Bet Builder Tips: Our mega value punt for Ireland v Belgium on Saturday

Our tipster Shane O'Brien gets his hopes up all over again.

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*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change

Ireland have improved greatly under Stephen Kenny over the past six months, losing just one of their last ten games to finish their World Cup qualifying campaign strongly. Even that one defeat included plenty of positives as Ireland conceded twice after the 88th minute to turn a famous victory into an agonising defeat against Portugal.

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Ireland rarely lose by more than one goal under Kenny, doing so just once in his two years at the helm (in a 3-0 friendly defeat to England in November 2020). They are much improved since that defeat and will make life difficult for what is almost certain to be an experimental Belgian side.

*A Bet Builder with these four bets pays at approximately 56/1 with Paddy Power. CLICK HERE TO ADD IT TO YOUR BETSLIP.

Saturday 5pm: Ireland v Belgium
TV: Sky Sports Premier League

Ireland (+2)

With the World Cup still eight months away, this friendly is of little importance to Belgium, who do not boast the best record in friendlies in any event. Roberto Martinez’s side have played just five friendlies since 2018, winning two and drawing three.

They haven’t won a friendly by more than a goal since their 4-0 win over Scotland in June 2017, giving Ireland a reasonable chance of getting something out of this game on the alternative handicap and Ireland (+2).

Both teams to score

Kenny’s first six months at the helm was marked by low-scoring games, with six of his first eight games in change involving one goal or less. Even then, however, Ireland showed encouraging signs, passing up several gilt-edged chances in almost every game that they played.

They are clearly more adventurous under Kenny than they were under the more pragmatic managers that came before him and have scored 10 goals in their last four games. They have found the back of the net in six of their last seven outings, only failing to do so in a competitive 0-0 draw with Portugal in November.

They face a Belgium side that has conceded in each of their last four games, managing just three clean sheets in a qualification group involving Belarus, Estonia, Wales, and Czech Republic.

At the other end, Belgium have found the back of the net in each of their last 42 internationals in a run stretching back to their 1-0 defeat to France in the 2018 World Cup semi-finals. That run is unlikely to come to an end against Ireland on Saturday as Both Teams Score.

StephenKennyIrelandMay20a.jpg

Shane Duffy to score anytime

No player has scored more goals for Ireland than Shane Duffy since he notched his first international goal against Georgia in 2017. Duffy has scored seven goals over the past five years, with four of his seven goals coming in 1-1 draws.

Only Callum Robinson has hit the lofty heights of seven goals for Ireland in that spell, with six of Robinson’s goals coming in three games against Qatar, Luxembourg, and Azerbaijan. Ironically, Duffy’s last three goals for Ireland have also come against the formidable trio of nations above.

It speaks volumes about Ireland’s desperate need for a clinical striker that Duffy is unironically regarded as the country’s most potent goal threat. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him in pull ahead of Robinson on Saturday night and there’s good value on Duffy to Score Anytime.

Christian Benteke to score anytime

Christian Benteke scored his first Belgium goal in 18 months when he found the back of the net against Belarus last March and followed that up with a goal in Belgium’s 3-1 win over Estonia in November. The Crystal Palace forward had received precious little opportunities with Belgium thanks to his forgettable club form but has forced his way back into Martinez’s plans, for the less significant games if nothing else.

This game certainly qualifies as a less significant fixture and Benteke has a good chance of notching his 18th international goal in Dublin as he Scores Anytime. He has scored a respectable four league goals in 11 starts for Palace this season and can cause problems for Ireland.

Ireland v Belgium tips

Ireland (+2)
Both Teams To Score
Shane Duffy to Score Anytime
Christian Benteke to Score Anytime

*A Bet Builder with these four bets pays at approximately 56/1 with Paddy Power. CLICK HERE TO ADD IT TO YOUR BETSLIP.

All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change

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