Well that wasn’t very Nice, was it? Our latest attempt at the challenge fell at the first hurdle after Nice somehow conspired to lose 0-3 to a woeful Amiens side. Clearly, all is not well in that team’s camp, although that is hardly any comfort to us now.
It’s the international break this week, and that brings with it opportunities and threats. There are plenty of mismatches about – perfect for a challenge like this, but the bookmakers aren’t daft and often manage to squeeze any value out of the market whatsoever.
Nevertheless, we’re going in hard in this latest instalment of the £10 to £1000 Challenge.
Bet 1: Belgium vs Gibraltar: Belgium to Win & Both Teams to Score (No) – £10 at 1/6
Thursday August 31, 19:45
There’s an element of risk attached to our first bet, but all of the numbers point to Belgium winning this match with ease and quite probably with a clean sheet to their name.
In Gibraltar’s last 20 internationals, they have lost 19 (drawing the other) and scored in just five of them. The only thing that can stop our selection landing is complacency on the part of the Belgians.
But they look strong at the back with Thibaut Courtois, Vincent Kompany, Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld all fit for action, and so it would be a huge shock if the Gibraltans can find the net on Thursday evening.
Bet 2: Malta vs England: England to Win to Nil – £11.67 at 1/8
Friday September 1, 19:45
Since the beginning of 2015, Malta have played 12 competitive (non-friendly) fixtures and scored in just three of them against such luminaries as Azerbaijan and, ahem, Scotland.
England are improving under Gareth Southgate, and with how Group F of World Cup 2018 qualifying is set up it is unlikely his team will leave anything to chance here. Clean sheets in 15 of their last 20 European Championship or World Cup qualifiers bodes well.
Bet 3: Latvia vs Switzerland: Switzerland/Draw Double Chance – £13.13 at 1/8
Sunday September 3, 19:45
The state of play in Group B is that Switzerland lead the way from European champions Portugal, and they will be desperate to maintain that three-point cushion through this next set of fixtures. The benefits of qualifying automatically as group toppers, as opposed to having to play a play-off as a runner-up, is obvious.
The Swiss have won all six of their group games to date, including a 2-0 win over the Portuguese, and so they head to Latvia in high spirits. They are ruthlessly efficient, rather than boasting any real quality.
Still, that will do rather nicely against the Latvians, who find themselves in the rather unenviable position of being below both the Faroe Islands and Andorra in the group. How they have been usurped by the continent’s traditional whipping boys is anybody’s guess, but the bottom line is that this is a poorer side than the one that used to be captained by Southampton legend Marian Pahars./p>
Their sole victory came in Andorra, otherwise it’s been five defeats – failing to score in four of those. Indeed, the Faroe Islands’ 2-0 win was the first time that particular minnow has won a game by more than a single goal margin since 2011!