WALES welcome Finland for Wednesday's Nations League encounter. Matthew Kirby (@M_Kirby95) delivers his betting analysis.
Wales vs Finland | Wednesday 18th November 2020, 19:45 | Sky Sports
It’s crunch time! A winner takes all battle for top spot in League B, Group 4 between Wales and Finland in Cardiff.
If Wales avoid defeat, they’ll be promoted to League A, while Finland’s meteoric rise through the European ranks can continue if they pick up maximum points, but first, they’ll have to breach this solid Welsh defence.
Confidence will be high around the Welsh camp. It’s now 10 unbeaten in competitive games (W7, D3) since a 1-0 defeat to Hungary in June 2019. And that 1-0 score has been a common occurrence of late.
All four of Wales’ wins in this Nations League campaign have been by that outcome, so it’s no surprise to see it at 9/2, just like it was on Sunday.
While the Welsh are yet to concede, this Finland side has let in just two goals, including Kieffer Moore’s winner back in September.
But the Scandinavian visitors will be buoyed by their recent performances after making it four wins on the spin in Bulgaria.
They did ride their luck in that one after being 2-0 up at half-time, it took a penalty save from Lukas Hradecky on the hour mark to keep it that way before Dimitar Iliev did convert from 12 yards eight minutes later.
Norwich’s Teemu Pukki spoke after the game saying he felt it was their weakest performance of late, so they’ll be looking to up the ante in this crucial game.
The betting angles
There are a few bets that caught the eye in this one. A couple of shorter stats-based fancies, as well as something that looks a tad overpriced.
I’ll start with the 13/10 on the highest-scoring half being the second. There have been 12 goals involving these two sides in their respective games during this Nations League.
When you break down the times of those goals, then they’re generally quite late. And, that’s somewhat of a reflection on the goal times in the Welsh games but 10 of the 12 have come after half time.
There’s promotion to League A at stake, plus a big financial incentive, which will boost each nations’ FA, especially at this uncertain times. So, with that in mind, this should play to type with a second half goal likely to be enough for this bet to be a winner.
While the reverse fixture finished 1-0 with an 80th-minute winner, the German referee dished out seven cautions. And we could see plenty of cards once again with Spanish official Jesús Gil Manzano in charge.
He’ll be remembered for his recent trip to Wembley when dismissing Harry Maguire, awarding Denmark a debatable penalty and then showing a red card to Reece James after the final whistle.
His four games since then have seen 18 yellows and a red (205 booking points in total), plus he’s given four pens in those matches too. In fact, this season, he’s shown 37 yellows, four reds and pointed to the spot on six occasions.
It’s fair to say that he likes to be involved in the games, so using Bet365’s Bet Builder feature I’ll take the 23/20 on over 1 card for both sides.
Wales have done that in all five of their games during this campaign, while Finland got three yellows in the reverse fixture and picked up three more in Bulgaria.
So, these two stats-based plays look solid angles into what should be a tight and tense evening.
But if you’re looking at something a little juicier, then Sky Bet are offering 9/1 on a Gareth Bale assist. To me, it just looks too big! While comparing against other firms doesn’t necessarily indicate value, it’s a 3/1 shot with William Hill.
Bale is a key influence for this Welsh side, and he’s been involved in 13 goals in his last 13 home games for Wales – nine goals and four assists.
The fourth assist in that tally came in the win over the Republic of Ireland with his header back across goal met by David Brooks to bag the winner. Anything positive is likely to go through Bale, so I’m happy to take the 9/1 with the Spurs man having the quality to unlock any defence.
Wales v Finland – Second-Half Highest Scoring (13/10 Paddy Power)
Wales v Finland – Over 1 Card for Wales and Over 1 Card for Finland (23/20 Bet365)
Wales v Finland – Gareth Bale 1+ assist (9/1 SkyBet)