Mark O’Haire’s Euro 2016 Tips – England v Estonia
England v Estonia
Only five nations have ever managed to qualify for the European Championship with a 100% winning record but that’s the carrot to keep England motivated ahead of their showdowns with Estonia and Lithuania over the next few days.
The Three Lions have already booked their place in France next summer and should be counted on to continue their winning spree at Wembley on Friday.
Since England’s pitiful World Cup exit last year, Roy Hodgson’s troops have embarked on an unbeaten streak lasting 13 fixtures (W10-D3-L0), their best run since 2006. And at the home of football, the Three Lions have avoided defeat in their last 18 qualifiers (W15-D3-L0), again, their best run of results since 1996.
Given the soft nature of Group E, it’s perhaps no surprise to see England romp to the top of the pool and Hodgson’s charges have done it with ease. Only Romania have kept more clean sheets than England’s six whilst only Poland have notched more goals in qualifying than Friday’s hosts tally of 26.
During the Euro 2016 qualification process, Wayne Rooney’s netted seven goals (only Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller have more) and broken the all-time goalscoring record for England too. But the Manchester United hitman is absent through injury and that should allow Theo Walcott time to lead the line.
Walcott’s netted in each of his last three games for Arsenal as well as scoring 12 goals in his last 14 matches he’s started.
Backing Theo to score in an England win appeals at 23/20 quotes. After all, qualified or not, the Three Lions should win this fixture comfortably.
Estonia do have a miniscule chance to finish in the top-three but with a match against Switzerland to follow, the 87th ranked nation in the world are likely to be playing for pride when Monday rolls around. The Blueshirts have lost all three previous head-to-heads with the English ‘to nil’ and failed to score on their travels during this Group E campaign.
Magnus Pehrsson’s men have managed a paltry four goals from their eight matches but despite a dreadful 0-0 draw in San Marino, have actually enjoyed a reasonable run of results that’s included a solitary loss by more than one goal (3-0 in Switzerland). The Blueshirts have only conceded six goals and held out until the 76th minute when the two teams met in Tallinn during the reverse encounter.
Still, there’s no point in beating around the bush. Estonia aren’t close to being on the same level as England and their road record is filled with negative marks. The aforementioned stalemate with no-hopers San Marino, alongside a win in Andorra, are the only two away qualifiers the visitors have avoided defeat in since 2012.
Going deeper, Estonia have fired blanks in six of their last seven defeats, five of which were by more than a one-goal margin. England’s Wembley return in qualifiers is rock solid over the past seven years and their last eight victories came by more than one goal with six clean sheets kept along the way.
With England to win ‘to nil’ too short to recommend at 4/7, it might pay to back the 6/5 on the Three Lions beating the -2 handicap at odds-against quotes of 6/5. Hodgson may well field a much-changed side and those fringe players will be eager to impress, so I’d be surprised if England took their foot off the throttle. A side bet on the 3-0 correct score fits the bill too at a handy 5/1.
Theo Walcott to score and England to win @ 23/20
England -2 Handicap @ 6/5
England to win 3-0 @ 5/1
*Prices correct at time of publication