It’s been a cracking start to the football season but in time-honoured tradition we now have a two-week break from domestic football, as Internationals take centre stage. Over the course of next weekend Europe’s elite will start their World Cup qualifying campaigns, but before that there a a raft of international friendlies to get stuck into.
These international games can often be something of a minefield, particularly so early in the season, but with the real business of World Cup qualifiers on the horizon teams should be focused. On Wednesday night the likes of Germany, Republic of Ireland and Czech Republic are all in action, and there are betting angles on each of those three matches.
Germany take on Finland on home soil and the current world champions will be looking for a positive result ahead of Sunday’s qualifying game away in Norway. Ireland face a tough opening to their campaign away in Serbia on Monday, but after a solid effort at Euro 2016, they’ll fancy their chances of beating Oman on Wednesday prior to that match. The Czech Republic take on Northern Ireland at home on Sunday and they warm up for that with a very winnable game against Armenia.
Germany v Finland
SkyBet are offering odds of -175 about Germany being two goals superior to Finland, and it would be no surprise at all to see the Germans assert their authority over an average Finnish side.
Germany coasted through their Euro 2016 group, beating Ukraine 2-0 and Northern Ireland 1-0, while drawing 0-0 with Poland. They outclassed Slovakia in the second round by three goals to nil, but were held to a draw by Italy in the quarter finals. Typically, they got the better of the Italians via a penalty shoot out to set up the semi final clash against hosts France. Antoine Greizmann’s two goals led the French to a 2-0 win and a final appearance, putting an end to Germany’s hopes of following up their world title with a European one.
Finland failed to qualify for the Euro finals from a group which saw Romania, Northern Ireland and Hungary make the grade, and they’ve been poor in friendlies throughout 2016. A run of five defeats in six matchs since January of this year does little to inspire confidence, with the only glimmer of hope coming from a creditable 1-1 draw in Belgium just prior to the France tournament. In other games they’ve been beaten by Italy, Norway, Iceland, Sweden and Poland – losing four of the five by two goals or more.
This ought to be a comfortable victory for a strong Germany team against a limited Finland side.
Ireland v Oman
Paddy Power stand out at +100 on Ireland beating a handicap when they host Oman on Wednesday night and that could be a bet worth taking.
Ireland performed remarkably well at Euro 2016, and were fully deserving of the plaudits they received. A 1-1 draw with Sweden got them off to a fair start, but they were humbled 3-0 by Belgium in the second group game. That led to a final group clash against Italy and a spirited performance was rewarded with Robbie Brady’s 85th minute winner to send them through to the second round. A crunch clash with France was a tall order but Ireland took the lead via Brady’s 2nd minute penalty and proceeded to give the French a real scare. Pressure eventually told and Griezmann’s two goals in three second-half minutes secured a 2-1 result to France, but Ireland left with their heads held high and their reputation enhanced.
Naturally Oman play the majority of their games within the Asian footballing world, and they are decent enough performers on that stage. However, they’ve been beaten in three of their last four internationals against New Zealand, Turkmenistan and Iran – three teams that Ireland are surely superior to. Looking back at previous games over the last year or two against teams of decent quality highlights the level that Oman are at. They’ve been beaten 4-0 by Australia, 4-1 by China, and 3-0 by Uruguay over that period.
Martin O’Neill’s teams thrive on consistency and the spirit that is built up over a succession of games. He will see this as a great opportunity to set a winning thread in action prior to tackling a World Cup qualifying group that includes Serbia, Austria and Wales.
Czech Republic v Armenia
The Czech Republic are rated a -182 chance with Marathonbet and they really should find a victory against the European minnows.
They qualified from a tough group for Euro 2016, which included Turkey, Netherlands and Iceland, but their performance in France was something of a disaster. After an opening defeat to Spain they fought back from 2-0 down against Croatia to earn an unlikely draw, but with qualification for the next stage in their own hands, they fell to a 2-0 defeat to Turkey. However, they are still a side blessed with plenty of quality and should have too much for Armenia.
The Armenians have actually won their last two internationals against Guatemala and El Salvador, but clearly the quality of opposition played a big part. Prior to that they’ve been on a run of 11 defeats and 3 draws in 14 internationals, and that probably gives a more accurate reflection of their abilities.
Germany -1 to beat Finland
Wednesday 31st August, 19:45 GMT
Ireland -1 to beat Oman
Wednesday 31st August, 19:45 GMT
Czech Republic to beat Armenia
Wednesday 31st August, 18:15 GMT