This weekend’s Euro 2012 qualifiers ensure an interest for us footie punters despite the regular season being over and Saturday’s action sees England and Republic of Ireland involved in two vital ties.
England are first up with Switzerland the visitors to Wembley and nothing but a win will do. Fabio Capello won’t be taking the visitors lightly, but I doubt the Swiss will have caused him to lose much sleep either. The Three Lions completed a straight-forward 3-1 victory in the reverse fixture in Basel in September and Switzerland have since lost to Montenegro and drawn with Bulgaria on the road.
They did manage to beat Wales 4-1 home in between those games but the Welsh are hardly a force to be reckoned with at the moment and it is their only victory in qualifying so far.
England are unbeaten in their four outings and the only blemish on their record is a 0-0 draw with Montenegro in their last competitive match at Wembley.
The hosts have a striker shortage with Wayne Rooney, Andy Carroll and Jermain Defoe missing, but Darren Bent is good enough to lead the line. Steven Gerrard is also absent but against these opponents Capello’s men should have more than enough to claim the three points so I’d advise backing them to win by the HT/FT double result. It’s certainly not a game to put off fans of the Asian Handicap either.
Like England, Ireland are joint-top of their group on ten points, although they have played a game more. Giovanni Trapattoni’s men have a real opportunity to reach their first major finals since the 2002 World Cup and will be desperate for a win against Macedonia that would keep up the pressure on Slovakia and Russia.
They beat the Macedonia in Dublin in their last qualifier back in March and have since lifted the inaugural Carling Cup so there will be no issue with confidence in the camp.
However, the Boys in Green couldn’t claim a maximum in either of their previous trips to Skopje –qualifiers for France ’98 and Euro 2000 when they lost and drew respectively.
Trapattoni was also handed an injury scare with Robbie Keane’s groin trouble in training. Whether he will start, finish or even take any part in the game is as yet unknown and his removal would be a problem.
All in all I can see this one finishing level and I’d rather back that than the Irish at short prices in what has the makings of a tricky assignment.
Betting on Betdaq – Alan’s Punts:
England v Switzerland: England HT/FT at 2.03
Macedonia v Ireland: Draw at 3.3