Matchday 1 is already in history and it’s time for us to focus on Matchday 2 of the European Qualifiers. Today’s schedule offers good sports betting opportunities.
Saturday betting summary
All favorites won yesterday, apart from the Faroe Islands away to Malta. However, the Faroe Islands being favorites away from home is kind of unrealistic. As anticipated in yesterday’s piece, the game was indeed a coin toss. An unpredictable affair consisting of red cards, missed penalties and scored penalties. Malta ran away with all three points despite playing with a man down for the last half hour.
If you had a bet on the rest of the favorites, that’s great! It’s rare to see so few surprises in a single night of football, but if there is a competition where it happens more often than usual, it’s the international games in Europe. Not all games were a walk in the park though, as you can see from the results. Ireland for example were walking on a thin ice. It’s good for them that they managed to get away with the win as it would have been a shame to drop points against Gibraltar. Gibraltar had good opportunities in that game and it’s yet another example why betting on such short odds is everything but shrewd.
My pick on Sweden was correct – they collected three precious points at home in this tight group, although after going up 2:0, they dropped their foot off the pedal and Romania could have stolen a point in extra time.
Bets for today
One of the early kick-offs today sees Kazakhstan at home to Russia. After annihilating Scotland 3:0 a few days ago, the Kazakhs’ confidence will be sky-high. It’s a rare occasion for the home crowd to see a victory in a competitive match. They will try to carry the momentum into their second game and take advantage of the fixture list which enabled them to start with two straight home games.
However, their last two matches against Russia finished with 0:3 losses. After reaching the quarterfinals of the World Cup playing at home, Russia have been on a downward trend. They couldn’t win their Nations League group, and they lost their first qualifier away to the absolute favorite Belgium on Thursday. They have to bounce back today and are indeed the better team, but I’ll back the draw with minimum stake at average odds of 3.40 due to Kazakhstan’s performance against Scotland.
Another draw with minimum stake can be attempted as a bet on Hungary v Croatia. Hungary have two faces – terrible away and almost flawless at home. They’ve won 6 of the last 7 competitive games at their stadium. After losing their match from Matchday 1 away to Slovakia, their back is against the wall to perform today.
Croatia, on their behalf, don’t look like the same team who won silver medals at the World Cup. They barely managed to beat Azerbaijan at home on Thursday, and today’s game is, at least on paper, much harder. Good news for the Croats is the return in the squad of key team members such as Rebic, Brozovic and Lovren. Their expected problems are at the back – 4 of the 5 players (goalkeeper + defense) who were heroes in Russia last year, won’t be able to play. This was hinted at on Thursday when Azerbaijan scored a goal that was definitely avoidable by more careful defending. At least the goal was beautiful. 🙂 The draw is priced at 3.75 and in my opinion a small stake on that pick is worth it.
The evening fixtures provide two good opportunities to bet on home wins. Slovenia are priced at 1.85 to take care of North Macedonia. The Slovenians won a point away to Israel, which isn’t perfect for them but also isn’t terrible. Backing that draw up with three points at home tonight is vital. They have more quality than their recent results are showing. Slovenia couldn’t get a single win in six games in the Nations League, getting relegated to the last Division D. However, all of their losses were with one goal difference. After they started with 0 points from 3 games, they made a coaching change which improved their performances marginally. Their last 4 games have finished in 1:1 draws.
Today’s the perfect opportunity for them to finally win. North Macedonia are in a good period and won their Nations League group, securing at least a playoff spot for EURO 2020. However, the quality of their opponents in Division D was weak and can’t be compared to the higher divisions. They lost 4:0 away to Armenia (who lost 0:1 at the same stadium to Gibraltar). North Macedonia are much better in front of their own fans than away.
The recent H2H record favors the Macedonians, but all streaks come to an end. Slovenia know that they are in the easiest EURO 2020 Qualifiers group and that if they don’t win today, it will most probably cost them their chances to qualify. I am on a home win on average odds of 1.85 with 5/5 confidence (or in other words, your maximum betting stake in relation to your bankroll).
A football classic is also on today’s schedule – Netherlands host Germany. The same fixture was a part of the Nations League several months ago, and The Oranje were comfortable 3:0 winners. I am backing them again tonight. Both teams are in a restructuring process, but at the two different spectrums of that process. Netherlands missed the last two major international tournaments and made big changes to their squad. After more than half a decade of mediocre performances and results, they finally resemble the formidable force they have always been in European football history, reaching the final stages of World Cups and European Championships regularly.
Germany, on the other hand, are at the very beginning of their restructuring after the terrible 2018 they had. After getting knocked out in the group stage as defending champions at the World Cup, they also finished last in the Nations League group, getting relegated to Division B. The coach and the players are highly criticized from the local press and fans. Three remarkable players from their successful 2014 World Cup campaign were removed from the squad – Jérôme Boateng, Mats Hummels and Thomas Müller. Fresh young faces constitute the German team now, but they need time to gel. That was evident on Wednesday in the draw with Serbia in a friendly match. An away game at the Netherlands is not the best game to go next to. Home win with 3/5 units on average odds of 2.40 seem like a reasonable bet.
Rest of the action
Two of the UK teams have tasks at home today and both of them are favorites to get the job done. Aaron Ramsey will be missing for Wales in their game versus Slovakia. I don’t see a bet on this game which provides obvious value. The same goes for Northern Ireland v Belarus. The Green and White Army were not that convincing against Estonia on Thursday and odds of 1.75 are not enough in my opinion.
Israel v Austria seems unpredictable to me, whereas the games of Scotland, Belgium and Poland contain a clear favorite with betting odds of 1.05 – 1.15. Most of the time with such odds, the best alternative is to bet on number of goals scored in the game. Poland and Austria are not famous for winning with big margins, although the Poles may change that in the near future with the presence of Piatek, Lewandowski and Milik. From all of the teams, Belgium are most likely to pour in the goals against a weak Cyprus side.
Good luck with your bets today!