EURO 2020 Qualifiers Betting: Matchday 1, Thursday

The EURO 2020 qualifying competition starts today with 10 matches across 4 groups. This post is the first of a regular series which will recap the action from the previous day and outline the matches of the current day from a betting perspective. Make sure to also read through 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.

Bet of the day

The start of a sports competition is always tricky for betting because we don’t know a lot of information about the teams’ current form. However, with regards to international games this is the norm. The last official games the teams played were back in November.

From today’s games, the one that stands out to me the most is Kazakhstan v Scotland. I fancy a bet on the draw at average odds of 3.30 and here’s why.

Scotland won their Nations League group which, in all honesty, wasn’t tough. They recorded 3 wins and 1 loss in games versus Israel and Albania. Nevertheless, by doing that they now have a guaranteed place in the playoffs if they don’t finish in the top two of their qualifying group. This is highly likely as two of the teams that are accompanying them in this group are Belgium – the bronze medalist from last year’s World Cup, and Russia – a quarterfinalist. Assuming the Red Devils will comfortably win the group, it’s highly likely that Russia and Scotland will fight it out for the second place. It’s hard to imagine that Cyprus or Kazakhstan will seriously contest for anything above fourth place.

Therefore, starting with a win today is crucial for Scotland. As a result, they are really pumped up and confident going into the game. However, it won’t be a walk in the park due to the following reasons:

  • There is a 6-hour difference between Kazakhstan and Scotland. This is a huge jet lag to overcome. Scotland have a special strategy for that, but despite it, they will no doubt have difficulties acclimatizing and performing to their optimal level.
  • Important players will miss the game. Andrew Robertson and Kieran Tierney are injured, meaning a third-choice left back will play. Allan McGregor just retired from international football and his usual replacement Craig Gordon is not a starter at his club, so the Scots have to start an inexperienced goalkeeper today, most likely in the face of Scott Bain. These squad problems may make Scotland vulnerable at the back.
  • The game will be played on artificial grass. Ryan Fraser will miss the game because of worries over that.
  • Scotland are in the midst of a re-build and the average age of the expected starting XI today is 24 years old.
  • There is a feeling of complacency among Scotland’s staff, or at least that’s what I am sensing from their pre-game comments. This can also come back to bite them.
  • Kazakhstan are not a special team, but usually aren’t that easily beaten at their ground. They changed their coach two months ago – most of the time teams have a temporary improvement in performances when that happens.

Due to all of this, I think a bet on the draw with moderate stake is worth a try. I will go for it with 2/5 units.

Rest of the action

I can’t identify other value bets today. There are either games with a clear favorite where the odds seem correctly distributed (Cyprus v San Marino, Northern Ireland v Estonia, Netherlands v Belarus, Croatia v Azerbaijan, FYR Macedonia v Latvia, Belgium v Russia) or games that are unpredictable (Slovakia v Hungary, Israel v Slovenia, Austria v Poland). A cautious betting approach is a wise thing to do at the start of a new competition. Good luck with your shrewd sports bets!