I MUST be mad – considering even having a bet on tonight’s international friendlies.
They really are a minefield but there’s nothing else to write about and when punters are prepared to bet on two flies climbing a wall they’ll certainly have a go at these matches – although I’ll be leaving the likes of China v Latvia and Oman v Belarus well alone.
Friendlies are usually described as meaningless but look at the reaction when the likes of Scotland or England lose. If every player treated the game as seriously as fans then punters would have no problems.
Fabio Capello is one boss who’ll be hung out to dry if England flop against France at Wembley. Like Craig Levein in the victory against the Faroes last night, he has been forced to experiment while expected to get a result.
Capello will give debuts to Andy Carroll, Jordan Henderson and Kieran Gibbs and that could be to his advantage as they will have something to prove. Scotland's best players against the Faroes were new boys Danny Wilson, Barry Bannan and comeback star Kris Commons.
Carroll is likely to rumble up the defence and after an impressive season is worth a look at 13-2 at bet365 to score first.
Paddy Power go 9-1 the Newcastle No.9 nets with a header and he and Jay Bothroyd are 14-1 both to hit the target.
Peter Crouch could play alongside Carroll with high balls bombarding the defence and the duo to score with headers pays 80-1 at Paddy Power.
England are favourites at 6-5 with Hills and should justify that tag against a France side reeling from their World Cup shocker and the fall-out that
followed. A one-goal home win is the likeliest outcome although there could be a few goals.
France are 11-4 at Coral and Paddy Power while the draw pays 23-10.
All the top nations are in action – most are weakened and some are playing on neutral ground.
Germany, for example, will be without the likes of Mesut Oezil, Thomas Muller, Philipp Lahm, Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski so a draw in
Sweden could be the shout.
Four players will be making their Italy debuts in Romania – defenders Federico Balzaretti and Andrea Ranocchia plus midfielders Alessandro
Diamanti and Cristian Ledesm. However, I fancy the Italians, 6-5 with Coral, to edge it against a side without Adrian Mutu and several others.
There are a couple of heavyweight contests between Portugal and Spain and Argentina and Brazil who meet in Qatar.
Back a strong Spanish outfit at 8-5 with Chandler but South American clash could be a draw.
Holland usually do the business at home and will expect to beat Turkey while Israel should be too strong for Iceland.
- England v France (over 2.5 goals, 11-8)