Beat The Bookies - International Football Tonight

There’s a fairly strange situation after arising ahead of the last qualifying games tonight. It’s all to do with finishing as one of the top seeds for the draw for Euro 2008. Basically neither Holland or Germany want to be top seeds or therefore win tonight because being a top seed is a perceived disadvantage next summer. This is because 3 of the 4 top seeds are already decided - Austria and Switzerland (hosts) and Greece (holders).

As a result there’s a bit of shuffling around going on as teams would prefer be in Pot 2 and get one of the above 3 sides in their group rather than risk being the final top seed themselves and possibly getting a France, Italy or someone strong from Pot 2. Germany have already eased up once they were assured of qualifying as evidenced by their 0-0 draw with us before losing at home to the Czechs.

The thing is Belarus/Holland is on at 5pm and if they lose they’ll be 2nd seeds and Germany will go into Pot 1. Suspicions will be aroused if their effort appears to be lacking and Belarus are rank rotten so I predict a Dutch victory despite the permutations. Germany will then be aware of the Holland result ahead of their game at home tonight and could then play out a tame draw against ‘a battling Wales side’ and therefore send Holland through as top seeds.

It may be complicated and unlikely but the odds on a Holland win and a German draw are 20/1 (according to Cesc4 who checked for me as I can’t access betting sites in work - though this appears to be a touch high), with both teams to lose (severely unlikely) at 44/1. I think the first bet is worth a speculative 10 though.

Not a bad theory Bandage.

The Pot 1 situation is further exaggerated by the fact that Austria and Switzerland are in the same side of the draw. So if you are a Pot 1 side you don’t get Austria or Switzerland in your group, nor can you get them in the quarter finals if they finish second (and they have a chance of doing so, but both are still obviously very weak second seeds). So being in Pot 2 gives you a 50/50 chance of having Austria or Switzerland as your top seed and if you get them you then have a cracking chance of getting the other on in the quarter final.

Having said that I still don’t know any managers who will actually try and create this situation for themselves because players have things to prove etc. Still worth a punt though.

Careful we don’t agree with each other now rocko and have WOW and Farmer feeling all left out. As I said it’s quite unlikely but throwing a tenner on it won’t break the bank. Plus Wales showed what a quality side they are by holding us on Saturday.

Croatia to beat Ingerland @ 7/1 and Croatia +1 as a saver @ 7/5 are my bets this evening.

I’m revising the Holland win / Germany draw double odds downwards to 10/1 after shoddy research by Cesc4. Waiting until I go home before assessing what other bets to do tonight.

Scrub this one.

Belarus are winning 2-0 with 10 minutes left. Sly Dutch fooks. :cool:

It ended 2-1 to Belarus.

Auxillary bet:
Spain v Northern Ireland
Spain @ 1 - 3

Sweden v Latvia
Sweden @ 1 - 6

Germany v Wales
Germany @ 2 - 7

Portugal v Finland
Portugal @ 1 - 3

Brazil v Uruguay
Brazil @ 3 - 10

Getting nice and comfortable now ahead of a humping of the Occupied Six.

Steven Gerrard - The Hypocrite

Players like Ronaldo and Carvalho are ruining football

And another despicable dive shortly before half time tonight too.

I think Im going to bet on England to get a result still as thatll ensure Croatia hold out.

Im enjoying watching the analysis on the BBC. Theyre bemoaning the terrible state of the pitch even though their gameplan has solely consisted of the traditional English long ball hoof up into the clouds to Crouch anyway.

Thought Croatia were excellent tonight by the way, though I only saw the second half and the end of the first half.

I was reading a few bits and pieces about Modric the other day and mentioned him to Larry when he rang earlier. He was absolutely superb. A fantastic individual performance. Arsenal are rumoured to have lined up a deal according to Wikipedia but certainly since last summer he’s had a string of big name clubs interested.

Thought Srna was very good too.

I said over on An Fear Rua that Modric gave one of the best midfield displays I’ve seen in years tonight. According to cesc4 Chelsea have stepped in and Arsenal can no longer compete with the financial package they’re offering. He was sublime tonight, absolutely phenomenal and destroyed the Gerrard/Lampard double act with the minimum fuss.

Re:Beat The Bookies - International Football Tonig

He had everything tonight on the ball. Went looking for it the whole time (unlike his direct opponents) and kept it superbly. His control was top drawer, passing excellent and the little turns and dribbling were excellent.

Reminded me of some of Kaka’s displays last year. Not many better than that.

Also McClaren’s selfishness at the end might be worth a mention. Reminded me of Van Gaal last year after AZ threw the league away. Stay on for the players and to shake hands with the opposition. Other reactions are pure selfish.

Re:Beat The Bookies - International Football Tonig

if he is top drawer only chelsea will be able to match Madrid Barca & the Milan teams, playing good against a poor england team isnt really testing him

great tipping by the dob by the way

Re:Beat The Bookies - International Football Tonig

FingalRaven wrote:

if he is top drawer only chelsea will be able to match Madrid Barca & the Milan teams, playing good against a poor england team isnt really testing him

He has been excellent for both Dinamo and Croatia for a couple of years now. No flash in the pan.

If Aresnal have an agreement with him then I presume that stands up but he’ll have plenty of offers.

Re:Beat The Bookies - International Football Tonig

but generally top top players dont end up in britland

Re:Beat The Bookies - International Football Tonig

He’s only 22, he probably looks at Fabregas and knows he’ll get a chance to develop at Arsenal. I don’t think Chelsea would be a good move. I’d reckon Arsenal or Spain or Italy if he thinks he’s the finished article.

Re:Beat The Bookies - International Football Tonig

As I said, according to my Arsenal supporting friend there’s no longer any chance he’s going there and that wikipedia story is quite out of date. There was a Croatian Celtic fan on the huddleboard advocating that we sign him for 10m eur about 18 months ago and said he’d be better than Boban once he reached his prime! I watched him against Arsenal last season and a few other times including England’s game over there too and he’s been consistently top, top class. A superb player.

FingalRaven wrote:

great tipping by the dob by the way

cheers raven…it was never in doubt !!!

Very accurate article from an English newspaper, The Guardian, acknowledging the abject failings of the English national team. I hope farmer doesn’t take offence which he’s prone to do:

Before the match against Croatia, England’s players repeated one phrase like a mantra: “The table doesn’t lie”. They’ve been proved right. The brutal truth of tonight’s 3-2 defeat is this: England aren’t one of the best 16 teams in Europe, let alone a world football power.

Blame it on the manager if you want, or a decadent society that means the country’s current crop of players are more a bling generation than a golden one. Or perhaps it would be better to blame it on a blind fear and loathing of foreigners, the malaise that moved English fans to boo the Croatian national anthem before the game and the BBC’s increasingly confused commentator, John Motson, to gibber: “The Croatians will be pleased with that reception because their national anthem was badly treated in Macedonia on Saturday.”

Yes, maybe that’s it. England refuse to be taught. Could that be why their headless footballers were tonight ushered away from Europe’s showpiece tournament like the ignorant drunks who lurch down the nation’s streets every night? As lavishly-vaunted big men such as Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard stumbled around and swung the occasionally haymaker, their more clever opponents swaggered and jabbed at will, delivering three fatal punches with surgical precision.

Croatia were more comfortable on the ball all night, and made more intelligent use of it, just as their coach had devised a more coherent shape than the muddle masterminded by Steve McClaren. In short, they’re better footballers than the English, which is probably what we should have expected given that they’ve come closer to winning the World Cup than England have at any time in the last 40 years.
On a night when the stakes were as high as they’ve ever been, England produced a display that, save for a brief spell in the second half, was as low as they’ve ever offered. But hey, at least they showed passion, eh? That was the main gripe levelled at Sven-Goran Eriksson, the only foreigner ever to be entrusted with England’s reins: that he didn’t jump around stupidly on the sideline.

True, his England team were characterised by caution, but who can blame him for not putting his trust in the traditional high-tempo English style? That style is exhilarating to watch, and quite devastating when executed with accuracy, but the problem is playing at breakneck speed leaves very little room for error - a problem exacerbated by the poverty of English players’ basic skills (Wayne Rooney and Joe Cole stand out as exceptions). Alas, for them to play at a pace more in keeping with their ability, and to rely on set-pieces and David Beckham’s crosses, makes them deathly boring to watch, as we saw at the last World Cup.

McClaren will probably be sacked soon. And yes, he’s goofed during his short reign. But tonight’s defeat was not just his fault. It would be tempting to depict Scott Carson as the new Peter Bonetti, except that Paul Robinson is no Gordon Banks. And neither is David James. So no matter who McClaren stuck between the sticks tonight, a farcical blunder like the one that led to Niko Kranjcar’s opener on seven minutes would always have been possible (and before anyone mention’s Robert Green, let’s remember that on his last appearance for England he injured himself taking a kick-out). If anyone could have prevented Carson’s howler, it was not McClaren but Micah Richards, who stood and admired Kranjcar as he lined up his shot. Surely closing-down opponents isn’t a trick too far?

From then on, England chased and harried and ran around like giddy children, as the cerebral Croats trusted in their talent. When Eduardo da Silva received the ball in the final third, the whole English defence, seemingly unable to imagine him attempting anything other than a shot, converged on him. Gareth Barry hadn’t bothered to chase back Ivica Olic, who cantered through the centre to collect Eduardo’s through-ball and round Carson for a simple second.

The rest of the first-half was a Croatian party, their 7,000 fans cheering jubilantly as Slaven Bilic’s team toyed with England, transfixing them with triangular passing and sure touches. England had started with an attacking quintet of Peter Crouch and four offensive-minded midfielders, and that armoury was bolstered by Barry who frequently abandoned his holding role to render them even more amorphous. McClaren was right to remove him at half-time.

Amid the English mess, there was at least two constants: Crouch as a central tower, and the Croatian’s refusal to even challenge him in the air - a gutless resignation that Russia were also guilty of in September. Early in the game, he nodded down a fine Wright-Phillips ball, but Lampard arrived too late to profit, and three minutes later he was again on hand, not to fire Joe Cole’s shot into the net as a more mobile forward would have, but, at least, to prod it sideways to Wright-Phillips, who from a less inviting angle rifled a shot straight at the keeper. Given more time and space in the 65th minute, Crouch chested down Beckham’s expert cross and finished emphatically to make it 2-2, following Lampard’s earlier penalty that brought it back to 2-1. Crouch’s goal would have been enough but then England sat back, again, and deservedly paid the price.

After Croatia regained the lead, McClaren resorted to his old Middlesbrough “tactic” of wild, all-guns-blazing attacking, throwing on Darren Bent for Joe Cole, who’d been but a shadow amid the English shambles. That was forgivable. What isn’t forgivable is that English football has stagnated, allowing so, so many other countries to overtake it in terms of basic skills and intelligence. Tonight’s Croatian demonstration at Wembley must serve as a wake-up call, just as Hungary’s 6-3 win at the same venue in 1953 did in the past, for a while. It’s time to bring in another foreigner. In fact, it’s time to bring in lots of them: not just to coach the national team, but to share their knowledge at every level of the game in this country.

I was meaning to post on this yesterday but did anyone see Glenn Hoddle’s analysis on Sky Sports on Wednesday night after the England game? It was one of the first times I’ve seen an English pundit honestly and comprehensively dissect their failures rather than engaging in the Ian Wright type ‘we’re the best in the world’ bluster.

He said it pains him to see England playing the style of football they do. He mentioned Croatia’s 4-4-2 formation in comparison to England’s and said the difference was incredible. Croatia’s movement, fluency and interchanging made it impossible for him to tell what formation they were actually playing when they had the ball but England were rigid, mechanical and playing in straight lines in a stale, predictable 4-4-2 style according to Hoddle.

He continued on by saying because the English players aren’t comfortable on the ball and able to receive it in tight spaces that they resort to launching it up to the traditional big man upfront all the time. He said because of this he played 3-5-2 when he was England manager as it gave them an extra body in midfield to try win the ball back from their technically superior opponents, enable them to gain footholds in games and play somewhat of a passing game. However, he said he was slaughtered for doing it at the time because everybody wanted to see the renowned 4-4-2 even though it blatantly doesn’t work given the players available to the national team.