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There are going to be a lot of horses' heads in a lot of beds after Italy failed to score and failed to qualify for the World Cup. I chose my words carefully in research. 'I do not expect Italy to lose'. Their lack of a proper centre forward was clear in the research. Today again I see a protracted 0-0 to trade out at halftime. Look at the defensive records of Ireland and Denmark. I will research a few friendlies as there were plenty of angles in the first batch of International friendlies. I will research some friendlies but do remember that some teams use friendlies for experimenting whilst others (Brazil) take them seriously.

18:45 - Republic of Ireland v Denmark - 2.82 Denmark

  • 0-0 was absolutely no surprise in the first leg and was a positive result for the Irish given the Danes had recently put 4 goals past Poland.
  • Ireland keep things tight this qualifying round.1-0-0-1-1-1-0-0-0 conceded  so if they can score a goal, they have a chance.
  • 3 consecutive clean sheets is encouraging for the Irish and you feel they will seek the clean sheet route today.
  • 1-0-0-1-1-0 goals conceded at home recently by the Irish and only the one loss, 0-1 v Serbia.
  • 1-0-1-1-0-1-0-1-0 conceded by the Danes this campaign. So again it is another plus for backing 0-0 pre -match and hoping that a goal, if it comes, comes in the second half.
  • 1-3, 1-4, 0-1 wins away for the Danes recently.
  • I will be backing 0-0 pre match here and hoping for 0-0 at least by halftime. The scorer of the key goal is anybody's guess!

ATP TOUR FINALS - TENNIS

Marin Cilic v Jack Sock - 1.72 Cilic

  • 5th v 9th.
  • Sock has won the 2 head to heads, in 2016 in 5 sets and 3 straight sets in the US Open.
  • Semi, Semi, Semi, Quarter for Cilic recently.He lost in 3 sets to Zverev, as per head to heads. Will we see the same again today?
  • Sock reached a couple of quarter finals before a Paris Masters win. He lost rather inevitably to Federer first round here.
  • I can see Sock getting a set at least today, if he loses the first set then that is a ready angle in.

Roger Federer v Alexander Zverev - 1.26 Federer

  • 2nd v 3rd in the world but the gap is much bigger as far as the market is concerned.
  • These 2 have met in 2 finals in 2017, a Federer win in Halle and a Zverev straight sets win in the Canadian Masters on Hard.
  • Federer has twice been around 1.26 odds in the last 3 head to heads, and lost. This makes the odds today far too short for me and layable off the bat.
  • Alternately, lay Federer 2-0 set betting if Federer wins the first set.
  • Federer is twice a recent winner over Del Potro, a player who beat Zverev in Shanghai. Is this collateral form enough to lay Zverev?
  • This is my plan. Lay 2-0 Federer set betting if Federer wins the first set in the hope Zverev battles back. Lay Zverev if Zverev wins the first set as it is the Fed in London.
  • Alternately, lay Federer at the off at 1.27 knowing he has twice lost at these odds in recent head to heads with Zverev.

INTERNATIONAL FRIENDLIES

16:30 - Argentina v Nigeria - 1.58 Argentina

  • Argentina put out a first team against Russia and eventually wore down the Ruskies with an Aguero goal.

Argentina

  • Only 1 loss in 10 matches.
  • 0-1-0-1-0 conceded recently.
  • Messi could miss out today.
  • This is played in Russia so there is no home form.
  • 8 wins and a 2-2 draw last 9 matches in friendlies so the Argies seemingly take them seriously.

Nigeria

  • Unbeaten in 5 with 3 wins and 2 1-1 draws.
  • 4 wins and a 1-1 draw last 5 friendlies.

Conclusions

  • Tough to read as there is no home or away side. This is being played in Krasnador.
  • With Messi absent, Argentina will always be weakened particularly in a tight match.
  • A no bet match for me but a definite view towards the in-play stats here. Bar Messi, this looks a first team Argentina.

18:45 - Russia v Spain - 1.52 Spain

Russia

  • Only 4 wins in 11 matches.
  • A draw and a loss last 2 matches.
  • Russia are at home. 1-1 v Iran and 0-1 v Argentina last 2 home matches.
  • Only 1 loss in 6 friendlies but only 2 wins v Hungary and Korean Republic.
  • Only 1 win in 6 home friendlies was v Korean Republic.

Spain

  • Unbeaten in 15 in all competitions.
  • 5 consecutive clean sheets.
  • 6 wins and 2 draws away recently includes 4 consecutive wins.
  • Only 1 loss in 12 friendlies was a 0-1 v Georgia.
  • Draw, Draw, Win, Draw, Win away recent friendlies.

Conclusions

  • Spain it seems do not seem overly concerned with friendly results.
  • The question is what kind of an opposition are the Russians?
  • On form (and can we trust form in friendlies with the threat of team changes) Spain should not lose. I note the 3 draws recently in away friendlies so watch that if Russia score first.

19:45 - Wales v Panama - 1.69 Wales

  • I did argue last time that a Wales without Bale is no Wales at all.
  • This is one of those friendlies where little is known of the opponents bar putting their name to hats and cigars.

Wales

  • 2 consecutive defeats ended a run of 9 unbeaten in all competitions.
  • Only scored 2 goals once in their last 9 matches and that was v Moldova. A feeling Wales a a touch lightweight upfront - a touch of the Italy's about then.
  • Only 2 defeats in 18 matches at home in all competitions came v Netherlands and in that fateful world cup qualifier 0-1 defeat to Ireland.
  • 1-1-1-0 scored last 4 at home.
  • 5 losses and a draw in friendlies. A feeling that Wales experiment? Contrast the Welsh friendly form with that of Brazil below!
  • Wales failed to score in 4 of those friendlies.
  • Only 1 loss in 6 friendlies but only 2 wins in 9 friendlies at home. Again a feeling either Wales are playing tough opponents in friendlies or they use them to experiment.
  • 3-2-1 goals scored last 3 at home for Wales in friendlies.

Panama

  • Heading to the World Cup!
  • No draw in last 9 matches.
  • Only 2 wins in 15 aways in all competitions came v Honduras and Grenada.
  • Only 2 wins in 14 friendlies v El Salvador and Grenada.
  • Only 3 wins in 13 away friendlies v the likes of Trinidad, El Salvador and Grenada.

Conclusions

  • Friendlies - always a concern that the manager is experimenting deliberately in these matches. That is the case with Wales it seems. Poor friendly form. But they have scored 3-2-1 recently in home friendlies.
  • Panama are heading to Russia but are poor away from home and in friendlies. Wins v the likes of Trinidada and Grenada really is not the form to trouble what was a robust Welsh side in the Qualifiers.
  • I would certainly lay Panama if they lead in this match but I remind you this is a friendly for a Welsh side not fussed, it seems, about the result.

19:45 - Belgium v Japan - 1.34 Belgium

  • The Japanese friendly against Brazil was over within a matter of minutes. 3 Brazilian goals in the first half brought home their 1-3 win and re-inforces the feeling that, outside of Asia, Japan's weaknesses are clear.

Belgium

  • Unbeaten in 14 matches.
  • Only Spain and Italy have beaten Belgium since, strangely enough, they lost 2-3 at home to Japan in November 2013.
  • 7 unbeaten at home.
  • 3 score draws and a 2-1 win in recent friendlies. Only Spain and Portugal have won friendlies since the Japs eyed a win in November 2013.
  • Only Spain have won a friendly at home in 11 matches.
  • Interestingly, Belgium have conceded in each of their last 7 home friendlies.

Japan

  • Unbeaten in 4 against the Belgians! That was before this new generation.
  • Only 2 wins in 7 were v Australia and New Zealand.
  • A robust enough away form with only 1 loss in 11 coming last match v Saudi Arabia.
  • Prior to that 1-0 loss, the Japs scored in 16 consecutive away matches.
  • Only 2 losses in 14 friendlies came against the Brazilians.
  • Scored and conceded in 5 of their last 6 matches.
  • Scored and conceded in their last 4 friendlies away albeit they came from 2013, 2014 and 2015 so not recent form.

Conclusions

  • Given Belgium's we score-now you score-now we score-now you score v Mexico, they might given Japan a goal today. Japan do have a strong recent both teams to score record so watch out for that, particularly if Japan score first.
  • With that sumptuous Belgian front line, we should expect 2 goals at least from them. Remember that Spain have only won recent in 11 at Belgium in friendlies. Expectation for both teams to score and Belgium not to lose (team news required to gauge strength of the Belgian side).

20:00 - England v Brazil - 1.79 Brazil

  • England have certainly chosen the best teams to play friendlies with, and that is how it should be. Test against the best.
  • It was a spirited performance by England against a near full-strength German side.
  • Brazil in their last friendly battered Japan and were 0-3 up in quick time. 1-3 that ended for a successful correct score call.
  • These 2 last met in 2013.

England

  • A continued focus on squad players before Russia 2018 so take note.
  • 4 wins and a 0-0 last 5 matches. 4 clean sheets in 5 matches.
  • Unbeaten in 7 at home.. Only 2 draws v Spain and Germany.
  • No win in 4 friendlies sees draw, loss, loss, draw.
  • 3 wins and 2 draws in the last 5 at home. Draws v Spain 2-2 and Germany 0-0.

Brazil

  • The football version of the Harlem Globetrotters.
  • Only 1 loss in 16 was a 1-0 v Argentina.
  • 3 goals scored in each of their last 2 matches.
  • Only 1 loss away from home in all competitions since October 2013.
  • Love friendlies. 25 wins in the last 26 friendlies.
  • 11 consecutive away wins in friendlies never failing to score less than 2 goals.

Conclusions

  • We see a Brazil here who look as if they take friendlies seriously (or they are simply too good for opponents!).
  • Will Brazil score 2 goals? We have seen when opponents have scored 2 goals (France and Spain) England have tended to score 2 goals.
  • I would have to side with Brazil not to lose today. This much-changed England side may not be trustworthy enough to score. Strictly on a reading of the form, 2-2 looks a tradable correct score.

20:45 - Portugal v USA - 1.4 Portugal