International Friendlies Betting Preview
With the Champions League final marking the end of the 2017-18 domestic campaign, all eyes turn to Russia and last-minute preparation for this summer’s World Cup. Nations are playing their final few friendlies as managers decide which players to trim from the final squads.
One boss that will be focusing solely on his side’s starting XI is Gareth Southgate, with the England manager already having named his final 23-man squad. With plenty of places in the starting line-up still up for grabs however, players will be desperate to prove themselves in the upcoming friendlies.
First up is Nigeria. The African nation with the incredibly eye-catching kit are in a tough Group D with Iceland, Croatia and Argentina. Gernot Rohr has already seemed to have established his first-choice XI – the side that impressively beat Poland 1-0 away back in March.
The Super Eagles have some experienced and well established players in the side, with the likes of Wilfred Ndidi, Jon Obi Mikel, Odion Ighalo, Victor Moses, Ahmed Musa and Kelechi Iheanacho all with Premier League experience. They’re a hard-working unit that romped through the toughest group in African qualification, so this will be a test for The Three Lions.
It will be interesting to see how Jordan Henderson and Eric Dier, if they are chosen to play as England’s midfield duo, cope with the pressure from Musa and Ndidi. That matchup is one which should make the game quite compressed – there’s not likely to be much space in the middle of the park – so goals should come at a premium, too.
For that reason, back influence to come from the wings, and in the shape of Jesse Lingard. The Manchester United man is still battling for a place in the starting line-up, and had a great game against Holland back in March. He’ll realise that he’s close to a starting berth against Tunisia in England’s opener. You can find him as an anytime scorer at 40/17 with Unibet.
As already suggested, punters shouldn’t expect a high-scoring affair. The home side haven’t scored more than once in a game in any of their last six, while the men in green have scored just three goals in their last five outings. The last meeting between these two ended in a 0-0 draw in 2002, and the same scoreline again can be found at 8/1 with Betfred. Otherwise, if you fancy a side to nick it – back Under 1.5 goals at 2/1 with Betfred.
Another match worth taking note of this weekend is Belgium’s clash with Portugal. The two European nations have high hopes for this summer’s tournament, with the star-studded Belgium squad expected to challenge for the trophy, while Euro 2016 champions Portugal have already proven themselves as a side not to be underestimated.
In contrast to the England game, this is one where you’d expect to see goals. The Red Devils netted a record-breaking 43 times in qualifying for the World Cup, and have scored at least three goals in five of their last seven games. Portugal’s last three games meanwhile have had over 2.5 goals. For that reason, back over 2.5 goals at 13/10 with Unibet.
With Portugal superstar Cristiano Ronaldo expected to be rested after his involvement in the Champions League final, the odds have to shift towards a Belgium win – especially given their attacking prowess. Back a Belgium win at 66/67 with Unibet, or a Belgium win and over 2.5 goals at 12/5 with Betfred.
Another two World Cup 2018 nations in action are Spain and Switzerland. They famously met in in the 2010 World Cup, when the Swiss side sneaked a shock 1-0 win, although it didn’t make too much difference in the end as Spain still went on to win the tournament.
The Nati have stampeded up the FIFA rankings to sixth place after a very impressive qualifying campaign, but they’re still really lacking firepower up top. In a game that La Roja will expect to dominate anyway, it doesn’t look likely that the away side will get on the scoresheet. For that reason, backing a Spain win to nil seems a good option at 5/6 with Boyle Sports.
One player to watch out for is Celta Vigo’s Iago Aspas. The striker, who came off the bench to score in Spain’s last friendly against Argentina, will fancy his chances of ousting Diego Costa with a good display, and heads into the match in fine form after netting a brace in his side’s final La Liga game against Levante.
You can find the ex-Liverpool forward as an anytime scorer at 7/5 with Betfred, or as the first scorer at 4/1 with Betway. It’s best to hold off until Spanish manager Julen Lopetegui names his starting XI before that decision is made.