Mark O’Haire’s Euro 2016 Qualifier Tips – Saturday’s Matches
The old adage goes, ‘there are no easy games in international football’ and on the whole, I subscribe to the theory.
San Marino v England, 5pm, Saturday 5 September 2015, ITV1
However, once in a while it’s worth crossing out and starting with a blank sheet of paper. England’s visit to San Marino on Saturday evening is one of those occasions.
England will win and continue serenely sailing through Euro 2016 qualification Group E. Thus far, it’s brought a perfect six from six record with 18 goals and just three goals against. The Three Lions are cruising, as they tend to do during qualifying, and the 1/100 on Roy Hodgson’s men bagging three more points in Serravalle is as close as you’ll get to a guaranteed win.
The visitors are without a host of regulars, including top goalscorer Danny Welbeck, but even a third or fourth XI would be able to brush the 192nd-ranked minnows aside. The two nations have met three times already in the past three years with England holding a 19-0 aggregate advantage, including a 5-0 success back at Wembley in October.
San Marino have never won a competitive fixture but did secure their first-ever European Championship qualification point in their last home match when they held Estonia to a goalless draw. Pierangelo Manzaroli’s men may have just that solitary point to their name in Group E but it’s already a huge improvement on their last qualification campaign.
The European microstate lost all of their 10 World Cup 2014 preliminaries, leaking 54 goals – in their six outings during Euro 2016 qualifying, San Marino have conceded 19. Of course, they won’t derail table-topping England but they may well throw a few obstacles on the track as Roy’s boys run out victorious.
The hosts have W0-D1-L31 in the last five seasons but interestingly, they’ve only lost three of their last 29 in Serravalle by a margin greater than the +5 handicap that’s been set. With England putting greater focus and attention on next week’s home showdown with Switzerland, it may pay to oppose a landslide away win.
Furthermore, six of San Marino’s last 10 internationals have featured Under 3.5 Goals whilst their three home qualifiers during this campaign have yielded Under 4.5 Goals. As always, there is an opposing trend – six of their last eight meetings with top-15 sides as hosts, the minnows have lost by at least five goals.
So hey, in a match desperately short on value and decent prices, it’s worth having a peek in the Correct Score market. Going on the above trends, I’m happy to invest in the 4-0 and 5-0 England wins at 5/1 and 9/2.
They’re purely interest bets; we’ll just have to hope the Three Lions go a little easy on Saturday night.
England to win 4-0 @ 5/1
England to win 5-0 @ 9/2
Russia v Sweden, 5pm, Saturday 5 September 2015, Sky Sports 5
Russia have found the going tough in Group C and after six games, the national team have meandered to third-place with just eight points to their name. That poor performance saw Fabio Capello axed with CSKA Moscow manager Leonard Slutski taking charge on a rescue mission to keep the nation’s qualification dreams alive.
Saturday night sees the impressive Swedes visit the Luzhniki Stadium with a four-point advantage over their hosts. Erik Hamren’s team have W3-D3-L0 during the campaign as they bid to enhance a superb record of qualifying for every European Championship finals since 1996.
They have now lost just twice in nine away meaningful matches.
Although Russia have won 11 of their most recent 14 in the capital, the home side have only managed to beat Liechtenstein in their own backyard during this qualifying campaign with Moldova escaping with a point and Austria leaving with all three. Slutski’s team look a little overrated in the markets and therefore, backing Sweden at 3/4 to avoid defeat in the Double Chance market looks a solid play.
Sweden or Draw @ 3/4
Spain v Slovakia, 7.45pm, Saturday 5 September 2015, Sky Sports 5
Slovakia are the surprise leaders of Group C, leading Spain by three points thanks to their 2-1 victory over La Roja in Zilina back in October. That was just one of 12 wins from 13 matches for Jan Kozak’s bang-in-form national team and now Slovakia look decent value to cause Spain more problems when the two lock horns in Oviedo on Saturday night.
The visitors have lost just one of their last 13 trips to sides with a higher FIFA ranking by more than one goal and the stubborn Slovaks will fancy their chances of keeping things tight in the capital of Asturias.
Slovakia +2 is backable at 21/20 in the Handicap market and will reward us if the travellers stay within one-goal of the 2010 World Cup winners.
That Zilina defeat was one of six losses in Spain’s last 13 games and whilst Vicente del Bosque’s hosts have W8-D2-L1 in their last 11 outings on home soil, only four of those 11 matches were won by a margin two goals or more.
Slovakia +2 handicap @ 21/20
*Prices correct at time of publication