Scotland v Costa Rica Betting Tips: Latest odds, team news, preview and predictions

Alex Mcleish’s second reign as Scotland manager begins against Costa Rica at Hampden Park on Friday night.

The former Birmingham City manager was named as Gordon Strachan’s successor and he will be hoping to get off to a perfect start in the role with a win in this one.

Latest odds

Despite their failure to qualify for this summer’s World Cup in Russia, Scotland have lost just one of their last eight matches – a 1-0 friendly defeat against Netherlands last time out.

Marcos Urena Costa Rica

The Scots are SportPesa’s 23/20 (2.15) favourites to ensure that McLeish’s second spell in charge ends in victory, while the same firm go 11/5 (3.20) that the match ends all square.

Costa Rica won the only previous meeting between these nations, at the 1990 World Cup, and they are chalked up as a 12/5 (3.40) chance to heap misery upon the Europeans with a win here.

Team news

Oli McBurnie of Swansea City and Manchester United’s Scott McTominay could make their international debut for Scotland, who will have a new captain after Scott Brown retired from international football.

Joel Campbell, on loan at Real Betis from Arsenal, is still recovering from an ankle injury so will not add to his 74 Costa Rica caps.

Low scoring contest?

Scotland Costa Rica graphic

There have been fewer than three goals scored in six of Costa Rica’s last eight matches, but there have been more than two goals scored in just one of Scotland’s last eight home fixtures.

SportPesa go 5/9 (1.55) that the under 2.5 goals selection lands, while the same firm offer 5/4 (2.25) that there are three or more strikes at Hampden Park.

Preview and predictions

Scotland will hope to secure a winning start for McLeish but the goals may not flow freely.

Their previous two permanent managers – Craig Levein and Gordon Strachan – both enjoyed 1-0 victories in their respective first fixtures in charge of the national team.

Therefore, it is SportPesa’s 33/20 (2.65) quote for fewer than two goals to be scored that may represent best value ahead of Friday’s fixture.

Betting Banner - Best BetUnder 1.5 goals at 33/20 (2.65) for a 1pt stake with SportPesaSportPesa footer


From Hart to Pickford: Who should be England’s No. 1 goalkeeper at World Cup 2018?

It is not too difficult to argue that England have plenty of problems to solve heading into the 2018 World Cup, and lowered expectations have greeted the Three Lions as a result. 

Two years ago, Roy Hodgson jumped before he was pushed following a humbling defeat to Iceland at the last-16 stage of Euro 2016.

The general consensus was that an under-performing side needed ripping up and starting again, with Gareth Southgate eventually entrusted with overseeing that transitional period following the Sam Allardyce debacle.

Well, as the next major tournament rolls around, England can hardly be considered ‘new-look’.

Many of those to have flopped so badly in France remain part of the fold, with only a handful of changes made in what could be considered Southgate’s strongest squad – and a couple of those have been enforced by the international retirements of Wayne Rooney and James Milner.

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This has not been revolution, it has barely been evolution.

Questions aplenty remain, and arguably the most pressing of those concerns the very first name on the team sheet.

England have rarely boasted an embarrassment of riches in the goalkeeping department, but there are plenty of options currently under consideration.

So who will get the nod in Russia?

There would appear to be six contenders for three seats on the plane, with all of those still in contention to fill the No. 1 spot.

That could be considered a positive – fierce competition for places heading toward a World Cup finals that should result in the cream rising to the top and the very best man for the job appointed.

Is that really the case, though, or are the Three Lions going to end up settling for the lesser of six evils?

  Games Conceded Clean sheets Save % Errors-goals
Jordan Pickford 31 50 7 67.32 0
Jack Butland 28 51 5 68.32 1
Nick Pope 27 22 10 80.18 0
Fraser Forster 20 30 4 69.07 2
Joe Hart 15 33 3 53.52 3
Tom Heaton 4 4 0 66.67 0

The three men who made the squad at Euro 2016 are those to have played the fewest Premier League games this season, with Tom Heaton looking like he will need a miracle to make back-to-back tournaments and Fraser Forster another of those to have been shunted out of his club side.

Joe Hart has endured another forgettable campaign away from Manchester City, as a man once accustomed to challenging for Premier League titles and gracing a Champions League stage is now caught up in the mess that is West Ham. 

If he cannot be trusted with starting duties on a team crying out for a reliable last line of defence, then how he can he be handed the England jersey?

Costly errors have become an all too familiar part of his game, going back to that head-in-hands showing against Iceland, and to have made three mistakes leading to goals in just 15 outings for the Hammers suggests that he would be a sizeable gamble in Russia.

Hart’s experience may get him on the plane, but he should only be making up the numbers.

Of the other contenders, Nick Pope has enjoyed the most meteoric of rises and would appear to be the man possessing the greatest confidence and form – having conceded fewer goals than his rivals, kept more clean sheets and posted the highest save percentage.

Jack Butland and Jordan Pickford have, however, at least graced an England shirt before – although they have only seven caps between them and no outings at a major tournament of which to speak.

Gareth Southgate England goalkeeper problem

Picking between a lack of domestic game time or international experience is the conundrum facing Southgate, with his keeping crop for sides currently sat 19th, 18th, 17th, 9th and 7th in the Premier League table and Everton man Pickford the only one to have graced European football this season.

Hardly an assortment to inspire confidence.

The England manager has said of the selection poser he faces just a matter of weeks away from settling on a 23-man party: “It is unfortunate we are still weighing the decisions up, but that is where we are. Everyone is clearer on other positions in the field. But in goal, we have had someone who has been No. 1 for a period of time [Hart] but he currently isn’t No. 1 for his club due to a change in circumstance.

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“Behind that, we don’t have another couple of 27, 28-year-olds who have had a lot of first-team experience or are playing at a Champions League club. Our next two are quite a bit younger. In Butland’s case, he has missed a year with injury.

“We just have to make the right decision. We monitor all their performances, we know their level. We know some are stronger in certain areas than others. We’ve got to pick the keeper in terms of who is going to be the best to play the way we want to play, handle the tournament and handle the experience of being England No. 1, which comes with responsibility.”

As ever with England, at a time in which clarity and continuity is most required, everything appears to be as clear as mud!


Jesus, Paulinho and Coutinho – Brazil’s top scorers under Tite

Set to face Russia and Germany this week on the Brasil Global Tour, coach Tite will look to his star trio to fire his side to victory in Europe

The battle to be Brazil’s top scorer in the Tite era will continue this month as three Selecao hotshots take aim at top spot.

While Neymar remains the central figure in the team’s attacking play, Tite and his staff has worked tirelessly to limit the team’s dependence on the PSG star.

While previous coaches suffered criticism for a ‘Neymar or bust’ approach to their attacking play, Tite’s side have reduced their dependence on the outstanding player of this generations, splitting the goals between a number of important players in the squad.

While still playing a leading role, Neymar has been integrated into the side’s attacking play rather than other way around, and centre-forward Gabriel Jesus tops the scoring charts under Tite.

Despite missing three of Tite’s 16 matches – for which the player was eligible – the Manchester City star has hit eight goals in 13 appearances for his country.

Brazil’s scorers under Tite

Posted by Brasil Global Tour on Thursday, March 22, 2018

Even though he’s playing more for his team-mates, Neymar has still found the net regularly. The Selecao No.10 has hit the net seven times, with six of those arriving in Word Cup qualifying.

Paulinho is not far behind, with six goals since his recall to the Selecao. The Barcelona midfielder has been reborn under Tite and has repeatedly timed late runs into the box to find the net. 

His goals from midfield will no doubt be key to Brazil’s World Cup hopes – as will those of his Barca colleague Philippe Coutinho, who broke into the team under Tite and, for the first time, has been able to consider himself a genuine first-team player for his country.

Brazil meet Russia in Moscow on March 23 before heading to Berlin to face Germany on March 27.

Track Brazil every step of the way on this month’s Brasil Global Tour by following us on Instagram , Twitter and Facebook for live updates, analysis, videos and more. 


Germany v Spain Betting Tips: Latest odds, team news, preview and predictions

One of the most high profile-friendlies this week takes place in Dusseldorf where the last two World Cup winners meet.

Germany lead the outright market to lift the trophy once more in Russia at 9/2 (5.50), while Spain have looked extremely impressive over the last two years under Julen Lopetegui.

The former Porto boss will take charge of La Roja at a tournament for the first time in June, where his side are 15/2 (8.50) shots to lift the trophy again.

Latest odds

The Germans are slight favourites for the game at the ESPRIT arena, with offering them at 7/5 (2.40).

Timo Werner Germany France

Spain have only won two of their last six away friendlies, but they were impressive victories in Belgium and France and they are offered at 19/10 (2.90). The draw is available at 23/10 (3.30).

Team news

Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata has been left out of the Spain squad, with Valencia forward Rodrigo Moreno looking to impress in his absence.

Germany manager Joachim Low has called up 26 players to his squad. Manuel Neuer and Marco Reus remain out injured, but the hero of the 2014 final Mario Gotze is not currently in contention.

Goals at a premium

The last time these sides met was in a rain-swept friendly in Vigo four years ago, won by Germany after a late Toni Kroos shot was fumbled by Kiko Casilla for the only goal of the game.

Indeed, the three games that these two sides have contested over the last decade have ended in a 1-0 scoreline, with Spain triumphing twice and Germany once. 

Germany Spain graphic

Preview and predictions

Under 2.5 goals is offered at 17/20 (1.85) and this looks an excellent price, given the sides’ respective records in friendlies.

Four of Spain’s last five exhibition matches against top-tier European opposition (Italy, France, Belgium and England twice) have seen under three goals scored.

Germany, meanwhile, have seen six of their last seven non-competitive games produce under 2.5 goals and the odds quoted for a repeat look too good to miss. 

Prices correct at time of writing. Please gamble responsibly. 

Betting Banner - Best Bet Under 2.5 goals at 17/20 (1.85) with for a 2.5pt stake



France v Colombia Betting Tips: Latest odds, team news, preview and predictions

France face Colombia in an international friendly fixture on Friday night for just the fourth ever meeting between the sides.

Both countries are preparing to participate in this summer’s World Cup, but Didier Deschamps’ team will hope that their impressive home record will give them the edge in Paris.

Latest odds

Les Bleus have lost just one of their last 20 matches on home soil and they can be backed at 1/2 (1.50) to see off the South Americans here.

Jose Pekerman’s side have come out on top in just one of their last six games and are considered as a 6/1 (7.0) chance to win in the French capital.  also go 3/1 (4.0) that the match ends all square.

Yerry Mina Colombia

Team news

Karim Benzema and Aymeric Laporte have been left out by Deschamps, but Anthony Martial is back in the fold.

Both James Rodriguez and Radamel Falcao have shaken off injury concerns to take their place in Pekerman’s squad.

Glut of goals?

Colombia have scored in all but one of their last 10 matches and the go 10/11 (1.91) that there are goals at both ends in Paris.

France Colombia graphic

The same firm offer 17/20 (1.85) that this fixture produces at least three goals, a play that would have landed in four of France’s last six home games.

Preview and predictions

France have a fine home record and ‘s 1/2 (1.50) quote for Deschamps’ side to win looks to be a solid selection.

Better value, though, could lie in backing Les Bleus to win a match in which there are at least three goals scored at 11/8 (2.38); the selection would have landed in eight of France’s last nine home wins.

Odds correct at time of writing. Please gamble responsibly.

Betting Banner - Best BetFrance to win and over 2.5 goals at 11/8 (2.38) with for a 1pt stake