New Wales boss Chris Coleman will restrict his involvement in his country’s friendly international against Costa Rica to shaking hands with each of his players prior to kick-off in the belief that anything else would be “inappropriate”.
In an interview with the Times, the former Fulham defender said the game’s status as a memorial match for Gary Speed, who died in November 2011 aged 42, means it cannot be seen as a warm-up for the World Cup qualifiers which start in the autumn; instead, the players will simply be representing and paying tribute to their former manager.
Against this backdrop, Wales are odds-on favourites to win the game at 67/100, leaving the draw at 5/2 and a Costa Rica success at 9/2 in bwin’s 3Way football betting market.
Costa Rica have failed to score in ten of their last 16 friendly internationals, making a Wales clean sheet worth a look at evens.
Wales’ recent run certainly supports their tag as favourites. In December, they were confirmed as the 2011’s ‘Best Movers’ by Fifa having gained more ranking points than any other nation over the course of the year.
This was achieved thanks to wins over Northern Ireland, Montenegro, Switzerland, Bulgaria and a 4-1 success over Norway in Speed’s final match in charge.
However, Costa Rica can also boast impressive results in recent months having drawn 2-2 with World and European Champions Spain in November and beaten 2011 Copa America semi-finalists Venezuela 2-0 in December.
The trouble for La Sele is that instances of them scoring twice in a game – as they have admittedly done in each of their last two outings – are few and far between.
In fact, Costa Rica have failed to score in ten of their last 16 friendly internationals, making a Wales clean sheet worth a look at evens.
Similarly, given Wales’ recent form a win to nil – something they have managed in two of their last three matches – is not beyond question, with this eventuality given a price of evens.
However, perhaps the safest bet is on Wales to score first at odds of 53/100.
For not only do Costa Rica carry little goal threat, but Wales have scored the first goal in four of their last five games.
The home side are also likely to start at a high tempo inspired by the memory of the man who oversaw their renaissance in the second half of last year.
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