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FIFA World Cup qualifying – UEFA Group F betting preview: England v Malta; Wembley Stadium, London, England; Sunday, October 9, 3am
Gareth Southgate has been named as interim manager of the England side after Sam Allardyce was filmed offering to help reporters masquerading as businessmen to ‘get around’ rules regarding third-party ownership of players. The 61-year-old also used his position as Three Lions boss to negotiate a £400,000 ambassadorial role with the group. It is unknown how long it could take for the FA to find a new permanent England boss, but Southgate (pictured below) will lead the team into World Cup qualifiers against Malta (tonight), Slovenia, Scotland and Spain. Southgate takes on this interim role after leading England’s under-21s since 2013.
They failed to get out of the group stages of the under-21s European Championships last year. Before that the former defender was in charge of Middlesbrough, who were relegated from the Premier League under his management. Forward Theo Walcott will start Southgate’s first game in charge, while captain Wayne Rooney will win his 117th cap at Wembley. England won their opening Group F qualifier against Slovakia 1-0 on September 4, Allardyce’s only game in charge before he left his post by mutual agreement. Southgate has lost Everton defender Phil Jagielka due to a thigh injury, while he will make a late decision on Chelsea centre-back Gary Cahill, who missed training yesterday.
England, so unreliable at major tournaments, are bombproof when it comes to qualifiers, boasting a record of 13 successive wins in such games, and nine on the roll on home soil. It’s unlikely that Southgate will drastically tinker with the team that defeated Slovakia though with Harry Kane, Adam Lallana and Raheem Sterling are all absent through injury. Malta arrive at Wembley on the back of a 5-1 home defeat to Scotland. Down at 176 in the FIFA rankings, their lowest ranking in their 59-year existence, Pietro Ghedin’s men are largely drawn from the Maltese Premier League players. There is one familiar name in former Coventry City striker Michael Mifsud.
He has scored a very impressive 40 goals in 113 international appearances for his country. England have won all three previous international encounters against Malta, scoring eight and conceding one but only managed a 2-1 win the last time these two sides met in a friendly match ahead of Euro 2000. Southgate was on the pitch as Emile Heskey scored a 75th minute winner. Malta’s goal came from a penalty that famously cannoned off the bar and went in off the back of keeper Richard Wright’s head. Malta have won only one of their past 21 matches (D4 L16) and none of the past 11.
Confirmed bets (card finalised)
England v Malta +4.5 total (two units @ $1.96)
Albania v Spain -2.5 total (one unit @ $2.14)
Serbia v Austria WIN (one unit @ $3.40)
Germany (to nil) v Czech Republic (one unit @ $1.80)
Poland WIN v Denmark (one unit @ $2.08)
Scotland -1hcp v Lithuania (one unit @ $2.05)
Côte d’Ivoire -1hcp v Mali (one unit @ $2.50)
Senegal -1hcp v Cape Verde (one unit @ $2.35)
Most recent results: 5-1-2, +7.17 units
Austria v Wales DRAW (one unit @ $3.42) WIN (2-2)
Republic of Ireland v Georgia +1hcp (one unit @ $1.90) PUSH (1-0)
Italy v Spain DRAW (one unit @ $3.15) WIN (1-1)
Hungary v Switzerland WIN (one unit @ $2.40) WIN (2-3)
Paraguay WIN v Colombia (one unit @ $3.15) LOSE (0-1)
Brazil -2hcp v Bolivia (one unit @ $2.10) WIN (5-0)
Saudi Arabia v Australia DRAW (one unit @ $3.10) WIN (2-2)
Ghana -1hcp v Uganda (one unit @ $1.90) LOSE (0-0)
• Selections are listed in three categories – 1) Suggested (likely bet but yet to be finalised); 2) Confirmed (locked in at the price listed); and 3) Leans (tips, but not recommended bets); all times quoted are Australian Eastern Daylight Time (AEDT); prices with thanks to Bet365 (except where markets are not available), correct at time of publication. Results/comments on today’s games/races will follow in the next post.