The novelty of an international break is nice, particularly when it’s not come about simply for friendlies.
And particularly for English fans who now have every right to believe they’re the best international side in the world.
While many top-tier nations might think about dropping points in Sofia, that simply doesn’t even come onto this England team’s radar. But I’ve checked my fantasy football team every morning since last Monday, so can we get these over with, please?
Thank you. Given we’ve still got to sit through meaningless hype packages from broadcasters depicting the ‘passion’ associated with international football, I feel we should be at least compensated for it.
France v Turkey: Draw – 4/1
Sometimes prices are done on reputation. I’m very strong on the idea that the World Champions needing to qualify for a European Championship is ridiculous, but this one might be for the better.
France were well beaten in Turkey earlier in this group, and the 3/10 about them beating them second-time-around is far from enticing. But, the thing about group stages is that you have to think about more than yourselves. Iceland welcome Andorra, so they’ll move onto 15 points.
If this game is level after an hour, which I suspect it will be, you can forget about either side going gung-ho.
The draw is the smart bet here, as both will take it and move onto their respective games against Iceland to decide who comes top.
Ukraine v Portugal: Portugal to Win – Evens
There’s only one time you should ever back Portugal – and that’s when they have to win.
Because there is no better player in world football when it comes to must-haves than Cristiano Ronaldo.
Woah, woah – hang on there, now. I know how SEO works and let me just throw out a disclaimer here: I did not say he’s better than Lionel Messi. This isn’t even a fine-print job.
It’s just that age-old concept of the ‘clutch gene’ isn’t it? His sole motivation for being that good when he needs to be is down to the fact he loves attention.
But, we should all absolutely aspire to love something as much as that man loves attention. Maybe you’ll love him that much when he dances through a desperate Ukrainian defence en route to helping his country win this one.
Kosovo v Montenegro: Kosovo to Win – 4/7
When you take away the absolutely thumping England gave Kosovo, they’ve conceded just five times in their five games while scoring twice as many.
That’s not how football works of course, but there’s something more important to take that from England result than the just scoreline. Kosovo couldn’t give the slightest s**t about who you are – they’re going to attack and they’re probably going to score.
What people need to understand is that just because a nation is relatively new in its international football recognition, it does not translate to a lack of quality.
Vedat Muriqi plays for Fenerbahce, Edon Zhegrova is one of the brightest young talents in Europe and Milot Rashica is going to the Premier League sooner rather than later. Believe the hype!
* All odds correct at time of posting.