From The Trading Floor

Join Jay and Dazn Bet’s trading team as they bring you the pick of this week’s sports bets in “From The Trading Floor”

 

Netherlands v Croatia – UEFA Nations League –19:45 – June 14

International football returns this week with plenty of UEFA-based action to whet the appetite, beginning with semi-final action from the UEFA Nations League between the Netherlands and Croatia.

The Nations League group stages finished way back in September, where the Dutch side eased past Belgium, Poland and Wales to book their semi-final berth. They followed this up with a run to the quarter-finals of the World Cup in Qatar at the end of 2022, where they were defeated on penalties by eventual winners Argentina.

However, their qualifying campaign for Euro 2024 hasn’t got off to the most ideal of starts, with a 3-0 victory over Gibraltar being vastly overshadowed by a 4-0 loss in France.

Croatia have reached this stage of the competition after topping a group containing France, Denmark and Austria. They would then go on to finish third in Qatar, after losing in the semi-finals to Argentina, and have started qualifying for Euro 2024 with a victory over Turkey and a draw against Wales.

Both of these teams look to be extremely well matched, with Netherlands 6th and Croatia 7th in the official FIFA rankings, and it would be difficult for me to pick a winner had this encounter been taking place on neutral ground. However, with the match taking place in Rotterdam, and with Netherland’s having not lost a competitive game on home soil since 2020, it’s hard look past a Dutch victory on Wednesday evening.

 

Traders’ Tip: Netherlands To Win @ 1/1. A £10 bet at these odds could return £20.

 

 

Spain v Italy – UEFA Nations League – 19:45 – June 15

Thursday’s Nations League semi-final encounter looks like it could be just as well matched as the previous evening’s affair, as a typically dogged Italian side take on a usually attack minded Spanish outfit in the eastern Netherlands city of Enschede.

This will be the second meeting between the two teams at this stage of the competition, a Ferran Torres brace previously gave the Spanish side a 2-1 victory over the Italians at Milan’s San Siro stadium back in 2021.

Italy were absent from the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, but topping a Nations League group containing Hungary, Germany and England to reach this stage shows that they have the ability to compete with Europe’s elite teams. Although March’s 2-1 loss to England, followed by a 2-0 victory against Malta, hasn’t been the most convincing of starts to their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign.

Spain, however, have also had a pretty indifferent period of form. After a convincing 7-0 win to open their World Cup group stage, the Spanish side would draw with Germany, lose to Japan, and then suffer a Round of 16 penalty defeat against Morocco. It looked like they were starting to find their form once more after a 3-0 victory over Norway to start Euro 2024 qualifying, but they followed this with a shock 2-0 loss against Scotland just three days later.

The real question surrounding this fixture is which version of these respective teams will turn up on the night. Spain were virtually unplayable in their rout of Costa Rica, whilst Italy are the reigning European Champions, yet they have both suffered their fair share of poor results in between.

I honestly find it so difficult to split the two teams, Italy are always a danger whenever they enter a fixture as the expected underdogs, as is the case here. I wouldn’t be surprised if they managed to hold firm against Spain, and booked their spot in the final following a penalty shootout.

 

Traders’ Tip: Italy To Win Via A Penalty Shootout @ 11/1. A £10 bet at these odds could return £120.

 

 

England v Australia – Ashes 1st Test – 11:00 – June 16

One of the biggest rivalries across the entirety of sport begins at Edgbaston on Friday morning, weather permitting, when England and Australia square off for the first test of the 73rd edition of the Ashes.

Australia head into the five-test series looking to retain the urn for the third consecutive time, having won the most recent series 4-0 in Australia at the end of 2021/start of 2022.

The Aussies come into the series following their recent success in the final of the World Test Championship. Their 209-run victory over India at The Oval was the perfect warm-up against a fellow top-tier nation, and claiming that win on English soil will give them a solid boost in confidence ahead of Friday’s encounter.

England’s only competitive preparation ahead of this weekend came via a 10-wicket victory over Ireland at the start of the month. The English needed only three of the five days to overcome the Irish, with Ollie Pope and Ben Duckett combining for nearly 400 runs, and both Stuart Broad and debutant Josh Tongue claiming five-wicket hauls.

Given Australia’s recent global Test success, paired with England’s home advantage, it’s easy to see why this opener may be a tough one to call. Both teams have oodles of ability in both the batting and bowling departments, and hopefully, this will all lead to another memorable Ashes series. Unfortunately, there’s an expected downpour over the weekend, which could take a large chunk of play out of days three and four. I’m not one to put a dampener on proceedings, pun intended, but this definitely makes the draw look like a bit of a standout price for this weekend’s opener.

That doesn’t mean there won’t be the usual drama that usually comes with this fierce rivalry. Draws can often be seen as an anti-climax, but try telling that to fans who watched the 2009 defensive showing by Monty Panesar and Jimmy Anderson or the 2005 heroics of Kevin Pietersen in Wales, both matches finished with England batting out for historic draws, but have since gone down as two of the most dramatic finishes in Ashes history.

 

Traders’ Tip: Draw @ 4/1. A £10 bet at these odds could return £50.

 

 

Malta v England – UEFA Euro 2024 Qualifying – 19:45 – June 16

Alongside the closing stages of the UEFA Nations League, this weekend also sees the return of qualifying action for Euro 2024. One of the fixtures in Group C on Friday evening will see minnows Malta hosting Europe’s third-highest-ranked team, England.

The hosts have spent almost the entirety of their footballing history as one of UEFA’s worst-performing teams. They have won just one of their last 32 qualifying matches for the European Championships, a 2-1 victory at home to the Faroe Islands in 2019, but even that wasn’t enough to prevent them from finishing bottom of their group, in fact, in twenty-seven attempts at qualifying for a major tournament, the Maltese team have only avoided picking up the wooden spoon in their group once, that came when finishing above Estonia during qualifying for the 1994 World Cup.

England, in contrast, have lost just one of their last twenty-six qualifying games for the Euros, and just one of their last fifty-six qualifying games in total. Despite finishing bottom of their Nations League group last year, and also their quarter-final exit to France in the 2022 World Cup, England have made a habit of making the qualifying process look fairly routine in recent years, and they have already started this time around with two wins from two, against both Ukraine and Italy, whilst Malta’s early results have seen them lose to both North Macedonia and Italy.

With both of these teams seemingly polar opposites to each other, it’s difficult to see anything other than a convincing England win, and their away record under manager Gareth Southgate seems to back this up. Their qualifying phase for the 2022 World Cup saw them score 10 goals in San Marino, win 5-0 in Andorra, and a 4-0 win in both Hungary. Their Euro 2020 qualification saw 4-0 wins in both Ukraine and Kosovo, as well as a 6-0 victory in Bulgaria. Only a 2-0 victory over Albania back in March 2021 could be seen as a potential underperformance during qualifying for the Three Lions.

Granted there will be a lot of tired legs on the field, after a pretty gruelling season for the main basis of England’s expected starting eleven, but that shouldn’t take anything away from the attacking quality that the team have shown over the past few years.

I would be expecting England to cover a four-goal winning margin with relative ease on Friday evening as a result, ahead of an encounter with North Macedonia at Old Trafford on Monday to round off the first half of their qualifying campaign.

 

Traders’ Tip: England -3.5 @ 11/10. A £10 bet at these odds could return £21.

 

 

Wales v Armenia – UEFA Euro 2024 Qualifying – 19:45 – June 16

Wales will be hoping to continue their strong start in Group D Of the European Championship when they host Armenia at the Cardiff City Stadium on Friday.

The hosts have begun their qualifying phase by picking up four points from their opening two games, following up a dogged 1-1 draw in Croatia with a 1-0 victory at home to Latvia back in March.

Armenia’s only game during qualifying so far saw them surrender an early lead in a losing 2-1 effort at home to Turkey. This defeat was their latest in a six game losing streak in competitive fixtures, a run which has also seen them suffer relegation to League C of the UEFA Nations League after finishing bottom of a group containing Scotland, Ukraine and the Republic of Ireland.

I will be one of the first to admit that I couldn’t see how Wales were going to remain competitive following the retirement of both Gareth Bale and Chris Gunter, but they continue to produce results on an International level. Their late leveller against Croatia will have instilled a sense of belief that they can qualify for a fourth major tournament finals from their last five attempts.

Armenia, on the other hand, have struggled since the retirement from International football of their talismanic attacking midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan in 2021. They have suffered heavy defeats to Ukraine, Scotland, Germany & North Macedonia over the last couple of years, and I can’t see how they can expect to pick up much against a team that was present at both the 2024 World Cup and 2022 European Championships.

Wales should have more than enough to pick up a two goal margin of victory at the very least, and will need to produce a convincing display if they want to give themselves a strong chance of beating either Croatia or Turkey to a place in Germany next year.

 

Traders’ Tip: Wales -1.5 @ 23/20. A £10 bet at these odds could return £21.50.

 

 

Norway v Scotland – UEFA Euro 2024 Qualifying – 17:00 – June 17

Qualifying Euro 2024 action continues on Saturday, and Group A action between Norway and Scotland looks like it could carry significant implications in terms of qualifying for next summer’s tournament.

Norway would have initially felt quietly confident about qualifying for their first major finals since the 2000 World Cup, especially with the dangerous Erling Haaland leading their front line, but his absence during both a 3-0 defeat to Spain and a 1-1 draw in Georgia, will have left the hosts feeling under increased pressure to perform on Saturday afternoon, especially given the exploits of their opponents during their opening two matches.

Scotland opened their campaign with a 3-0 victory over Cyprus, before stunning Spain at Hampden Park three days later with a shock 2-0 win. This has left the Scots at the top of Group A with six points, victory over Norway on Saturday, paired with a win over Georgia the following Tuesday, would almost certainly put the Scots on the cusp of qualification, whilst leaving Norway with an uphill battle to give themselves any hope of making it to Germany.

It’s hard to ignore how well this Scotland team has performed over the last 12 months, with five wins and a draw from their last six competitive matches, a run which has seen them promoted to the top division for the start of next season’s UEFA Nations League and has also left them in a strong position in this qualifying group. Still, the return of one of the biggest names in world football to Norway’s squad is going to be a huge boost to the host’s cause.

I can’t begin to imagine a scenario where Scotland simply walk their way through a qualification process, and this feels like the type of game that brings them crashing straight back down to reality. Haaland has shown plenty of times this season that he’s more than capable of delivering a match-winning performance, and I have to side with a Norway victory as a result.

 

Traders’ Tip: Norway To Win @ 1/1. A £10 bet at these odds could return £20.

 

 

A £10 6-Fold on the above selections could return £10,836.

 

 

 

*Odds correct at the time of publishing. Available to UK residents (excluding Northern Ireland) aged 18+ only. T&Cs apply. www.begambleaware.org

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