Backing Franck makes sense
Ben Coley previews Tuesday's international football and fancies Franck Ribery to find the net for France.
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England were booed off the Wembley pitch on Friday night as Chile proved much too good for a side lacking in creativity and far too easily exposed in defence.
It begs the question, who is it that's backing Roy Hodgson's side to bounce back when Germany come to visit on Tuesday? At the time of writing, England have been trimmed by a couple of firms and aren't much bigger than 2/1, with Germany priced at a tantalising 11/8.
There is, however, a problem, and that problem is that this will not be the Germany side we've come to know. Mesut Ozil is out. Phillip Lahm is out. Manuel Neuer is out. Sami Khedira, who cruelly tore his anterior cruciate ligament on Friday, is of course out too.
This doesn't mean that Germany aren't worth backing. Far from it. Because let's face it, on the back of a woeful performance on Friday, England would've been there for the taking and a stronger German XI might've even started the game odds-on; 11/8 with a few changes to the team still appeals as very fair.
However, I can't advise it as a bet now because my gut feeling is the price will get bigger. England are often the subject of a patriotic punt, never more so than when they face rivals so fierce as Germany, and once a few relative unknowns find their way onto Joachim Low's team sheet I can see prices upwards of 6/4 finding their way to the internet.
The advice is to be patient and take them should they arrive even if your heart demands a bet on England. Abstain if that's something you cannot overcome.
None of this is to write England off altogether, and it'd be remiss of me not to give a nod to their game-raising performances against Spain and Brazil since Roy Hodgson took the reins. They could, conceivably, be an altogether different outfit once lining up opposite Germany, even if the personnel remain largely the same.
Speaking of personnel, Hodgson is the manager who has received the better news over the last 48 hours, with bang in-form Daniel Sturridge having suggested he'll be ready to return to the squad and Joe Hart potentially being handed a reprieve.
But while you can find positives for England, even Germany's second-string should prove far too dynamic, far too dominant and far too good because, let's face it, England are not a particularly good side.
I must admit to feeling slightly hard done by on Friday, having backed Ukraine and France to produce no more than a goal between them. An hour in and the game had gone as expected, until some shambolic late happenings meant a losing bet.
There was temptation to go in again on exactly the same market on value grounds, in the hope that the market got carried away with France's need to score at least twice to hold any chance to reach next summer's World Cup finals.
However, to my surprise under 2.5 goals quotes are still odds-on so we'll look elsewhere for the bet, which might be Franck Ribery to score at any time.
Ribery is currently trading as favourite for the Ballon d'Or but whether he gets that accolade or not, the feeling is he has a little more to do if he's to be considered the equal of, let alone superior to, either Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi.
This game provides him with the ideal platform because, if he's as good as the betting for that award says he should be, he should be looking to put in a talismanic performance for his country and at 2/1 he looks slightly overpriced to find the net.
Ribery has scored in 45 per cent of his appearances already this season, and while the obvious reaction to that is to note the quality of Bayern's opposition he has found the net in some key games as both Manchester City and Chelsea are all too aware.
He's in form for France, too, having scored their first goal in three consecutive appearances prior to Friday's disaster in the Ukraine, and remains their go-to man when it comes to both free-kicks and penalties.
Ribery threatened twice early on in the second half of Friday's game and 2/1 that he finds the net in one which should see France dominate possession looks a shade too big to me. Those with BetVictor accounts should also consider their 4/1 that he scores France's first goal, although 11/2 that his is the first of the game is not a bad price either.
Much of the focus will again be on Sweden's clash with Portugal, and the hosts will need more from Zlatan Ibrahimovic if they're to turn the tie around having lost the reverse due to a Ronaldo goal.
I was slightly surprised to see Ronaldo chalked up at odds-against to score again given that he could be afforded space on the counter, and he makes much more appeal than Zlatan even at a shorter price given how well the Portuguese defence dealt with Sweden's biggest threat on Friday.
Instead, though, I'm going to have a small play on the Portugal win at a bigger price. They have in the past been a shade unconvincing on the road but appear to be turning that around and Sweden's need to score may see them punished against a side who might have won with greater comfort on Friday but for profligacy in front of goal.