Very high ANY OTHER odds make this another one that doesn’t look like it can be traded. As always, I will watch for an early goal that takes ANY OTHER into single figure odds, otherwise I will not be involved.
As we move now to the second group games we can look at the first game form and relate it to what we expect in the second game. This is not always as easy to do as you’d think. If we look at Slovakia, aside from Marek Hamsik, who showed us some of the form that he has a reputation for at Napoli (and it has to be said, was denied a goal through some great defending by Ben Davies), we didn’t see much else against Wales. Sure, Duda came on as a substitute and scored within seconds but was that simply a case of Wales losing focus for a short while? I think so.
Gareth Bale is clearly a superstar and he has the ability to swing any game and his goal from a free kick certainly had Slovakia on the back foot from there on in. So how do we assess Slovakia’s chances against Russia? Well, be prepared for a boring game. But what do we have on the positive side?
Russia should be going for it. Having gained a very lucky point against England (although England, as they often do, somewhat created their own bad luck with awful defending at a critical time), a win against Slovakia would pretty much guarantee them a place in the next round. But Slovakia could also still qualify for the next stage with a win. A draw would almost be goodbye for the Slovaks but could still see Russia in with a qualification chance.
I don’t disagree with the betting markets for this game. Russia to me are slight favourites. Providing they can contain Marik Hamsik, they have a little more quality overall in their team and should manage a victory but I wouldn’t expect too many goals as the last 4 games between these two have produced only 3 goals. That makes a prediction on 1-0 to Russia a reasonable little punt.