World Cup Qualifiers – Tuesday 26 March 2013

We are delighted to be previewing a couple of games this midweek, followed by general tips during the international fixtures.

Wales Vs Croatia

The Welsh will have some renewed confidence after beating the Scots on Friday evening and play a Croatia team that have conceded just two goals in their last 6 internationals.

Best match odds

 

  • Wales – 9/2 Bet365
  • Draw – 27/10 Bwin
  • Croatia – 8/11 Blue Square

 

Croatia are head to head with Belgium for first place in the league, and at 8/11 is too good to miss for them to maintain the pressure of winning group a. Croatia have won the last four in all competitions, so will mean business this midweek. The last four wins have come at the expense of conceding a single goal, and they beat Wales in their other meeting 2-0.

 

A repeat scoreline of 2-0 is 7/1 at William Hill and both teams not to score is 10/11 with Blue Square. Our tip must take this safe on the away win, as Croatia have the momentum and resilience and the Welsh have little more than pride to play for.

 

Recommended betting:

 

  • Croatia – 8/11 Blue Square

 

Serbia Vs Scotland

 

The Scots lost against Wales 2-1 and the Serbians are just 8/13 for the match, which is short considering neither have much to play for.

 

Best match odds:

 

  • Serbia – 8/13 Coral
  • Draw – 3/1 BetVictor
  • Scotland – 5/1 Paddy Power

 

Excluding games played as Yugoslavia, the 0-0 between these sides in September 2012 was the first ever clash. Scotland are now without a win in six competitive games (D2 L4). Scotland have only failed to score in one of their last eight away internationals (all competitions). Gordon Strachan’s side have only mustered one clean sheet in 11 games on the road. Serbia have lost their last three qualifiers without scoring a single goal, conceding six themselves. Serbia lost 0-3 against Belgium in their last home game, ending a run of five unbeaten games on home soil (W3 D2).

 

 

Taking into account that the game has little to yield from, you have to look from the perspective of the Scottish boss Gordon Strachan trying to rebuild the team for Euro 2016 qualification starting in September 2014. This is a long time away, but no time like the present. The 3/1 on the draw is no unreasonable to suggest, with Scotland as BIG as 7/5 with Paddy Power with a goal start.

 

Boylesports go 20/21 for the time of first goal after 27:01, and Blue Square take the same market at 5/6 for no goal until after 34 minutes, which is quite a contrast in respect.

 

Recommended betting:

 

 

 

Other bets:

 

Banker treble:

 

  • Australia, Portugal and Egypt pays 2.03 at Blue Square

 

Small ACCA:

 

  • Estonia, Germany only to score in their game, Belgium, Netherlands and Ukraine to win pays 2.33 at Bwin

 

Lockup Single of the day:

  • England to beat Montenegro – 13/16 at Pinnacle

    Champions League Qualification Round 3

    Celtic head up a list of big-name clubs teetering on the brink of elimination before the play-offs for the important Group Games begin, thrashed 3-0 at the hands of unheralded Portuguese club Braga.

    Zenit St Petersburg of Russia (who won the UEFA Cup in 2007/08), Ajax Amsterdam of Holland and Turkish mainstays of Europe Fenerbahce – all teams recorded unexpected draws against Unirea Urziceni of Romania, PAOK of Greece and BSC Young Boys of Switzerland, and are set for tense return matches to remain in the competition.

    Likely to progress straight to potential meetings with Tottenham Hotspur, Sampdoria, Sevilla, Werder Bremen and Auxerre are FC Basel (comfortable winners away from home against Debrecen), Partizan Belgrade, Dynamo Kyiv and Anderlecht (who saw off the spirited home challenge of Wales’ The New Saints in the first leg).

    In the group stages already are some of the most renowned club sides (Real Madrid, AC Milan, Bayern Munich), some highly successful clubs (Manchester United, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Benfica) and some hopeful pretenders (Bursaspor, CFR Cluj, FC Twente).

    With the Fifa Club Rankings dictating who will avoid who, it is already possible, at this early stage, to say who will head seven of the eight groups as top seeds. Based on UEFA coefficient, the ranking of clubs exists as follows:

    1) Inter Milan (Italy) – awarded by UEFA as holders (actual coefficient would see them 6th)
    2) FC Barcelona (Spain)
    3) Manchester United (England)
    4) Chelsea (England)
    5) Arsenal (England)
    6) Bayern Munich (Germany)
    7) Sevilla (Spain)* Not yet qualified
    8) AC Milan (Italy)

    All teams except Sevilla have already qualified for the Group Stages and therefore will head their respective groups when the draw is made, unless Sevilla are beaten and their place taken by Olympique Lyonnais. The most striking omission of the competing clubs not to appear in the top 8 is Real Madrid; the most successful club in Champions League/European Cup football has performed so dismally for so many years that their ranking has finally sunk to 11th – the lowest it’s ever been.

    For the others, lucky enough to be considered as second tier but not lucky enough to avoid playing one of the above, the rankings continue:

    9) Olympique Lyonnais (France)
    10) Werder Bremen (Germany)* Not yet qualified
    11) Real Madrid (Spain)
    12) AS Roma (Italy)
    13) Shakthar Donetsk (Ukraine)
    14) Benfica (Portugal)
    15) Valencia (Spain)
    16) Marseille (France)

    Again, there is one team looking to qualify for the final stage – Werder Bremen. In prime position to take advantage of slip-ups from either Werder Bremen or Sevilla, Zenit St Petersburg, the already-qualified Panathinaikos, Tottenham and already-qualified Rangers are hanging to the tails of grabbing a place in the second seed pot.

    Currently as third seeds are:

    17) Zenit St Petersburg (Russia)* Not yet qualified
    18) Panathinaikos (Greece)
    19) Tottenham Hotspur (England)* Not yet qualified
    20) Rangers (Scotland)
    21) Ajax (Holland)* Not yet qualified
    22) Fenerbahce (Turkey)* Not yet qualified
    23) Shalke (Germany)
    24) FC Basel (Switzerland)* Not yet qualified

    Some famous others such as Sampdoria, Anderlecht and Sparta Prague await further down. But for now, this is the way the qualification is panning out.

    But a curious fact is that it’s already more than possible to set up groups like this:

    Group A)
    Bayern Munich
    Real Madrid
    Tottenham Hotspur
    Sampdoria

    While at the same time having this:

    Group B)
    Sevilla
    Panathinaikos
    Rangers
    Litex Lovech

    I know which one sounds a more exciting prospect.

    In the Europa League, as yet in a formative stage, all that is currently known are a list of clubs currently or soon to be competing, many of whom are normally associated with the top competition:

    Liverpool, Juventus, Porto, Atletico Madrid, Villareal (how lucky they are…) PSV Eindhoven, Stuttgart, Sporting Lisbon, Olympiakos, Galatasaray, Borussia Dortmund, CSKA Moscow – all have suffered the relative ignominy of dropping out of the top competition.

    For other clubs, there is even worse punishment. There will be no European football for Bordeaux, Lazio, Everton, Fiorentina, Monaco or Wolfsburg. While perhaps clubs like Liverpool and Juventus may feel downhearted at playing for a lesser trophy, it’s better to still be playing than not at all. Spare a thought for RCD Mallorca, though – after narrowly missing out on 4th place (and therefore Champions League football) in the last few moments of the last game of last season, their entrance to Europe via the Europa League was denied only weeks ago because of financial instability. Call it Gregorio Manazano’s revenge.