Matt Le Tissier's International Football Preview
Matt’s Weekend Acca
I’m struggling to recall a manager in recent times who has copped as much flak after a game, despite winning, as Roy Hodgson has done these last few days.
True, the Three Lions’ 1-0 win over Norway wasn’t one for the ages, but I believe a lot of this ill-will being directed towards him is a bitter hangover from our performance in Brazil. There’s a lot more to come from this new generation and I think people how much of a departure this current crop of players are from those we fielded at World Cup 2010 and even Euro 2012.
Wayne Rooney and Joe Hart aside, the first team is almost entirely refreshed. It takes time and patience for transitions like this to come to fruition, especially with international squads, though I understand it seem be a frustrating process for fans who want their side to already be playing at their peak.
Monday sees us take on Switzerland, unquestionably the most challenging opposition in our otherwise favourable group. After their recovery to reach the knockouts at the World Cup, the Swiss have moved up to ninth in the FIFA rankings, with England sliding to 20th, though I personally don’t put too much store in these things.
Given that it’s taking place in Basel and England’s record on the road is somewhat shaky – we haven’t won on away soil since March of last year, against San Marino – I wouldn’t be too confident in backing an outright win, though William Hill have priced Roy’s boys at an attractive 19/10 to take all three points. A draw at 11/5 with Paddy Power is probably a smarter bet, and if pushed for a correct score, I’d take the 1-1 at 6/1 with BetVictor.
I was pleased that Rooney nabbed a goal in his first game as captain with a superbly taken penalty that I’d be proud of scoring. Though I can’t see it happening during qualifying, with his England tally at 41, you have to think that it’s now a case of when not if he will pass Bobby Charlton’s all-time record of 49. He is available at 13/2 with bet365 to score first.
The Republic of Ireland should beat Georgia on Sunday– though the Georgians are an improving side who memorably held the French 0-0 in their World Cup qualifiers last year, but the 11/8 with SkyBet on Martin O’Neill’s men claiming the victory seems a fair price.
Looking at Wales’ group, you have to say this is their best chance of qualifying for a major international tournament since Euro 1976, especially with the likes of Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey and Joe Allen in their ranks. They should make mince of Andorra on Tuesday, and I’d go so far as to back them to overcome a -2 handicap at 11/10 with BetFred.
Northern Ireland have got a decent shout as well, but Hungary away will be a tough fixture this Sunday. Apart from two maulings at the hands of the Netherlands, the Hungarians gave a solid account of themselves during their World Cup qualifiers and only lost once at home. Sadly I’ll have to side with the home team on this one, though the 1/2 with Ladbrokes is about the best you’re going to get.
Finally, Scotland have got the rawest deal of the bunch. They’ve been drawn against the likes of Ireland, Poland and of course, Germany, the reigning world champions. They face the latter on Sunday and the Germans are being made heavy 2/11 favourites with Belfair. Even Alex Salmond wouldn’t back the Tartan Army here. BetVictor’s 7/1 on a 2-0 correct score in the German’s favour is my forecast.
There’s another £20 free bet up for grabs from Coral this weekend. Tweet @freebets your correct score predictions for the England v Switzerland and Germany v Scotland games using #ChallengeMatt. I’ve gone 1-1 and 3-0.
MATT’S FOOTBALL TIPS
England Switzerland draw – 11/5 Paddy Power
England Switzerland 1-1 – 6/1 BetVictor
Wayne Rooney first goalscorer – 13/2 bet365
Republic of Ireland to win – 11/8 SkyBet
Wales to win with -2 handicap – 11/10 BetFred
Hungary to win – 1/2 Ladbrokes
Germany to win 2-0 – 7/1 BetVictor
Republic of Ireland to beat Georgia
Hungary to beat Northern Ireland
Germany to beat Scotland
England and Switzerland to draw
Wales to beat Andorra