Oh joy. It’s another warmly welcomed international break.
Absolutely no-one is tired of these wonderful little sabbaticals away from the hectic world of Premier League, Champions League and, if you’re an Arsenal fan, Europa League matchdays. Here at Power Tower, we’re thoroughly pumped at the prospect of a Luxembourg v Hungary friendly and what should be a fascinating World Cup qualifier between New Zealand and Peru.
In fairness, the playoff contest between Denmark and Ireland should prove to be a thrillingly visceral puntfest, while the poppy-hued Our Boys-athon that is England v Germany at Wembley will also provide plenty of food for thought.
But we must wait a little longer for those titanic clashes – up first, it’s Thursday’s fixtures, and here’s where we think the money might be best invested.
Scotland to beat Netherlands – 5/2
No, seriously. Yes, we know Scotland are bad, but they showed a bit of fight during the latter stages of World Cup qualification and are rumoured to have been inspired by a series of ‘hilarious’ group texts that newly appointed Malky Mackay has been circulating as a motivational tool.
What’s more, have you seen how awful the Netherlands are these days? Given that it’s a home game for the Scots, and their manager’s first in charge, you’d expect a bit of urgency in their play. It would be no surprise to see them nab a win here.
Croatia to beat Greece – 4/5
There’s a fairly simple explanation for this one. Croatia are very good, Greece are pretty rubbish. Luka Modric & Co. should be capable of winning this tie with plenty of room to spare.
For the price (4/5), it seems a fairly safe bet.
Northern Ireland to Win or Draw (Double Chance) against Switzerland – 8/13
Switzerland are a decent side with some very effective international-standard players. But to go to Belfast in the middle of winter and get anything other than a scrappy draw would be a major achievement.
Especially against what is a tightly marshalled, determined and efficient Norn Iron outfit under Michael O’Neill. If the Swiss got a win here, it would be a fairly major upset, so backing the home side to win or the match to end in a draw seems like a smart play.