Wag takes a look at this week’s UEFA European Championship Qualifiers and picks out the best bet from each match on the schedule
Summer is in the air! The Top 5 leagues in Europe have crowned their champions and sent the peasants back to the lower class where they have to try again to play with the big fellas. They have the whole summer to think about what they thought they could do better, improve their skills, the list goes on and on. But for us gamblers, it’s the start of another season as we are given International football games that actually matter. The UEFA 2020 European cup will kick off in June of next year and we still have to determine who is going to be featured in the tournament. Let us welcome, or continue, the European qualifiers! I know guys, it really doesn’t get more exhilarating than this. The qualifiers are great to gamble on because upsets don’t tend to happen, especially if a team faces San Marino, Liechtenstein, or Gibraltar that could make an Over/Under bet very interesting and very entertaining to watch. But the gambling strategy to football is more difficult than some sports because who wants to be the guy watching a football game that is rooting for the game to end in a tie. Yea, I’m that guy who bets a draw.
Breaking News! We are already two games into the qualifiers with only eight games remaining. So I will catch you up to speed on some of the top headlines in each group. England is picking up right where they left off in Russia last summer and have scored 10 goals in their first 2 games as leaders of Group A in the easiest group in the qualifiers. Defending champions Portugal aren’t too happy with their campaign to defend their title as they tied both Serbia and Ukraine. Northern Ireland leads Group C after a Dutch loss to the mighty Germans (I’m German so I’m totally unbiased) but the Germans have played 1 game. Ireland leads group D after a Swiss and Danish draw. World Cup Runner-Ups Croatia lost to Hungary in March and are sitting in 3rd of the group with Slovakia leading Group E. Spain, Poland, France, and Italy all are taking care of business in their respective groups. So who’s playing Friday?
Georgia 3:0 Gibraltar
Both these teams are looking for their first goals of the competition on Friday. Gibraltar made headlines way back in 2013 when they scored their first goal in a tournament ever and I’m pretty sure that’s where the history stops. Georgia will be a more dominating team regardless so the only question is, how many goals are going to be scored. Neither has scored yet so the only logical thing to bet is the Under 3.5 (+106), right?
Czech Republic 1:0 Bulgaria
The Czechs are also looking for their first goal of the qualifiers when they host Bulgaria on Friday. They were thrashed 5-0 against England and are looking to be in second place after beating Bulgaria. The Czech also didn’t have a great showing in the Nations league campaign, and Bulgaria tied Kosovo and Montenegro who are the two weakest team in Group A. So based off that, I think the Czechs will win this low scoring game. I do not want to commit to betting the Under 2.5 (-152) but I would definitely bet the Czech Republic Money Line (-175).
Latvia 0:4 Israel
Israel is buzzing right now with the performance that Eran Zahavi has given them so far as he leads the qualifiers in goal scoring along with England’s Raheem Sterling. Israels win against Austria wasn’t a 4-2 game as Austria dominated, however, Israel scored the goals to get the 3 points and Zahavi’s efficiency hitting the back of the net, Israel should come away with a win. Bet the Israel Money Line (-150).
Faroe Islands 0:5 Spain
Well, this game is a no brainer. Spain will be dominating the Faroe Islands like they would be playing against a group of U9’s. Although the Spaniards beat Malta 2-0 which could be seen as a Malta win in the Maltese perspective, they haven’t scored more than 2 goals since playing Wales in November. But these are the Faroe Islands, and this is Spain. There is no competition but rather an experience for the Islanders watching. Bet the Over 3.5 (+125).
Denmark 3:1 Ireland
This will be the best game to watch on Friday as Ireland had 2 unconvincing wins against Gibraltar and Georgia, whereas the Danish completed an incredible comeback against the Swiss being down 3 goals only to score 3 goals in the last 7 minutes of the game. The Danish show grit and proved themselves to never give up, even in the most impossible circumstances. I’m betting on the Danish to win this game, so take the Denmark Money Line (-175).
Sweden 4:0 Malta
The Swedish folk are favorites to finish second place in the qualifiers and are the only threat to Spain’s group expectations. As they face Malta, it won’t be a difficult matchup as the Maltese will have their best defender back on the field. However, it won’t help much as Robin Quaison is looking to score in his third game in a roll. I would bet the Over 3.5 (-124).
Lithuania 0:0 Luxembourg
Luxembourg beat Lithuania in the first game of the qualifiers with the score 2-1. Luxembourg was a more dominating team shooting 24 times forcing Lithuania keeper Setkus 6 saves. Lithuania scored an early goal putting Luxembourg on their heels early, which is the key for Lithuania to get a result out of this. But these teams shot the ball 35 times and scored 3 of them. So I’m going to be THAT GUY and bet the tie ‘They hate us, cuz they ain’t us”. Bet the Tie (+220).
Ukraine 0:2 Serbia
Ukraine started off with a big point against the defending champions Portugal but struggled to beat Luxembourg in the second game. Serbia has a $50 Million man with Luka Jovic signing for Real Madrid from my beloved Frankfurt Eagles (Danke Luka!). Jovic will be terrorizing the backline with former club teammate Gacinovic supporting Jovic in the attacking third. Although Ukraine is at the top of the group, it has only been two games and the Serbs will be looking for their first 3 points in their second game of the qualifiers. Bet Serbia to win this game (+195).
Montenegro 1:0 Kosovo
Wow, the most exciting game by far! Drop your calls, cancel your meetings, this game is bigger than the super bowl. The two worst teams in Group A will be looking for their first win in the qualifiers. Typically with Baltic countries, the home team always wins because the fans have such a heavy influence with their chants, taunting skills and the crazy love they have for the
beautiful game. Montenegro has a stronger defense as they showed it against Bulgaria, not so much against England. But either way, bet the Montenegro Money Line (+112).
Austria 2:4 Slovenia
A woeful Austrian defense faces a well-balanced Slovenian team on Friday. Slovenia had a good showing against a hot Israeli team but couldn’t travel home with 3 points and it’s the same situation against now North Macedonia. Slovenia is having goal scoring problems of Andraz Sporar as he has taken 8 shots scoring only 1 of them the first two games, including a 1-on-1 opportunity against Israel. David Alaba should be sitting at right back instead of playing as an attacking winger, but if he does I would bet the Slovenia Money Line (+440)
North Macedonia 0:2 Poland
Poland visits the newly named country of North Macedonia as they look to keep their 2 point lead over both North Macedonia and Israel. This game could turn really bad for North Macedonia if Lewandowski plays, or they may just have a chance to squeeze a tie if Lewandowski doesn’t play. But all in all, I don’t see North Macedonia even scoring a goal against the Poles so I would bet the Poland Money Line (-106).
Norway 2:1 Romania
Although Norway’s’ U20 team made headlines with a striker scoring 9 goals in the U20 World Cup, this won’t be as easy of a day as Norway’s younglings had. Norway’s 1 point doesn’t represent the team they are. This team knows how to pack it in defensively in hopes to convert on the counter-attack. They got very unlucky against Sweden and Spain, but Norway will be seeing fire and destruction when they play Romania so they can get their first three points of the qualifiers. Bet the Norway Money Line (+100).