Euro 2020 Qualifying Best Bets | 14/10/19
Football specialist Chris Bland (@blandc_1996) has examined Monday evening’s Euro 2020 qualifying action and delivered us with his best bets.
- 2019/2020 Season Profit & Loss: +6.25pts
Moldova v Albania
Moldova host Albania on Monday night as they look to recover from Friday’s shock defeat to Andorra. Reduced to 10 men after 55 minutes following striker Radu Ginsari’s red card, Andorra struck after 63 minutes to inflict a sixth defeat of the campaign on Semen Altman’s men, and leave them rooted to the bottom of the group.
A dogged Albanian display away at Turkey wasn’t enough to earn them a point as Cenk Tosun struck in injury time to give Turkey a 1-0 win. Coming up against a side that has let in eighteen goals across their seven group matches, the Albanians have enough attacking threat to break down this side, with Sokol Cikalleshi standing out up top. With four goals in four games this season for Akhisarspor in Turkey, he comes into the game in form, and will lead the line in a 3-5-2 formation. A 4-2 win over Iceland also stands out for Edoardo Reja’s men, whilst they have been comfortable in victory when needing to break down minnows Andorra (3-0) and Moldova (2-0) in previous qualifiers.
Moldova will be without striker Ginsari following his red card, and an already blunt attack will be further depleted as a result. One of the few members of the Moldovan side to ply his trade outside the Moldovan league (ranked 41/54 in the European coefficients), it will be hard to see how the Moldovan side will break down a capable Albanian defence. Drawing a blank against Andorra is particularly concerning, and despite their 70% possession, couldn’t find a way through.
Priced at 81/100 (Marathon Bet), it is hard to see past an Albanian win. Albania to nil offers even better value at 6/4 (Unibet) given the statistics, but it is worth taking the safer option of Albania outright, given the generous price.
Ukraine v Portugal
Ukraine host Portugal in Group B as they look to extend their lead at the top of the group. Both sides have impressed defensively so far, and I expect to see another tight affair in Kiev, especially given that a draw would suit both sides in their search for qualification. Ukraine have only conceded once in the qualifiers, and this was in a 2-1 win away at Luxembourg in the opening game, as Andrey Shevchenko’s men have impressed to leave them top by five points and nine clear of Serbia in third, although both Portugal and Serbia have a game in hand.
Portugal have been similarly impressive at the back, only conceding four goals, as their manager Fernando Santos prides himself on having his side hard to beat. Although Portugal do have an array of attacking talent, finding the best combination to get the best out of them has been a problem for manager Santos.
0-0 draws against both Ukraine and Serbia at the start of qualifying highlighted this, whilst they were made to work hard against Lithuania in the previous round before picking them off on the break towards the end of the match. It was a similar scenario against Luxembourg, and they are often left relying upon the individual class of Cristiano Ronaldo, who netted his 94th international goal on Friday. Behind the attackers, Portugal do possess a settled, defensively sound midfield, lead by the imperious William Carvalho, who relishes the role required of him for the Portuguese side.
Ukraine were comfortable in victory over Lithuania on Friday, winning 2-0 thanks to a double from Ruslan Malinovskiy. Lining up 4-1-4-1, they also offer solidity at the back, with Taras Stepanenko impressing in holding midfield. Oleksandr Zinchenko is played in midfield as opposed to full back at Manchester City, and whilst he does have the required creativity, it reinforces an already solid midfield, and will present Portugal with problems breaking them down.
Both midfields are adept at cancelling each other out, and there will be a large reliance upon individual brilliance from the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo to inject life into the game. Priced at 8/11 (SkyBet), Under 2.5 goals takes my fancy on this one, especially given that avoiding defeat will be the priority for both sides in their search for qualification.
Kosovo v Montenegro
Kosovo host Montenegro knowing that they have to win after Czech Republic’s shock win against England on Friday night. Sat four points before the Czechs, Friday’s result has shaken up the group, and put further importance on this game for Kosovo.
Kosovo impressed in defeat against England, with their open approach leading to a 5-3 thriller, punishing England’s defending at the back. Goals haven’t been an issue throughout the campaign, scoring ten, however they have been susceptible at the back, conceding in every game.
Montenegro showed their susceptibility off set pieces against both England and Czech Republic in previous defeats, and the Kosovan side possess a threat from both set pieces and wide areas, and will look at this as an area they can target. Vedat Muriqi is the man in form for Kosovo up front, and with three goals in seven games for Fenerbahce this season, as well as seven in twenty-two caps for Kosovo, and he will fancy his chances of adding to this tally. Standing at 6ft4, the target man will offer the aerial threat, and is a worry for the Montenegrin defence.
Montenegro have had an underwhelming campaign, and a disappointing 0-0 draw with Bulgaria reinforced the struggles they have been having. Despite only managing three goals throughout the groups, they have created chances in most games, but have struggled to be clinical enough to make them count. Coming up against a side that play open, expansive football, they should get their fair share of chances, however they will need to be much more clinical.
Kosovo are rightly favourites for this game, and their attacking, free flowing football should be enough to break down the Montenegro defence. However, given Kosovo’s leakiness at the back, particularly highlighted against England, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Montenegro get on the scoresheet. Both teams to score looks good value at above even money given Kosovo’s defence, however there is a large reliance upon a struggling Montenegro attack finding their form. However, up against a potentially leaky defence, they should find themselves with chances throughout, and are worth a punt that they will take one. It is still hard to oppose a Kosovo win, however priced at 15/4 (Bet365), a Kosovo win and both teams to score takes my fancy.