The club football scene has drawn to a close and our attention now turns to the international stage. As we get closer to the Euros, nations will want to begin building up a head of steam, dotting their I’s and crossing their T’s; but you know how it goes: there is no such thing as a friendly game of football (and certainly no such thing as a friendly bet!)
Thursday 3 June
18/1 Andorra | Draw 6/1 | Ireland 1/10
The Republic of Ireland come into this warm-up game off the back of a 12-game winless run. They certainly won’t get a better chance to turn that rather embarrassing statistic around than when they meet Andorra on Thursday evening.
I don’t suspect Stephen Kenny’s men will have too many issues against a side who were very unflattering in their World Cup qualifying campaign – losing three from three – but at 1/10 you don’t need an oracle to guide you.
A shrewd bet could be the Both Teams to Score market. Ireland is likely to field a young side and could potentially be without Conor Hourihane or Ryan Manning in midfield – due to their Championship play-off final fixtures for Swansea.
This could open the door for Andorra to at least get on the board, at even money I’m happy to back Both Teams to Score.
1/20 Switzerland | Draw 11/1 | Liechtenstein 25/1
If the betting is anything to go by, this game almost looks like a non-entity. I know (and I’m sure you’ll agree) that football isn’t played on paper, but I cannot justify why this game could end any other way but with Switzerland adding to their latest win against the USA, earning an emphatic victory against Liechtenstein as the Rossocrociati edge closer to the Euros.
If you’re creating larger betting slips, add in the home side to boost that bonus percentage. If not and want to have a bet on the nose, back history repeating itself with a correct scoreline of 3-0 – it’s currently 56/10!
1/5 Turkey | Draw 48/10 | Moldova 10/1
Turkey should start their strongest side when they meet Moldova, they have some inspiring aspirations ahead of their European Championship campaign and will want to continue building confidence and momentum.
Moldova have struggled in the World Cup qualifiers; they have conceded 12 goals in the process and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them ship a couple more on Thursday evening.
Turkey on the (-2) Handicap at 29/20 looks enticing – I’d even call it a banker!
13/20 Ukraine | Draw 39/20 | Northern Ireland 5/1
This could be quite an honest encounter, the last time these two met, it was Northern Ireland who caused that upset at the Euros in 2016. Ukraine were excellent against France in their World Cup qualifier and even without Manchester City’s Oleksandr Zinchenko, they pose a real threat to anyone on their day.
Northern Ireland will want to continue building confidence and momentum, last time out they beat Malta 3-0 but will know this will require them to play at a substantially higher level (with all due respect going to the proud nation that is Malta).
I think these two cancel each other out in a battle that might lack the competitive edge pursuant of a Euro or World Cup fixture and might just peter out. Back the draw at 39/20.
1/4 Belgium | Draw 42/10 | Greece 17/2
Usually, the difficulty with these games is that they largely come down to team selection. Belgium will be without City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne, but so close to the Euros, they will not want to lose any sort of momentum.
Red Devils coach Roberto Martinez could call on the likes of Romelu Lukaku or Dries Mertens should they so require, but to be fair I cannot see the Greeks asking too many questions here, let alone get a result.
Get on Belgium + Over 2.5 at 13/20.
Friday 4 June
12/10 Spain | Draw 2/1 | Portugal 43/20
The big talking point going into the Euros is the fact that Spain will be without any players from Real Madrid – now whilst that sentence didn’t feel too comfortable writing I think the decision is rather interesting.
Going into a tournament like the Euros, experience is invaluable. You think of the likes of Sergio Ramos and the presence such a stalwart could have added in the dressing room.
Nevertheless, looking at this friendly, I think both sides will have some class names rested but the Portuguese attack looks as though it could be near full strength. Cristiano Ronaldo, Bernardo Silva and Diogo Jota and the like – get on at 43/20.
6/10 Italy | Draw 49/20 | Czech Republic 42/10
I’m excited to see Italy play, the nation has always been well documented – they have only conceded twice in their last 10 matches – but now they also boast an array of attacking gems. The Czechs won’t be a pushovers though, even in a friendly game, and these sorts of tests will stand Roberto Mancini’s men in good stead looking ahead.
I can’t see past the Italian win and at 6/10. Big value here!
44/10 Faroe Islands | Draw 11/4 | Iceland 11/20
These sides both come into the fixture off the back of a loss last time out. The Faroe Islands can’t seem to hold possession anywhere and I can’t make a case for them here. It’s been a rare occurrence to see the Islands keep a clean sheet, they have conceded in their last six games and could be in for another long night here.
One thing Iceland will guarantee is excitement, in nearly all of their more recent games there has never been a shortage of goals. They haven’t been the most resolute but they should have enough to earn a victory here.
Back Iceland at 11/20.
Saturday 5 June
9/20 Russia | Draw 51/20 | Bulgaria 6/1
Bulgaria are your classic hard, robust and defensively sound side. They drew 0-0 last time out with Northern Ireland despite only seeing 30% of the ball. They defended 14 attempts from Ian Baraclough’s men and were happy to absorb that attack and look to counter.
Russia will certainly look to dominate the game but will know the importance of being clinical. They lost to Slovakia last time out and will be disappointed given they dominated the ball and the chances on goal.
I don’t suspect all that many goals (which might be the way to go for the betting slips) but I’m going to back the draw at 51/20.
23/10 Sweden | Draw 51/20 | Armenia 11/10
Armenia have been relatively unassuming, and punters should overlook them at their peril. Coming into the game with a 3-2 World Cup qualifier win over Romania with just 30% of the ball suggests an incredible precision in front of goal.
Sweden have been class though; they just can’t stop scoring. Armenia might be a threat on the other side of the pitch but they won’t have enough to stop this Sweden side.
Get on Sweden + BTTS Yes at 37/20.