International predictions: Scotland to end 22 years of hurt, Northern Ireland to edge past Slovakia | Football News

first_imgOur betting expert Jones Knows makes his predictions for a bumper night of international football on Thursday – can Scotland and Northern Ireland do it?Serbia vs Scotland, Thursday 7.45pm, live on Sky Sports Football and free-to-air on Sky Pick England are the 1/3 favourites with Sky Bet to win at Wembley, while the Republic of Ireland are at 17/2 and the draw 15/4.Those prices look about right to me as I’d be in no rush to take on England, mostly due to Ireland’s lack of goal threat. They have scored just twice in their last eight competitive fixtures and the retirement of David McGoldrick doesn’t help in that regard.Meanwhile, England are unbeaten in their last nine friendly games (W6 D3) since a 3-2 defeat against France in June 2017, conceding just two goals in those nine games.An England win to nil looks the obvious but solid play.JONES KNOWS PREDICTS: 2-0 (7/1 with Sky Bet)Wales vs USA, Thursday 7.45pm, live on Sky Sports Mix – Advertisement – England manager Gareth Southgate during the friendly win over WalesImage:England manager Gareth Southgate during the friendly win over Wales When analysing the results from the last round of one-legged qualifying and similar fixtures such as the first leg of a play-off for a spot at the World Cup or European Championship in the last 20 years, games are averaging just 1.7 goals per game. Included in that collection of results was Scotland’s 0-0 draw with Israel – a game that Steve Clarke’s team edged on penalties.Scotland are in the midst of an eight-match unbeaten run (W6 D2), their best international sequence in 32 years. ALSO LOOK OUT FOR: John McGinn to score anytime (6/1 with Sky Bet)Northern Ireland vs Slovakia, Thursday 7.45pm, live on Sky Sports Premier League and free-to-air on Sky Challenge When this Northern Ireland team need a performance, they usually deliver.This group has been through a lot together and come across more like a club side than a national team. For the majority of the squad, playing for their country is their bread and butter.The basis of the squad that qualified for Euro 2016 and progressed through the group stages there are still intact – and there is some unfinished business on their agenda, having missed out at the 2018 World Cup due to a controversial penalty award against Switzerland. Thursday 12th November 7:40pm But this is a huge test, despite Serbia being on a run of just one win in six – that only win coming vs Norway in their play-off semi-final. A low-scoring draw would be a fantastic result for Clarke and his boys – I think they can get it and take it to penalties. A Scotland win via that method is a 14/1 shot – a price juicy enough for a poke.- Advertisement – Thursday 12th November 7:00pm Kick off 7:45pm Thursday 12th November 7:00pm Who could step up and be a national hero then? It takes a certain type to do so. Having no fear is a prerequisite but also someone who is oozing confidence. With those factors in mind, I’m looking at John McGinn’s price to score anytime as a main bet to focus on.Under Clarke in the European Championship qualification process, McGinn averaged 2.8 shots on goal per game when starting. Clarke has deployed him in a much more attacking role than Aston Villa do, and he’s repaid the faith by scoring five times since Clarke took the job. He heads to this winner-takes-all tie in arguably the form of his life, having played every minute of Villa’s impressive start to the season. The 6/1 for him to score is a tempter.JONES KNOWS PREDICTS: 1-1 (13/2 with Sky Bet – Scotland to win on penalties 14/1)- Advertisement – Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Stuart Dallas, Jamal Lewis, Craig Cathcart, Jonny Evans and Steven Davis provide a strong spine that can be relied upon to keep out similarly ranked opposition like Slovakia, who were fortunate to progress past Republic of Ireland in their previous play-off match.One goal just might be enough, looking at Slovakia’s defensive record. They have not kept a clean sheet in any of their last 15 competitive away games, since November 2014 – the only UEFA nation on a longer run without a competitive clean sheet away from home are Armenia (21 games).Slovakia remain without the injured Martin Dubravka, too. A big miss.It won’t be pretty or entertaining, but an edgy home win is the play, with perhaps one of the old boys like Davis or Evans getting their moment of national recognition by netting the winner.JONES KNOWS PREDICTS: 1-0 (5/1 with Sky Bet)England vs Republic of Ireland, Thursday 8pmMemories are very short when it comes to managers at the top level. There isn’t much wriggle room for Gareth Southgate over the next few fixtures after the Denmark defeat.Despite beating Belgium recently, is he really getting the best out of an outstanding crop of English talent? He could do with reminding a few naysayers that he is the man for the job over the next week. That’s why I’d be surprised if he experiments too much in key areas for this friendly. One thing you can almost guarantee from a play-off fixture of such nature is tension. It’s not a time for risks. We’re likely to see games of chess rather than basketball-like football.- Advertisement – Kick off 7:45pm Northern Ireland vs Slovakia Serbia vs Scotland Ryan Giggs’ absence has to come into consideration when assessing the outcome against the USA in Swansea. The Wales boss won’t be in the dugout for this friendly or for the Nations League games against the Republic of Ireland and Finland. Kick off 7:45pm Aaron Ramsey is missing due to a thigh injury, whilst Gareth Bale still doesn’t look himself despite more game-time at Tottenham.USA coach Gregg Berhalter has left all his MLS players at home, so it will be an inexperienced side full of youth and energy but Christian Pulisic is likely to play some part, according to his manager. They can be relied on to get a result.JONES KNOWS PREDICTS: 1-1 (6/1 with Sky Bet) Wales vs USAlast_img read more

MBB : 1999-2000 SU players remember record start

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on January 18, 2012 at 12:00 pm Contact Mark: | @mark_cooperjr Tony Bland has the formula to beat Syracuse.The former Orangemen guard — part of the 1999-2000 SU team whose 19-0 start to the season was eclipsed by this year’s team on Monday — is an assistant coach at No. 16 San Diego State. He watches as many SU games as he can and TiVo’s the games the No. 1 team plays on TV.And he’s got a method to attack the team.‘I think the other team needs to do a whole bunch of praying, do a whole bunch of wishing and then they have a chance,’ Bland said. ‘Unless they’re playing the Aztecs.’The 1999-2000 Syracuse team was erased from the record books for the best start in school history when the 2011-12 Orange beat Pittsburgh, 71-63, to reach the 20-0 plateau. But players and coaches who were a part of one of the best runs in team history are content with the record being broken. They see a current team with broader goals than winning 20 consecutive games, and they see a team with the talent to do it, too.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text‘Initially you’re like oh, you want to keep your names in the record books,’ said Bland, who started all 32 games in 1999-2000. ‘But when you’re a fan of Syracuse basketball, you’re excited to see those guys break the record.‘And I think that’s how myself and Jason Hart and Etan Thomas and Damone Brown and all those guys who were on that team, I think that’s how we felt about that.’This year’s team has already done something the 1999-2000 team never experienced: ascend to the No. 1 ranking.Twelve seasons ago, SU was ranked No. 4 when it fell to Seton Hall, 69-67, on Feb. 7, 2000, in game No. 20.‘Records are made to be beaten,’ said Hart, another guard on that team. ‘If I was somebody who only cared about something for my personal glory, then I wouldn’t be a true Syracuse fan. I hope they win every single game they play.’Bland said he remembers Seton Hall playing a flawless game against his Orangemen that night. The Pirates were an unranked team.So was Syracuse’s next opponent, Louisville. But one loss quickly spiraled into two as the Orangemen fell by 13 to the Cardinals on the road.‘When we were 17-0, 18-0, we felt kind of invincible,’ Bland said. ‘And it may be part of the reason why we lost, so I want these guys to stay on edge. I want these guys to know that they are 19-0, 20-0 now, that guys will come gunning for them.’The Orangemen dropped two more regular-season games and fell to Georgetown in their first game in the Big East tournament. In 1999-2000, Syracuse went 7-6 in its final 13 games after winning 16 of its first 19 games by double-digits.The cloak of invincibility was yanked away. Hart said the level of focus needed to keep a lengthy winning streak going is enormous.‘The players are going to say there’s no pressure, but I think it is pressure,’ he said. ‘Because you’re putting pressure to try and stay perfect. And people always say that a loss can help you — a loss can help you.‘But winning every game, it teaches you how to focus, and it’s obvious since they haven’t lost any games, this team has a high level of concentration.’This year’s team has more talent than the 1999-2000 team, Hart said. And he said SU clearly didn’t handle it well back then when it lost for the first time.The Orangemen did rebound to make the Sweet 16 before losing to eventual national champion Michigan State. But in totality, SU fizzled down the stretch in 2000.This year’s team could be different. There’s still no sign of when it will lose — the Orange’s next four games are against unranked teams. Louis Orr, an assistant on the 1999-2000 team and the current head coach at Bowling Green, raved about what he has seen of Syracuse this year.‘They lead the country in steals, they’re active, their defense is active and they block over seven shots a game,’ Orr said. ‘All the defensive stats. And then they’ve got balanced scoring and they share the ball. And they’re probably, if not the best, one of the best teams in transition in the country.’The big thing for Syracuse, Orr said, will be how it responds to that first loss.It takes an immense amount of determination to discard the first loss and to avoid the blame game that comes with a poor performance.But until the first loss happens, Bland said he’ll be pleased to see the streak continue.‘Unless they were facing the Aztecs, I hope they don’t lose a game,’ Bland said. ‘If they ever do, I just hope that they know that they have to bounce back really fast and work that much harder.’mcooperj@syr.educenter_img Commentslast_img read more