Wales managed to bounce back from 1-0 down when edging past Andorra, FIFA’s 199th-ranked side, in their opening Euro 2016 away from home, and are suddenly as short as 7/5 with bwin.com to make it to France in less than two years time.
Some reality must be injected into this betting conundrum as, while it’s true that there’s never been an easier time for a lower-tier country to qualify for the extended European Championships, Chris Coleman’s side’s narrow win against Kaldo Alvarez’ was riddled with the same old problems.
Gareth Bale seemed to have forgotten which match he was in after completing a brace with an 81st-minute winner; had the £85m man just seen off Barcelona in the Copa del Rey final, or equalised in the last minute of the Champions League final for Real Madrid against neighbours Atletico?
Neither! The 25-year-old had ensured his country scraped a win in a match former national team captain Kevin Ratcliffe insisted Wales ‘looked as though (they) might lose’ at 1-1, with the ex-Everton stalwart adding ‘a lot of questions will be asked’ on BBC text commentary.
A nervy night was compounded by Aaron Ramsey going off injured late on, and while the seriousness of the Arsenal midfielder’s knock is unclear, his and Bale’s records of turning out for the Dragons will have Welsh fans worrying.
Captain Ashley Williams has played in just shy of 50 per cent more Wales fixtures than Ramsey, despite the pair making their international debuts less than nine months apart in 2008, while the Swansea centre-half has made one more appearance than Bale, who had a two-year head start.
Optimism emanating from the Wales camp can only be attributed to Bosnia’s shock 2-1 loss at home to Cyprus, who currently (and comically) lead Group B, with the mini-league’s other main contenders – Belgium and Israel – yet to play.
There are no excuses for Bosnia to fall back on, as big hitters Asmir Begovic, Miralem Pjanic, Vedad Ibisevic and Edin Dzeko were all out in force, but Safet Susic’s side can afford to serve up a shocker against a lesser nation.
Wales should know this only too well, having beaten Montenegro and Switzerland during Euro 2012 qualifying, before finishing behind both in the final rankings.
The black and yellow boys at bwin.com also know a thing or two about qualifiers past and still have Bosnia miles ahead of Wales in the betting to make Group B’s top two, with the former 19/50, the latter 5/2, and Israel 59/20.
Belgium are 1/100 in this particular market and 1/5 to top the group.