Paraguay and USA to face tough friendly examinations
Rep of Ireland v Paraguay, 7.45pm
Paraguay will be hoping Republic of Ireland give them a stern test at Croke Park tonight, and manager Gerardo Martino shouldn’t be disappointed.
The bookies can’t separate the sides and it’s little wonder why. Only 13 places lie between the teams in the world rankings and both have a similar goalscoring record in recent internationals. So it’s no surprise each is priced at a tentative 13/8 to win, while the draw is the slight favourite at 23/10.
Ireland have drawn three out of their last five games and Paraguay two out of three so the deadlock looks likely – you can see both settling for that result too.
More smart money could be made in the total goals market. Ireland have only scored once in their last four games, with a total of five goals coming in that time (which includes that extra 30 minutes in Paris) while Paraguay’s last two matches have yielded only three goals.
If you want to chance it slightly you could bet on a Robbie Keane, looking to impress ahead of the summer transfer window, to be first goalscorer in a 1-1 full-time score at a generous 22/1.
USA v Czech Republic, 1.00am
With USA boss Bob Bradley set to name his final 23-man squad following his side’s match with the Czech Republic, it’s likely we’ll see a few players trying to impress.
The game at Renstchler Field in Hartford, Connecticut kicks off at 1.00am but it will be worth staying up to get a sense of how England’s first World Cup opponents are shaping up.
If recent form is anything to go by it’s badly. USA have lost four out of their last five matches including a 3-1 home defeat to Honduras. But Czech Republic haven’t fared any better, they’ve lost their last three games and drew the previous two with United Arab Emirates and Northern Ireland 0-0.
The Czechs are almost unrecognisable from the side that thumped USA 3-0 in their opening group game of the 2006 World Cup and come into the game ranked 15 places below their American hosts.
With a full squad of 30 to chose from Bradley will likely pick his strongest XI to start and as such a home victory should be fancied. USA will probably play the high tempo game we saw in last summer’s Confederation Cup games against Egypt, Spain and Brazil and if so the Czech’s could be swamped early.
With first choice forwards Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore set to lead the line a bet on more first half goals at 2/1 looks good, while a home/home bet in the half-time-full-time market at 11/5 could also pay dividends.