England Vs Malta (Saturday 5pm)
It doesn’t take a degree in psychology to know that the England International Football Team is in dire need of something to cheer about and, if we can’t make that happen against Malta (the 176th best team in the world) we’re in serious trouble.
A disastrous Euro 2016 saw Roy Hodgson replaced by Sam Allardyce who, to his credit (sarcastic tone required), at least left with a 100% record from his one game in charge. Quite whether his replacement Gareth Southgate, a player best known for missing a penalty in the 1996 European Championships Semi-finals, and later laughing about it when cashing in on a Pizza Hut advert, proves the man for the job – remains open to debate!
However even Southgate, whose Managerial experience includes a 3-year stint at Middlesborough and a couple of years in charge of England’s Under 20s/21s, must be licking his chops at the prospect of racking-up a net-full of goals against a Maltese side that even Scotland beat 5-1 recently.
England must also draw confidence from the fact that, aside from their disappointing performances in the finals of recent major tournaments, a record on 13 consecutive wins in qualifiers is pretty impressive, as is 9 consecutive wins in qualifiers at home.
Meanwhile, whilst injuries to Adam Lallana and Harry Kane may look like a thorn in the side of Southgate, they may well prove a blessing. It’s a situation that allows him to release Marcus Rashford into the action from the beginning, and the appearance of the 18-year-old is likely to appease many England supporters who think that the Manchester United starlet is the striker to lead English to victory at Russia 2018.
A closer look at Malta reveals that they have actually drawn two of their last 5 games, against Estonia and Moldova, but England are far superior than either of those teams. Meanwhile, in their other three games in 2016, they have lost 2-1 to Austria, 6-0 to the Czech Republic, and also suffered that aforementioned 5-1 defeat to Scotland.
From a betting point of view, it’s hard to make a case for backing Malta at 125/1, whilst the draw also makes very limited appeal even at 35/1, and there won’t be many people willing to risk their hard-earned on England at 1/50.
Therefore, it’s surely a case of how many England win by. It’s only 2/5 that England win by more than 3.5 goals, 10/11 that they win by more than 4.5 goals, and 2/1 that they win by more than 5.5 goals. However, the value may be in backing 4-0, 5-0 and 6-0, which you can respectively back at 11/2, 7/1 and 9/1, and stake them to make the combined odds pay at around 13/8.
1.5 Points 4-0 @ 11/2
1.25 Points 5-0 @ 7/1
1 Point 6-0 @ 9/1
Meanwhile, if you want another bet to keep you excited until the final whistle, I’d recommend a bet on Rashford to be the last goalscorer at 10/3.
Rashford 1 Point Last Goalscorer @ 10/3