Euro 2020 Qualifiers Betting Preview : Wales in trouble England to bounce back
Euro 2020 qualification continues after some pretty ropey results for the Home Nations over the first few days of the international break and pressure building quickly as time runs out on chances to qualify.
Three Lions to roar back
England will still qualify with ease for the tournament next summer, but they suffered a demoralising and slightly embarrassing defeat to Czech Republic on Friday night in Prague. The Three Lions had not lost a qualification contest for 10 years and beat the Czechs 5-0 when they met in March, so a win for Gareth Southgate’s side looked nailed on, especially when they took the lead through a Harry Kane penalty after just five minutes.
However, it looked like the bad old days of England qualifiers as they were slow, ponderous and it was a dreadful watch for anyone stupid enough to spend their Friday night doing so. The Czechs bounced back and won 2-1, going level on points at the top of Group A with the English.
Now England take on Bulgaria on Monday and they will be looking to respond in style against the worst team in the group. Bulgaria have had some glory days in the past but they are long gone and this group of players are really, really bad, as their position, rooted to the bottom of Group A, illustrates.
England comfortably beat them 4-0 in the reverse fixture and Bulgaria offered next to nothing in attack, trying to restrict the damage, and largely failing to do so. The underdogs still have an outside chance of making the play-offs and there is no real point for them to try and grind out a goalless draw again, so they should show a bit more ambition. With England hungry to respond after Friday’s limp showing, and some more space to exploit, it should be a good night for Southgate’s side. There are clearly some problems in the set-up, as it looked really stale on Friday, and that could be down to the intensely difficult start to the Premier League season for many sides. Even unbeaten Liverpool have not looked at their very best domestically and many teams are struggling for consistency, this appears to have translated to the international stage.
However, England’s best player should step forward in this trying time and find the back of the net. Raheem Sterling scored against Bulgaria last time the sides met and he will be taking this game by the scruff of the neck again. He may well have been rested if England had beaten Czech Republic, but he will be back in the starting XI after defeat and will make the Bulgarians pay again.
Croatia are great value to beat underwhelming Welsh
Wales kept their qualification hopes alive with a draw in Slovakia on Thursday night as Kieffer Moore scored his first goal for his country. However, they have a tough task on their hands on Sunday as they take on group leaders Croatia in Cardiff. The Welsh don’t necessarily need to win, a draw would keep them in contention with games against Hungary and Azerbaijan to come, but a victory would put them in a very decent position with two matches to play.
Beating Croatia, though, is a tough ask for a team that have not looked particularly good under the management of Ryan Giggs. They have picked up two wins from five qualification games so far, both by the odd goal against Slovakia and Azerbaijan. The reverse fixture against Croatia was only a narrow defeat, but Wales’ ability to compete with bigger teams appears to have evaporated since their heroics at Euro 2016.
Croatia are not quite the force they were as they reached the World Cup final last year, but they are still comfortably the better side in this contest. They walloped Hungary 3-0 on Thursday and hammered Slovakia 4-0 away last month. They also drew with Azerbaijan but that was something of an outlier in recent results. Victory for Croatia in Cardiff would secure qualification with a game to spare and they will be very keen to take pressure off before a final clash with Slovakia.
With Gareth Bale and Daniel James running at the Croat defence, Wales will always pose a threat, but the superior side are a very tempting price for this one and should be backed.
Turkey is a tough task for France
Outside of the UK sides there is an intriguing clash between France and Turkey as they battle it out for supremacy in Group H. Surprisingly it is the Turks who sit top of the group having beaten the world champions 2-0 when they met in June. Both sides are on 18 points as that was France’s only loss and Turkey suffered a defeat in Iceland.
France will be looking for revenge but it will not be easy against a brilliantly organised Turkish side that has conceded just two goals in seven games during qualification. Both of those came against Iceland, meaning they have kept an incredible six clean sheets in seven matches.
The French are clear favourites for this one, but that is harsh on the visitors in Paris who have been excellent. Turkey will be extremely difficult to break down and even if France can pinch a victory it will be a narrow one. The away side are well worth backing in the handicap market as they would be more than happy to come away with a draw.
- England beat Bulgaria 4-0 last time they met
- The English have never lost to Bulgaria, winning four and drawing four times
- Bulgaria have won none of their six qualifiers so far
- England have scored 20 goals in their five qualifiers
- Wales lost their reverse fixture with Croatia 2-1
- Wales have scored five goals in their five Euro 2020 qualifiers so far
- Croatia are the top scorers in Group E with 13 goals in six games
- Wales have lost their last four games against Croatia and have never beaten them
- Turkey have kept six clean sheets in seven qualifiers
- France lost 2-0 to Turkey in their last meeting