With international week feeling like it’s dragging it’s heels to a super slow conclusion, Wednesday offers the best day of football this week as the World Cup qualification playoffs reach their climax and a host of international friendlies brighten up the dark winter evenings.
And we’re hoping to cash in!
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From a British perspective, attention will most likely focus on the Republic of Ireland’s trip to France. Wily Italian coach Giovanni Trapattoni will be praying that the gods shine down on the Irish and help them create history by being the first ever European team to lose their first playoff match at home and come back to qualify for the World Cup. The problem is though that the French appear too talented to let slip their pole position in the tie, and backing Les Blues (1/2 to win) seems the only sensible course of action.
It’s a similar story in the South America/CONCACAF World Cup playoff, with Costa Rica knowing that they have a mountain to climb in Montevideo if they want to participate in South Africa. Uruguay claimed a 1-0 advantage over the Ticos in the first leg of their play-off in San Jose on Saturday, meaning they are heavy favourites to progress on home soil at the Estadio Centenario. (Uruguay are 4/9 to win.)
In Scandinavia there is a battle of the depleted squads as an understrength Denmark face an American side shorn of several high profile regulars. Nicklas Bendtner, Thomas Kahlenberg, and Dennis Rommedahl will all be missing for the hosts, which should significantly impact their goalscoring prowess. That said, boasting the likes of Simon Kjaer and Per Kroldrup in the middle of their defence, the Danes have a solid base from which to build on, and with the likes of Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey absent for the Stars and Stripes, Denmark (11/10) should be able to close out a narrow home win.
Lastly, Italy take on Sweden in Cesena as Marcello Lippi is set to adopt slightly more adventurous tactics going forward with an anticipated experimental side as they look to close the year in style (Italy are 4/5 to win). Sampdoriaâ€™s Giampaolo Pazzini is predicted to lead the line, while the evergreen Antonio Di Natale (9 goals in 12 matches for Udinese this season) should play as the second striker. By contrast, Sweden head into the match with several big name absences including Marcus Berg, Kim Kallstrom and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Looking to cash in on a high risk, high reward strategy we are staking Â£2.50 on France, Uruguay, Denmark and Italy to win hoping to claim a Â£20.47 return.