Article by Chris Williams
Spread bettors often have a difficult time over international friendly fixtures. The winning side is usually a certainty ahead of kick-off, at least when a top-ranked nation takes on one of the minnows, so astute punters will need to look elsewhere for a good value spread market such as the bookings index or player spreads. But a problem then arises in the lack of head-to-head data or in-depth knowledge of individual players. So it is with Slovenia, who journey to Wembley to face England in September, while other teams battle it out for World Cup qualification.
England have never before faced Slovenia so unlike for the Three Lions’ last friendly against Holland spread punters do not have pages of data to scroll through and years of memories to recall. Buyers and sellers of Slovenia’s win index spread will have instead looked at the Balkan side’s recent record. In their nine games last season, they won just two, against lowly Slovakia and Northern Ireland. The few sellers of England’s supremacy will have pointed out that Slovenia netted five times in their last outing, but it’s likely that these spread punters have missed the fact that those five goals were scored at home to Europe’s whipping-boys, San Marino – who currently sit on a -36 goal difference in qualifying group three.
More will have bought the supremacy spread in favour of England, possibly after learning of Slovenia’s results outside of their home country. They played away four times last season, and lost three matches, scoring just once in those games to force a 1-1 draw in Poland. More buyers of the supremacy spread still will be attracted by England’s ability to score against much weaker opposition. In their four most recent meetings against teams ranked below Slovenia’s FIFA placing of sixtieth, Fabio Capello’s men have scored 18 goals.
Even for the quietest national teams, it seems strange not to know at least several of their key players from the Premier League or at least Champions League exposure. It’s probable that only one name on the Slovenian starting sheet rings any bells for spread bettors with anything less than an exhaustive knowledge of European football, as most of the playing staff feature in some of the continent’s smaller clubs. That player is Slovenian captain and West Bromwich Albion midfielder Robert Koren and buyers of his goal minutes spread may be aware of his recent goal against Ipswich. He also scored ten for the Baggies last season, but spread sellers know he is by no means a prolific scorer in the vein of Frank Lampard – he has scored just once in 21 games for his country. Sporting Index can expect to see more punters buying Jermain Defoe’s goal minutes spread. The diminutive striker has scored four in England’s last two, and four in his first three Premier League games of the season for Tottenham Hotspur.
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