Just over a month ago, Belgrade’s FK Stadium staged what should have been a walkover for the local side, Partizan Belgrade.
Having recently pulled off an impressive league and cup double, they surely had nothing to worry about against Shamrock Rovers, a side hailing from a league where average attendances drift around the 1,500 mark.
The game started as expected: coming off a useful 1-1 away draw, the ‘Steamroller’ (as Partizan are affectionately known in the area) notched an early goal thanks to Vladimir Volkov, and looked set for the win until Patrick Sullivan, a 28-year-old who had been released from his previous club, Cork City, smashed in what can only be defined as the goal of his career.
His beautiful volley off a clearing header should have been a blip, yet deep into extra-time the Serbians’ defence panicked on a routine long ball and conceded a penalty, which Stephen O’Donnell duly converted.
Cue bedlam. For the first time in its history, the Irish top flight has a representative in the Europa League’s prestigious group stages and the Shamrock faithful responded to this wave of optimism by nearly packing the Tallaght Stadium for the club’s opening game against Rubin Kazan.
Unfortunately for the Dubliners, bwin are predicting a sudden and abrupt end to the romance. That game against Kazan ended in a three-nil rout, which incidentally is one of tonight’s most likely scores in Tottenham’s favour (alongside 2-0 at 5/1).
In such a one-sided match – Tottenham are favourites to win at 7/50, while an away victory is priced at a whopping 19/1 – it might be worth taking a quick look at some alternative options.
A high-scoring game seems to be on the cards, with a particular multiple correct score (4-0, 5-0 or 6-0 to Spurs) fetching some rather interesting odds of 17/5.
Though Tottenham will almost certainly field a second team, we will still see the likes of Roman Pavlyuchenko and Steven Pienaar make an appearance, as well as talented youngsters like Jake Livermore and Tom Carroll.
All will be looking to make an impression and break into the first team, so don’t bank on Spurs ever hitting the brakes. This is why betting on a home win despite a 0-2 handicap, which is currently priced at 21/20, looks to be a decent punt.
One thing is certain: if Spurs’ academy could keep a clean sheet against PAOK, a side graced with talents like Dimitris Salpingidis, Pablo Garcia and Vieirinha, then they should manage to contain Shamrock Rovers’ front-line. The visitors are 57/100 not to score.
Returning to Tottenham’s attack, there are some more odds which catch the eye. Bwin’s experts predict that Spurs will merely open the scoring before half-time (most likely outcome at 21/10), thereby postponing the goal fest to the second half, where the home side are 333/100 to net three times or more.
After all, it is likely that Shamrock will play for a point and park the proverbial bus, only cracking once fatigue sets in.
Having said that, a 3-0 half-time score in Tottenham’s favour doesn’t seem at all unlikely at 9/2, especially considering Giovani dos Santos’ brilliant performance at the Toumba Stadium. Having previously been touted as one of the world’s most promising youngsters, will he be able to convince Harry that he’s worthy of Premier League football?
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