EURO 2024 QUALIFIERS: The Ultra previews Thursday’s opening qualifiers between ITALY v ENGLAND and SAN MARINO v NORTHERN IRELAND both with a recommended BETDAQ bet.


7.45pm Qualification for Euro 2024 begins this week on BETDAQ Betting Exchange, and we start the qualifiers with a bang on Thursday as Italy host England in Group C. This is a blockbuster fixture to kick us off, but the reality is both these sides will be qualifying in the top two spots. They find themselves in a Group with Ukraine, North Macedonia and Malta. North Macedonia shocked Italy in the World Cup Qualifiers which meant the Euro 2020 winners missed out on the World Cup this winter, but they won’t be taking that fixture lightly this time around! Ukraine could cause a surprise or two because they are a solid side, but over the course of the Group you’d have to expect these two to take the top two spots. Not that it’s in much doubt, but with England getting relegated from the Nations League they need to finish in the top two here. Italy are already assured of a playoff whatever happens, but we all know how that went in the World Cup playoffs! Gareth Southgate is still in charge of England despite criticism from certain England fans – you have to say England have had a good run in major tournament under Southgate but they have had easy draws. They came up short against France at the World Cup but played well, and of course we all know how the Euro 2020 Final finishes between these two.

England have such a strong squad, probably their best squad ever to be honest, even going back to the Beckham, Lampard and Gerrard era. Most fans haven’t enjoyed the style of play under Southgate, you could say that they have been slightly boring. The reality in International football these days is being solid is what has more success than being entertaining. I would expect another very close and cagey game here between two evenly matched sides. These sides will know each other well, they met in the Euro 2020 Final and then were in the same Nations League Group afterwards. Italy won 1-0 with home advantage, and picked up a 0-0 draw in England when the sides met. I have to say I was very surprised to see England as the favourites when I clicked into the market here. England are trading 2.64 with Italy 3.05 at the time of writing. I would definitely have the sides closer together in the market, and the England lay jumps off the page here. I usually keep stakes limited in International football outside the major tournaments, but the England lay offers a lot of value here and I’m happy to have a very rare Max Bet on the England lay.

The Ultra Says:
Five points lay (liability) England to beat Italy at 2.64 with BETDAQ BETTING EXCHANGE.

You can view all markets here ->

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7.45pm Next we move over to Group H as San Marino host Northern Ireland. It’s fair to say this is a must win game for Northern Ireland because if they are going to have any chance of qualifying then they have to win against the lowly San Marino. There are six sides in Group H – Denmark will be the hot favourites to qualify top of the Group, and then we have Finland, Slovenia and Kazakhstan along with these two. Northern Ireland are usually much stronger at home compared to away, and that will have to change for them to have a chance here. In fairness to Northern Ireland they usually get drawn in really tough Groups – they had Italy and Switzerland in their Group for the World Cup, and then prior to that they had Germany and the Netherlands in Euro 2020 qualifying! They will actually be delighted with this draw! It would still be a mild surprise if Northern Ireland qualified; I doubt there will be much in it between Finland, Slovenia and themselves but you’d have to fancy Finland for second on paper. It would be a major shock if Northern Ireland didn’t win this fixture however, and they come into the game trading 1.08 in the match odds market. There aren’t many teams you’d see Northern Ireland trading 1.08 to beat away from home, but San Marino are one of them.

With Northern Ireland trading so short in the match odds market and almost certain to win, we’ll have to look around the side markets for some value. This game is basically going to be about how many goals Northern Ireland can score rather than will they win. I really think the Nations League benefits sides like San Marino because they are playing sides closer to their level – that’s way better than getting hammered by the bigger sides. I know that happens in qualifying anyway, but they have made some progress in recent years. Obviously they are level at a very low level, and you have to remember these are only part-time players training after work against professionals. They kept the score lines respectable in the Nations League, and I feel they can do the same here given the Northern Ireland aren’t exactly goal machines. I’m keeping stakes low, but I like the Any Other Away Win lay (Northern Ireland to score four or more and win) at around 2.5 in the Correct Score market.

The Ultra Says:
One point lay (liability) Any Other Away Win Correct Score at 2.5 with BETDAQ BETTING EXCHANGE.

You can view all markets here ->

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