From the Trading Floor - Week 41

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”

 

Spain v Scotland – UEFA Euro 2024 Qualifying – Group A – 19:45 – October 12

Domestic football takes another break this week as International action returns for a brief spell, with UEFA Euro 2024 Qualifying taking centre stage.

A handful of teams could book their passage to the finals in Germany before the start of this weekend, with France, Belgum or Austria, and Portugal all able to secure qualification with victories on Friday. Despite this, the main focus on these shores will no doubt be on affairs in Seville on Thursday evening where Scotland could become the first Nation to guarantee a spot alongside the hosts in next summer’s tournament if they manage to beat Spain.

The Tartan Army have so far had a flawless run in their Group A qualifying campaign. They have picked up five wins from five, including a 2-0 victory over Spain at Hampden Park back in March, and sit six points clear at the top of their group as a result. Victory on Thursday would put them eleven points clear of third placed Norway who have just three games left to play.

However, the trip is no doubt going to be difficult for Steve Clarke’s men. Since their defeat in Glasgow, Spain picked up their first Nations League trophy with a penalty shoot-out victory over Croatia, as well as beating both Cyprus and Georgia by six goal margins. Defeats on home soil are also such a rarity for the Spanish, in fact, the last time they lost a home qualifier for either the World Cup or a European Championships was against Greece prior to Euro 2004, a run stretching back more than 20 years.

This will not deter the visitors though, who have approached this competition oozing with confidence and full of team spirit. Previous Scotland squads may have been happy to play for a draw here, but I’ve got a feeling that there won’t be any sitting back on Thursday night.

It has been a full team effort to get to this point, but it’s hard to ignore the impact Scott McTominay has had in their recent resurgence.

The midfielder had only scored once in 37 appearances for his country before the start of this year, but he has since managed to find the net six times in as many appearances in 2023, including both goals in the reverse fixture seven months ago.

The Manchester United man also enters this fixture on the back of an explosive performance in the Premier League on Saturday, coming off the bench during the dying minutes against Burnley and managing to score twice to secure a 2-1 victory for his club.

Scotland may end up seeing their perfect run come to an end on Thursday, but there’s every reason to believe that they could grab at least one goal on the night, and an inspired McTominay is well priced to be the one who gets it.  

Traders’ Tip: Scott McTominay To Score Anytime @ 6/1. A £10 bet at these odds could return £70.

England v Australia – International Friendly – 19:45 – October 13

England against Australia seems to have been the sporting fixture of 2023, with two Ashes series, a FIFA Women’s World Cup Semi-Final, and even the 2023 Netball World Cup Final in August. Saturday’s 2023 Rugby World Cup Quarter-Final really should have been between the two Nations too (more on that later), but Friday will be yet another instalment in the rivalry of the year when the two countries meet at Wembley for a Friendly match. Coincidently, it won’t be the last time they meet either, with at least one fixture set to take place in the 2023 Cricket World Cup at the start of next month.

In a footballing sense, this will be just the eighth meeting between the two countries, all of which have come in Friendlies, with England currently holding four victories compared to Australia’s one and only success at Upton Park twenty years ago.

England head in to the fixture in decent enough form, they currently top their Euro 2024 Qualifying group after picking up 13 points from their first five matches, and could guarantee qualification as early as Tuesday when they host Italy. All-time top goalscorer Harry Kane enters the fixture in fine form, with plenty of front line firepower, scoring six times from six appearances for England in 2023, as well as eight goals in seven Bundesliga appearances since his summer move to Bayern Munich, whilst 20-year-old midfielder Jude Bellingham also continues to impress at club level, with eight La Liga goals to start his season at Real Madrid.

The Three Lions will have to do without Arsenal forward Bukayo Saka, who is ruled out with a hamstring injury, but there’s still plenty of strength in depth amongst this vastly impressive looking England squad.

Unlike their female counterparts, Australia’s Men’s team aren’t a country bursting with top level Footballing talent. None of their current squad ply their trade in any of the top five European domestic leagues, but their run to the knock-out stages of the Qatar World Cup last year shows that they aren’t a team to be taken lightly.

Despite this, England should be looking to use this fixture as a way to build confidence ahead of their qualifying fixture with Italy. They swept aside North Macedonia with a 7-0 victory here back in June, to follow up a 2-0 home victory over Ukraine in March, and they’ll be hoping for yet another comfortable victory on Friday night.

Goalkeeper Jordan Pickford didn’t even need to make a save in either of those two games and, when faced with a team that doesn’t possess a definitive attacking threat, I’ll be expecting something similar this weekend.

Traders’ Tip: England To Win To Nil @ 17/20. A £10 bet at these odds could return £18.50.

Wigan Warriors v Catalans Dragons – Super League – 18:00 – October 14

The Super League will finally come to an end at Old Trafford on Saturday when five time Grand Final winners Wigan Warriors take on a Catalans Dragons team hoping to pick up their maiden victory.

It’s been almost nine straight months of gruelling action of England’s elite Rugby League clubs, but few can argue with the two teams who will competing in this weekend’s pinnacle game.

The two clubs ended the season in the top two positions in the table. Catalans lead the way for the majority of the season, but Wigan’s impressive end of season run of eight straight victories meant they pipped them to the League Leaders Shield. That stretch also included a 34-0 success when the Warriors travelled to Perpignan, potentially giving the Greater Manchester based club the advantage ahead of Saturday’s Grand Final, especially considering Wigan’s resounding 42-12 victory over Hull KR in their semi-final fixture last Saturday.

Catalans were made to work for their spot in Manchester, edging out a spirited St Helens team 12-6 on Friday night, courtesy of a 79th minute try from experienced fullback Sam Tomkins.

In fact, Sam is someone who is likely to be that bit more fired up than others, having spent nine years with the Warriors over two separate spells, and he is one of the most experienced players for this occasion, playing in three of the Warriors successes at Old Trafford.

I’d be inclined to give the outright nod to Wigan here given their dominant recent form, however, they are relatively strong favourites ahead of the encounter and I feel like the true value may actually lie with the points total on offer.

The current line is set at just above 30, but this is a game that I don’t believe is going to be one filled with plenty of tries. History suggests that recent Super League Grand Finals have typically been cagey affairs. Just two of the past nine Old Trafford encounters have had more than thirty points, with six losing teams failing to reach double digits in terms of points on the board. Wigan’s rout against KR might suggest that they could score plenty on Saturday, but Catalan’s defensive resilience against Saints a day later feels like a decent mitigation to this.

Much like last week, which I ultimately made the wrong selection for, I can see this being yet another tense encounter that may end up being decided very late on. The two best teams over the course of the season may be featuring in the season finale, but I just can’t see it being a high scoring encounter.

Traders’ Tip: Under 30.5 Points @ 17/20. A £10 bet at these odds could return £18.50.

Ireland v New Zealand – 2023 Rugby World Cup – Quarter Final – 20:00 – October 14

Whilst one code closes it’s doors on Saturday, the other enters crunch time with the 2023 Rugby World Cup Quarter Finals getting underway in Union.

It has so far been a tournament packed with drama, and all eight matches between now and the final on October 28th will feel like an absolute blockbuster, but Ireland v New Zealand is surely one of the showdowns we’ve all been hoping for.

Ireland have been the top team in Rugby Union for the last 18 months. They have won their last 18 International matches, securing a Six Nations Grand Slam along the way, they won all four of their Pool B games, including a 13-8 victory over a number two ranked South African team, and it’s been a prolonged period of the Irish being simply untouchable. They’ve had a few moments were they have looked vulnerable, England, France and Italy all ran them close in the Six Nations at the start of the year, and Samoa pushed them all the way in a pre-tournament warm up Friendly, but the Irish have always been able to find a way to get the job done. In Johnny Sexton they have a reliable points scorer, experienced stalwart and well respected leader, in Auckland born centre Bundee Aki they have a tireless workhorse who can battle for a full eighty minutes, and as an team they have shown why they are the current spearheads for International Rugby.

New Zealand have historically been the dominant force in Men’s International Rugby, they spent 14 years pretty much unchallenged as the number one ranked nation between 2004 and 2019, briefly handing over the reigns to South Africa on a couple of occasions at the end of the noughties, however, the last few years has seen them struggle to step up to the big occasions.

They entered this World Cup in fairly indifferent style, ranked fourth in the World and losing their opener 27-13 to hosts France, it seemed like New Zealand were in desperate need of some inspiration, and the last four weeks has certainly seen them find it from somewhere.

Wide margin victories against Namibia and Uruguay were probably to be expected (some of the passing in that Uruguay game was fantastic, Fullback Damien McKenzie’s assist for Will Jordan in the 65th minute was a thing of beauty), but the manner in which they dispatched Italy 96-17 at the end of September was an indication of just how dominant the All Blacks can be.

This sets us up nicely for Saturday’s encounter, the current benchmarks against the historical powerhouses of the sport, two teams who have shown the world that they are more than capable of lifting the famous Webb Ellis Cup, a match well and truly deserving of a final, but the participation of one of these teams will cease at the conclusion of this encounter.

As I was with the Ireland v South Africa game a few weeks back, I am completely torn with which way to side. On one hand it would be naïve to go against the current best in the world, but I can’t ignore how impressed I have been with New Zealand over the last few weeks. They may have took a while to finally get the better of Uruguay last Thursday, but watching them cross with ease during the last ten minutes of that encounter felt like watching the All Blacks of old.

Fans of Rugby will know Ireland’s woes when it comes to World Cups, they’ve surprisingly never progressed beyond this stage of the competition in nine previous attempts and, considering the teams who make up the bottom half of the draw, they couldn’t have asked for a worse encounter in the last eight this time around either.

If New Zealand can keep Ireland relatively quiet for the first three quarters of the game then I can see them hauling themselves over the line during the closing 20 minutes.

Traders’ Tip: New Zealand To Win @ 6/5. A £10 bet at these odds could return £22.

England v Fiji – 2023 Rugby World Cup – Quarter Final – 16:00 – October 15

Despite the fact that France v South Africa takes place later in the evening, the patriotic side of me with clearly be more interested in the earlier quarter final encounter between Pool D winners England and Pool C runners-up Fiji.

I also wanted another reason to point out that Fiji’s inclusion at this stage of the competition comes at the expense of Australia, who miss out on the last eight for the first time in their history and deny us the umpteenth chapter of the England v Australia sporting saga of 2023.

England eventually managed to top Pool D without too much of an issue. Their opening three victories against Argentina, Japan and Chile, meant that they had secured the winner’s berth with a game to spare. Their final game against Samoa didn’t hold much bearing on their own finishing position as a result, and many might be forgiven for taking the late 18-17 success as them just going through the motions ahead of the knockout stages. However, the team chosen by Steve Borthwick was by no means a weakened one, with fourteen of the England starting line-up also beginning their opening game against Argentina.

When you actually look at how England have performed so far, barring Chile, they haven’t exactly been pulling up trees. They needed George Ford to single handedly kick them out of trouble in their opener against Argentina, Japan kept them close for large parts of their second Pool game, and Samoa almost ended in disaster. Scorelines have flattered the Lions, and they’ll really need to up their game to stand any chance of lifting the trophy.

In terms of an opposition though, they couldn’t have hand picked a better team than Fiji. Last week I said how their inability to put Georgia to bed early was a reason not to take them to runaway with it against Portugal, well, they ended up receiving the worst possible preparation for a Quarter Final tie as a result.

Fiji didn’t only struggle to handle the fluidity of Portugal’s game, they ended up losing the match 24-23. It was a match where Fiji spent large portions of the second half chasing the game. Knowing they only needed to avoid defeat by more than seven points to progress, they teetered on the edge of elimination before Mesake Doge’s 68th minute try helped to level the scores and give them some breathing room. Fiji should have realistically won comfortably against a country that had never won at a World Cup before. If England have stumbled their way in to a quarter-final, Fiji have got there after clattering in to every hurdle and crawling over the finish line.

England’s last game prior to this World Cup was a 22-30 defeat to the same opposition they face on Sunday. Many concerned eyebrows were raised after that result, but if England suffer a similar fate after seeing how Fiji fared against both Georgia and Portugal it would be a stern wake-up call to everybody at the RFU. I just can’t see England failing to see off this Fijian outfit for a second time, and I am hopeful that they’ll get revenge for that pre-tournament loss with a comfortable victory.

Traders’ Tip: England -8.5 @ 5/6. A £10 bet at these odds could return £18.33.

 

A £10 5-Fold on the above selections could return £966.29.

 

*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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