Nothing is at stake in international friendlies. These games are of some importance only when they are used as warm-ups ahead of crucial competitions like the World Cup.
Most club managers find these friendlies an utter nuisance. Some of them fight tooth and nail with the country manager by refusing to release their star players. There are numerous cases of players returning with injuries which greatly jeopardised the clubs’ chances in the league and other competitions. The ‘club vs country’ debate is always controversial.
The conventional wisdom is to avoid betting these friendlies as they are looked upon as meaningless. The results are often unpredictable. But a savvy punter may find value in the uncertainties.
The following factors can be considered :
- Home Advantage Of Intimidating Venue
Countries like Azerbaijian and Kazakhstan, etc. are not the most comfortable places to visit. How do you expect the soccer superstars to enjoy :
a) Long flights (some countries do not have links for direct flight).
b) Less than hygienic living environment and food.
c) Strange customs (especially if the country is of a predominantly different religion).
d) Climate (it cannot be easy to travel long distances from freezing winter in Europe to play in a humid stadium in Turkey on a summer night).
It is somewhat difficult to expect motivation when the games are considered meaningless. However, do be mindful of :
a) The Home team may be more motivated as they are playing for their country in front of their fans.
b) The game is more likely to be telecast live especially if the Home team is playing a highly ranked Away team like England. Thus the Home team will be super charged-up.
c) Due to the live telecast, this is a good opportunity especially for players from an ‘obscure’ country to showcase their talent, hoping to attract the attention of sports talent scouts of big European clubs.
d) The game is used to restore national pride. If the country has been thrashed badly by their opponent in a previous game, there may be motivation to treat the game as a revenge fixture.
- Team Line-Up
Do not expect key players to feature in these friendlies. Most clubs are reluctant to release their star players for fear of them returning injured or fatigued. So most players chosen are often the second stringers and they themselves may not go all out in order to lessen risk of injury.
When most teams play cautiously, most of the time it will be a dull match.
Most punters are only familiar with the same few famous national teams. Countries which they hardly heard of will automatically be regarded as ‘not good’. However, as the results of these friendlies are unpredictable, the smart punter can spot enormous value in some underdogs, especially playing at Home.
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