Last warning – approach international games with massive caution! They’ll rob you blind before you know is keep stakes low here!

Typically, with international games everywhere, I’ve elected to pick a club game as my game of the day, which in this instance is the Polish Liga 1 game between Piast Gliwice and Pogon Szczecin. The two sides are both expected to compete for promotion this season and both certainly have the quality to do so and thus we should see a good game tonight.

However, out of the two sides, only Piast Gliwice have looked a dominant threat in the division with their visitors floundering due to a lack of goals. Piast have only won twice in five games, drawing their last three games consecutively. Generally speaking, I’d be afraid of that record but I feel it’s a tad misleading in this instance so I’m not overly concerned. The reason I dismiss that particular statistic is because two of those games were two of the most difficult trips to make in this division (promotion candidates LKS Lodz in a 2-2 draw and Flota Swinoujscie 0-0) due to the quality and/or home advantage of the two sides. Their one abject display was their 0-0 draw at home to Ostrowiec Swietokrzyski but all in all, they’ve looked good in Liga 1 with clear intent to make a swift return to the Ekstraklasa. Piast have already beaten fellow promotion rivals GKS Katowice at home this season and are generally a very strong home side so I fancy them a lot today as a result, particularly as the quality in their side makes them the best side in the division, in my opinion.

I have a lt of respect for their opponents Pogon Szczecin too but they’ve failed to impress me so far this season en mass. I expected them to win comfortably in their last match at home to Dolcan Zabki and they did so but that’s largely due to the inability of their opponents. In fact, that win was just their second Liga 1 win of the season with both wins coming at home against meager opponents, the other game being a win against Ostrowiec Swietokrzyski. They’ve played three away games in Liga 1 and have lost all of them, which isn’t good enough for a supposed promotion candidate. The defeat at LKS Lodz is acceptable because LKS are a good side. I can even accept the defeat at difficult Flota Swinoujscie! However, losing at Sandecja Nowy Sacz simply isn’t acceptable at all, especially having had a valuable lead at half-time only to throw it away and have a man dismissed petulantly. If Pogon defend as immaturely as they did in that game today, they’re going to be torn apart by a Piast side that is very much due a win. Pogon are capable of stopping them, especially with arguably the best goalkeeper in the division (Janukiewicz) in goal for Pogon, but they’ve demonstrated little ability on the road so far this season and I don’t see why that would start not.

On a good day, I’d half-fancy Pogon to get a draw here but given how little they’ve impressed me in difficult situations this season and considering that Piast are the better side, I have to favour the hosts here. Piast are favourites for promotion and I’ll be surprised if they don’t earn an Ekstraklasa place again this year with the quality at their disposal. Piast are often a force at home so as long as their strikers turn up today, the odds on the home win should turn out to be a little too generous here.

Team news – Piast miss Chalbinski, Halgas, and new loan signing Maycon whereas there are no notable absences for Pogon. It’s also worth noting that Piast manager Brosz sits this one (and the next one) out in the stands after offending a referee against Ostrowiec but I don’t expect that to massively impact Piast’s play today.

Verdict: Piast Gliwice to win at 6/5.

Friday’s Picks

My tips:

As ever, below are my recommended value tips for today in no particular order:

Armenia vs Republic of Ireland – both sides to score at 6/5.

Both of these sides are very much worthy of respect; underestimate them and you’ll be punished more often than not. However, the odds on Ireland to win this game are positively criminal! Ireland have won two out of their last ten away games and whereas they have faced some tricky sides along the way and battled as impressively as ever, they’re still not a clinical side. Armenia are no giants of “European” football but they’ve started playing well at home of late with two wins in their last four games. They’ve beaten Belgium and Uzbekistan 2-1 and 3-1 respectively and lost 2-1 at home to Spain rather respectably too. They were leading at home to Iran in their last game before an abject second-half saw them lose the game 3-1 but one thing is for sure – Armenia are developing quite rapidly. Their defence is still shaky but their attack is good as seven goals scored in their last four games indicates all too well. To beat this Armenia side you have to outscore them and that may be where Ireland stumble today. If Armenia’s defence was better than I’d probably edge laying Republic of Ireland at 11/10. Then again, with Duff and McShane having pulled out through injury, the lay does appeal to me. Howevr, Armenia’s defence isn’t good so both sides scoring in this game at 6/5 really appeals to me, especially considering that Armenia have scored for four consecutive home games and Ireland have scored in four consecutive away games!

Verdict: Both sides to score at 6/5.

Kazakhstan vs Turkey – Kazakhstan to win with +2.5 handicap at 4/5.

I love this bet for some reason! This bet would mean that Kazakhstan winning nineteen out of their last twenty-one home games, which I think is pretty damn convincing. The only two sides to batter Kazakhstan here were an on-fire Belarus and a fortunate England. As many of you many remember, England somehow won in Kazakhstan 4-0 despite not playing well. Only a lack of stamina towards the end of the game by the hosts and some suicidal defending gave England such a heavy win. Football-wise, Kazakhstan looked good; they just didn’t put the ball in the net. However, against what I can only describe as one of Turkey’s weaker sides, I fancy the Kazakhs to score at least one goal today. Turkey are obviously the better side but they’re not playing particularly well internationally and they’re really running rather short on quality nowadays. Their latest squad is puzzling with some of the players included not even playing for their clubs at the moment so I think there’ll be some dishamony in the Turkish camp with that in mind. Turkey have never been good defensively; they only know how to attack. This bet would mean that Turkey have lost sixteen out of their last seventeen away games with their only exception being an uncharacteristic 3-0 win at Ukraine last year. Turkey have never travelled well and although their potency is a concern, I really can’t see them running away with this unless they’re clever enough tactically to note how tired Kazakhstan get in the last third of each game. For me, giving Kazakhstan a +2.5 goal head start in this game looks very good indeed today.

Verdict: Kazakhstan to win with a +2.5 goal handicap at 4/5.

Andorra vs Russia – Andorra to win with +4.5 handicap at 3/4.

To appreciate why this bet potentially has value, I want you to imagine for one moment that Andorra are not footballing minnows. Now look at Russia’s record of not having scored more than three goals in a game for their last twenty-one consecutive games. Then consider that giving Andorra +4.5 goals as a head start means that they’ve won seventeen out of their last nineteen home games. Only then can you begin to see what I mean here. If you go off names and are a complete fucking moron then you’ll no doubt say 0-10. Russia are a good side and obviously a lot better than Andorra but they’re simply not a big goalscoring side. They travelled to face Andorra at the end of the last European Championships campaign in a must-win game and won 1-0 in a nervous encounter. Andorra have got better since then and although they’re still a weak side, they simply don’t concede many goals anymore unless a side plays very well against them. Andorra have battled their way to 1-0 defeats against Cyprus and Albania in their two most recent friendlies and whereas they might not be footballing giants, they are respectable defeats away from home against two competent sides. Andorra have become a lot more physical as a side and I fancy them to cause Russia some problems today. For me, these odds are a gift today and although Russia could potentially win this game 0-8, I just don’t see enough in their squad for them to do so today and thus I think the value is with Andorra. I’m even tempted to try +3.5 goals at better odds but this one is safer so that’s my recommendation today.

Verdict: Andorra to win with +4.5 goal handicap at 3/4.

Faroe Islands vs Serbia - under 2.5 goals at 13/10.

This looks a classic under 2.5 goals game to me so I’ll be all over it. I really wanted to give the Faroes a +2.5 goal head start but the bookies are catching on that Faroe Islands are a lot harder to beat than they used to be. Kerr’s side are well-organised, disciplined, and generally very hard to beat. They faced Estonia in their most recent game away from home as a farewell to Faroese legend Jakup A Borg and they led for a great portion of the game before conceding two very late goals to lose the game. Faroe Islands are not rubbing rags anymore – they’re a very physical and hard-to-beat side. I don’t think they’re as potent as Scandinavian neighbours Iceland but I rate them as being equal defensively. We all know Serbia are a defensive side and are well-organised too but they’re not great goalscorers themselves. I think they’re going to find a very physical opponent today and that doesn’t suit Serbia – they prefer that as their advantage. Serbia should edge this game but for me, under 2.5 goals is the way to go here although I’d be lying if I said that backing Faroe Islands to win with +1.5 handicap at 33/20 didn’t intrigue me.

Verdict: Under 2.5 goals at 13/10.

San Marino vs Netherlands – away win with -4.5 handicap at 6/5.

Do I really need to explain this one? San Marino are still terrible and the recall of one of Europe’s finest ever finishers Ruud van Nistelrooy to the Dutch side can only be a good thing. The odds are good enough to take too!

Verdict: Netherlands to win with a -4.5 goal handicap at 6/5.

Liechtenstein vs Spain – Liechtenstein to win with +3.5 handicap at 11/10.

This one is one of my more bold calls of the day but I still like it. Why? Well, Liechtenstein aren’t as bad as they were. A draw at Iceland last match showed that they’re not only capable of nicking the odd goal nowadays but they’re also a solid unit defensively. Peter Jehle is a good goalkeeper and the likes of Burgmeier bring experience to this side so don’t write the hosts off here. Giving the hosts a +3.5 goal head start in their last twelve home games means that Liechtenstein win eleven of those games. The only side to break that record was a rampant German side, running out 6-0 winners. Liechtenstein still have a long way to go in the football world but they’re certainly not rubbing rags anymore – they’ll not lie down against the world champions today. However, Spain are indeed world champions so caution must be used here. Spain are a magnificent side and we all know they could beat any international side on the planet if they so desired so it depends how they approah the game. My bet is based upon Spain’s general inability to break down sides that stick ten men behind the ball as they demonstrated numerous times in the World Cup and with none of their players having played consistently of late due to respective leagues having only just started so they may even be a tad rusty – Torres has certainly looked it. I do expect Spain to win this game, ultimately, but I don’t think it’ll be as flambuoyant as normal. Let’s face it – Spain are bad enough defensively to concede in this game so I think Liechtenstein can succeed with a +3.5 goal head start today, risky though it undoubtedly is.

Verdict: Liechtenstein to win with a +3.5 goal handicap at 11/10.

France vs Belarus – under 2.5 goals at 3/4.

The state of France is well-documented with many big names suspended and a lot of unproven and fairly average players left behind. I rate manager Blanc as the finest in France currently so I’m sure he’ll improve them at least a little in the near future. However, they’re not there yet and losing a lead against Norway of late showed that in its entirety. France is in a transitional period and I don’t fancy them against anyone at the moment, basically. Belarus, however, are a side on the ride. Unlike most Eastern European nations, Belarus actually play good football and keep the ball well. They’re lethal on the counter attack with the pace of both Hleb brothers and they have some hard players in defence and midfield to provide the necessary steel when defending. I rate this Belarusian side very highly indeed and if they had only claimed Milevskiy before Ukraine did then I believe they’d be a very good side indeed nowadays. However, as it happens, they’re a side that keeps the ball well, keeps opponents out, but doesn’t score as many as they should. I fancy them to frustrate France tonight with their passing ability and talented players and ultimately I feel under 2.5 goals is on the card with either a low-scoring draw or a narrow victory on the horizon.

Verdict: Under 2.5 goals at 3/4.

Belarus U21 vs Scotland U21 - home win at 5/4.

I’m a massive advocate of the Belarusian U21 side because they’ve been good for a few years now. They’re not at their best defensively but in attack, they have some really promising players. Dinamo Minsk midfielder Dmitri Rekish and Cagliari midfielder Mikhail Sivakov are very good players in midfield for the hosts and are generally instrumental to Belarusian success when they’re started together. Belarus’ U21 side is largely composed of Dinamo Minsk players, which aids the squad’s cohesion, understandably. Indeed, they play a similar style of possession football to the Belarusian giants so Belarus U21 have a good platform to build upon. Kryvbas Kryvyi Rih striker Varankov is proving a valuable asset in attack and generally, Belarus are looking pretty damn good. They’ve scored seven goals in their last three games to demonstrate their potency and even came from 3-1 down at Austria U21 last match to draw 3-3, demonstrating their belief against a very good Austria U21 side. Interestingly enough, the only side to beat them in their last six games was Scotland in a 1-0 defeat but that was away; this one is in Borisov. The only side to win at Belarus U21 in the last five years is Italy, which is an understandable defeat, really! They play good attacking football and although Scotland U21 are a fairly solid unit defensively, their criticism has to be not scoring enough goals. Their last game was a 2-2 draw at home to ten-men Azerbaijan U21, embarassingly enough, which displays how easily they can be contained on their day. The Scots are a feisty bunch and won’t make this easy for Belarus but I think the hosts will just outscore them today, to be honest. Odds of 5/4 are good in my view as I consider Belarus U21 to be one of the better U21 sides in Europe currently and it’s also worth noting that both sides need the points here as a win for either side lifts them above Austria into first place with just one game remaining after that.

Verdict: Belarus U21 to win at 5/4.

Accumulator fodder:

Spain, Netherlands, Russia, Sweden U21, Northern Ireland U21, Sparta Rotterdam.

Recommended bets:

Sweden U21 and Belarus U21 at 2/1.

As ever, if there any questions/explanations required then please feel free to post a comment! For the remainder of my thoughts on today’s games, see below!

UEFA European Championship Qualifiers:

Armenia vs Republic of Ireland (5) 1-1
Kazakhstan vs Turkey (5) 1-2
Moldova vs Finland (6) 0-0
Andorra vs Russia (8) 0-2
Faroe Islands vs Serbia (6) under 2.5 goals
Montenegro vs Wales (5) 1-1
Sweden vs Hungary (7) 2-1
Romania vs Albania (6) under 2.5 goals
Latvia vs Croatia (7) 1-2
Lithuania vs Scotland (6) 0-0
Luxembourg vs Bosnia-Herzegovina (7) over 2.5 goals
Estonia vs Italy (4) 0-0
Slovakia vs Republic of Macedonia (7) 2-0
San Marino vs Netherlands (10) -4.5 handicap
Liechtenstein vs Spain (8) -1.5 handicap
Belgium vs Germany (7) 1-2
Slovenia vs Northern Ireland (7) 2-0
Greece vs Georgia (7) 1-0
France vs Belarus (6) 0-0
England vs Bulgaria (7) 2-1
Iceland vs Norway  (6) 1-1
Portugal vs Cyprus (4) 1-0

African Nations Qualifiers:

Algeria vs Tanzania (7) 2-0

UEFA European U21 Championship Qualifiers:

Slovenia vs Belgium (5) 1-1
Romania vs Russia (6) 1-1
Bosnia-Herzegovina vs Italy (4) 2-1
Belarus vs Scotland (7) 1-0
Sweden vs Israel (8) 2-0
Finland vs Poland (4) 1-2
Norway vs Cyprus (7) 1-0
Czech Republic vs Germany (5) 2-1
Ukraine vs France (6) 1-1
Portugal vs England (6) 1-1
Switzerland vs Republic of Ireland (7) 2-1
Northern Ireland vs San Marino (10) -2.5 handicap

International Friendlies:

Venezuela vs Colombia (6) 1-1
Kuwait vs Syria (6) 1-0
China vs Iran (7) 1-1
Qatar vs Bahrain (7) 0-0
Oman vs Malaysia (5) 1-1(played in Doha)
Switzerland vs Australia (5) 1-0
Panama vs Costa Rica (5) 2-2

Argentinian Primera Division:

Godoy Cruz de Mendoza vs Estudiantes De La Plata (6) 1-1

Australian A-League:

Central Coast Mariners vs Melbourne Victory (6) 1-1

Colombian Primera A:

La Equidad Bogota vs America de Cali (6) over 2.5 goals

Danish 1st Division:

Viborg vs Fredericia (6)

Finnish Ykkonen:

PK-35 Helsinki vs OPS Oulu (5) under 2.5 goals

Irish Premier League:

Dundalk vs Bray Wanderers (7) 1-0
Galway United vs St.Patrick’s Athletic (6) 1-2
Sporting Fingal vs Bohemians (5) 1-1
UCD vs Drogheda United (4) 2-1
Shamrock Rovers vs Sligo Rovers (7) 2-1

Dutch Eerste Divisie:

RKC Waalwijk vs Volendam (6)
MVV Maastricht vs RBC Roosendaal (5)
Telstar vs Den Bosch (6)
Almere City vs Cambuur Leeuwarden (7)
Go Ahead Eagles vs Helmond Sport (6)
Dordrecht ’90 vs Zwolle (6)
Sparta Rotterdam vs Fortuna Sittard (8)
Veendam vs Emmen (5)

Polish Liga 1:

Piast Gliwice vs Pogon Szczecin (7)

Singaporean S-League:

Home United vs Etoile (5) 2-2

Enjoy your free betting tips!