International Betting Tips – Round 1

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RIP Johan Cruyff 

Whether it’s the agony of waiting two weeks for the next installment of my Russian Premier League betting tips, or the mind numbing boredom of international week to get through, I thought I’d liven it up with a round of international tips to help you through till next weekend. I’m nice like that, you see. Both reasons would be perfect understandable – Estonia 0-0 Norway doesn’t exactly set the pulses racing – although there have been some other stories worth telling. Last night the Netherlands paid tribute to the passing of the greatest entertainer Europe has known, Johan Cruyff, as his nation fell to a dramatic 88-minute Blaise Matuidi winner. In Recife, Luis Suárez made his return from his 636-day international ban for biting – once a rat, always a rat – and celebrated his enforced absence with a crucial equaliser to keep Uruguay ahead of their eternal rivals.

Now friendly warm ups are notoriously tricky to navigate, but I have scoured the odds to find the best value for the weekend. Even straight up results can be tough to call in many matches, especially when the approach different nations take to the matches, but dig a little deeper and you can still find value. The plan is to continue this mini series in the run up to the European Championships, maybe even combine it with the finals themselves. Here goes…

Bet 1 Saturday 26 March, Russia v Lithuania

Russia to beat Lithuania, over 2.5 total goals, £10 @ 20/21

Potential Return: £19.52

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Leonid Slutskiy doesn’t always display outward confidence, but gets results – usually…

On paper, a straight match up between these two should be a prime candidate for over 4.5 goals as a minimum, but this is not paper. Russia were in dire straits a year ago under Fabio Capello, and while they recovered remarkably to qualify for the Euros from a seemingly impossible situation, they haven’t blown away any of their opponents (unless you count thrashing Liechtenstein 7-0, which was surely a routine result anyway). Leonid Slutskiy is a notoriously cautious manager, and there is very little to be gained by fielding a full strength side at home against Europe’s 46th best nation not to mention the urgent motivation of the players, so it is unlikely that there will be fireworks.

Lithuania themselves are not quite the whipping boys their ranking suggests though, at least not in terms of goals. Their only two wins away from home in the last five and a half years have come against San Marino and Liechtenstein – only Andorra are ranked lower in Europe – but they have only conceded more than four in a fixture on the road once in 16 years. Given that they have registered a single goal in their last eight games on their travels, the odds are that they won’t be troubling the score on Saturday, which makes over 2.5 goals a safer bet.

Bet 2 Saturday 26 March, Germany v England

Half Time/Full Time Draw/England win, £10 @ 10/1

Potential Return: £110

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Emile Heskey destroys Germany – a once in a lifetime moment

Ok, I admit this one is ever so slightly influenced by a wish to get one over on the World champions in their back yard. Those memories of Emile Heskey (!!!) and co sticking five past them in Munich are still very fresh in the mind of any England follower, but let’s ground ourselves in reality for a moment; a full repeat is about as likely as Leicester winning the… hang on, I mean as likely as Steve McLaren being bought a pint on Tyneside. Eric Dier will be crucial to England’s hopes of keeping out one of the world’s most impressive attacks, but with his club teammates around him he should have enough familiarity to settle.

If we are being brutally honest, Joachim w would look at England as second-rate opponents right now, and few could argue with him. He will not feel under a great deal of pressure faced with a lineup that boasts only 161 international caps between them, and will be certain to try out a few fringe players, especially as he is without a handful of the most experienced members of his squad who brought home the World Cup two years ago. The selection of Dele Alli as the focal point of England’s attacking trident behind the Premier League’s top goalscorer Harry Kane will be a fascinating test of the 19-year-old’s temperament and creativity under pressure. With Jamie Vary on the bench and the industry of Danny Wellbeck from the start, a stalemate at the break is a reasonable call, and after that any outcome is possible.

Bet 3 Tuesday 29 March, Republic of Ireland v Slovakia & France v Russia

Double on Republic of Ireland and France, £10 @ 7/5

Potential Return: £24

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Robbie Keane is Ireland’s all-time top goalscorer with 67 in 143 appearances

My last tip is a relatively low-risk chance to double your stake back, especially given the form of the team‘s involved. The Republic of Ireland claimed a safe 1-0 win over Switzerland, ranked 12th in the world by FIFA, on Friday, and in Slovakia they face a side who have overachieved in recent years but deserve some healthy respect for qualifying quite comfortably ahead of Ukraine. The Irish lack stellar names in their lineup, and are uncertain to be able to call on all-time record goalscorer and LA Galaxy ‘legend’ Robbie Keane, but have won five of their last seven, including over World Champions Germany. At home they are unbeaten in ten matches stretching back 18 months.

Russia are, and probably forever will be, an enigma. Their squad includes some serious creative talent in Alan Dzagoev, Roman Shirokov and Alexander Kokorin, not to mention the European Championship Qualifiers’ third top goalscorer in Artyom Dzyuba, in front of one of Europe’s most experienced and consistent defences. On the other hand, there are some clear issues on a mental level with their attitude and determination. In the last hree years they have only won five away from home, and those were against Moldova, Liechtenstein, Montenegro, Hungary and Luxembourg – hardly the most testing opposition. France come off the back of a spirited win in Amsterdam and have one of the most promising squads that will feature at their home tournament this summer.

 

Russian Premier League Betting Tips – Gameweek 20

Well that went well…

In my first betting tips post last week, all three of my suggestions went south, leaving me with the princely sum of -£30. In my defence, it was the lowest scoring gameweek of the season, with only 11 goals across the eight fixtures, despite many of the most potent attacks strengthened and some of the most pourous defences weakened. Take Spartak, for example: losing Serdar Tasci to Bayern Munich on loan meant Vladimir Granat had to step in, and although he is still a decent centre back, he has barely played his season after joining from Dinamo. Add Lorenzo Melgarejo to the league’s top scorer in Quincy Promes and the potential for goals at both ends was there, but a tight 1-0 defeat to CSKA was the result.

As for my specific tips themselves, Roman Shirokov failed to score in that game despite playing as the attacking central midfielder. Picking goalscorers is always a tough prediction, so failing to hit that one is hardly a disgrace. Zenit to win away at Krasnodar was influenced by the champions’ strong transfer market dealings, but in hindsight could have been adjusted to a draw as Krasnodar, despite their poor show in in the Europa League knockout stages against Sparta Prague, could at least point to not having had competitive practice all winter as a reason for their inglorious exit from continental competition. Ural v Dinamo was one of only three matches to produce two goals, but my tip was for over 1.5 goals in the first half only; both were after the break.

Without further ado, here are this week’s sure fire winners. Ahem…

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Bet 1 Friday 11 March & Saturday 12 March

Treble on Kuban to beat Krylia, Ural to beat Anzhi, Spartak to beat Amkar, £10 @ 6.46/1

Potential Return: £64.60

A good old fashioned treble is a good way for me to make some ground back on last week’s losses, and I think there is some amazing value in the odds that bet365.com are offering. This is the best part of Russian football betting – there is value if you look hard enough,  because the statistics alone seem to dictate the odds, much in the same way that the fellow who made millions from betting on Scottish football lower league’s used a touch of nous and bookies’ overly analytical approach to pricing teams years ago.

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Will play for crisps – Arshavin’s career has been in decline for a while, now he is no longer a burden to Kuban

Kuban are low down he league table, in the automatic relegation places to be precise, but they no longer have the Gary Lineker (bear with me on this one…) of Russian football hanging over them for one thing. Andrey Arshavin has decided to develop his dwindling career in Kazakhstan after only 6 months in the green and yellow of Kuban, and instead a raft of interesting buys like former Dortmund defender Felipe Santana and Apodi  (lightning quick Brazilian fullback) have boosted them somewhat. Ural have likewise reinforced, perhaps not quite as strongly as they would have liked, but still in Alexander Ryzyantsev they have experience and In Dmitry Korobov they have potentially unearthed a lower league diamond. Anzhi are inconsistent away from home with only two sides conceding more on their travels, so it should be a steal at 23/20 for that individual result. Spartak now have the top two goalscorers in the league in Lorenzo Melgarejo and Quincy Promes, facing a team that have scored the second lowest tally in the league, and only Rubin have lost more on the road. Win this one, and I’m back in the black…

Bet 2 Sunday 13 March, Zenit v Rubin

Over 3.5 total goals £10 @ 11/4

Potential Return: £37.50

Simply put, Zenit = goals. They are the top scorers at home with 19, and in total with 34, not to mention the fact that they’ll be hurting from their cruel Champions league exit to Benfica. Alexander Kokorin has a good chance of starting his first match for his new club, and with Hulk fit anything could happen. Rubin have a terrible away record on paper, and while this is mostly down to their early season catastrophe, they played two new signings in defence last week in Andriy Pylyavsky and Emil Bergstrom so could be susceptible again. Granted, they kept a clean sheet against Kuban, but that was at home; Zenit away is a whole different ball game.

Bet 3 Monday 14 March, Dinamo v Terek

Score draw £10 @ 9/2

Potential Return: £55

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Me with the Novouralsk Supporters Club – very knowledgeable chaps on English football

When I watched Dinamo against Ural on Monday in Ekaterinburg, they played an extremely attacking formation with two out and out strikers in Pavel Pogrebnyak and impressive new boy Fatos Beqiraj, with Alexander Tashaev and Alexey Ionov pushing right up to make a virtual 4-2-4. If they show similar intent at home against a notoriously defensive travelling outfit in Terek – who have drawn 6 of ten away matches, and have a dead level goals ratio of 11 for and 11 against – they stand a good chance of breaching their backline. While the visitors are serious European contenders, Dinamo have the very real incentive of an impending relegation battle to spur them on, but they have failed to score more than two at home in over a year.