Andorra vs. England
A former bookie breaks ranks to reveal today’s best bets.
England take on Andorra and Steve McClaren takes on the press tonight.
The former should see an easy success for England, but the later may not go so well if England don’t win by at least two goals - anything else will see them outside the automatic World Cup positions after this latest set of matches in Group E.
England are 1/40 with the bookies and there’s really no worthwhile point at expressing now anything other than an England win. But there are still some bets to be made on specific eventualities within this game.
I like the look of Rooney scoring the first goal. I know it’s not a bet I would usually look at - indeed in over 175 recommendations in this column I don’t think I’ve ever even analysed this market.
But when you look a little deeper into the market you can see why the 7/2 available on Rooney scoring the first goal in some places is just too big. First of all I doubt whether Andorra can score against England - it is highly unlikely to happen during open play, but could conceivably occur at a set piece - but there is only a small chance.
With Michael Owen missing recent Internationals England have found trouble in finding the back of the net recently but Wayne Rooney, who himself has gone 15 Internationals without scoring for his country, is in better form for his club and will find opportunities easier against Andorra in Barcelona than he has in recent Euro 2008 games.
As a player who will be operating in and around the opposition’s penalty area he will probably have the most number of shots on target and off target during the match (along with the inexperienced Andy Johnson) - and then we are just hoping that one of those shots translates into an early goal. The danger to this flimsy strategy is an England set piece when either Lampard or Gerrard could whip in a free kick and either score themselves or set it up for John Terry or Rio Ferdinand, but at 7/2 it’s a risk worth taking to small stakes. Rooney is 9/4 in other places and 7/2 is just too big.
I will also be taking the 11/8 on offer about Frank Lampard scoring at anytime during the match. As the game goes on I can see him getting plenty of opportunities to make those penetrating runs from midfield and scythe through Andorra’s tiring defence. Those taking that price have the added bonus of Lampard taking any set pieces such as penalties and direct free kicks - one scenario is for a surging Andy Johnson to gain a penalty or free kick situation for Lampard to convert.
Finally I am very interested in playing the under 2.5 goals market in the Italy v Scotland match. There is no question that Scotland, leading the group, will go to Italy with a draw in mind. Indeed they are playing a very negative 4-1-4-1 formation with Christian Dailly - better known as a defender - playing that important holding midfield role. With Kenny Miller, who isn’t in great goal scoring form for Celtic, playing the lone striker role up front there must be a doubt as to whether Scotland can score here. We know that Italy will play a very slow tempo as well and may even settle for winning by just one goal. With the game likely to go sometime before a goal is even likely to be scored, Scotland will hopefully be able to play that defensive formation for much of the match (they may of course go 2 up front should they go 1-0 down early on) - and then Italy may be even more cautious not to give away away a silly counter attacking goal I can see this game being low scoring - and even 0-0. But it does depend on no early goal being scored, as this bet tends to do generally speaking!
I will avoid the temptation to back the correct score of 0-0 or 1-0 to Italy and instead have a maximum bet on the under 2.5 goals at 1.86.
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