The winter is clearly coming to an end because international football is back with England playing two Euro 2020 qualifiers, starting with a clash against the Czech Republic on Friday. We look ahead to that game, as well as Scotland and Northern Ireland’s games.
England are widely expected to cruise through their Euro 2020 qualifying group but the Czechs are set to be their toughest competitors and there’s an angle which could provide a spot of value.
Both teams have scored in seven of England’s last 11 competitive games, a stat which becomes seven in nine if you take out the two ‘dead rubbers’ against Belgium at the World Cup.
The Czechs may not have the stars of old but they are capable of testing a home defence shorn of John Stones and Joe Gomez.
Scotland are rejuvenated after winning their Nations League group, thus securing at least a play-off spot for a place at Euro 2020.
The Scots should prevail but they don’t have the best track record as odds-on favourites and so a better approach may be to back Ryan Fraser, who looks sure to play an important role.
He’s enjoyed an excellent season at Bournemouth and scored in Scotland’s last away game in Albania. He’s 4/1 to bag another here against a team that conceded at least twice in eight of their 10 World Cup qualifiers.
Northern Ireland have won just two of their last 13 games so victory at 5/11 in this one is far from assured. They failed to score in eight of those matches.
However, 7/1 Estonia were also relegated in the Nations League in the autumn and so it’s the cards market which provides the best bet.
Centre-back Karol Mets has been carded in four of his last seven internationals and the fact that he’s been booked in seven of 30 friendlies says much about his style of play.
He’s not played since early February after joining Swedish club AIK so there’s every chance he’ll also be a tad rusty.
Macedonia banged in 14 goals as they won promotion in the Nations League and while the opposition were far from strong, they were clearly better than their League D status suggested.
In League C, Latvia scored just two goals in their six games. They’ve failed to find the net in three of their last four competitive away matches, a run which includes Andorra and the Faroe Islands.
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