It is a paradoxical quirk of footballing fate to note that, while Greece as a country is passing through its most turbulent and unpredictable period since the end of the Second World War, its national side is enjoying a hitherto unprecedented spell of stability; since losing 2-0 to Argentina in last year’s World Cup, Greece have gone 16 matches unbeaten.
Like Greece, Russia finished top of their Euro 2012 qualifying group, with their only defeat an anomalous 1-0 home loss to Slovakia.
However, unlike their Hellenic opponents, Russia’s recent record in friendly matches is distinctly unimpressive, with draws against Qatar and Cameroon and defeats at the hands of Belgium and Iran. Both sides are offered at 33/20 to win on Friday night, while the draw is available at 11/5.
Greece’s attritional, defensive, well-organised style which brought them the most unexpected of victories at Euro 2004 has not altered particularly in the ensuing seven years.
In their last 25 matches they have scored two goals or more on just seven occasions and do not expect that to change against a miserly Russian defence which has only conceded five goals in their last 12 games.
Those looking for something to invest in heavily could do worse than take the 57/100 on offer for under 2.5 goals in the game.
Also worth considering is the 9/5 available for Russia not to score in the match, which looks generous when you take into account Greece’s ultra-defensive setup and Russia’s lack of prowess in front of goal in recent friendlies, scoring only twice in five matches.
The Russians’ poor performances in non-competitive games shows them to be a little underwhelmed by the occasions, while Greece, although not aesthetically pleasing, are effective and on an impressive run.
A narrow home win looks like being where the smart money goes and you should jump at the chance to back Greece to win without conceding, which is available at a healthy 13/5.
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