We pick out the best bets from Friday night's International friendly matches.
Netherlands v France (Fri 19:45)
The Netherlands are the biggest name missing from this summer’s tournament after losing half their matches in what was a far from difficult qualifying group. There were no such problems for France of course, as hosts they automatically made it. Two years ago the Netherlands came third in the World Cup but their performances even then were heavily reliant on Arjen Robben and he has rarely been available since. He scored twice as the Dutch beat Wales in their most recent game but contributed just 30 minutes of action in their eight games prior to that and is once again unavailable. As might be expected, it’s a young and inexperienced Dutch squad that is aiming at 2018 rather than immediate results and they’ve lost seven of their last eight matches against teams ranked in our top 50. They’ve conceded 11 times in their last five friendlies but both teams have scored in 26 of their last 27 home games when they’ve failed to keep a clean sheet. However, they were a far better side for much of that and the one where they failed to score was just last September and they’ve lost four of their last five home games when conceding.
France have not had a competitive game for almost two years but they’ve played plenty of high quality opponents in friendlies and have been improving as they build towards this summer. That includes a win over the World Champions during the last round of internationals and they look dangerous going forward having scored in 14 of 16 friendlies since the World Cup and with Griezmann, Martial and Payet enjoying particularly impressive seasons. Half of their last 14 matches have had at least three goals and that is where the value looks to lie here.
Republic of Ireland v Switzerland (Fri 19:45)
Ireland took four points off Germany in qualifying and they are unbeaten in eight at home, with six wins. That success has come off the back of an excellent defensive record, as they conceded just seven times in qualification and only once conceded more than one goal. They’re less effective going forward, however, and have scored more than once in just one of their last 23 matches against teams we’ve had ranked above them. Their scoring record does improve in friendlies as they’ve netted 13 times in 10 games since Martin O’Neill took over, including in all four at home – three of which have seen both teams score and have at least three goals. Half those 10 matches have had more than two goals, which compares to just two of 10 competitive games (excluding the two matches against Gibraltar).
Switzerland qualified relatively easy but they were in a weak group and their level was rather found out when they lost both games against England 2-0. To an extent they’ve been more successful than expected in recent years as a result of being flat-track bullies and having avoided too many top nations. Since 2013 they’ve played just six away matches against teams ranked in our top 50 (England were their only top 20 opponent) and they’ve picked up just two draws and four defeats. They score goals though, only failing to find the net once in their last 13 matches with 10 having at least three goals. The friendly status of this game might encourage Ireland to venture forward more and the Swiss would definitely welcome that. With the perception of Ireland as a negative team the price on Over 2.5 Goals looks generous here against attack minded Switzerland.