It’s been a huge week of international football and one that has been profitable overall here at SBO, with 8 out of 11 winning bets so far (at the time of writing). Tuesday night brings to an end the seven days of internationals, and while domestic football fans will be more than happy to see the return of Europe’s top club competitions, England fans could be forgiven for soaking up the feel-good factor that’s running through their team.
It was the story of the weekend when Roy Hodgson’s men battled back in Berlin from 2-0 down to beat Germany on their own patch 3-2, and they face a home tie against Holland that, on paper at least, looks more in their favour. With the confidence oozing through their veins they are fancied to continue the winning thread against an inexperienced Dutch side that went down 3-2 at home themselves at the hands of France.
There are a host of other fixtures on the night and plenty of games to choose from, but two games stand out more than most. France return from that late Dutch triumph to play Russia in their first home fixture since the 2-0 win over Germany on that tragic night in Paris. There will be a real incentive for the French team to re-assert national pride here, and besides, they are a much better team than the Russians. Belgium play their only friendly international of the week when they travel to Portugal to take on Ronaldo and Co., and it was his penalty miss that contributed to an embarrassing home defeat to Bulgaria last Friday evening. Belgium are a huge price considering the relative qualities of the two squads, and are worth backing to emerge victorious.
England v Holland
There’s only one place to start though, and that’s with England who are rated a -125 chance with SkyBet to grab their ninth win in ten matches when they host the Netherlands.
Having fallen two goals behind to the World Champions it looked like the same old story for England of getting beaten by the top international teams, but the young side showed plenty of character to force their way back into the game. Whether you tend to believe the line up was forced on Hodgson due to injuries to the likes of Wayne Rooney, or whether you consider it a tactical masterstroke, there is no denying it was a performance full of spirit and determination as the youthful side continued to press high up the pitch and draw mistakes from an unusually flustered German defence.
It must be argued that this was far from a vintage German performance, and they will surely improve when it matters but overall England were full value for at least a draw if not the victory handed to them by Eric Dier’s bullet header in the dying moments. Harry Kane probably cemented his position as England’s first choice forward with the kind of display Tottenham fans have become used to over the course of the last couple of seasons, while Jamie Vardy seems to show no signs of stopping his meteoric rise to the top level of the beautiful game. The sensational Leicester forward was playing non-league football just four years ago, but the quality of his finish on Saturday evening showed that he is more than comfortable in this esteemed company. Roy Hodgson will be tempted to give other players such as Danny Drinkwater and Daniel Sturridge their chance at Wembley, but with the confidence gained from that victory England are expected to start on the front foot.
Holland hosted France on Friday evening and quickly found themselves 2-0 down to goals from Griezmann and Giroud on a night that was dedicated to Dutch legend Johan Cruyff. The home side showed admirable character to force their way back to 2-2 with just a few minutes left, but French captain Blaise Matuidi spoiled the night for the home fans as he put the visitors back in front with just three minutes left on the clock.
It was Holland’s fourth defeat in the last six internationals and coach Danny Blind is in the process of rebuilding his squad in preparation for World Cup 2018 qualifiers. England meanwhile have won 8 of their last 9 games home and away and are on a run of 7 straight victories on home soil.
France v Russia
The Russians comfortably beat Lithuania 3-0 on Saturday evening, and have won 6 of their last 7 internationals, but the quality of opposition leaves plenty to be desired. They were beaten 3-1 on home soil by Croatia in November, and while they are a competent side, they are nowhere near the class of the French.
It will be a poignant evening in Paris after the events that unfolded during their last home game with Germany, and they can be expected to put on a performance of defiance and win this game quite comfortably. In the last ten home internationals they’ve only been beaten by Brazil and Belgium, but have won 7 of the other 8 including victories over Portugal, Spain and of course Germany.
Portugal v Belgium
This will be the only freindly that Belgium play this week, but they look decidedly overpriced to beat Portugal at +230 with SkyBet
The Belgians have arguably one of the most talented squads in Europe and are quietly fancied by many to make a real impact on the Euros when they begin in June. The same simply cannot be said for Portugal who lack any kind of strength in depth to support the mercurial talents of Cristiano Ronaldo. The Real Madrid superstar actually contributed to their downfall in that tepid defeat to Bulgaria by missing a penalty, but how he will rue the fact that there is not enough class alongside him to ever give him a shot at international glory.
Belgium have had extra preparation time ahead of this game and are fancied to inflict Portugal’s fourth home defeat in five internationals.
England to beat Holland
Tuesday 29th March, 20:00 GMT
France to beat Russia
Tuesday 29th March, 20:00 GMT
Belgium to beat Portugal
Tuesday 29th March, 19:45 GMT
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