Commodore's Euro 2016 Qualifier Picks

The European off-season is always a dismal time for us hard-boiled gamblers. International football just doesn’t have the same gravitas. No one cares – unless it’s a World Cup or a major tournament. Of course there is another way to maintain a fleeting interest in these games. You could try betting on them. Now I’m never one to advocate betting on a match for the sake of it, but these are desperate times. We need to find something to hold us over for the winter. Hell, with enough research and a bit of luck, we might even turn a profit. That’s good enough for me.

Friday 12th June 2015

Iceland 17/10 | Draw 21/10 | Czech 16/10
A number of groups are perched precariously, making for a couple crucial matches this weekend. Few would’ve picked Czech Republic and Iceland as contenders in a group containing Netherlands and Turkey, but that is where they find themselves. The Czechs lead the way, but it is the Icelanders that will be slight favourites when the two meet in Reykjavik on Friday. Lars Lagerback’s side have won four of their five fixtures, with their only defeat coming away to the Czechs. This could go either way, but I’m backing the in-form Gylfi Sigurdsson to fire the hosts to victory at 17/10.

Croatia 13/10 | Draw 2/1 | Italy 22/10
A win for Croatia over Antonio Conte’s Italy on Friday will all-but assure them of top spot in Group H. However, in order to do so, they’ll need to end Italy’s 45-match unbeaten run in qualifying which dates back to 2006. It’s a quite staggering record, but one that will have to end sooner or later. The match ended in a draw when the two sides met in Milan in November. In two matches since Croatia put nine goals past Norway and Gibraltar, while Italy struggled to draws against Bulgaria and England. The Italians have struggled for goals, so I suggest looking at the goal markets. As for a winner, the Croats are in form and are tipped to edge one step closer to qualification.

Wales 36/10 | Draw 24/10 | Belgium 15/20
Belgium put four past the French at the weekend and are starting to become the side everyone hoped they might be. They currently find themselves top of Group B, having notched up 13 goals in five matches, while only conceding one. Friday’s meeting with the Welsh could well determine the outcome of the group. Chris Coleman’s side sit level on points with Belgium, and will have home advantage. They also managed a commendable draw when the sides met in Brussels earlier in qualifying. On paper, Belgium should have no problem here, but you cannot discount the Welsh on home soil. This one will be tight, with under 2.5 goals tipped at 6/10.

Saturday 13th June 2015

Armenia 6/10 | Draw 31/10 | Portugal 9/20
Portugal find themselves atop Group I with three wins from their opening four matches. Their sole slip-up came at home to Albania, a match that cost me plenty. I don’t like betting on Portugal – they’re not to be trusted. If Cristiano Ronaldo doesn’t fire, there’s very little else in their side. And Ronaldo, despite captaining his country, remains too temperamental for my liking. An away game against Armenia is just the sort of match they have fallen victim to in the past. They’re yet to win in their previous two visits to the country. For those that are looking for value, 31/10 on the draw looks a good bet. Otherwise 14/10 on the home Double Chance is the way to go here.

Ireland 5/4 | Draw 2/1 | Scotland 23/10
Group D is a shaping up to be the group of death. Unbeaten Poland lead the way, with Germany, Scotland and Ireland hot on their heels. The Irish and the Scots will meet in Dublin on Saturday in a crucial clash. A draw might represent a decent result for Gordan Strachan’s side, but Ireland know that nothing short of a win will do if they still harbour hopes of automatic qualification. It was the Scots who triumphed when they met in Glasgow last year, but I have little doubt that Ireland are the better of the two sides. The bookies agree, and have made the Irish odds-on favourites. Take them at 5/4 and throw them in your multiples – this is only going one way.

Denmark 11/10 | Draw 21/10 | Serbia 5/2
Denmark will be looking to keep up the pressure on Portugal when they take on Serbia in Copenhagen on Saturday. The Danes were far and away the better side when the two met in Belgrade, with a brace from Nicklas Bendtner helping them to a come-from-behind 3-1 victory. Serbia have struggled for form during this campaign, notching up just a solitary point in their four matches. Both sides have found the back of the net in 12 of their past 13 matches. While I favour the Danes to get up for the victory at 11/10, Both Teams to Score has great value about it at evens.

Sunday 14th June 2015

Northern Ireland | Draw 31/10 | Romania
Northern Ireland have been the surprise packages in qualifying so far. Four wins from five outings sees them just a point behind Romania at the top of Group F. They’ve punched well above their weight, already beating Greece, Hungary and Finland. Their only loss came at the hands of the group leaders. Saturday’s meeting between the two will go a long way in deciding the outcome of the group, but even a draw wouldn’t be a bad result for Michael O’Neill’s side. If you’re looking for value, you could do worse than backing the draw at 19/10. I’ll be sticking with Both Teams to Score (No) at 13/20.

Russia 9/10 | Draw 22/10 | Austria 31/10
Russia host Austria on Sunday in desperate need of a win. Fabio Capello’s reign has been underwhelming at best – falling at the group stages in Brazil before fumbling through qualifying for France 2016. They’ve managed just eight points from their five matches so far and have found goals hard to come by. Both sides have favoured a pragmatic approach, resulting in just five goals conceded between them during qualifying. Don’t expect them to change tact now. Back Under 2.5 goals at 11/20, or Both Teams to Score (No) at 13/20.

Slovenia 33/10 | Draw 24/10 | England 8/10
England, as they have done so often in the past, are cruising through qualifying. They are one of just two sides with a 100% record (the other being Slovakia), having notched up 15 goals in their five matches, conceding just once. And yet, the doubts still remain. Their draw with Ireland over the weekend was quite possibly the worst football match in recorded history. There really were no positives to take from the match. Despite all this, England come into Sunday’s game as 8/10 favourites. And rightfully so – they’re a side built for qualifying. Back them to claim another victory, ramping up the expectation levels another notch.

Belarus | Draw 31/10 | Spain 3/10
Spain will be without a number of players when they travel to Belarus on Sunday. Manchester United pair Juan Mata and Ander Herrera haven’t travelled, while Diego Costa and Thiago Alcantara have been given a break after only recently returning from injury. Their absence has seen very little change in the betting – with the current European Champions odds-on favourites at 3/10. They beat Belarus 3-0 when the sides met in November, and will be looking to redeem a loss to Slovakia and a narrow victory over Ukraine. They are available at a short 3/10.

Written by Commodore Vegas
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EPL Picks
Iceland WIN 17/10
Croatia WIN 13/10
Wales U2.5 GOALS 6/10
Armenia DRAW 31/10
Ireland WIN 5/4
Denmark BTTS 1/1
N. Ireland BTTS 13/20
Russia U2.5 Goals 11/20
England WIN 8/10
Spain WIN 3/10