Barely two months after Germany lifted the World Cup in Rio the qualifiers for the 2016 European Championship begin.
With the matches as fragmented and disjointed as an England starting 11 the Paddy Power Blog has scooted through the book for potential jackpot hitting or just plain pants picks this weekend.
Georgia v Rep of Ireland, Tibilsi Sunday, 5pm
Correct Score: Ireland to win 6-0 @ 500/1. One punter has €10 riding on the Boys in Green
Maybe he knows something we don’t but it might be a bit early in the campaign to start banking on Ireland putting in a German-esque performance in this Group D opener in a couple of hours time.
Just to be clear – the new-look Irish ship now skippered by Martin O’Neill with able seaman Roy Keane as deputy – did beat Georgia in a friendly at the Aviva 4-0. But Ireland have only just scraped past the feisty Georgians 2-1 in three of their four head-to-heads and by the same scoreline in their last two visits to Tibilisi.
While the Republic have had a handful of 5-0 wins at international level in recent campaigns – most were under Jack Charlton in the golden years – their biggest win in a European qualifier was 8-0 against Malta (Dalymount Park) in 1983.
A stupid punt or potential Punting Hall of Famer? We’ll know by 6.45pm whether the traders are mopping the blood off the floor.
Germany v Scotland, Sunday, Dortmund, 7.45pm
Correct Score: One William Wallace wanna-be has £5 on Scotland to beat the Germans 3-4 @ 500/1
With the latest polls indicating that the Scottish Independence betting is turning into a nail-biter – a potentially more one-sided contest is down for decision in Dortmund tonight.
The correct score part of Paddy’s book contains the phrase Germany to win and the numbers 8-0, 9-0 and 10-0 displayed prominently. But one brave, patriotic Scot with the wind of Independence gusting aboot his kilt has decided that if there’s ‘only’ going to be seven goals – Scotland are going to score four of them.
His £5 at 500/1 on Gordon Strachan’s side dumping on the recently-crowned World Champions in their own back yard could prove inspired – or just plain mad – but he’s the one looking at the £2.5k payout and a year’s supply of tartan if it delivers.
Scotland did manage a 0-1 friendly win in Germany in 1999 but have yet to beat them (2-1, 1-1, 0-2) the three times they have met competitively.
Switzerland v England, Monday 7.45pm
Scorecast: 50p on Phil Jones to score first and England to win 5-2 @ 4,000/1
The Three Lions face a tricky away tie in their Group E opener after their abysmal World Cup showing.
England haven’t lost in their last seven meetings (all competitions) with the Swiss – you have to go back to a World Cup qualifier in May 1981 for Switzerland’s last victory. But the 1-0 win over Norway at Wembley mid-week didn’t inspire confidence with captain Wayne Rooney (above) at the helm.
Despite that, one punter has gone out on his own – to say the least – and has plumped for Phil Jones (yes, that Phil Jones) to hit the onion bag first in a 5-2 win for the Three Lions at a very rewarding 4,000/1. The Manchester United defender has yet to score in 12 games at international level so expect much gurning and a place at the top table in the Punting Hall of Fame if this one clicks.
The sides last met in the qualifiers for Euro 2012 with Fabio Capello’s side running out 3-1 winners in Basel before being held 2-2 at Wembley.