Wales travel to the Czech Republic for their World Cup qualifier and the game promises to be vital. Jake Pearson gave a preview of the match, picking his best bet.
The Czech Republic and Wales come into the game in second place in Group E, with seven points each and nine points behind the Belgian leaders, although Wales have one game down.
With four points ahead of fourth-placed Belarus, this game becomes increasingly important as the race for second place in the group intensifies.
The finalists will not qualify directly for the World Cup, but they will take part in a play-off round, and that should be enough of an incentive for these two teams.
These two have already played in the second leg in Wales, a game Robert Page’s side won 1-0, but the Czechs will be ready for revenge on their home turf, and without Gareth Bale, who does was not included in the squad after suffering a ‘significant hamstring injury’, Wales could struggle to follow through with this first win.
Kick-off time: 7.45 p.m. BST, Friday
TV Channel: Sky Sports Football
It’s hard to understate how vital Gareth Bale is for this Wales side. After losing 2-1 to Belarus in the final round, Bale’s two goals, to complete his hat-trick, saved Wales from what would have been a catastrophic result, and that also means he has been directly involved in all five of the goals Wales have scored in this qualifying campaign so far.
It’s hard to see exactly where Wales’ goals without Bale will come from on the pitch, especially as David Brooks and Ben Davis have also pulled out of the squad and Aaron Ramsey missed the last two Juventus matches due to injury.
Likewise, however, the Czech Republic are hardly a free-goal team, having failed to find the net more than once in each of their last five matches.
Jaroslav Šilhavý’s side created only the 17th most chances in the recent European Championship, although striker Patrik Schick finished the tournament as the top scorer.
WHAT ARE THE EXPECTED OBJECTIVES? USE xG TO INCREASE PROFITS IN FOOTBALL BETTING
Defensively, the Czechs did well Expected objectives metric, conceding the 10th least chances in the competition according to xGA per game.
The Czechs have their issues too, with West Ham’s Vladimír Coufal already withdrawing from the squad, while teammate Thomas Soucek has appeared on his feet so far this season.
Overall, despite the magnitude of this event, it is shaping up to be a boring affair; the fact that goals under 2.5 are usually billed 4/7 and both teams score “NO” is slightly higher than 8/13, tells you everything you need to know.
Siding with a lack of goals seems the way to go, but at these prices neither the unders nor the NO BTTS stand out particularly.
Given that Wales really don’t want to win this game now that Bale is out, it’s worth siding CZECH REPUBLIC WINS IN NIL at the price of 6/4.
Czech Republic v Wales best bets and score prediction
- 1pt Czech Republic to win at 0 to 6/4 (Overall)
Score prediction: Czech Republic 1-0 Wales (Sky Bet odds: 4/1)
Correct odds at 1530 BST (10/06/21)
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