Mark O’Haire’s Euro 2016 Qualifier Tips – Monday’s Matches
Oh Scotland! There was a real case of deja vu on Friday night as the Tartan Army came close to wrecking their prospects for qualifying for a major tournament by losing in Georgia.
Scotland v Germany, Monday 7th September 7.45pm, Sky Sports 1
Gordon Strachan’s charges were awful in their 1-0 defeat and although it’s not a terminal result, it could well have lasting fatal effects yet.
Scotland failed to even hit the target against Georgia and it was only the second game in 16 that Strachan’s men had not managed a goal. But you can be sure, the Tartan Army will be ready to roar when world champions Germany rock up at Hampden Park. The hosts have won all three of their qualifying games on Scottish soil and should be targeting a less than impressive German defence.
Die Mannschaft have only shut out the Group D minnows Gibraltar and Georgia thus far and although sitting top of the tree, the World Cup holders have had a far from smooth ride. Joachim Loew’s side lost in Poland, were held by Republic of Ireland on home soil and were given a fright by the Scots in their opener but did look back to their best in a 3-1 beating of the Poles on Friday.
Germany enjoyed 72% possession and never looked in trouble against their old rivals last time out. Loew has talked about the team refocusing after a difficult regeneration post-2014 World Cup and although Strachan’s side have W5-D2-L2 in their last nine and kept six clean sheets in eight when hosting (W6-D1-L1), it’s hard to imagine the world champions stuttering in Glasgow.
The Half-Time/Full-Time market allows us to back the visitors to be leading at half-time and full-time at a very respectable odds-against play of 23/20.
Die Mannschaft were dangerous from the first whistle on Friday and are likely to take a similar relentless and clinical approach on Monday evening.
Scotland v Germany – Germany HT/Germany FT @ 23/20
Republic of Ireland v Georgia, Monday 7th September 2015 7.45pm, Sky Sports 2 & RTE2
Scotland’s loss in Georgia on Friday night saw the door swing wide open for the Republic of Ireland in qualification from Group D. With a routine 4-0 win against no-hopers Gibraltar, the Boys In Green leapfrogged their Celtic neighbours to hold third-place in the pool.
But confident supporters should be aware; Monday night’s challengers aren’t ready to lie down. Georgia gave Ireland plenty of problems in Tbilisi so seeing Scotland struggle was no huge surprise. The Republic may well have won all six previous encounters with the Crusaders but previous meetings have been far from walkovers.
Aiden McGeady’s stoppage-time goal gave Martin O’Neill’s men one of his three competitive victories in charge (W3-D3-L1) and was also one of only their previous five head-to-head qualifying clashes that have been decided by a margin of one goal. They’re often tight, gritty and rarely comfortable rides, even in Dublin.
However, the visitors do tend to do their best work in Tbilisi and away upsets are rare. Georgia have managed just one win in their last 22 competitive road trips and that came against Gibraltar – 17 of those fixtures ended in defeat and anything other than three points for Ireland would be deemed a big shock in European football.
The Republic have scored in 10 consecutive home competitive games and will be approaching the clash with renewed optimism and confidence following the weekend events.
I don’t expect O’Neill’s men to slip up but rather than backing the home side to runaway with an easy victory, it should pay to back the Boys In Green to win by exactly one goal at 9/4 and exactly two goals at 10/3.
Republic of Ireland to win by exactly one goal @ 9/4
Republic of Ireland to win by exactly two goals @ 10/3
Northern Ireland v Hungary, Monday 7th September 2015, 7.45pm, Sky Sports 5
Northern Ireland know a positive result on Monday night will almost certainly guarantee their place at Euro 2016. The Green & White Army were huffing and puffing in the Faroe Islands at 1-1 but a red card for their hosts turned the tide in Michael O’Neill’s men favour with the Irish eventually running out 3-1 winners.
It means Northern Ireland now top qualification Group F by one point with three games to play holding a four-point advantage over Hungary.
The hosts have now bagged five wins from their seven outings with Kyle Lafferty the talisman, playing a part in seven of his side’s 11 qualification goals
The Norwich marksman’s six-goal tally has only been bettered by Poland’s Robert Lewandowski.
But I’m not prepared to write off Hungary. The Magyars have only been beaten once (the same as Northern Ireland) in a relatively soft draw with too many draws their downfall. Bernd Storck’s men were held to a 0-0 draw on home soil by Romania on Friday but had chances to steal maximum points and will be confident of avoiding defeat having suffered just two reverses in their most recent nine on the road.
Windsor Park is traditionally thought of as a serious test for travelling teams but it’s interesting to learn the home side have only managed four wins in their last 21 appearances in front of their home supporters. O’Neill will be determined not to allow Hungary to close the gap and so the Green & White Army may opt for a safety-first approach.
So although Northern Ireland have only managed one shutout in six, I’m not expecting the goals to flow in Belfast. Hungary have kept clean sheets in six of their last seven but also failed to notch themselves in two of their previous four. The Magyars have only scored more than once in a match on one occasion in nine so all the trends for a low-scoring tie are in our favour.
The best option to profit though looks to be to take a 0-0 half-time correct score at 7/5. It’s proven a winning selection in eight of Northern Ireland’s last 12 with O’Neill’s troops leaking a goal before the interval in only one of those matches. The tension of the fixture should lead to a cagey encounter and it may take time before the encounter comes to the boil.
Half Time Correct Score: Draw 0-0 @ 7/5
*Prices correct at time of publication