FEW people love international breaks as much as Selectabet since he knows how to get onside with the big guns. Here's his take on how to make the most of World Cup qualifying this weekend …
He says: Immediately a few matches jump out at me when I glance at this weekend's World Cup wualifying fixtures. As you'll know by now I love to back the minnows to lose to nil and there's at least three who haven't a snowball's chance in hell of finding the net.
Cutting to the chase, it'll take a minor miracle for any of San Marino (home to Germany), Liechtenstein (home to Italy) or Andorra (away to Hungary) to get on the scoresheet so once more it'll be all about how many they concede.
San Marino v Germany
First up on Friday night San Marino host world champions Germany.
I never thought I'd say this but odds of 1-100 (Netbet) on the Germany win actually respresents a bit of value – if you have a spare £10,000 or so lying around! I can barely think of a bigger mismatch in world football – the World Cup holders versus a team ranked 201st (out of 209) in the world.
So bad are San Marino their Wikipedia entry lists all the games that they've NOT LOST! There are five by the way.
Before we finish with the San Marino-bashing let's have a look at their goals for and against record. Goals for will be very quick. In official matches they've scored 22 in a total of 137 matches – a rate of one every 6.23 games. Needless to say we can back a German clean sheet with some confidence.
But what about goals against? Well, that's a whopping 531 in those 137 games – a rate of 3.88 conceded per match. When you delve a little deeper and look at the numbers versus Europe's top nations (Belgium, England, Germany, Italy, Netherlands & Spain) that average rises to 6.23 per match.
Most notable are the previous two fixtures between the sides. The Germans won 6-0 at home in 2007 – so far, so average – but that followed a thumping 13-0 win nine months previously. That result makes it very difficult to nail down a correct score spread in this one.
So it's all about playing the percentages. We've established that San Marino concede over 6 goals per game against the big hitters so it makes sense to pitch in around there. With so much firepower at their disposal the Germans could go close to repeating the 13-0 trouncing but the more sensible play is to back them to win 6-0, 7-0 or 8-0.
Liechtenstein v Italy
Next we turn our attention to the Principality of Liechtenstein who host the mighty Italians on Saturday night.
The Blues-Reds don't score many but they're positively prolific compared to San Marino, in fact they've scored six in their last two qualifying campaigns and already notched against Israel in Group G.
A slight concern with this one is Italy haven't been on the best of form defensively so far in the Group, conceding one to Israel away and two to Macedonia away. But I'm confident the experienced Italians can shut out the team ranked 165th in the world.
In Liechtenstein's last 21 matches (going back to Euro 2012 qualifying) they've lost 80 goals in 21 matches, an average of 3.8 per game. In the same period Italy have scored 62 in 23, averaging 2.7 per match, their biggest win being a 5-0 home win against the Faroes in 2010.
In fact the Italians tend not to score many away from home. They've scored 3 on four occasions (two of which in this campaign), 2 on seven occasions, once on 5 occasions and drawn blank twice. So it's fair to say we shouldn't expect a cricket score here.
A closer look at Italy's recent away results against the bottom teams in their group reveals another conservative trend when it comes to goals. They've beaten Malta 1-0 and 2-0 as well as beating Faroe Islands 1-0. Admittedly, both of those sides are marginally better than Liechtenstein but it all points to a low-scoring win for the Italians.
Best bet in this one appears to be to cover the 1-0, 2-0 or 3-0 win for Italy.
Hungary v Andorra
Finally we're off to Budapest on Sunday for Andorra's trip to Hungary.
Since being recognised by FIFA in 1998 the Andorrans have scored 24 competitive goals, that's just over one goal per year – and six of them have been penalties (and an own goal). To be fair to them they are getting noticeably better.
They scored in all but one of their home matches in Euro 2016 qualifying and have already netted an injury time goal v Switzerland in this Group. But away from home their record is abysmal. Since World Cup 2010 qualifying it reads P21 W0 D0 L21 F2 A90 Pts0. They've conceded four or more in no fewer than 12 of those 21, averaging a loss of 4.28 per match.
Hungary have punched above their weight in recent years. They qualified for Euro2016 via the play-offs after finishing third in Group F, which was topped by Northern Ireland. They then surprised many by winning the group that housed Iceland and eventual winners Portugal before succumbing to the highly-fancied Belgians in the last 16.
A talented but often hard to predict side, they've not been prolific in front of goal. In qualifying for Euro2016 they scored just 11 goals in their 10 matches. And when these sides met in Hungary during qualification for World Cup 2014 the Hungarians won by just two goals to nil. They did however win the return tie 5-0 and notably put eight past San Marino in 2010.
So it looks like we need to play to the percentages again in this one. The rate that Andorra concede away goals means we just have to pitch around the 4-0 mark so lets go either side of that and cover 3-0 and 5-0 too.
Selectabet's Correct Score Trebles
- Germany to win 6-0, 7-0 or 8-0 WINS
- Italy to win 1-0, 2-0 or 3-0
- Hungary to win 3-0, 4-0 or 5-0
- Perm all 3 matches and all 3 results = 27 treble bets
- Best return for 1pt = 541pts, worst return for 1pt = £214.50pts at Bet365