Main Menu
No.1 2 3 4 5 6
No.7 8 9
In Association with
Play now at the William Hill Casino
  | Home   | Index   | Info   | This Week   | Poker   | News   | Email
23/03/2007 No.9
Kevin Pullein
Friday March 23, 2007
  It does not pay to expect a torrent of goals when a top international side faces a minnow at home or away

In international football there is a difference between an easy win and a big score. It is something of which you should be aware if you bet on any of the apparent mis-matches scheduled for the next two rounds of European Championship qualifying games. Among several others England's Group E fixture next Wednesday, away to Andorra, stands out.

In games where one country is vastly superior to the other most people anticipate a huge margin of victory. The most common score is just 2-0.

The best way to illustrate this is with figures showing what happens when the strongest countries in Europe play the weakest. The eight highest-placed European countries in the Fifa rankings are Italy, France, Germany, England, Holland, Portugal, Czech Republic and Spain. The eight lowest are San Marino, Faroe Islands, Luxembourg, Andorra, Liechtenstein, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Armenia.

In qualifiers for the last six major tournaments - from the 1998 World Cup up to and including the 2008 European Championship - there have been 63 meetings between those giants and those minnows. The giants beat the minnows 60 times and drew three times. The most common score, though, was 2-0 (which occurred in 20% of games), followed by 3-0 (13%) and 4-0 (also 13%). It may be that the best teams are sometimes content to play out time once they feel victory has been assured. You do not get more points for scoring more goals.

It is true that England beat Andorra 5-0 at Old Trafford in September but for them, as for other leading European countries, such a big score is an exception rather than the rule. In World Cup 2002 qualifiers England beat Albania by two goals at home and by two goals away. In Euro 2004 qualifiers they beat Liechtenstein 2-0 at home and away. In World Cup 2006 qualifi ers they beat Azerbaijan 2-0 at home and 1-0 away.

Ten years ago one could get odds of up to 18-1 about a 2-0 victory for a very good country against a very bad one. Nowadays you will be lucky to get much more than 6-1. It is still the small scores, however, which represent the biggest-value bets.

Register for Ltd email updates


play online poker