Six Nations Round Four: England’s march to continue?

By Brian Rucker, My Club Betting Rugby Correspondent

After a week off, the Six Nations returns this weekend and it couldn’t be more tense!

As expected, it’s England and Ireland vying for the title, with Scotland sitting closely behind in third. They’ll be getting a nosebleed soon…

The Scots will be brought back down to earth at Twickenham this weekend though and while Italy host France in the basement battle, Wales and Ireland kick things off on Friday night.

That’s where I’ll begin…

Wales v Ireland (Friday @ 20:05)

I’ve given the Welsh a lot of flack in recent times, so why change the habit of a lifetime…

You wouldn’t think things could get much worse for Wales after their shambles of a display in Scotland, but they need to prepare themselves for the worst. It’s going to hurt!

Why? Because come Friday evening, the Welsh will have lost to Scotland, England and Ireland in the same year in the five/six nations for the first time since 2003… Ouch!

The Irish will punish Rob Cowley’s side, who make way too many unforced errors, which will set up a lovely title decider in Dublin next Sunday against England. I’m already rubbing my hands…

Don’t get me wrong though, Ireland haven’t got much boasting to do. Let’s face it, they’ve only beaten Italy and France so far and that’s not exactly difficult.

They’ll win this one. It’s just a shame it will only give them false hope ahead of England’s victory next week!

BEST BET: IRELAND TO WIN BY 1-5 POINTS @ 17/4

Italy v France (Saturday @ 13:30)

Is there any point to this one? Well it is the Giuseppe Garibaldi Trophy I guess…

I suppose it does give France a chance to feel better about themselves following their defeat in Ireland two weeks ago.

To bounce back from their defeat against England, with a win against the Scots but then to lose against Ireland just proves that the French are as consistent as my bowel movements and trust me, that’s not a good thing…

They’ll surely have enough to beat the whipping boys in Rome, but this does look like Italy’s final chance to get any points on the board because they don’t stand a chance at Murrayfield next week.

Oh, who am I kidding, another wooden spoon is in the post!

BEST BET: FRANCE FIRST HALF HANDICAP -9.5 @ 10/11

England v Scotland (Saturday @ 16:00)

It’s Calcutta Cup action at Twickenham and I’d put my daughter’s new pony on England to continue their march towards back-to-back Grand Slams. My life wouldn’t be worth living if I lost that one, so trust me when I say it’s going to happen!

I could not think of a better opponent for England to secure a record equalling 18th consecutive victory against…

The Scots could actually win the Triple Crown on Saturday afternoon but there’s more chance of that happening than Donald Trump telling the truth.

Yes, they’ve picked up wins against Ireland and Wales but England aren’t Ireland and Wales. Thank god!

Eddie Jones’ side haven’t even put in a good performance yet and they’ve won every game. It’s been like taking candy from a baby…

Enjoy another win lads!

BEST BET: ENGLAND TO WIN BY 6-10 POINTS @ 15/4

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Six Nations Round Three: More Welsh misery on the cards…

By Brian Rucker, My Club Betting Rugby Correspondent

Are you ready for another scintillating weekend of Six Nations action? Well I am!

It’s only been two weeks since England crushed Welsh hearts, Ireland battered the whipping boys Italy and France brought the Scots back down to earth but it’s felt like a lifetime!

The weekend of action kicks off at Murrayfield on Saturday and ends at Twickenham on Sunday afternoon and here’s my thoughts on how things will unravel…

Scotland v Wales (Saturday @ 14:25)

I’ve had some unconfirmed reports over the last fortnight that every shop in Wales sold out of tissues following their 21-16 defeat to England!

Those shelves better be re-stocked because the demand will be high once again come Saturday afternoon when the Welsh get battered in Edinburgh…

john-barclay-scotland

Captained by John Barclay, the Scots will have to improve on their awful set-pieces which so far, have been as successful as a Wayne Rooney hair transplant.

Do that and they’re onto a winner. The Welsh will try to bully Scotland but what always happens to bullies? They get found out. Wales will be no different. Tissues at the ready folks…

BEST BET: SCOTLAND TO WIN BY 1-5 POINTS @ 9/2

Ireland v France (Saturday @ 16:50)

This game is being billed as the clash which could keep the title hopes alive of the winner but let’s be honest, it’s the decider for second place because neither have the balls to win it.

Yes, the Irish crushed Italy two weeks ago with nine touchdowns but come on, Sutton United’s former pie eating goalkeeper could get into that Italian side!

sexton-ireland

France did what the Irish couldn’t a fortnight ago in beating Scotland but they reminded me of a dying cat struggling to get home, as they stumbled across the line to record a 22-16 victory in Paris.

Ireland will win this one but that’s only because the French wings are as strong as the British economy…

Don’t get too excited though. It’s only second place after all.

BEST BET: GAME TO BE TIED AT HALF-TIME @ 10/1

England v Italy (15:00)

Are you ready for a cricket score? I hope so because that’s what we’re going to get!

In fact, England’s class of 2001 should enjoy their last few days of being the record point’s scorers in a Six Nations game.

Surprise, surprise they registered 80 points against Italy 16 years ago and it’s the Italians who will be on the end of yet another drubbing on Sunday afternoon.

owen-farrell

They’ve managed 17 points so far, but Eddie Jones’ men will have scored more than that in the opening 20 minutes at Twickenham!

It could be that bad that the Italians have to declare a national day of mourning on Monday.

RIP Italian Rugby…

BEST BET: ENGLAND TO WIN BY OVER 50 POINTS @ 9/5

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ENGLAND V SCOTLAND: OUR BETTING GUIDE

Friday night sees two of the most bitter international rivals going head-to-head in a vital World Cup qualifier.

England (4/11) host neighbours Scotland (17/2) at the world famous Wembley Stadium in a tie that could have huge implications when it comes to qualification from Group F.

To say it has been a turbulent few months for the hosts would be a scandalous understatement.

As we all know, England suffered embarrassment at Euro 2016 with their exit to Iceland, and the well publicised incident with Sam Allardyce seemed to add salt to the already deep wounds.

Gareth Southgate (below) was given the task of stabilising the situation, and while England have managed to avoid defeat in his two games in charge, they have hardly set the world on fire.

southgate

Without causing offence, a home tie with Malta should be a given victory. On the other hand, facing Slovenia away is never easy, so in all fairness, four points from those two games is no disgrace for Southgate.

However, when it comes to the England national team, results are never enough.

Southgate’s side were extremely negative in both encounters, scoring on just two occasions during the 180 minutes of football.

No matter who is in charge, England always seem to take an eternity to move the ball from back to front, and constantly seem to be too deep when in possession.

This was particularly evident during the Malta game at Wembley last month, when Southgate’s men completely ran out of ideas in the second half – reverting to a direct, long ball style during the last half an hour.

Jordan Henderson (below) was named man of the match that day – and rightly so.

henderson-eng

However, in a game against a side like Malta, attacking players should be making the headlines rather than your deep lying, holding midfielder!

One thing that cannot be argued with is England’s defensive record.

The Three Lions are yet to concede in this qualification campaign and only let three goals during their ten 2016 European Championship qualifiers.

Things haven’t exactly been plain sailing for Gordon Strachan and his Scotland side of late. In fact, everything seems to have gone downhill for the Scots since their impressive 5-1 win in Malta on the first Group F match day.

In last month’s home game with Lithuania, Scotland needed a last minute James McArthur goal to rescue a draw. They followed that poor result with a crushing 3-0 defeat in Slovakia.

This has heaped the pressure on Strachan, who many people expected to leave after the Slovakia defeat.

strachan

Much of the negativity towards Strachan (above) has been created by his choice of central strikers.

The Scotland boss has constantly overlooked Leigh Griffiths in favour of the lesser talented Steven Fletcher and out of form Chris Martin, which is beginning to infuriate large numbers of the Tartan Army – some of which made their feelings known in the two recent qualifiers.

Goals have undoubtedly been a problem for the Scots recently. Take away the Malta victory and Strachan’s men have scored on just one occasion during their last four games.

That coupled with England’s recent defensive record leads us to believe that Friday’s game will be a low scoring encounter.

While some may point to the fact that England and Scotland have shared a staggering nine goals in their last two meetings, the more educated football fan will take into account the fact that both of those games were friendlies.

In fact, Scotland have failed to score against England in five of the last six competitive meetings between the sides – including that famous Euro 96 tie at Wembley.

It is also worth noting that the Tartan Army’s last victory against England came in the second leg of their Euro 2000 play-off decider at Wembley.

However, the 1-0 score line that night was not enough to overturn England’s 2-0 aggregate lead they took into the crucial game.

Everything points to a narrow home win on Friday night, and we find it very hard to disagree.

VERDICT: ENGLAND 1 SCOTLAND 0 @ 9/2

BEST BET: ENGLAND CLEAN SHEET @ 7/10

This article was written by Calum Chinchen, the Head of Social Media at MyClubBetting.

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mcb-20

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RUGBY WORLD CUP 2015: THE MCB BETTING GUIDE

The wait is finally over! The Rugby World Cup kicks off on Friday night as England host Fiji.

All roads lead to Twickenham, where the Final will be played on October 31st.

We hope our pool-by-pool betting guide, constructed by our man Calum Chinchen, can provide you with some winners along the way.

Remember to keep checking out the MCB WordPress site (myclubbetting.wordpress.com) for regular betting previews on a variety of sports.

All prices quoted are an average from across the industry… we wish you the best of luck!

New Zealand: Defending champions

POOL A

Hosts England have looked more than efficient in their warm-up games and were particularly impressive in victories over France and Ireland. Anthony Watson is England’s key man at the moment and the speedy Bath fullback will be hoping to carry his Aviva Premiership and World Cup warm-up form into the tournament itself.

Watson: Speed merchant

Home advantage will be massive for Stuart Lancaster’s men, who are second favourites to lift the famous Webb Ellis cup. We fancy them to advance as from Pool A as winners.

Australia come into this tournament after winning the 2015 Rugby Championship, a tournament involving themselves, Argentina, New Zealand and South Africa. The Wallabies looked terrific throughout the tournament, beating tournament favourites New Zealand along the way and finishing with a 100% record. They haven’t got the best World Cup record of late and they have not reached a final since losing to England in 2003. That said, they will have no difficulty advancing from Pool A and we fancy them to finish second behind the hosts.

Wales are not in the greatest form and we can see them struggling throughout the tournament. Key players Leigh Halfpenny and Rhys Webb have been ruled out of the tournament, with coach Warren Gatland cursing his luck after both were injured in warm-up games.

Wales will find it very difficult to get vital results against both England and Australia, thus we don’t see them finishing in the top two.

Uruguay and Fiji are the other two teams in this pool and we see the latter possibly causing the so-called ‘big boys’ a little difficulty along the way.

BEST BET: ENGLAND TO WIN POOL A @ 2.10

POOL B

Habana: Experienced

South Africa are the strongest team in Pool B, and by a considerable distance. The Springboks had an extremely tough time in the Rugby Championship over the summer, losing all three games. We just feel the lack of strength within the group, coupled with the presence of experienced stars Bryan Habana, Jean de Villiers and Schalk Burger will be more than enough to see South Africa top the pool and advance to the next stage with a 100% record.

Scotland won’t be too downhearted by being drawn in this pool and it looks as though it will be a straight battle between themselves and Samoa for second place. The clash between the two sides at St James Park comes in the final round of fixtures, and looks as though it will be crucial for both nations. We think it will be tougher for Vern Cotter’s men than most people expect, but fancy influential captain Greg Laidlaw and experienced hooker Ross Ford to guide the Scots to the next round at the expense of their Samoan counterparts.

We can’t see Japan or the USA troubling any of the other three teams in Pool B, and we can only see the two sides gaining points when they play each other. We see Samoa comfortably finishing in third position here.

BEST BET: SCOTLAND TO QUALIFY @ 1.67

POOL C

There is absolutely no doubt who is going to come out on top of Pool C. New Zealand are the clear tournament favourites and we can see them winning every match in the pool with real ease.

The All Blacks suffered a shock defeat to rivals Australia in the Rugby Championship, which cost them the trophy. However, we don’t see that having a negative effect on them during this campaign.

McCaw & Carter: Final World Cup

Experienced flanker and skipper Richie McCaw will be looking to lift the Webb Ellis Cup, in what will be his last World Cup. Iconic fly-half Dan Carter will also be participating in his final World Cup campaign and will be looking to make amends after only playing two games of the 2011 tournament which the All Blacks captured.

Argentina would have been delighted with the draw and will more than fancy their chance of advancing. Although they will accept that the All Blacks will be too strong for them, they will also feel more that confident of beating the other three sides in the group and qualifying behind New Zealand.

Tonga will no doubt give Argentina competition for the converted second place in Pool C. Captain Nili Latu will be vital for the Tongans. The former Green Rockets star recently signed for the Newcastle Falcons and is equally capable when playing on the flank or at number 8. We see Tonga running Argentina close, but we just can’t see them doing enough to qualify.

The other two sides in the group are Georgia and Namibia, and we can see the presence of two minnows alongside the phenomenal All Blacks leading to a massive number of tries within Pool C.

BEST BET: OVER 76.5 TRIES IN POOL C @ 1.90

POOL D

Zebo: Vital for Ireland

Ireland are favourites to win Pool D. Although they have never advanced further than the Quarter Finals in a World Cup, they do come into this tournament in good form after winning this year’s Six Nations title. Speedy winger Simon Zebo will be key for the Irish, along with fly half Jonny Sexton who has recently joined Leinster after a successful two years at Racing Metro.

France aren’t in the greatest form, but they always seem to have the capability to pull a rabbit out of the hat on the World Cup stage, as they showed in 2011 when they reached the final.

However, there have been rumours of disharmony within the camp and reports suggest that they aren’t happy with the facilities or surroundings at their Croydon base (now there’s a shock!). We fancy them to advance, but see them finishing second in Pool D, behind this Irish.

Italy area vastly improved side, and will cause both France and Ireland difficulty. Sergio Parisse is an icon amongst Italian rugby fans and will once again captain his nation at the tournament. The instrumental Stade Francais talisman is widely regarded as one of the greatest number 8’s in modern rugby, and will be vital for his side as always. That said, we just can’t see them doing enough to get a victory against the big two in the pool and can’t see them advancing to the next stage.

Canada and Romania make up the numbers in Pool D and we can’t see them causing any upsets if we are honest.

BEST BET: IRELAND/FRANCE (STRAIGHT FORECAST) @ 1.95

WHO WILL WIN?

We fancy the hosts England to make it all the way to the final, where they will more than likely be facing an incredibly strong New Zealand side.

We just can’t see the All Blacks being stopped and think they will cruise to World Cup glory on October 31st at Twickenham.

OUR WINNERS: NEW ZEALAND @ 2.30

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SEPTEMBER’S EURO 2016 QUALIFIERS – SIX TOP TIPS FROM MCB

By Calum Chinchen

The Premier League may be taking a break, but that hasn’t prevented us from providing you with some fantastic tips for the week.

As you may know, we at www.myclubbetting.com are still in the process of launching our new sportsbook, meaning that our betting services are still unavailable.

However, after our recent tipping success, we really wouldn’t want you to miss out on our winning selections.

Euro 2016 Qualifiers are on the menu this week, and we have selected tips from six of the biggest fixtures taking place over the week.

We wish you the best of luck…

GERMANY  v POLAND

Lewandowski: Prolific

It has been far from plain sailing for Germany since they lifted the World Cup last summer. Joachim Low’s side got off to a slow start in European Championship qualification, suffering a 2-0 defeat against Friday’s opponents and dropping points at home to the Republic of Ireland.

Poland have looked very solid so far, they find themselves top of the group and are still unbeaten.

Germany are a side in transition. Former defensive lynchpins Phillip Lahm and Per Mertesacker have been missed since retiring from the national team. However, they do seem to have a found some form of late.

Poland usually rely on two men who play their club football in Germany. Robert Lewandowski and Jakub Blaszczykowski will both have to be at their best if Poland are going to get a result here.

It might not be great value, but we still fancy Germany to win this one.

BEST BET: GERMANY TO WIN

KICK OFF: FRIDAY @ 19:45 (ITV4)

SAN MARINO v ENGLAND

Hodgson: Top of group

for Euro 2016 has been a breeze for Roy Hodgson’s men. England are unbeaten so far in this campaign and find themselves at the top of Group E after impressive away wins against Slovenia and Switzerland.

Unsurprisingly, San Marino are bottom of the group with only one point. England were convincing winners in the reverse fixture, winning 5-0 at Wembley last October.

San Marino are solely focussed on damage limitation whenever they play a competitive fixture. They are yet to score a goal in Euro 2016 qualification, and they rarely venture past the halfway line.

This will be like a training session for Roy Hodgson’s side and there is no doubt that they are going to be comfortable winners in Serravale on Saturday evening.

We fancy a very high scoring encounter here.

BEST BET: OVER 5.5 GOALS

KICK OFF: SATURDAY @ 17:00 (ITV)

WALES v ISRAEL

Bale: Star performer

Coleman has worked wonders since taking over as Wales manager. The former Fulham and Real Sociedad gaffer has guided his country to an impressive top 10 world ranking.

Israel are a very dangerous outfit, who have impressed with group wins against both Bosnia and Cyprus. Wales were dominant in the reverse fixture, with Gareth Bale grabbing a brace in their convincing 3-0 win in Haifa.

There is no doubt that Coleman has been blessed with a magnificent squad since taking over. Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey are the country’s star men, and both have been magnificent throughout this qualification campaign.

The Israel back four are certainly not the quickest, and we think that the pace of Bale and fellow winger Hal Robson-Kanu will cause them all sorts of bother.

We can see goals in this one and fancy Wales for the win.

BEST BET: OVER 2.5 GOALS

KICK OFF: SUNDAY @ 17:00 (SS1)

REP OF IRELAND v GEORGIA

Keane: Predator

The Republic of Ireland have found Euro 2016 qualification a little tricky so far. Martin O’Neill is yet to guide his side to victory against any of the so called ‘big boys’ in Group D, however the Irish did earn a key point away in Germany.

Georgia have been poor throughout this qualification campaign and that was evident when Ireland grabbed a vital 2-1 win in the reverse fixture, after a late Aiden McGeady wonder strike in Tbilisi.

Robbie Keane has been in fine form in the MLS this season, and the prolific LA Galaxy frontman will be vital for Ireland in this one.

Martin O’Neill hasn’t seen his side keep a clean sheet against any team in the group other than Gibraltar, so getting on the scoresheet against the Georgian’s is going to be hugely important.

We can see goals here & fancy both teams to score.

BEST BET: BOTH TEAMS TO SCORE

KICK OFF: MONDAY @ 19:45 (SS2)

SCOTLAND v GERMANY

Strachan: Leader

Gordon Strachan has transformed the Scottish national side since taking over in 2013. The former Celtic manager took over an ageing Craig Levein team that was lacking in confidence, and turned them into a slick youthful unit which operates with fast, attacking football.

The Tartan Army were unlucky in the reverse fixture a year ago, losing 2-1 in Dortmund after a late Thomas Muller winner.

Germany struggled earlier in the group, but the World Champions look to be a little more settled now .

Scotland’s only real weakness lies in the centre forward position. Steven Fletcher and Chris Martin have been unconvincing in recent outings so Leigh Griffiths may get the nod.

We think the link-up play between Muller, Mesut Ozil and Mario Götze will be just too much for the Scotland – we fancy an away win here.

BEST BET: GERMANY TO WIN

KICK OFF: MONDAY @ 19:45 (SS1)

ENGLAND v SWITZERLAND

Rooney: Out of form

England return to the familiar surroundings of Wembley on Tuesday evening. Roy Hodgson’s men have been fantastic throughout qualification, with the highlight being their 2-0 away win against Tuesday’s opponents a year ago.

Switzerland are arguably the second best team in Group E, behind their Wembley opponents. Former Lazio boss Vladimir Petkovic took over the managerial reins from Ottmar Hitzfeld after last summer’s World Cup.

Swiss maestro Xherdan Shaqiri has recently moved to the Premier League, and Stoke City’s record signing is the key man for his country.

England will start with either Harry Kane or Wayne Rooney as the lone striker, and in truth neither have looked convincing for their clubs so far this season. Switzerland are a very organised outfit, and we can see them making things very difficult for the hosts.

We fancy this Swiss side to get a draw here – at the very least.

BEST BET: SWITZERLAND/DRAW (DOUBLE CHANCE)

KICK OFF: TUESDAY @ 19:45 (ITV)

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Euro 2016 qualifiers – MCB betting angle

Ton up: 100 caps for Wayne Rooney

International week is never an easy time for bookmakers, as the betting public’s apathy is palpable.

England face Slovenia at Wembley Stadium on Saturday (5pm), hoping to keep their 100% Euro 2016 qualifying record intact after three successive victories.

Slovenia lost both previous meetings by the odd goal and are no pushovers, and perhaps that is why Roy Hodgson was getting his excuses in early this week, blaming the state of the pitch after the NFL game held there last Sunday.

You cannot blame the Football Association for doing a deal with the NFL which saw three fixtures take place at Wembley this year, with another three scheduled for next autumn.

Dolphins v Raiders wembley
Sell-out: Fans flock to NFL games

The average attendance for an NFL game at Wembley over the past three years has been 83,609. In contrast, the attendance of 40,181 for England vs. Norway in September was the stadium’s lowest since it re-opened in 2007. Just 55,990 turned up for England vs. San Marino last month.

And a few thousand of those tickets were given away free to schools in a bid to boost the attendance.

If there is criticism to be levelled, it should be at the F.A., who spent over £800 million on a stadium without a fully retractable roof! Here’s a clue: it rains a lot at this time of year and always has.

There may be a couple of hundred added to the gate on account of Wayne Rooney gaining a 100th international cap, but even that landmark has been met with plenty of apathy – Jason Burt’s excellent commentary piece in the Telegraph could not have summed it up any better .

Wembley stadium England v Norway half empty
Half empty: Plenty of England fans dressed as red plastic seats

England are 1.32 (8/25) to win, with Slovenia on offer at 11.0 (10/1). The draw is 4.70 (37/10).

We expect England to win with a little in hand and the odds of 1.93 (40/43) to be leading at half-time and full-time are of interest.

Given that a healthy percentage of England fans at Wembley are dressed as red plastic seats, it should be odds-on for the Three Lions to play their home internationals at a more appropriate venue when their contract expires in three years’ time, leaving this great stadium – even without a suitable roof – to the NFL, who know exactly how to fill it on a consistent basis.

Elsewhere, Scotland take on the Republic of Ireland on Friday (7:45), with the hosts 2.22 (61/50) to win. Gordon’s Strachan’s Scotland side have lost three of their last four meetings and five of the last six meetings were won to nil.

It is worth noting that the Scots have failed to net in five of the last six meetings and it is 3.15 (43/20) that they fail to score on this occasion.

While Strachan has made a great start, Scotland have been here before. There were moments in Craig Levein’s tenure that exuded optimism. The same was the case under George Burley. It all came to nought.

Scotland should progress to the Euro 2016 finals in France, given that 24 teams qualify, as opposed to 16 which has been the case.

Scotland’s game at Celtic Park should provide an easy three points, such is the dearth of talent available to Martin O’Neill, providing they play to the level shown in the 2-1 defeat by Germany at Dortmund in September.

The approach was refreshing – an attacking style that deserved at least a point and, at times, they looked more than equal to the World Cup winners.

Gordon Strachan 11
New era: Gordon Strachan brings hope

Despite Ireland’s recent good record against the Scots (they are 3.20 or 11/5 to win), Scotland look capable of landing the odds and laying Ireland at 7/20 (by backing Scotland and the Draw on the Double Chance market) is a safe option.

Arguably the most attractive fixture this weekend sees Italy hosting Croatia at the San Siro on Sunday (7:45), with the Azzurri attempting to beat them in a competitive fixture for the first time.

The Croatia team is likely to be very different form the one that was defeated 2-1 by Argentina at Upton Park on Wednesday, with coach Niko Kovac stressing the game is of far more importance.

He said: “Honestly, we are not too happy to be playing Argentina before the Italy game = we’d have preferred it the other way round.”

Italy are unbeaten in their three qualifiers thus far and are 2.12 (28/25) to beat Croatia for the first time in seven meetings, having lost thee and drawn three. Croatia are 3.45 (49/20), while the draw is 2.98 (97/49).

A draw seems the most likely outcome and we look for a Correct Score of 1-1 at odds of 6.20 (26/5).

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International rescue (Part 2) – MyClubBetting wekend Euro 2016 Qualifiers Betting Preview

Gordon Strachan
Points to make: Gordon Strachan

After a successful football betting start to International week, we dive in again with the best bets for Saturday and Sunday.

Given that Scotland went down 2-1 to World Champions Germany in their opening Euro 2016 Qualifier, they look a big price at 8/11 to beat a Georgia side who have won just three of their last 30 competitive matches.

The pair have met twice before, in 2007, with Scotland winning 2-1 at home and losing 2-0 in Tbilisi.

Georgia, ranked 110 in the world, lost 2-1 at home to the Republic of Ireland last month and they should not prove too much of a test for Gordon Strachan’s side, who really need to secure the points before facing an altogether harder task in Poland.

With the Republic of Ireland expected to have something of a walkover against Gibraltar, Northern Ireland face the Faroe Islands at Windsor Park and should be able to make it two wins out of two.

Michael O’Neill’s men opened their European qualifying campaign with a dramatic 2-1 victory over Hungary in Budapest and, although still early days, a top three place would guarantee them at least a play-off spot with Romania, Greece and Finland proving the stiffest opposition.

Northern Ireland are unbeaten in their four previous internationals against Faroe Islands (W2 D2) and the visitors have lost 16 of their last 18 internationals, their sole win coming over Gibraltar. We fancy a correct-score bet with 3-0 (at 32/5) or 3-1 (21/2) offering reasonable risk/reward odds.

We reckon there will be three goals or more scored in total, so the 21/25 odds for that to happen are tempting.

Poland take on Germany on Saturday night, with the visitors hoping to take their unbeaten run against the hosts to 19 games. The pair played out draws in the last two meetings, and Poland have never managed to avoid defeat on three consecutive occasions, so trend followers will see Germany as fantastic value at 25/49. We would not wish to put anyone off.

Only two of the last 10 meetings have produced more than 2.5 total goals but we like hedging our bets by taking the 11/10 that 2 or 3 total goals are scored.

Roy Hodgson
Wary: Hodgson’s side face a test

England, fresh from their comprehensive yet unspectacular 5-0 win over San Marino on Thursday, travel to Estonia on Sunday. They have met twice before, with England coming out on top by 3-0 scorelines in 2007 (home and away).

Estonia were beaten 1-0 by Lithuania in Vilnius on Thursday night, but make no mistake, if Roy Hodgson’s side think this will be an easy three points, they had better think again. Defensively, Estonia are pretty solid and they can score goals from midfield. Keep an eye on Blackpool’s Sergei Zenjov, who has netted seven goals in 36 appearances for his country.

We expect England to win, possibly by a two-goal margin. Click here for the latest odds on all the weekend’s football.

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