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Commodore's Euro 2016 Qualifier Picks

Just as the European season gets into some sort of rhythm, the international break comes along to screw everything up. Regulars to this column will know that I’m no fan of international football, but placing the new season’s first fixtures just days after the closing of the transfer window really irks me. I’m not the only one. Jose Mourinho  probably went home and punted his dog after the defeat to Crystal Palace, knowing he’d have four players on the training field over the next 10 days or so. And what of those last-minute signings meant to lift a side after a struggling start. God forbid they get injured in a friendly against Moldova. I’m a big fan of major international tournaments – I just wish it wasn’t preceded with two years of song and dance. Oh well, let’s get to the betting.

Friday 4th September

Georgia 32/10 | Draw 21/10 | Scotland 19/20

Scotland get Friday night’s action underway when they head to Georgia for a crucial qualifier. With Group D’s top two sides, Germany and Poland, kicking off late, the Scots have a chance to move into second in the group with a victory. Georgia are currently on a three-match losing streak, with new coach Kakhaber Tskhadadze unable to turnaround their ailing fortunes. The Scots have already claimed a commendable draw on their travels during the campaign and should have enough to get the victory here. You can back them to get up at 19/20.

Germany 1/4 | Draw 42/10 | Poland 87/10

Germany will be looking for revenge when they host neighbours Poland in Frankfurt on Friday. The Poles recorded a shock 2-0 victory last year – their first victory over Germany in 19 matches. However, they’ll need another special showing if they’re to upset Ze Germans on their home patch – with Joachim Low’s side unbeaten in their last 20 home qualifiers. They’ve also won their last three matches, scoring 13 goals and conceding none. This is a side hellbent on righting the wrongs of that early defeat. Poland have a punchers chance, especially with the prolific Robert Lewandowski up front, but I still fancy the Germans to be too good, even if the 1/4 on offer is too short for my liking.

Hungary 18/10 | Draw 19/10 | Romania 31/20

Romania have been one of the surprise packages of the qualifying round, although they have been helped with a relatively easy draw. They currently sit atop Group F by a single point and will travel to third-placed Hungary on Friday. The Romanians boast the best defensive record in qualifying, having conceded just once in six matches. On the other side, Hungary have not scored more than once in any of their group matches to date. This one has under 2.5 goals written all over it. Unfortunately, the 4/10 on offer hardly reflects value. You’re better off backing the draw at 19/10, with the goalless draw on offer at 5/1.

Denmark 6/10 | Draw 26/10 | Albania 9/2

Group I is another that has thrown up some interesting results. Sitting third, Albania have a game in hand over their rivals that could prove valuable in the greater scheme of things. A result in Denmark on Friday would put them in a great position to progress at the expense of the Danes or Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal. However, with a record that reads “played four, lost four” in Denmark, they have a tough task on their hands. The Danes needed a late goal to secure a draw when the sides met in Elbasan earlier in the campaign, but back-to-back wins over Serbia have gotten their campaign back on track. They have a great track record at home, having won seven of their last eight matches, and are tipped to triumph at 6/10.

Saturday 5th September

Ukraine 4/10 | Draw 32/10 | Belarus 7/1

With Spain hosting Slovakia elsewhere in Group C, Ukraine have an opportunity to close the gap on the leading sides against Belarus on Sunday. In truth, the best Mykhaylo Fomenko’s side can hope for is a place in the qualifying round after some mixed form this year. Belarus have disappointed in qualifying, with their sole victory coming away in Macedonia. They also have a poor record against Ukraine, having failed to score in each of their five competitive meetings to date. The Ukrainians triumphed 2-0 when the sides met in Borisov earlier in the campaign, and should have no problem securing a similar result at home. 

San Marino 29/1 | Draw 16/1 | England 100/1

England can guarantee their place at Euro 2016 with a victory against Group E minnows San Marino in their first autumn qualifier. Roy Hodgson will look to experiment with his side for the trip to the principality, with Jonjo Shelvey and Jamie Vardy set to be handed a rare chance at international level. England won 5-0 when the sides met at Wembley, a result that means England have scored 31 goals in five meetings between the sides – an average of over six per match. There really isn’t any doubt they’ll brush aside their opponents without much effort here. If you can, get on England live to win by at least four goals. There might be value if San Marino put up a fight in the first half.

Russia 21/20 | Draw 21/10 | Sweden 27/10

Russia are in danger of missing out on the European Championships after a terrible start to their qualifying campaign. They head into their match against Sweden in Moscow knowing nothing less than a win will do. However, Sweden remain unbeaten in six Group G games and have not conceded more than once in any single game in the section to date. Russia have it all to do. Fabio Capello is gone, replaced by CSKA Moscow coach Leonid Slutski. A draw for the visitors will all-but assure them of a place in the finals, and they’re expected to do just that. A repeat of October’s 1-1 scoreline will get you 9/2.

Spain 1/4 | Draw 42/10 | Slovakia 10/1

Spain will out to avenge their shock 2-1 defeat and reel in surprise Group C leaders Slovakia when the sides meet in Oviedo on Sunday. Slovakia have enjoyed a perfect qualifying campaign and find themselves atop the group with six wins from six matches, including the aforementioned win that put an end to Spain’s 36-game unbeaten run in qualifiers. A repeat of that result seems unlikely given Slovakia’s absentees for the trip to Spain. Martin Skrtel, Michal Siplak, Andrej Kadlec, Juraj Kucka and Adam Zrelak will all miss the game through suspension. There won’t be repeat of October’s shock victory here, with Spain tipped to pick up a comfortable win and secure their place at the finals.

Switzerland 5/10 | Draw 11/4 | Slovenia 11/2

With England set to secure the top spot in Group E with victory over San Marino, Switzerland and Slovenia look to be locked into a battle for second place. It is the Swiss who will come into the match full of confidence, having won their last four Group E matches since opening with defeats against England and Slovenia. The loss in Maribor was their first against Slovenia in seven outings, while England remain the only side to defeat them at home in their last 16 qualifiers. Victory for the Swiss will give them a handy six-point lead over Slovenia with just three matches remaining. At 5/10, they look a decent option for the weekend multiple.

Austria 1/7 | Draw 62/10 | Moldova 14/1

Austria are yet to lose a game in qualifying and could become one of the first teams to confirm their place at the finals when they play host to Moldova. Marcel Koller’s side currently find themselves on a five-match winning streak in Group G and have not conceded in their last four outings. There can be only one outcome here, with Austria to win and keep a clean sheet at 5/10 – another for the multiples.

There you have it, folks. A weekend of distractions if you're supporters of Chelsea, Liverpool or Man Utd. Next week we'll return to the Premier League, where my record has been pretty good despite some erratic results. Until then, happy punting. Sala Kahle.

Written by Commodore Vegas
Follow him on Twitter here!

EURO Picks
Scotland WIN 19/20
Germany WIN 1/4
Hungary DRAW 19/10
Denmark WIN 6/10
Ukraine WIN 4/10
Russia CORRECT SCORE (1-1) 9/2
Spain WIN 1/4
Switzerland WIN 5/10