England look to sign off in style vs. Costa Rica: Harry Kane to score first?
No luck for the column over the weekend with several shock results underlining the unpredictable nature of international friendlies. Germany's loss to Austria didn't help, while the expected glut of goals in Belgium's clash against Portugal also failed to materialise. We go again this week however with another round of friendlies as the great and the good fine tune their team selections and fitness levels ahead of the World Cup.
Running total: -£116.85
The Home Banker
England face Costa Rica in Leeds -- only the second time the nations have met, with 2014's goalless draw in Brazil certainly a game to forget. Costa Rica battered Northern Ireland 3-0 on Sunday and arrive in good spirits but the bookmakers can't see them springing a shock with Los Ticos chalked up as a 10/1 shout to win. With less than two weeks now separating this fixture from the Three Lions' opening World Cup clash with Tunisia, it is logical to assume that Gareth Southgate will start with a similar side that beat Nigeria 2-1 at Wembley on Saturday. England's greatest strength under Southgate has been their defensive solidity and punters won't go far wrong backing England to win to nil here.
The Tasty Treble
Portugal were excellent against Belgium on Saturday and look nailed on at 4/9 to beat Algeria on Thursday. Elsewhere Nigeria face Czech Republic -- in Austria of all places -- on Wednesday and both teams to score is the bet in that one at 10/11. Alex Iwobi put in another impressive shift for the Super Eagles over the weekend but defensively Nigeria don't look that solid. Finally both teams to score (evens) also looks the way to go when Russia face Turkey. It's been a torrid few months for Russia, who are winless in their last six matches (a run stretching back to October) and on current form they'll do well to get out of Group A. The treble is paying just over 9/2.
Selection: £3 on the treble at 4.51/1 with bet365.
The Euro Wager
Italy face Netherlands on Monday evening and its crazy to think neither side will be at the World Cup. Both nations are facing a period of transition and life under Roberto Mancini started well for the Azzurri with a 2-1 with over Saudi Arabia, before succumbing to a 3-1 loss to France. Both teams have been scoring and shipping goals in recent matches so both teams to score here looks banker material.
Selection: £3 on both teams to score at 5/6 with bet365.
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The Wildcard Tip
Belgium looked below par in drawing 0-0 with Portugal but can get back to winning ways against Egypt on Wednesday. The Red Devils will take some stopping at the World Cup (they are 11/1 to win it currently with bet365) and should have too much for an Egyptian side missing Mo Salah. A 2-0 win for Roberto Martinez's men is a 9/2 shout and might be worth a small interest.
Selection: £2 on Belgium to win 2-0 at 9/2 with bet365.
The Bookie Basher
Harry Kane looked sharp against Nigeria and as you'd expect he heads the first goalscorer betting against Costa Rica. You can get 14/1 with bet365 about Kane scoring first at Elland Road and England winning 3-0, with England looking to sign off in style before heading to Russia.