13th June 2015
| There are a
few huge games in this round of qualifying, none more so than Republic of
Ireland facing Scotland on Saturday at 5pm on Sky Sports 1. Group D is one of
the tightest in all of qualifying and most likely to receive the much bandied
about Group of Death title. With the two home countries battling it
out with Germany and Poland for one of the two automatic spots, Saturday
evening has become all the more crucial. If you accept wins against Georgia and
Gibraltar as a given, and games against Germany and Poland as potentially a
tough draw at best, the winner of this game stands the highest chance of
securing a play-off spot at the very least.
Irelands recent dismal
0-0 draw with England will hopefully be forgotten, as out of the two sides the
Boys in Green are the ones who most need a win. Sitting on 8 points, 2 behind
Scotland and Germany and 3 behind Poland, if Ireland want to keep up the push
for a play-off spot and beyond, a win against Scotland is almost a must have.
So far Ireland have managed hard-earned draws against Germany and Poland, but
lost 1-0 to the Scots at Celtic Park back in November.
unlucky loss against Germany in their opening game is the only defeat they have
suffered with a similarly unlucky draw against Poland being the only other time
they have dropped points. They have won their last 3 games in a row, including
a strong 6-1 workout against Gibraltar. Neither of these sides would have
expected to be challenging for an automatic spot with World Cup winners
Germany, yet 5 games in and that is the way things are looking.
goals Shaun Maloney is Scotlands top scorer in qualifying, and the man
who got the winner in the first game between these two sides, so eyes will him
to perform once again. Yet the necessity of the win, and the buoyant home crowd
advantage, has meant our Spreadex traders fancy Martin ONeills side
at a Republic of Ireland/Scotland Goal Supremacy spread betting quote of
0.15-0.35 with a Total Goals spread of 2.1-2.3.
home countries game sees Northern Ireland take on Romania at 7.45pm on Sky
Sports 5. Michael ONeills side are in one of the easier qualifying
groups, but that doesnt take away from the fact that for a traditionally
struggling side they have done remarkably well. They are 2nd in Group F on 12
points to Romanias 13, with a comfortable 4 point gap between them and
Hungary; in theory then, they should at least get to the play-offs, though an
automatic spot in 2016s expanded-cup is equally achievable.
Frustratingly the only team they have dropped points against was
Romania, in a 2-0 defeat in Bucharest last November. However, with Kyle
Lafferty in fine form, top scorer in the group on 5 goals and joint with Thomas
Muller and Israels Omar Damari for second highest scorer in qualifying
overall, Northern Ireland will go into this game ready for a win.
only a draw against Hungary prevents Romania from having all 15 points, and the
Tricolorii will prove to be a tough test for Northern Ireland, even if they are
playing in Belfast at Windsor Park. Romania have only conceded 1 goal in their
5 qualifying matches leaving them, alongside England and Belgium, with the
meanest defence at the midway point. This meanness has given Romania the edge,
at a very slim Romania/Northern Ireland (h) Goal Supremacy spread of 0.15-0.35
with a Total Goals spread of 2-2.2.
Finally Sundays big game, if
only for the national interest, sees England visit Slovenia at 5pm on ITV. Only
Slovakia in Group C can match Englands qualifying performance, with just
those 2 sides remaining without a defeat. Granted, Slovakias achievement
is rather more impressive; they are in a group with Spain and Ukraine, whilst
the only real team of note in Englands Group E is Switzerland, and maybe
Slovenia at a push.
Nevertheless 5 wins is 5 wins, and England are
likely to reach a 6th when they visit Ljubljana. Frustratingly England will be
without the qualifiers top scorer Danny Welbeck who has got 6 goals in 5
qualifying games internationally. Instead they will be looking to their usual
talisman Wayne Rooney, who has 4 goals so far in qualifying and is only 3 goals
away from becoming Englands top scorer of all time, leaving him at 15/4
fixed odds to score first.
Impressively, for all Englands
goal-scoring prowess in the qualifiers, averaging 3 goals a game, they have
only conceded 1, in their 3-1 victory over Slovenia in November. Slovenia
themselves shouldnt be sniffed at, however; they are second in Group E on
9 points, the same as Switzerland, and have Milivoje Novakovic on 4 goals so
far, and at 15/2 to score first. Yet given that Slovenia recently lost to
footballs current favourite country Qatar, the Three Lions shouldnt
be too troubled and sit at an England/Slovenia (h) Goal Supremacy spread of
0.55-0.75 with a Total Goals spread of 2.25-2.45.