Having seen some of last weekend’s results, I’m sure there are a few managers that have welcomed the international break for a change.
As it stands England and Montenegro are locked on 11 points in Group G and Fabio Capello will demand nothing less than six points from the next two matches. The Three Lions should really have already qualified by now and they can blame two poor performances in their last couple of matches. What surprised me was that they were both at Wembley – two draws against Montenegro and Switzerland is not good enough. The 2-2 result against the Swiss could have been worse at two down, before a spirited fight back pulled England level.
Should Montenegro and England win their next two matches, we’re in for a cracking finish as the two meet in the final fixture hoping to avoid the dreaded play-offs. Capello might actually be glad that his team have to make the journey to Bulgaria given their recent problems at home. No one can fault the Three Lions’ efforts on the road in their two group games, which has netted them six points from six. There’ll of course be a slight worry that England have drawn their past two fixtures with Bulgaria in Sofia. However, the Bulgarians are a very different side nowadays, especially after Man United’s Dimitar Berbatov hung up his international boots.
Like England, Ireland are in a very tight group and cannot afford any slip ups in their final matches. They first face Slovakia at home and then travel to Russia on Tuesday evening. The Irish are more than capable of getting three points tonight, especially on home soil. Giovanni Trapattoni’s side could have easily picked up a win in Zilina if it were not for a missed penalty from Robbie Keane. He’ll be desperate to make amends for that mistake and add to his impressive international tally.
Northern Ireland welcome Serbia and they stand a decent enough chance of picking up a win. It’ll be one of those games that the keeper needs to have a blinder, as will his centre backs. Jonny Evans has been fantastic filling in for Nemanja Vidic at Man United this season and I fancy him to have a big game.
Scotland are not in action until tomorrow and they face a tricky game against the Czech Republic. Craig Levein will be telling his side that the Czechs are nothing like the team they were a few years back. I hope Scotland set up with an attacking formation and have a real go as they need to take advantage of playing under home conditions
It’ll be a tight game, but backed by a passionate Hampden Park – the Scots can get the win.
Betting on BETDAQ – Alan’s Punts:
Bulgaria v England: back England with -1.5 Asian Handicap at 2.28
Rep. Ireland v Slovakia: back Ireland at 1.94
Northern Ireland v Serbia: back N.Ireland at 3.8
Scotland v Czech Republic: back Scotland at 2.63