Welsh look underrated

  • By: Ben Coley
  • Last Updated: March 22 2013, 19:17 GMT

Our Ben Coley runs the rule over Friday's World Cup qualifiers, including San Marino v England, with Wales rated good value to beat Scotland.

Wales won the reverse fixture back in the autumn

England's bid to secure World Cup qualification continues on Friday with a trip to San Marino.

You don't need me to tell you that England will win, nor that they should lead at half-time and full-time, keep a clean sheet, ad nauseum.

The value, if there is any, is surely in the side markets. One which catches my eye is the anytime scorer list, where Coral in particular seem to have gone out on a limb.

For example, they make Steven Gerrard 7/4 to find the net, and he's odds-on with every other firm. Everton's Leighton Baines is 13/8 with BetVictor, but Coral will give you 5/1.

The list goes on. Frank Lampard is evens with Coral and 2/5 with others, Jermain Defoe is 2/9 with BetVictor but a potentially huge 8/11 with Coral, or you could head to Sky Bet for 4/7 Danny Welbeck even though he's generally 1/4.

The problems we have at this stage are that we can't back them all, nor is it easy to pick out which men will get the nod given that the crucial game for England is Tuesday's trip to Montenegro.

Clearly, we don't have the luxury of waiting until the line-ups are announced, poised to snap up value about those given the nod - but you do. My advice has to be to wait for team news and see if you can get on any of those fancy prices.

Elsewhere, there is some temptation to take William Hill's 21/20 about the second half producing the most goals.

That's been the case in eight of San Marino's last 10 competitive internationals, including the reverse at Wembley, and it's easily explained, too.

Quite simply, not only do San Marino lack the class of just about every opponent faced, but they suffer massively in terms of fitness. While they can raise an effort early - granted a little fortune and profligacy from the opposition - they tire massively after the break and offer chances by the bucket-load.

However, England clearly have the ability to put this game to bed early should they take their chances, and if they do so there will be obvious temptation to take the foot off the gas at this stage of the season.

Finally, I would suggest that the only way to obtain correct-score value is to go against the grain. Most punters will be looking for seven-, eight- or nine-goal victories but the reality is that it's two years since San Marino last conceded more than six at home in a competitive game.

With that in mind, while 4-0 is rightly priced as favourite, 2-0 and 3-0 are probably more likely than 5-0 and 6-0.

Anyway, there's no outstanding value at the time of writing so we move on to Wales, who must be decent value to beat Scotland at 4/1.

Gareth Bale's fitness will be key, but as things stand he remains part of the squad and everything points to him being ready for Friday's clash - the Welsh FA tweeted as much on Wednesday afternoon.

It was Bale who, perhaps unsurprisingly, proved the difference when last these sides met. Scotland had taken an early lead but two goals in the last 10 minutes from the Spurs' star handed Wales the points.

Since then, it must be noted that Scotland have done well to win a couple of friendlies and they certainly deserve to be favourites, I just don't see them as 5/6 chances.

Wales have plenty of individual quality away from Bale in Aaron Ramsey, Craig Bellamy and Joe Ledley, and even without their talisman it's hard to view them as inferior to Scotland.

With that in mind, 4/1 about an away win makes plenty of sense from a value perspective and on a night where prudence is key, a small-stakes bet is the advice.

  • The England game is being televised live in the UK on ITV with the Wales match on Sky Sports.

  • Preview posted at 2100 GMT on 20/03/2013.