With the normally reliable Three-Way Line and the Total Goals markets impossible to play in this England-San Marino UEFA Group E Matchday 2 qualifier, props bets offer the only real picks here in London.
England vs. San Marino, Thursday, (Fox Soccer 2 USA/Fox Sports Go/Fox Soccer 2Go (USA), ITV 1 UK/The ITV Player (UK), 20:45CET 2:45 p.m. ET/11:45 a.m. PT): London’s Wembley Stadium is the site of this Matchday 2 Group E mismatch between the nation which once had the best navy in the world, England (1-0-0, 3 points +2 GD) and tiny little San Marino (0-0-1, 0 points -2 GD). This is one of those rare games where you know the winner ahead of time but are forced to find a creative approach—through the props route— if you’re interested in betting on it because oddsmakers find it hard to lay a Total Goals number on a match which could have anywhere between 4 and 10 and the Three-Way Line only provides momentary comical entertainment—England -20,000 (1/200), Draw +1800 (18/1) and visitors and bait San Marino +6600 (66/1, bet365)—but nothing more. So the only real way to try to attack this game is through either the Correct Score and/or the Anytime Goalscorer props markets in my opinion and winning in those will take a little bit of luck so these, again, are wagers on the lowest end of the spectrum and border in the “entertainment value” or recreational wagers region of sports betting.
La Serenissima (FIFA ranking #208) represent the smallest population of any FIFA nation and head coach Pierangelo Manzaroli and San Marino are currently ranked tied for last (#208) with Bhutan in the latest national rankings and have historically been a walkover in all UEFA qualifiers in which they have participated. On Matchday 1 at home, San Marino was blanked by Lithuania, 2-0 in a respectable performance. San Marino’s best attackers are Alessandro Bianchi (Anytime Goalscorer 14/1, William Hill), Damione Vannucci (14/1), Danilo Rinald (14/1), Fabio Bolini (14/1) and Matteo Vitaioli (14/1) but it would be hard to expect La Serenissima to score at Wembley, especially if Joe Hart (Manchester City) gets the call in goal on Thursday.
England (FIFA rank 18) and manager Roy Hodgson can approach this match however he sees fit—a real problem possibly for gamblers trying to nail that Final Score and/or the Anytime Scorer prop not knowing who is going to get how many minutes and how hard are The Three Lions going to try once they have that inevitable 4-0 lead at some point here in London. Hodgson has replaced Josh Stones (ankle) on the roster with Calum Chambers (Arsenal) for this game and Estonia, when Stones hurt himself in English Premier League play over the weeknd. And recently capped RB Nathaniel Clyne (Southampton) was also called up as well as Kieran Gibbs (Arsenal) and Jonjo Shelvey (Swansea City). In its opener on Matchday 1, England was very impressive, blanking Switzerland, 2-0 as Danny Welbeck (Arsenal) had both goals at St. Jakob-Park in Basel and setting themselves up perfectly for the remaining 5 fixtures in its Group E. With Hart and defenders Gary Cahill Chelsea), (Manchester City), Leighton Baines (Everton) and Phil Jagielka (Everton), this national side has the ability to completely shut down other teams in this group they should expect to advance from now after the big opening win in Switzerland.
As mentioned, this is a game with few approaches and the two that are doable are virtual crapshoots, although by taking two of each, one may be able to hit both the final Correct Score while getting both Anytime Goalscorers to hit in a game where 4-9 England goals should be scored to 0 for San Marino. The players with the highest Anytime Goalscorer for England are: Danny Welbeck (-333, William Hill), Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney (-333), Liverpool’s Rickie Lambert (-250) and Adam Lallana (-137), Arsenal’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (-110), Tottenham Hotspur’s Andros Townsend (-110), Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere (+120), the aforementioned Baines (+162) and the Swans Shelvey (+150)—my pick to score as I think he’ll get about 50 minutes of loose playing time in a situation where he can definitely get one for his national team.
As far as trying to get the final Correct Score here, the best thing to with this soccer pick is probably to work backward from the premise that San Marino won’t score and that thick lively spectrum between England 4-0 (5/1 Coral, 10/1 bet365) and England 9-0 (16/1, Coral), throwing out the two extremes of this defined spectrum (4-0 and 8-0) and looking at 5-0 (+550, 11/2); 6-0 (+650, 13/2); 7-0 (8/1) and 8-0 (11/1). And 5 goals seems a little light here and the 8-0 a little bit gaudy, so, the 6-0 and 7-0 make the most sense. Again, betting this match is more like a logical crapshot than an exercise in finding a great way to try to make a bunch of money. That just doesn’t happen in games involving San Marino.
Free Soccer Props Pick: Correct Score 7-0 +800 (Coral)
Free Soccer Props Pick #2: Jonjo Shelvey Anytime Scorer +150 (William Hill)