WILL Wales grab a place in the knockout round? Gavin Horsfall (@GHorsfall) previews their Monday match against Russia.
Russia v Wales | Monday 20:00 | ITV1
The quicker this tournament gets to 32 teams the better, but what about the quality I hear you say? Don’t worry about the quality, the quality of football didn’t stop us piling into a corners match bet in the Conference play-off final when nothing else was on did it? It didn’t stop us buying shirt numbers in an FA Cup First round tie at Bradford PA either, football is merely here for us to bet on and don’t let anyone tell you any different.
With that in mind, let’s embrace Russia v Wales even if it is on ITV4, the place where sport go to die. Russia start as favourites but if you can bring yourself to back a side at 6/4 after they’ve amassed just four shots on target in 180 minutes of football then you’re a better man than me.
Only a win get’s them anywhere near qualification so the need is clearly greater than their opponents here who have the luxury of knowing a win or draw should be enough, a win could of course see Wales top the group but progress is the priority, performances against Slovakia and England haven’t quite earnt them the luxury of picking a second round opponent.
Feels very much like a game for the side-markets, lots of potential angles at play here, games throughout the first week averaged 4.23 offsides which puts the Sporting Index spread of 44.5 spot on, Russia and Wales between them have totalled just three in all four games they’ve played, sellers are always the winners on the spreads and that looks the case here.
Russia on the Corner Match Bet (4/6) also appeals having outcornered Wales by 10-5 across the opening two games, again though this doesn’t feel like a game to be taking short prices about anything.
Chris Coleman does resolute rearguards quite well, four goals conceded in qualifying, a shutout in Belgium and Cyprus before holding out for 70 minutes in Bosnia, you’d almost be tempted to back the Wales clean sheet at 2/1 if you hadn’t seen the chaotic scenes that led to both England goals on Thursday. Not for me.
Instead lets take a chance on Russian rightback Igor Smolnikov whose desire to get forward was exploited brilliantly by Marek Hamsik and Slovakia last time yet the need to score might give him more licence down the right hand side.
Critical inquests follow every England performance but I was very much in the ‘Kyle Walker did well’ on Thursday, Neil Taylor struggled to contain him and could be in a for a similarly rough ride on Monday.
Three goals in 29 games for Zenit this term for our man, I’m a player in the Goalscorer and Boylesports excellent assist market.
Russia v Wales – Igor Smolnikov to score first (50/1 Netbet)
Russia v Wales – Igor Smolnikov anytime assist (14/1 Boylesports)