With European qualifiers for World Cup 2018 put on hold until the spring, affairs turn towards international friendlies and the South American race for Russia.
England host Spain at Wembley tonight in an enticing contest, while European heavyweights Italy and Germany meet at the San Siro.
Top tipsters Matt Holt and Paul King are back to share their best bets of the night, and there’s the added bonus of South America action, including Brazil away at Peru.
The international scene takes a little break for the winter after this week, so this is the last chance for non-domestic success for a while.
Here’s what the guys are going for tonight…
Italy v Germany
Germany and Italy have been well in the goals since the end of the Euros. The Germans have scored an incredible 18 goals in their last five games, whilst Italy have scored 12 times in theirs.
The Italians have only kept one clean sheet since then, against Liechtenstein, and have conceded seven goals in that time. As far as their H2H goes, they’ve met five times in five years and both teams have found the net in all five games.
Ecuador v Venezuela
Venezuela make the 2000km journey to Quito to face an Ecuador side in brilliant home form. Gustavo Quinteros’ men have lost just one of their last 13 qualifiers in Ecuador, including a 2-0 victory over tonight’s opponents in the lead up to the 2014 World Cup.
Venezuela have been horrendous so far this qualifying campaign, with just Bolivia’s incompetence preventing them from being bottom of the group. They’ve lost four of their five away games, conceding 14 goals and having the -1 handicap covered 4 times.
Peru v Brazil
Brazil don’t have a great record away in Peru, hence why the odds are so surprisingly long, but they have been in blistering form so far this qualifying campaign and haven’t actually played Peru in Lima since 2007.
The reverse leg of this game was a 3-0 Brazil win in November last year. Brazil have won the race to 2 goals five times in a row in qualifiers, whilst Peru have lost it in two of their last three home games. Take a bit of a risk on Neymar and co. to handle business overnight.
England v Spain
A punt on one of Ladbrokes’ specials worked out for us all on Friday night, so what’s the harm in trying it again tonight?
On Friday we took a chance on England to score a headed goal at 11/4 and it couldn’t have really gone much better, as Gareth Southgate’s men scored not just one, but three headed goals.
Tonight I’m looking for dodgy defending rather than aerial attacking, with a punt on a penalty to be awarded at an enhanced 7/2 with Ladbrokes.
Throughout history England have conceded 81 penalty kicks and been awarded 113, making a total of 194 penalties in 959 games and an average of one penalty every 4.9 games. Well, the last penalty in an England game was 466 minutes of football ago, meaning there already hasn’t been a penalty in one of our matches for 5.2 games*. We’re due one, lads.
*None of this actually means anything, I just quite like the enhanced price.
Northern Ireland v Croatia
There’s usually plenty of goals in friendlies involving both of these sides if you ignore a couple of recent 1-0 wins against lowly Latvia and Slovenia for Northern Ireland.
Croatia are a completely different prospect to those kind of sides though, and have scored two goals or more in five of their last seven away friendlies. With that in mind, 15/8 is a more than backable price for them to reach the two goal mark before Northern Ireland do.
If this was a competitive fixture I’d be a little bit more cautious due to Michael O’Neill’s commendable defensive set up, but as this is a friendly I see no reason why he shouldn’t be at least a little bit more adventurous tonight.
France v Ivory Coast
This selection obviously isn’t a huge price at 1/2, but if you’re going to take my tip on Croatia you may as well double it with over 1.5 France goals because it looks about as nailed on as a bet can possibly be. The double is just short of 7/2.
All home fixtures considered, France have scored two goals or more in 14 consecutive games. They have also scored two or more in eight consecutive friendly matches at home.
Ivory Coast generally don’t concede too many away goals if you look at the base of the stats, but you have to consider that they are usually up against inferior African sides.
When you only look at their away form against non-African sides, they’ve conceded two goals or more in six of their last seven games, with a 0-0 draw against Hungary their only clean sheet.
COMBINED BEST BET
As we’ve already highlighted in our individual sections, we are expecting two or more goals in Germany v Italy, France v Ivory Coast and Northern Ireland v Croatia.
For our combined best bet we’re going to add England v Spain to those three to form an 11/4 over 1.5 goals accumulator.
England have scored in 17 consecutive games at Wembley, including goals against top opposition such as France, Netherlands and Portugal.
Spain have scored in nine of their last eleven away from home including goals against the likes of Croatia and Italy (on two separate occasions), so you’ve got to fancy their chances of getting one against England too.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing