Betting on International friendlies is fraught with danger – full internationals however, tend to follow better trends, and games such as this European Championship play-off represent the sort of highly competitive clash that can still produce value bets. The first leg sees the Republic of Ireland travel to Tallinn to face Estonia, so where is the value in this one?
Under 2.5 Goals (StanJames 8/15)
First Goalscorer – Aiden McGeady (Ladbrokes 16/1)
Estonia v Republic of Ire Form Guide
Estonia qualified for the play-offs by virtue of coming second in Group C. That group however, was fairly weak, and it was back to back wins against Northern Ireland that allowed Estonia to reach 16 points and grab the play-off spot. Their home form certainly will not intimidate anyone (A 1-1 draw versus Liechtenstein the low point), and most of the their best results have come away from home.
The Republic of Ireland will travel to Tallinn as favourites, but have some concerns in the striking department. Shane Long is certain to miss the game despite being named in the squad, his knee injury is expected to keep him out for another 5 weeks at least. Veteran Robbie Keane was also a doubt but boosted Irish hopes by playing (and scoring) for LA Galaxy last weekend.
The suspension of Kevin Doyle further restricts the options at the disposal of Coach Giovanni Trapattoni. West Brom striker Simon Cox and Stoke forward Jon Walters are possible replacements.
The recent record of both nations, and the pressure of these first leg ties, suggest that chances, and more importantly goals, will be at a premium. Stan James are best price on the ‘Under 2.5′ market at 8/15 and that looks reasonable value. All 5 of the Republic’s away games during qualifying saw 2 goals or less.
For a slightly more attractive price, look at Aiden McGeady in the ‘First Goalscorer’ market. Ladbrokes go 16/1 – and with Trapattoni short of attacking options, the threat of McGeady on the counter-attack might be the favoured weapon. In terms of match odds, if the away side drift to 6/4 (2.5) or bigger, they start to look good value.