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Sunday, 9 October 2016

Midweek Football Picks 2016 (October 9-11)

There are going to be two rounds of World Cup Qualifiers in October and the second round of those games begin on Sunday and are played through to Tuesday.

It will help start putting a shape to the Groups around the world as we begin to start getting nearer to knowing which nations will be participating in Russia in under two years time.

Most of the home nations here in the United Kingdom had a decent first round of Qualifiers in October, although Scotland will be disappointed with their home draw against Lithuania which leaves them two points short of where they should be. The Scots have back to back away Qualifiers over the next month which sees them visit Slovakia and England and you have to think they have find a surprise couple of results to get back on track with their goal of trying to snap their run without a major international tournament appearance.

All around the world there will be nations looking to bounce back or consolidate their positions over the next few days before we get back to domestic action next weekend.

The picks had a really poor opening to October, but results over the last three days has turned the month around. It is a long month and I am very keen to keep the momentum going from a strong September, but that will mean backing up the first set of World Cup Qualifiers in October with a successful second round.

Picks will come out over the next couple of days as the markets become settled out of the double header in the space of a few days.

Wales v Georgia Pick: After the successes at the Euro 2016 Finals, you just know all of the Welsh players and fans are desperate to find a way to get to the World Cup Finals in Russia. That would be the first appearance in the World Cup Finals since 1958 and Wales have made a very good start towards that goal having earned a big 2-2 draw at Austria a few days ago.

That means Wales are up to 4 points in the Group and they lead the way, but the top four teams have all earned 4 points from their opening two games in what is going to be a tight Group by the looks of things. It also means Wales cannot afford to miss out on the three points when they host Georgia who have already lost to Austria at home and at the Republic of Ireland just last week.

However the absence of Aaron Ramsey and Joe Allen is a big blow for the Wales creativity, although they do have a legitimate match winner in Gareth Bale. Those two absentees do make this game a little more difficult for Wales especially as Georgia have been a very tough team to overcome in their recent Qualifiers.

Georgia lost 1-0 at the Republic of Ireland, but even in the last Qualifiers they were only single goal margin losers in Ireland, Scotland and Germany. They will look to make life as difficult as possible for Wales, but I think the latter will do the same as Ireland and that is find a way to get to the three points.

Like I did a few days ago, I think there is every chance that Wales will have to settle for the same as the Republic of Ireland and win this one by a single goal margin. However a player like Bale gives Wales a chance to perhaps do a little better although this is a team that have rarely won home Qualifiers by more than two goals like they did against Moldova.

Prior to the 4-0 win over Moldova, Wales had not won a home Qualifier by more than two goals since 2007 when beating San Marino 3-0 so it is hard to see them blowing away a Georgia team that simply haven't been overrun much in recent Qualifiers. I do have to say that I think I respect Georgia enough to have a small interest in Wales to win this game, but perhaps have to settle for the same margin Ireland did a few days ago.

Macedonia v Italy Pick: There is no doubting that this World Cup Qualifying Group is going to be dominated by Italy and Spain and their 1-1 draw last week means both nations can concentrate on beating every other nation in the section to at least finish in the top two places.

With Albania having won both games in the Group, Italy will know they can't afford too many slip ups even if there was some disarray in the camp when Graziano Pelle was sent home. Pelle refused to shake hands with the staff after being substituted against Spain and was subsequently dismissed from the squad, but Italy still head to Macedonia as a healthy favourite to win.

They should be too good for a Macedonia team who were beaten 1-2 by Israel last week which means they have lost their last 5 home Qualifiers. They have conceded at least twice in 6 of their last 7 home Qualifiers and Macedonia are not going to win too many matches with those kind of stats behind them and that has to be an issue on Sunday.

Backing Italy to win Qualifiers isn't always the easiest thing to do but they know the importance of needing to win their games in this Group. Backing Italy to win by more than a single goal margin away from home is not going to make you rich, but they have the defence to keep Macedonia at bay and match the number that so many teams have managed here in recent Qualifiers.

Italy have won 6 of their last 11 away Qualifiers and 5 of those wins have come by at least two goals so I will back them here to cover the Asian Handicap against a Macedonia team that have struggled.

Kazakhstan v Romania PickWith a Group containing Romania, Montenegro, Poland and Denmark, it is going to be key for the teams that want to make it to Russia to win the games against Armenia and Kazakhstan to do that.

Romania won 0-5 at Armenia on Saturday and they can back that up with another important three points here which may give them a slight edge over Poland who dropped two points here. Denmark play Montenegro later on Tuesday so Romania can put the pressure on those two rivals for the top two places in the Group by winning earlier in the day in Kazakhstan.

They should be able to do that against a team that had lost 4 home Qualifiers in a row before the 2-2 draw with Poland. Any confidence would have been severely dented by Kazakhstan's 5-0 loss in Montenegro and I think they will have a hard time staying with Romania who should be physically stronger than their opponents.

It won't be easy for Romania because this isn't a team blessed with goals, but they have managed to win 4 of their last 6 away Qualifiers and I think they can just about edge this contest for the important three points.

Slovakia v Scotland PickIt might only be the third round of Qualifiers in the UEFA section out of ten, but it won't be lost on either Slovakia or Scotland the importance of this game. Both teams have had disappointing results to open their Qualifiers and will feel they are at least a couple points short of where they would have wanted to be going into this fixture.

Slovakia have been set as the favourite although they have been on the drift since Saturday following back to back Qualifier losses. They have now won just 3 of their last 9 home Qualifiers which has to be a big concern as they try and get back in the Group behind the big threats England and Slovenia who both hold a win over them.

For Scotland it is important they try and make up the two lost points against Lithuania when drawing with them 1-1 at home. The next two Qualifiers are both away from home at Slovakia and England, but they are a team that have showed some tremendous resolve on their travels and will feel a point is likely to be a good result for them.

It is likely to be a tight game considering Slovakia have not scored in their last 3 home Qualifiers and Scotland are trying to bounce back from a disappointing loss. I did consider backing Scotland with the start on the handicap as I don't think they will lose, but I am not sure the Scots have enough to win here.

Slovakia are better than their two results suggested and I think they will get off the board in this one, but it is Scotland who should be happiest leaving with a point and I will back the draw in this one.

Slovenia v England PickEven before the game against Malta, I thought England might have a really difficult test when they had to Slovenia and the results and performances on Saturday suggests that it will be the case. I am really surprised that England are as short a favourite to win here as they are, especially when you consider how strong Slovenia have been in home Qualifiers.

Yes, England did beat Slovenia twice in the Euro 2016 Qualifiers, but they needed a late goal to win here and were behind in both games. England were the superior team in their win in Slovenia, but this current side has a few questions to answer and the Wayne Rooney conundrum is surely having an affect on the entire squad.

Slovenia will know England have won 14 Qualifiers in a row and they have won 6 straight away Qualifiers which is why the layers have them as a very strong favourite to win here. However I think England showed they took their time to break down a ten man Slovakia team in their first away Qualifier and I think they have looked uncertain when teams have defended deep.

I don't doubt that Slovenia will look to do that and try and hit a vulnerable defence on the counter attack, but it is hard to see them winning the game. However they are strong enough to avoid a loss and getting the start on the Asian Handicap looks very appealing.

Southgate might have had a fairly easy afternoon at home against Malta, but this looks a much bigger test for England and I think they may come up short when it comes to the three points. A draw is not the worst result for England who would still be in a very strong position in the Group and I will take Slovenia with the start.

Bolivia v Ecuador PickThe South American Qualifiers are generally good fun to watch with the nations in that Group all feeling more comfortable going forward than they are defending.

That could be the case on Tuesday when Bolivia host Ecuador in a game where both teams will be desperate for the three points. Bolivia have played well at home as they use the conditions to their advantage with visitors being sapped by playing in the altitude.

However they have conceded goals too and that makes Ecuador a threat who have scored a fair few goals, but have a habit of conceding too.

I do think both teams will likely score in this Qualifier and with the attacking intent that is expected to be on display, I can see them combining for another so backing yet another Ecuador game to finish with at least three goals is the call. Bolivia are good enough to play their part at home and the prices are just appealing enough to back goals being the outcome from this game.

Argentina v Paraguay PickThis is one of the big World Cup Qualifiers taking place on Tuesday as Argentina try and put a gap between themselves and the teams chasing the top five places. Being without Lionel Messi is an issue, but Argentina have shown they have got goals in the team without him and you have to think they will be too strong for Paraguay this week.

The layers seem to think so with Argentina a big favourite to win this fixture, but I am not sure Paraguay should be disregarded so easily. Yes they were hammered in Uruguay last month, and they did suffer some big away losses in the last set of Qualifiers, but Argentina have not been blowing teams away at home.

Paraguay will look to defend deep and make life very difficult for Argentina and I think they can do that. A point would be more than a credible result for Paraguay and I think they will set out to do that, but eventually you have to feel that Argentina will have the quality in the final third to break them down.

I was contemplating picking Paraguay with a huge start on the Asian Handicap, but I think the most likely result is Argentina winning by a narrow margin. Backing the home team to win by a single goal margin looks a big price and worthy of a small interest.

Chile v Peru PickI really am struggling to determine what is going on with the Chile national team who have shown they are clearly one of the best in South America by winning the Copa America in 2015 and 2016. However they have not been able to produce that level of football in the World Cup Qualifiers and could be in a very bad position if they don't win this week.

Being 5 points behind the top 5 is manageable, but failing to win this game will see that gap increase and the pressure might just be insurmountable for Chile.

This is a good fixture for them having beaten Peru in 11 of their last 12 clashes including in 6 in a row at home. You can't ignore the fact that Peru have been a poor travelling team in South America with 24 losses in their last 25 World Cup Qualifiers and 17 of those losses have come by at least two goals.

Peru have lost all 4 away World Cup Qualifiers in this section to make it 8 straight losses away from home in these games and I think Chile can bounce back from some miserable losses. I think Peru could be a little tired from chasing the ball against Argentina a few days ago and Chile are far better than they have shown in their recent games.

With their dominance at home against Peru in recent games, I am backing Chile to win and cover the Asian Handicap this week.

Venezuela v Brazil PickWinning the Olympic Gold Medal might have inspired the Brazil senior squad who have been on a roll since then and can move into a commanding position in the Qualifying Group. They have been winning games by large margins and Brazil are now visiting Venezuela where they have proved to be too good in World Cup Qualifiers in the past.

Brazil don't just win here, but they win easily and have averaged over four goals per game in their 7 previous wins in Venezuela. With the home side conceding at least twice in their last 3 home World Cup Qualifiers and losing by at least two goals against Ecuador and Chile, it is a big ask for Venezuela to contain this Brazil team.

Obviously it is never easy to play away from home and winning games comfortably, but Brazil did beat Ecuador 0-3 last month. They are coming off a very easy win over Bolivia and I think the confidence is flowing through them.

Give Venezuela respect for earning a draw with Argentina here last month, but I will back Brazil to win by a couple of goals and cover the Asian Handicap on their current form and historical record in Merida.

MY PICKS: Wales to Win by One Goal @ 3.70 Betfair Sportsbook (1 Unit)
Italy - 1.5 Asian Handicap @ 1.95 Bet365 (2 Units)
Romania @ 1.75 Bet365 (2 Units)

Slovakia-Scotland Draw @ 3.30 Bet365 (1 Unit)
Slovenia + 0.75 Asian Handicap @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Bolivia-Ecuador Over 2.5 Goals @ 2.00 William Hill (2 Units)
Argentina to Win by One Goal @ 3.75 William Hill (1 Unit)
Chile - 1.25 Asian Handicap @ 1.90 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Brazil - 1.25 Asian Handicap @ 1.97 Bet Victor (2 Units)

October Update6-9, - 4.29 Units (29 Units Staked, - 14.79% Yield)

September Final43-28-1, + 35.17 Units (133 Units Staked, + 26.44% Yield)
August Final31-38-2, - 9 Units (124 Units Staked, - 7.26% Yield)
Season 2016/1773-66-3, + 26.17 Units (257 Units Staked, + 10.18% Yield)

Season 2015/16133-174-2, + 0.89 Units (669 Units Staked, + 0% Yield)
Season 2014/15159-208-5, - 20.22 Units (647 Units Staked, - 3.13% Yield)
Season 2013/14164-185-3, + 15.84 Units (577 Units Staked, + 2.75% Yield

Season 2012/13+ 4.42 Units (415 Units Staked, + 1.07% Yield)

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