Tottenham make the long trip east to face Rubin Kazan tonight in a bid to qualify for the knock-out stages of the Europa League.
Boss Harry Redknapp will be absent after undergoing heart surgery this week, but if he is hoping his players can give him a message from Russia with love at odds of 13/5, he could well be left disappointed.
A closer inspection of the respective teams’ performances this season – and the expected overhaul of the Spurs line-up from last weekend’s win over QPR – suggests that Rubin are well worthy of their favouritism at 21/20 (the draw is a 23/10 shot).
Kurban Berdyev‘s men have endured a disappointing domestic campaign and currently sit sixth with just a single game remaining, while Spurs are fifth in the Premier League with a game in hand on the teams above them.
But there’s great news for football betting fans ahead of this crunch Group A clash because Rubin have shown themselves to be major second-half goalscorers, while the Londoners tend to fare better before the interval.
Let’s take a look at the Russians for starters. A whopping 26 of their 40 goals in the Premier Liga – and four of their five so far in the Europa League group stages – have come after half-time.
Ten of those domestic goals have come between the 46th and 60th minutes, with a further 12 being scored in the final 15 minutes of their matches.
Compare that with Spurs, who have conceded 11 of their 14 goals in the Premier League after the break and lost three of their five second halves thus far, while also only managing two goals between the 76th and 90th minutes.
Backing the match to contain more goals after the interval than before it appears to be a no-brainer at 23/20.
The first conclusions to draw from these statistics are that Rubin must be worth a punt to score the last goal of the match at 18/25 or the first goal in the second half at 11/10.
But the Russians also look to be great value to win the second half at 7/5, while backing the match to contain more goals after the interval than before it appears to be a no-brainer at 23/20.
These options are given further credence when you consider that Redknapp’s men have proved a tough nut to crack in the first halves of their league matches away from White Hart Lane, conceding just once.
They have not been behind at the break in any of those fixtures but, interestingly, neither have Rubin in any of their 15 home clashes in the Russian top flight.
With this in mind, the smartest money of all could be on Rubin winning the game after a draw at half-time, which is priced at a very tempting 17/4.
Spurs have learnt some tough lessons about playing expansively on the road in Europe (Young Boys springs to mind, as does Inter, regardless of Gareth Bale’s one-man show at the San Siro) and their shadow side will presumably look to keep it tight early on.
But the constant pressure being applied by the hosts, who are in more desperate need of the win if they are to reach the last 32, should eventually tell, especially with Spurs’ lack of quality options on the bench.
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