Ukraine beat Belarus 2-0 in Minsk last year and one thinks that Mykhaylo Fomenko’s team is the best bet in the first three-day batch of the UEFA European Championship matches.
It took 82 minutes for Ukraine to finally break the deadlock in Belarus 11 months ago and the away side took the lead via an own goal but it deserved its advantage. Belarus defended deep throughout the game and did not show any ambition until Ukraine hit the front. Ukraine bagged its second goal in the dying moments, exploiting space to score on a fast break.
Ukraine is locked in a three-team race for the UEFA European Championship Group C’s two automatic qualification positions and Saturday’s match pits it against a Belarus side to which it has not lost any of its five competitive fixtures – three wins and two draws since the first such clash in 2001.
Betfred is offering odds of -250 about Ukraine defeating Belarus in Lviv when was one was expecting to see the home team chalked up at odds of around -400 . The UEFA European Championship qualifying stage has reached the point at which several sides are dead in the water and, while Belarus still can reach next year’s tournament, the odds of it making the event in France are longer than its border with Ukraine.
Group B is the tightest of the UEFA European Championship qualifying sections with six points covering the top five teams. However, one does not doubt that Belgium is the best side in the six-team pool and one fancies that it will strengthen its qualification bid with a home victory over Bosnia and Herzegovina in Brussels on Thursday.
Wales is one of football’s sexiest stories right now but one should acknowledge that Belgium was desperately unlucky not to win in Cardiff in its last UEFA European Championship Group B game – the Red Devils had 61 per cent of the ball, they had 21 goal attempts to their opponent’s six and they led the corner-kick count 9-1. Oh, and Belgium lined up versus Wales without its captain, Vincent Kompany, who is free from suspension to tackle Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Belgium had the better of general play in its UEFA European Championship Group B match versus Bosnia and Herzegovina in Zenica 11 months ago and, therefore, one is keen to side with the Red Devils at odds of -200 with several bookmakers, including Bet365 and Bwin, to win the return game.
Malta has scored only one goal in its six UEFA European Championship Group H matches and, consequently, there is a strong argument for backing Italy to win Thursday’s game in Florence and keep a clean sheet in the process. Ladbrokes is offering odds of -400 about an Italy win to nil and 80 per cent does not seem to underestimate the likelihood at all.
Italy has played three competitive matches against Malta since the turn of the century – one at home and two on the road – and all three games have resulted in the Italians winning to nil. The state of UEFA European Championship Group H means that Italy cannot afford to treat Malta with contempt so one expects the Italians to do the business.
Bookmakers tend to be slow to throw up cards-related lines but one thinks that it is worth keeping tabs on such markets pertaining to the UEFA European Championship Group F grudge match between Hungary and Romania in Budapest on Friday.
Scottish referee William Collum cautioned 12 players when Hungary and Romania clashed in Bucharest 11 months ago and, with Group F in the balance – the Hungarians are three points behind the Romanians, with Northern Ireland in the middle of the fierce rivals – one thinks that German official Felix Brych is going to have a challenging 90 minutes. UEFA has appointed Brych for a reason – the German referee is highly experienced, including having been in charge of the 2014 UEFA Europa League final.
Ukraine to beat Belarus
5th September 17:00 GMT
Belgium to beat Bosnia
3rd September 19:45 GMT
Italy to beat Malta to nil
3rd September 19:45 GMT
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