Commodore's Euro 2016 Picks

Football ey, bloody hell. Just when I think I’ve got it all figured out, things go all to pieces. Listen, it wasn’t a bad weekend but it sure as hell wasn’t a good one. I’ll let sleeping dog’s lie, though, and turn my attentions to the 2016 Euro qualifiers. My last stab at international football was a mixed bag, with Netherlands costing me big in the Czech Republic. Maybe Louis van Gaal is a good manager, who would’ve thought it? Either way, I’ve taken the liberty in lining up ten tasty looking bets for this weekend. And maybe a couple more thrown in for good measure. Let’s get right into it shall we.

Belarus 21/10 draw 2/1 Ukraine 13/10
We start on Thursday evening with Ukraine’s trip to Belarus. Their country may be tearing itself apart from the inside, but Ukraine still have a pretty damn decent football side. They went unbeaten away from home during World Cup qualifying, scoring 15 goals and conceding just one. Belarus will bring in some confidence of their own, having not lost in their four outings. They’ve yet to score against Ukraine in a competitive match, and have never qualified for the Euro’s though. Ukraine need a win after going down to Slovakia in their opener and I expect them to do just that. Back them to be the only team to score at 5/2.

Slovakia 74/10 draw 3/1 Spain 4/10
Staying in Group C, Spain head to Slovakia looking to make it two from two and put the World Cup well and truly behind them. Paco Alcácer grabbed a goal on his competitive debut as Spain brushed aside Luxemborg 5-1 in their opener. With Sergio Ramos ruled out this week, Spain will be that little bit weaker in the centre of defence, an area that Slovakia can exploit. The Spanish have won each of their last 14 away qualifiers dating back to 2007, so I don’t expect them to have many problems here. There’s not much value on an away win though, so I’m going with Both Teams to Score at 5/4.

Slovenia 18/10 draw 21/10 Switzerland 29/20
Switzerland were the most disappointing side in the first round of matches. On the back of a solid World Cup, against an England side their for the taking, they choked badly. To be outplayed by England in front of your home fans is a travesty of the highest order. Slovenia were punished for their wastefulness in front of goal as they went down to Estonia in their opener and will need to improve drastically if they’re to make it to France. These two met during World Cup qualifying last year, with Switzerland winning on both occasions. I fancy them to bounce back with another victory here, at 29/20.

Sweden 29/20 draw 21/10 Russia 18/10
Russia put their World Cup debacle behind them with a 4-0 victory over Liechtenstein to get their qualifying campaign off to the perfect start. Having scored the goals against the minnows, now they need to do it against Sweden. The Swedes took a good point from their first match, a 1-1 draw with Austria. They’re a side with a solid spine and in captain Zlatan Ibrahimovic, they have a player capable of the sublime. With Russia’s World Cup failure still fresh in the memory, I can’t go for anything other than a home win here. Back the Swedes at 29/20 and let’s move on.

Turkey 11/10 draw 9/4 Czech Republic 24/10
With only two sides guaranteed a place in the finals from each group, the meeting between Turkey and Czech Republic takes on a different complexion. Neither team will be willing to lose this one, especially the Turks, who could find themselves six points back after just two matches having gone down 3-0 to Iceland in their opener. Czech Republic played it perfectly against the Dutch, sitting deep before hitting them on the break. It is a tactic that has worked well for them in the past, with a narrow 2-1 loss to Italy their only away defeat in World Cup qualifying. This will be tight, it will be edgy, and there may even be a red card or two. As for the result, I’m favouring a draw at 9/4.

Wales 22/10 draw 22/10 Bosnia 12/10
Bosnia and Herzegovina got their qualifying campaign off to the worst possible start, going down at home to the mighty Cyprus. They went up early before falling behind, and then missed a last-minute penalty. They’ve had better days. Next up for them is a trip to Wales. The Welsh started their campaign with a Gareth Bale-inspired victory. The Real Madrid winger is the fulcrum of this side, and their progress is solely pinned to his form. Luckily for them he’s fit and firing, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see them turn over their higher ranked opponents. The home win offers great value at 22/10.

Bulgaria 21/10 draw 9/4 Croatia 12/10
Bulgaria needed a late Ventsislav Hristov goal to see off Azerbaijan in their first fixture, while Croatia were comfortable winners over Malta, which was to be expected. In a tough group including Norway and Italy, both teams will know that a victory could take them a long way towards qualifying. On paper alone, Croatia must be favourites here, with Mario Mandžukić, Luka Modrić and Ivan Rakitić among their talented team. They’ve also got a favourable record against the Bulgarians, having lost just once in six encounters. These matches are often decided by the odd goal and, given the array of attacking talent at Croatia’s disposal, I have to favour them at 12/10.

Poland 51/10 draw 31/10 Germany 5/10 
Poland versus Germany. A rivalry for the ages. The Germans may be world champions, but the Polish are no slouches. A 7-0 victory over Gibraltar, shows as much. With many of Poland’s best plying their trade in Germany, this fixture throws up an interesting anomaly. The Poles have never beaten their neighbours in 18 attempts and, given the strength in this current German generation, they aren’t about to start here. Germany struggled past a gutsy Scotland in their opener, but for some reason that stands them in better stead for this one. The Poles managed a 0-0 draw in a friendly earlier this year and I reckon they’re capable of doing the same in competitive action. The draw is on offer at 31/10.

Scotland 7/10 draw 24/10 Georgia 4/1
Gordan Strachan seems to have brought back the belief in Scottish football. They’ve always been a cocksure bunch, but it was more hope than anything witnessed on the football field. They were desperately unlucky in Germany, where a scrappy Thomas Müller goal was their undoing. They did go down, however, and failure to win a home match against Georgia will be a hammer blow to their qualification hopes. These two have only ever met once in qualifying, with Scotland running out 2-1 winners ahead of Euro 2008. Scotland are always a handful at Hampden Park and, though it’s a bit short for my liking, I’m going for a home win at 7/10.

Romania 15/20 draw 24/10 Hungary 36/10
Romania caused a massive upset in the first round as they went to Greece and won. A home victory over Hungary could put them well on their way towards the tournament proper. These two met during World Cup qualifying last year, with Romania claiming a comprehensive 3-0 win at home, before both teams played an entertaining 2-2 draw in Hungary. The Hungarians will give this a full go, so I’m expecting a couple goals. Over 2.5 goals is on offer at 11/10, or you could go with Both Teams to Score at 21/20.

That should hold you over for the weekend. It may not be the drama and intrigue of club football, but at least we can still make some money off it. Until next weekend, happy punting. Sala Kahle.

Written by Commodore Vegas
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Commodore’s Picks
Ukraine Only Team To Score 5/2
Spain BTTS 5/4
Switzerland WIN 29/20
Sweden WIN 29/20
Turkey DRAW 9/4
Wales WIN 22/10
Croatia WIN 12/10
Poland DRAW 31/10
Scotland WIN 7/10
Romania Over 2.5 Goals 11/10