The Republic of Ireland go in as odds-on favourites for their crunch Euro 2012 qualifier against Slovakia in Dublin.
Football betting fans can back Giovanni Trapattoni’s men to pick up all three points at 9/10 (bet now!), with the draw available at 23/10 and a victory for the visitors priced at 63/20.
Ireland have certainly enjoyed an impressive campaign thus far, picking up 13 points from their first six matches to offer genuine hope that they can make it to Ukraine and Poland next summer.
However, they are locked in a three-way tie with Russia and Slovakia at the top of Group B and with just one automatic qualification place up for grabs, the importance of tonight’s clash against the latter at the Aviva Stadium cannot be overstated.
Ireland are unbeaten in their three previous clashes with Slovakia, having picked up a 1-0 home win and drawn 2-2 on the road when the two sides clashed in qualifying for Euro 2008, while also securing a 1-1 draw in Bratislava last October.
We can expect a tight encounter tonight, then, but a closer look at the form book suggests the hosts should have enough in the tank to get the job done.
Slovakia come into the fixture with major worries over their goal threat, having ground out thoroughly uninspiring 1-0 home and away victories over group whipping boys Andorra in their previous two qualifiers.
Despite the undoubted playmaking ability of skipper Marek Hamsik, none of their players have contributed more than one goal thus far in a campaign which has yielded just six in total.
Indeed, five of Slovakia’s six Group B matches to date have contained less than three goals, and with so much at stake in this latest clash, they will surely be looking to focus on their strength – keeping it tight at the back – and pinch a goal on the counter.
The upshot is that a goalfest is highly unlikely, so betting on under 2.5 goals to be scored on the night appears to be a no-brainer at 11/20, while under 1.5 goals is available at 33/20.
Ireland, meanwhile, will draw confidence from their recent Carling Nations Cup triumph, plus an impressive 2-0 win over Italy and a goalless draw against Croatia in their last two fixtures.
With Slovakia looking toothless and Trapattoni’s troops now accustomed to their new surroundings at the Aviva, a 1-0 home win is worth a punt despite looking a tad short at 9/2, while a 2-0 triumph is priced at 25/4.
Football betting fans who use their free £25 bet for joining bwin.com to back the former selection could net a tidy £137.50 if the scoreline materialises.
Backing Ireland to break the deadlock also makes sense at 3/5, particularly as five of their 11 goals to date have come in the opening half an hour of their matches, including three in the first 15 minutes.
Furthermore, seven of their total have been notched prior to the interval, so there is plenty of value in betting on the hosts to be ahead at half-time at odds of 7/5.
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