The international break is finally over, and thank god for that as it was really grim stuff. We all say how much we are looking forward to the World Cup next summer, but the reality of international football is countries, more scared of losing than excited by winning, sitting back in a defensive manner and the inevitable conclusion of a 0-0.
Greece ruined tournament football in 2004 when they showed you can defend for every game and nick a goal to lift a trophy.
Portugal won Euro 2016 last summer yet won just one match of seven in 90 minutes with the final itself finishing 0-0. Germany won the World Cup in 2014 after also drawing the final 0-0 with Argentina after 90 minutes.
That said, I love betting on 0-0. It’s getting paid to watch dire football. If you can identify two sides that will play predominately with a ‘don’t want to lose mentality’, then 0-0 is a very good bet as long as the goal expectancy hasn’t already factored this in. I’ll also cover myself with 1-0 to the faves and 2-0 or 0-1 to the opposition. You don’t have to pay much to see if you’re right given the odds involved.
With the group stages complete, I’ll be looking at the World Cup outright market after the playoffs in the next international break next month. But I will get excited for Russia if we can get 8.0+ on 0-0 in every match in the knockout stages.
Of the 15 knockout games in Brazil, six finished 0-0. £10 on every one would have returned £480. Easy.
The return of the Mancs
Thankfully the Premier League is back this week, after what has felt like an age. The big game of the weekend sees Liverpool host Man Utd and the market looks wrong to me. I just can’t have Utd as any sort of favourite at Anfield. Liverpool were 2.24 in this fixture last season and last March in the Europa League 2.13 and I don’t think a lot has changed since last September.
If the prices are based on United’s good start and the absence of Mane for Liverpool, then I think there are reasons to suggest that move from last season is wrong.
Jose Mourinho got a 0-0 here last season with just 35% possession including four touches in Liverpool’s penalty area with just one shot-on-target and you can’t price up a team based on winning a football match by sitting back and nicking a goal on the break.
Liverpool are without Sadio Mane, and without him, their win rate drops from 59% to 46%. However, crucially they identified signing a similar player in the summer in Mohamed Salah who seems to be the perfect replacement, offering the same pace, strength, width, goals, and penetration as Mane. He’s slotted in straight away and already has 6 goals in 10 games. Then there’s Jurgen Klopp’s record against top 6 sides, which reads: P20 W9 D9 L2.
Backing Liverpool +0.0 looks a strong option at close to even money, and I think it could be worth a saver on 0-0 around the 13.0 mark. Mourinho successfully got a 0-0 here and at Man City last season with just a 1-0 defeat at Chelsea in the FA Cup. With an early kick-off on Saturday after the players have been away all over the world, an element of fatigue could creep in with both managers eventually being content with a point.
Spurs to struggle to score four
I’ve mentioned Spurs’ struggles at Wembley before and having opposed their attack against Swansea with success it looks shrewd to do the same again when they host Bournemouth this weekend where the line has moved out to 3.5.
Spurs were all over the Swans but produced an xG of just 1.12 and their next game at Wembley against Barnsley finished 1-0 despite the side containing Alli, Son, Llorente, Dembele, Sissoko, and Trippier.
Bournemouth are struggling so far but more so attacking wise, and only lost 2-1 to Man City, 2-1 to Everton and 3-0 to Arsenal. With Spurs’ defence the best in the league and Bournemouth managing just one goal in their four meetings, backing Tottenham essentially not to score four looks to have legs here. And I like a bet on under 3.5 at around 1.8.
Finally, I’ve previously talked about Southampton’s woes, and with them at home to Newcastle, it looks the perfect opportunity to oppose goals in that game too. The Saints have failed to score in 10 of their last 15, nine of their last 11 at home and 10 of their last 13 games have seen under 2.5 goals so the unders look a solid bet here.
Rafa Benitez is an excellent tactician and will set Newcastle up to be difficult to beat. In each of their away games, there has only been a single goal, reflected in goal lines of 2.0, 2.25 and 2.25.
With the increase to 2.5 against a supposed better side, let’s take advantage against a side struggling offensively and back under 2.5 goals at 1.83.
When you’re the wrong side of variance
I kept the bets to a minimum during the international week as it’s difficult to assess some side’s motivation given they had already qualified or been eliminated. The goals flowed in Belarus v Holland after I missed the original 2.5 goal line and over 2.25 goals in Montenegro vs Denmark seemed doomed from early on when Montenegro’s main goal threat Stevan Jovetic went off injured after just 20 minutes.
Christian Eriksen gave Denmark a 16th-minute lead, so there was plenty of time for at least another goal to at least get half stakes back, but it almost felt inevitable it would play out as a 0-1 defeat. That was made even more galling by the Montenegrins managing to score two in Poland in the very next match without their talisman.
Our Cyprus bet was a good one with the price shortening and my man Sotiriou opening the scoring. I was hoping Cyprus would keep it tight, at least for the next ten minutes, but they say you’re most vulnerable after you’ve scored and two quick Greece goals made it an uphill task. Still the +1.0 returned a push with a very small loss outright.
Sometimes you’re just on the wrong side of variance, and let’s hope our luck returns this week.
- Liverpool +0.0 1.97 – 2.5 points
- Tottenham v Bournemouth under 3.5 goals 1.83 – 1 point
- Southampton v Newcastle under 2.5 goals 1.82 – 1 point