International Football Betting Preview: England v Slovakia
Fabio Capello has revealed that he will be fielding a strong side to face Slovakia on Saturday. But the visitors should not be underestimated, says Mike Norman. Best Bet: Back England/England @1.78.
Having not missed an England match for some time, I was delighted to hear that the friendly international against Slovakia was to be played here on home soil.
It's not that I didn't fancy travelling, but more to do with the reputation of those Slovak hostels I'd have to stay in. God forbid the day Wayne Rooney ever has to stay in one. Can you imagine how many Scousers would pay for the privilege of torturing him, only to find that they've been outbid by someone called Coleen?
It's going to be an important few days for Rooney and Co, starting with this friendly match against a nation that can boast some decent players. The Match Odds market has England at [1.31], Slovakia at [13.5], and The Draw available to back at [5.9].
It's a bit early for team news but importantly Fabio Capello has already announced that he will field a strong side, though he is planning to use all six substitutes available to him at some point during the game. Expect to see big names such as Ashley Cole, John Terry, Rio Ferdinand, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Wayne Rooney all start the game, only to be replaced at some stage by the likes of Leighton Baines, Peter Crouch, Stewart Downing, Michael Carrick and of course, David Beckham for his record-breaking 109th cap.
Liverpool's Martin Skrtel is the name everyone will recognise in the Slovakia team, but a lot of his teammates play at a good level around Europe and shouldn't be underestimated. Robert Vittek is a highly regarded striker playing for Lille in the French league, whilst Marek Hamsik, an attacking midfielder for Serie A side Napoli, is potentially one of Slovakia's biggest threats.
England have met Slovakia only twice previously, coming from 1-0 down on both occasions to win the game 2-1. Michael Owen scored both goals in both those games meaning when the Three Lions take to the field on Saturday, they won't have a single player on the pitch who has previously scored against the Slovaks.
England will win the game, that I have no doubt about, but I don't think it will be an enthralling contest and I just prefer Under 2.5 Goals at odds of [2.2] - Over 2.5 Goals is available to back [1.81]. With international friendlies (especially the less 'competitive' ones) dying a death in the last 30 minutes once each manager has changed half his side, I wouldn't put anyone off having a wager on Under 1.5 Goals at [4.5].
For the same reasons, if England are to score a few goals (or at least one), then they will probably do so in the first half. In the Half Time/Full Time market, England/England is available to back at [1.78] and I rate this outcome just as likely as England winning outright. If you do fancy England to win in the manner of their two previous victories over Slovakia, you can back Slovakia/England at [32.0] - a nice price for anyone who follows trends.
With confidence in a first half goal quite high, it makes sense to look at the First Goal market. 0-10 Minutes is just edging favouritism at [4.3], ahead of 11-20 Minutes ([4.5]) and 21-30 Minutes ([5.6]).
Correct Scores of 1-0 ([8.0]) and 2-0 ([6.8]) to England are my own preferences, whilst although the First Goalscorer market is yet to mature, Steven Gerrard has to be the selection in the hope that his marvelous fortnight continues (even a horse by the same name won the other day). He will be available to back at around [9.0] with the favourites understandably being Wayne Rooney ([5.5]), Peter Crouch ([6.5]) and Emile Heskey ([7.0]).
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