Mark O’Haire’s Euro 2016 Qualifier Tips – Cyprus v Wales
Cyprus v Wales
It’s 58 years since Wales’ one and only visit to a major international tournament but having defeated Belgium in June, Chris Coleman’s troops are within touching distance of Euro 2016.
Wales Take One Step Closer To History
The Dragons can secure their place in the finals with back-to-back wins this week, starting with a trip to Nicosia.
That victory over Belgium saw Wales leap to an incredible number nine in the most recent FIFA rankings and cemented the side at the top of qualification Group B. With just one loss in 11, confidence is high and former forward Craig Bellamy summed up the mood in the country when telling BBC Wales this week, he is “100% certain” Wales will qualify.
The way in which the Dragons celebrated that June success suggests the players and management also believe the hard work has already been done. It’s been a remarkable turnaround for Wales, who were ranked outside the top 100 in the FIFA rankings just a few years ago.
Joe Allen is out of both qualifiers this week but other than that, Coleman has an almost full strength squad to pick from. It’s a far cry from Wales’ clash with Cyprus in Cardiff when the Reds comfortably came away with a 2-1 win despite having 11 players sidelined. The Dragons saw Andy King sent off just after half-time but were largely untroubled for 45 minutes with 10 men.
Dragons To Roar In Nicosia
With that in mind, I’m more than happy to give the buoyant Welsh team my support at 3/4 quotes that they leave the GSP Stadium with maximum points. The Reds previous two trips to Cyprus have ended in defeat but both losses came when John Toshack was attempting to blood young players. And how often are we presented with such a backable price involving a nation ranked 73 places lower in the FIFA rankings?
Pambos Christodoulou’s hosts still harbour faint hopes of qualification but their form in the Cypriot capital requires plenty of surgery. The Blues have never reached a major tournament and with their sole home success in nine outings coming against minnows Andorra, their task looks tough.
Striker Demetris Christofi has netted three goals during qualification but is absent through injury on Thursday night whilst experienced 30-year-old French-born midfielder Vincent Laban is suspended. With two key performers unavailable for Christodoulou, plus their poor return on home soil, it’s easy enough to oppose Cyprus.
Elsewhere, ticking ‘No’ in the Both Teams To Score market is understandably short at 7/10.
The visitors have kept clean sheets in four of their six outings thus far whilst at least one team has failed to net in nine of Cyprus’ last 14 matches in Nicosia.
However, it’s also worth pointing out, only Belgium have scored more goals than the hosts in Group B, while only minnows Andorra have leaked more goals in the pool.
Bale A Solid Bet To Score
So instead, a better selection could be to invest in the Anytime Goalscorer market where the world’s most expensive player is trading at even-money. Gareth Bale has played a part in seven of Wales’ eight goals during qualification, scoring five times himself. In three of the four games that the Dragons have found the back of the net during this qualification campaign, Bale has been on the scoresheet.
The Real Madrid star bagged a brace in his club’s 5-0 win over Real Betis at the weekend and has proven a real menace from set-pieces as well as the free role afforded to him in Coleman’s counter-attacking 3-5-2 system. It’s a ploy that could well prove dividends with Cyprus needing to play on the front foot to keep their own finals dream alive.
For those looking for a bit more bang for their buck, BoyleSports are also offering 7/5 on Gareth Bale scoring in a Wales win. It’s a bet that’s won in two of the Dragons’ three Euro 2016 qualifying road trips already and is well worth an interest on Thursday night in Nicosia.
Best Of The Rest
Danny Blind takes charge of his first match as the new Netherlands boss on Thursday night with the Oranje defending a fearsome record on home soil in competitive matches. You have to go back to 2000 for the last time the Dutch were beaten in front of their home fans but Iceland are capable of causing the hosts plenty of problems.
Lars Lagerback’s side beat Holland last October and have bagged five wins from their six qualifiers to sit comfortably at the top of qualification Group A. The minnows have netted in 13 successive games and should be able to play their part in a successful Both Teams To Score bet at 6/5.
Netherlands haven’t failed to net in a competitive home fixture since 2007 but have kept just two shutouts in their most recent six Amsterdam outings. Blind’s squad are top-heavy in nature and must play with the handbrake off if they’re to find their way back into the automatic top-two qualifying positions and in doing so, should allow Iceland enough opportunities to get on the scoresheet.
Wales To Win @ 3/4
Both Teams To Score – No @ 7/10
Gareth Bale Anytime Goalscorer @ Evens
Gareth Bale To Score & Wales To Win @ 7/5
Holland v Iceland BTTS – Yes @ 6/5