CHRIS Graham (@ChrisGraham79) picks out his three best bets from Friday night’s qualifying matches.
Belgium v Bosnia | Friday 19:45 | Sky Sport 5
Roberto Martinez’s reputation has been trashed this year. He oversaw an awful run of form at Everton in the second half of last season and was shown the door. His successor Ronald Koeman has given the Toffees a firmer edge and his management style looks somewhat weak in comparison.
Remarkably the affable Spaniard has found himself in charge of Belgium after been appointed in the late-summer. It’s a great opportunity but there are question marks whether he’s up to the task. The Belgians host Bosnia on Friday night in a World Cup qualifier and I want to side with the visitors on the Asian Handicap.
Bosnia were suffering a bit of a World Cup 2014 hangover when their Euro qualifying campaign began and after a bad start (defeat to Cyprus) they failed to recover in time and lost out to Ireland in a play-off.
This time they’ve began a lot more emphatically with a stunning 5-0 win over Estonia. That was the first time in three years the Estonia’s had conceded that number of goals in a qualifier and they took a real hiding.
After losing to Wales at Euro 2016 there are certainly question marks over the resolve of this fine group of Belgian players and they were outclassed 2-0 by Spain in Martinez’s first match in charge.
At 21/20 with Bet365 I’m going to chance Bosnia with a goal start on the Asian Handicap. I’ll get my stake back if they lose by exactly one goal.
Greece v Cyprus | Friday 19:45
There remain massive question marks about not just Greece’s economy but also their football team and Friday brings another opportunity to take them on.
It’s been a miserable couple of years for the nation. Since losing out in a penalty shoot out to Costa Rica in the 2014 World Cup they’ve won just five of their following 20 matches.
On a competitive note they won just one of their ten Euro 2016 qualifiers and lost to the Faroe Islands home and away. A shocking fall from grace.
Despite wins in their last three matches (two of them friendlies) I haven’t seen enough to convince me that these nation have been rehabilitated. They struggled to see off Gibraltar in their qualifier last month and Cyprus should provide a stiffer test to this fragile side.
The Cypriots are capable of picking up superb results and a 5-2 win over Ireland and a 2-1 win in Bosnia are top of their fairly recent back catalogue.
The Cypriots will smell blood against this rocky Greek side and I’ll take them +1 on the Asians at 43/40 with Bet365. Greece still have some convincing to do.
Portugal v Andorra | Friday 19:45 | Sky Sport 2
Andorra are an awful football nation, of that there’s no doubt, but there is evidence to suggest they’re slowly improving and they may frustrate a still-drunk Portugal side on Friday night.
The Portuguese achieved their finest footballing accolade in the summer when surprisingly winning the European Championship and there must be a comedown effect from that as they return to the meat and potatoes of international football here.
We’ve already seen evidence of that in this campaign as Fernando Santos’ side lost to Switzerland in the campaign opener, albeit without the services of Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ronaldo is back here but I’ll have a play on Andorra +4.5 goals at 24/23 with 888 Sport. The tiny European side haven’t lost by more than four goals in 12 matches now.
In the last campaign they gave Wales a real scare in their opening match and only lost 3-0 in Bosnia later in the race to France. I’ll back them here to avoid a mauling.