International football isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) loves it. Here Mark shares his best bets from Friday’s Euro 2016 qualifying card…
Malta v Norway | 19.45 | Sky Sports Interactive
Norway’s decline was well documented in the lead up to last month’s friendly with England and whilst the Scandinavians reputation remains on the wane, punters like us can seize on potential opportunities that arise from it.
Per-Mathias Høgmo’s team have recorded just one competitive victory in two years now and have just one win to their name from their last 13 outings. What’s more, the National Team have kept only one clean sheet in 13 meaningful matches and it’s their wretched road form which we should be able to profit from.
Ladbrokes are dangling 5/4 in our direction on Both Teams To Score. It’s a solid price considering the visitors have failed to shut out their opponents in a competitive away game since a visit to Macedonia in 2009.
That should give a Malta side led by former Coventry striker Michael Mifsud plenty of encouragement at the Ta’ Qali Stadium. The hosts have suffered 11 defeats in their last 13 fixtures, including an embarrassing loss at Gibralter, but remain a tough nut to crack on the island. In fact, Malta have scored in eight of their last 12 at their base in Attard with Denmark, Bulgaria and Czech Republic all conceding away to the Mediterranean minnows.
It’s too easy to write Pietro Ghedin’s side off as 17/2 no-hopers but only six of the last 20 teams to play away in Malta have won by a margin of two-goals or more. So back the hosts to make a fist of things in a match involving Both Teams Scoring at 5/4 with Ladbrokes.
Latvia v Iceland | 19.45 | Sky Sports Interactive
Iceland have been the vogue team to talk up in the past 12 months and I’m going to join that bandwagon bigging up Lars Lagerbäck and Heimir Hallgrímsson’s side. Our Boys have been chalked up as 6/5 favourites with BetVictor for the three points but I think I’ve found a better and bigger bet elsewhere.
Since the start of World Cup qualifying two years ago, Iceland have collected six wins, three draws and three defeats in competitive fixtures. They’ve hit 20 goals in those 12 matches, scoring 2+ in 8/12 (66%). Yet Coral are willing to give us a hunky 13/8 on the visitors netting at least twice when they travel to Riga.
Iceland’s golden generation are flourishing and their attacking play was irresistible as they swept Turkey aside 3-0 in their opening qualifier. With the likes of Gylfi Sigurðsson, Kolbeinn Sigþórsson, Alfreð Finnbogason, Aron Gunnarsson and Emil Hallfreðsson in their ranks, the away side should have more than enough to dispatch a limited Latvian side.
The hosts have recorded just five competitive wins in the past five years and Slovakia, Bosnia, Israel, Greece, Croatia, Moldova and Switzerland have all come away from Skonto Stadium having grabbed at least two goals in a meaningful match during that timeframe.