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The odds for this game is looks ridiculous.
I know I can be biased when it comes to England so I told myself to be more generous when pricing their trip to Belarus on Wednesday. However, even the greatest philantropist could not mark this a -1. 25 contest!
Needless to say, I find Belarus +1. 25 good value.
England are always 'overpriced' because punters like to bet a team with which they are familiar. Household names like Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Wayne Rooney, David Beckham, Joe Cole & more recently, Theo Walcott ring in their minds when they punch through the bets. Bookmakers know this, hence often keeping England short in anticipation of their business.
Perhaps there's some justification for England's short odds after beating Croatia (at Zagreb no less) & Kazakhstan by comfortable margins. But I'm not convinced. There are still unanswered issues, namely the Gerrard-Lampard partnership, a reliable keeper, a natural left-sided winger & a regular strike pairing. More importantly, most of the players are seriously underperforming at international level & they don't look like they're enjoy playing for their country. Maybe the Man Utd-Chelsea-Liverpool rivalry is creating divisions within the camp? Maybe earning too much money is shrouding national pride? Maybe the opportunity cost (risk of injury) is getting higher?
To sum things up, it hasn't been exactly a stroll in the park for England (despite 9-2 in last 2 games) & you could sense the relief in Rio Ferdinand's goal celebrations vs Kazakhstan. England managed to beat the -3 handicap simply because their lowly opponents started chasing the game. And sides that get +3 goal don't have the quality to attack & defend equally well.
If punters have a habit of backing only teams they are familiar with, I suppose my role is to provide more info on the lesser teams (to the best of my knowledge of course).
Belarus are a rebuilt team under manager Bernd Stange, who took over in July 2007. He made some bold decisions in his first game in charge, calling up youngsters instead of several over-the-hill veterans. He also played a striker in defence! These drastic changes couldn't hurt a side who was badly struggling in the Euro2008 qualifications. Like any rebuilding team, Belarus had several mixed results before things started to look up. They ended the qualifications in style, winning their last 2 matches including a famous 2-1 victory over the mighty Netherlands. This was then followed by an unbeaten 4-game run (friendlies) against Turkey (Euro semi-finalists), Germany (finalists), Finland (yawn) & Argentina.
Belarus' current WCQ2010 didn't get to the best of start, losing to a injury-time penalty at Ukraine. It was probably one of the most undeserving defeats I've seen for some time. They did manage to register their first points vs minnows Andorra but the psychological scars (from the Ukraine defeat) was evident in the narrow 3-1 victory. Nevertheless, Stange & his men will be fired up for England's visit (who doesn't since EPL is so popular) on Wednesday. A good result will see them back in qualification contention.
Will they cause an upset? Well, Belarus have defied bigger odds before. Bate Borisov making into the Champions League group stages? Coach Stange making it out alive after his 2-yr spell with Iraq, working under the notorious Uday Hussein & during the American's invasion? It's not impossible but more importantly, what is value?
My price: Belarus +0. 75 2. 10
Win or lose, I hope to see sanity in the odds by kickoff.
Prediction: 1-1 / 2-2
|12/10/2008 23:41, read 3435 times