Expecting goals tonight? You won’t be watching England then
The Premier League takes some time off and Euro 2012 qualification is the order of the weekend, with England out in Sofia to try and eek out a 1-0 victory against Bulgaria.
September 2nd, 2011
England, apparently the fourth best footballing nation on the planet, will take on a side that they beat 4-0 at Wembley 364 days ago. Bulgaria are also fourth in Group G at the moment. You could be forgiven for thinking that four is quite an important number here.
But in truth, do many of us care about tonight’s Euro qualifier? England fans are still arguably suffering from post-South Africa apathy whilst in Bulgaria, ticket sales for tonight’s clash have been so poor that you can now get them in exchange for petrol reward points.
England’s last match, a friendly against the Netherland’s, was called off following the London riots and that means that we need to look back to June for any indication of form – that being a rather uninspiring 2-2 draw with Switzerland at Wembley.
But never fear England fans, for Wayne Rooney and his new hairline is back! After missing the Switzerland game because he was sitting on the naughty step, the Manchester United striker will be back to try and add to his record of 2 goals in 16 international games (no, we aren’t counting the warm-up against Platinum Stars).
The stark contrast between Rooney’s international form and his club form of five goals in three games gives us a bit of a dilemma in backing him to be on the score sheet on Friday night. We’re inclined to shy away from Rooney and instead, take the 11/8 on Fabio Capello’s boys to win to-nil.
That’s not an endorsement of England’s defensive line but instead, more do to with Bulgaria’s impotence in front of goal. The home side have just two goals to their name from their five qualifying matches so far and neither of those goals have come in Sofia.
The under 2.5 goals market might also be worth a look. If you disregard Bulgaria’s trip to Wembley, Bulgaria’s matches in qualifying have averaged just 1.25 goals per game.
If you’re lucking for a shock at the weekend, consider Scotland to restore some pride in their football against the Czech Republic at 13/8.
Hampden is never an easy place to go (just as Spain) and the Scots have looked pretty useful under Craig Levin recently. The visitors on the other hand, head to Glasgow without Petr Cech and on the back of a 3-0 reverse to Norway.
And your weekend NAP comes from League Two, where we’re going to try and find a bookmaker still taking bets on Burton v Plymouth to profit from Argyle’s misery. With reports that Argyle’s players will be going on strike for this match over unpaid wages, backing Burton may seem like a pretty safe bet.