NINE Euro 2016 qualifiers on Saturday. Chris Graham (@chrisgraham79) picks out his favourite bets.
Norway v Malta | Saturday 17:00 | Sky Sports Interactive
Norway are on the cusp of their first tournament appearance since Euro 2000 and on Saturday are at home to bottom seeds Malta in Group H. A victory here could clinch their spot in France next summer yet despite this I think they’re too short at 1/7.
International football has really changed in recent years, bar Gibraltar, Andorra and San Marino there are no easy games anymore. The new qualifying set up for this tournament has given smaller nations a chance to qualify and they’ve risen to the challenge.
Whilst Malta have never looked like qualifying from this section they have performed with great dignity in Group H. Two draws and six defeats doesn’t look particularly impressive but the manner of their losses needs to be analysed.
Only one of those six losses came by more than two goals and three of them were by exactly one goal. Indeed the Maltese lost just 1-0 home and away to Italy and lost by the same scoreline to Bulgaria. Put away your pre-conceptions, Malta don’t get hammered anymore.
I still feel there’s value in siding with these small sides on the handicap. Look at Thursday night, you could back the Faroes +1.5 at odds against when they met Hungary. I’m not after-timing, I did tweet about it beforehand.
I think Malta are worth supporting here +2 on the Asian Handicap. You can back that at 20/19 with BetVictor. As I said they’ve only lost by more than two goals once in this group and have been a match for the Italians in both meetings.
The Norwegians have impressed in this group but they are prone to the odd appalling result. They were humped 5-1 by Croatia and couldn’t beat Azerbaijan in Oslo this summer.
Czech Republic v Turkey | Saturday 17:00 | Sky Sports Interactive
If this match was played in the previous round of fixtures I reckon the Czech Republic would have gone off odds on, on Saturday they’re 7/4. Why? Well that’s because they’ve already qualified and the Turks need a result to boost their play-off hopes.
Yes it’s a scenario that lends weight to a strong Turkish performance, but does it really merit a drift the size of a point for the home side? I don’t think so.
I don’t have data to back this up but I believe it’s a wise move to take on sides who need to win in club football at the end of the season so why not international football? These sides always see their price garrotted by the bookmakers and that makes their opponents’ odds looking plump. This game is a case in point.
The Czechs have been superb in this group with six wins from their eight matches. They’ve beaten all five opponents and have taken 10 points out of 12 from their home games. The Dutch and Iceland have both lost in the Republic so should they really be 7/4?
This is the Czechs final home game of the campaign so you can imagine the atmosphere will be party like as they celebrate qualification with fans. Will they really want to put on a poor show?
Turkey need points. Of course they do. But then I need a shag this weekend, doesn’t mean it will happen does it? The Turks lost at home to the Czech Republic and have failed to beat Latvia on two occasions in this campaign. I’m happy to oppose them at these prices and will back their opponents off 0 on the Asian Handicap at 37/40 with Bet365.
Norway v Malta – Malta +2 Asian Handicap (20/19 BetVictor)
Czech Republic v Turkey – Czech Republic 0 Asian Handicap (37/40 Bet365)
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