iBet: World Cup Qualification, Group H
Ukraine V England, kick off 7.45pm
Lay England at 2.9 with Betfair
England are looking strong in Group H and their games normally feature goals. They had a good night on Friday in brushing aside Moldova, and with Poland holding Montenegro to a draw, a result that puts them top of the group with a seemingly insurmountable goal difference advantage and a game in hand over second placed Montenegro.
Their qualification is in their own hands, but they face a very tough night in an intimidating atmosphere against Ukraine tonight and given their lack of offensive options – Rooney, Welbeck, Carroll and Sturridge all ruled out for various reasons – it’s easy to see manager Roy Hodgson opting for more of a safety first approach.
Let’s not forget that England’s unbeaten run in the group was preserved only thanks to an 87th minute equaliser at Wembley against tonight’s opponents on a night when England were shows six yellow cards and a red. Ukraine certainly posses plenty of quality – as they showed when beating Montengro 4-0 away from home. They had nine difference scorers on Friday and they will be full of confidence after winning seven of their last eight internationals. However, their qualification games at home have been tight. They are only a point behind the top two in the group and they will see tonight’s game as the most difficult of their three remaining fixtures.
Although a win would be great for either side, a draw would not be a disaster for either and is a live runner. My first thought on this game was to lay over 3.5 goals with Betfair, but the price of 5.0 looks too risky given England’s habit of featuring in high scoring games. On balance I think England would be delighted with a draw, and at the prices laying the away side looks the value.
After scoring two goals in his first two internationals, Ricky Lambert is the bookies’ 13/2 favourite to open the scoring. Konoplienka, who scored a super goal against England at Wembley, is 11/1.
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