game odds on the World Cup finalists were 1.10 (1/10 or -1000) and they scored the winning goal 15 minutes from time in their hard-fought 2:1 victory.
The three games I described as tough-to-predict because all results were viable proved to be just that. Poland nicked a win away to Austria, Slovakia did the job at home to neighbours Hungary, whereas Israel and Slovenia produced a scoring draw. The groups containing these matches are very even in team power so every point matters in the long run.
Poland are now with one leg into EURO 2020 after winning their toughest game on paper. On the other hand, Hungary and Israel started with disappointing results and will need to seriously challenge themselves to prove they deserve a spot at the euro cup finals.
Bets for today
One of the outright picks I proposed was a top two finish for Albania because of the unrealistically high odds of 15.0 and the value they provide. The most important task for the Albanians to make that happen is to take care of business tonight when they host Turkey. I prefer the Draw No Bet option at 2.50 and I’ll take it with 2/5 in terms of bankroll betting units.
In the same group, Iceland are playing away to Andorra. In addition to my arguments for the outright pick mentioned above, here’s a fact for you – Iceland have gone a full year without a win, having played 15 games in the process (6 draws and 9 defeats). They are really struggling and will be expected to turn their fortunes against one of the football “minnows” in Europe. However, Andorra aren’t taking it easy at home lately, drawing all their three home games in the Nations League. In the last World Cup qualifying cycle they even managed to beat Hungary.
Hence, it’s highly likely that if Iceland fail to score early in the game, they may feel the pressure of needing to win at all costs which can backfire. In addition, bookmakers expect a low-scoring game. I’ll proceed with a wager on Andorra (+2) Handicap Result at odds of 2.00 (Evens). This means that if Andorra don’t lose the game with more than one goal, it will be a winning bet. Based on the factors around this game, I think that is a shrewd bet and I’ll take it with 3/5 units.
Rest of the action
The most anticipated game tonight is at Wembley where the Three Lions are hosting the Czech Republic. I was about to propose a bet on Under 2.5 Goals because of Czech Republic’s low-scoring profile and the low-scoring England home games being played occasionally, but I decided against that. England’s young prospects may well score more goals if they have a good day, as they proved away to Spain recently.
In the remaining games, the short odds on Portugal and France are not worth it in my opinion. Bulgaria and Luxembourg are rightfully favorites in their matches, but the odds offered don’t scream value to me. Bulgaria are masters in surprising everyone with home wins against the likes of Sweden and Netherlands recently, but at the same time drawing at home with the likes of Slovenia.
Luxembourg played well in the Nations League, but will be disappointed after their failure to secure a EURO 2020 playoff spot at the final matchday in front of their own fans. Their intensity will be questionable as they have undoubtedly realized they don’t have a chance in finishing top two in the group. Opponents Lithuania, on the other hand, are capable of producing a surprise despite their recent horror shows.
Good luck with your bets today!