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Midweek Friendlies

by Ben, last updated 2007-02-05 18:37:25

 Pinnacle Picks


This week's European football focus switches from the domestic to the international scene, as national sides limber up for forthcoming Euro 2008 qualifiers. Whether the action features club or country, www.pinnaclesports.com offer the same consistent value with 60% better odds on Asian Handicaps.

England Looking to Get Back on Track
England will run out in a brand new kit at Old Trafford on Wednesday night for their friendly with Spain. Steve McClaren and England fans will hope that it heralds a new era of success for the national team. Despite carrying no competitive weight this game is important for both teams as a platform prior to the resumption of their faltering Euro 2008 campaigns next month.

The Three Lions have dropped four points from their last two qualifiers, while Spain are currently lying fifth in Group F, below Latvia and Northern Ireland, against whom they suffered a shock 3-2 in Belfast. The last time these sides met the Spaniards won 1-0, but the result was overshadowed the racist chants, and ugly confrontations on the pitch. Spain were comfortably beaten on their last visit to England in 2001, www.pinnaclesports.com price a repeat win for England 1.877 (0/scratch & -0.5) with Spain slight underdogs 2.050 (0/scratch +0.5).

McClaren has drafted in four new players, of whom Joey Barton is called up for the first time. Defensively McClaren is forced to make changes to his preferred starting XI, with John Terry included in the squad despite having played just two minutes in his belated Chelsea comeback on Saturday. Jonathan Woodgate is favourite to pair Rio Ferdinand against a Spanish side brimming with dangerous attacking players. David Villa and Fernando Morientes have been on form for Valencia with eight goals in the Champions League, and pushing Los Ches to third in La Liga.

Brazil & Portugal Top the Bill in London
London is the focal point for the midweek schedule of international friendlies with no less than four games taking place in the capital on Tuesday night. Without doubt the biggest draw is the clash of Brazil and Portugal at the Emirates Stadium. Both sides have included the big names in their squads, though it is highly unlikely that Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, and Ronaldinho will see the game out.

The Barcelona playmaker has scored penalties in the two recent meetings of the sides since 2002, but the Samba Boys won neither game. The last encounter saw some of the under-currents of national friction rise to the surface with Roberto Carlos red carded. This prestige friendly should hopefully be more about the football, but www.pinnaclesports.com still has Under 2.5 goals as favourite 1.870, with the Over at 2.050.

Brazil did put three past Argentina at the Arsenal venue last September, and are slight favourites 1.935 (-0.5) with Portugal 1.990 (+0.5) having failed to win any of their last five international games away from home.

No Question of Loyalty For Hiddink
Holland and Russia meet in a friendly at the Amsterdam Arena on Wednesday night, bringing together two nations currently unbeaten in their Euro 2008 campaigns. Current Russian coach, Guus Hiddink, will know about the Dutch having won 11 Eredivisie titles with PSV and coached the Oranje for four years. Hiddink is looking to revive the fortunes on the Russian national side, absent from last year's World Cup.

Marco Van Basten is guiding the Dutch side through a transitional stage, preferring youth over experience. He will however be without a host of injured players including the Premiership quintet of Robin Van Persie, Arjen Robben, Andre Ooijer, Edwin Van der Sar and Khalid Boulahrouz. Though the Dutch are unbeaten in 14 games, the absenteeism may force a move away from the usual 4-3-3 formation. www.pinnaclesports.com has Holland favourites 1.943 (-0.5 & -1.0) with Russia 1.980 (+0.5 & 1.0).





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