DEBUTANTES Wales and Slovakia meet in the middle match of Day 2. Chris Graham (@chrisgraham79) takes a look at the betting for us.
Wales v Slovakia | Saturday 17:00 | BBC One
It might not have the glamour of some of the other opening group match ties but this game between Wales and Slovakia is fascinating from a betting point of view. Take a glance at the odds and there’s little to separate the sides. Ladbrokes go 15/8 Wales and 2/1 the draw and Slovakia. It’s tight.
I’d be surprised if anyone had a really strong view on this game when it comes to the Win-Draw-Win market as their profiles look pretty similar.
Wales qualified in style finishing second to Belgium in Group B with just one defeat to their name. They never really looked like not reaching France and qualification was fully deserved.
It was a similar story for Slovakia who came out the traps flying in Group C with six wins from their opening six matches. A home win over Spain and an away triumph in Ukraine were the notable highlights of those six games.
Things went slightly awry after that though and the Slovaks ended the group with just one win from their final four matches, although the 1-0 home loss to Belarus was the only result to be ashamed of.
Warm-up results wise it’s been a rough time for Wales with defeats to Ukraine and Sweden (3-0) in their last two games and a failure to beat Northern Ireland before that. It’s just one win in seven for Chris Coleman’s side.
Slovakia have more to shout about after an eye-catching 3-1 win over Germany two weeks ago. While their opponents played a weaker side it was a notable victory. A 0-0 draw with Northern Ireland last week was less alluring.
One thing that stood proud throughout qualifying was the Welsh defence. Only four goals were conceded by the group in their 10 match section and that will need to be drilled to perfection in France.
That defence is clearly on the minds of the bookmakers as quotes as short as 2/5 are being bandied about for Under 2.5 Goals. While it’s definitely the favourite, should it really be that short?
Five of Slovakia’s 10 qualifying games went Over 2.5 Goals and they notched Over 1.5 Team Goals in two of their last four matches. At 15/8 Overs looks big.
Yes, maybe we should expect a stuffy, tight encounter with these new qualifying rules a factor but Romania played with real merit on Friday night and that wasn’t how the script was written. Also with players like Gareth Bale and Marek Hamsik present we’re sure to see some flair.
I’ll have a couple of bites on the Correct Score market. A 1-1 draw looks decent at 6/1 when you weigh up the chances of each side and I’ll also back Slovakia to win 2-1 at 14/1.
I’ve backed the Slovaks to finish in the Top 2 purely from a price point of view. I don’t think there’s much between Russia, Wales and them and they’re clear outsiders so it makes sense to get with them.
They come into this match in a bit better nick than Wales and having downed the likes of Germany, Spain and Ukraine since the last World Cup they’ll be feeling good. They also handled their debut tournament in style back in the 2010 World Cup so I’m not excepting any jitters.