Two and a Half Goals Column: Strong Uruguay defence to ensure low-scoring game

15Jun 2013

Betfair

It's another International Under/Over 2.5 Goals column this week with Spain - under 21s and seniors - featuring prominently. The Inside Man gives his selections...

Saturday

Italy U-21 v Netherlands U-21

It's semi-finals time in the European Under 21 Championship, with table-toppers Italy up against the runners-up from the other group, the Netherlands.

But while you might not normally expect too many goals at such an advanced stage of an international competition, this match could provide a rare and welcome exception. The Netherlands, for sure, have been a healthy source of entertainment during the qualifying stages, with all three of their group matches proving profitable for goal backers. Those three games produced 14 goals in all . And it can't even be put down to one-sided matches, with the Dutch emerging with an 8-6 goals for/against record.

You might think Italy are the team to stop that run of goals. But don't let yourself be influenced by age-old stereotypes.

Italy's youngsters have proved themselves to be much more entertaining than their senior counterparts. Yes, they turned in a classic 1-0 win in their defeat of England. But their 4-0 dismantling of hosts Israel was a thing of beauty and their final match, a 1-1 draw with Norway, might easily have been more eventful, if it weren't for the fact the Italians were already safely through and had nothing to play for.

Recommended Bet: Back Over 2.5 Goals @ 2.12


Spain U-21 v Norway U-21

There's no doubting who the hot favourites for the title are, with Spain qualifying thanks to three straight victories in their group.

A 3-0 win over the Dutch came in their final game. It's important to note that both sides were already through, which rendered the result of that match immaterial. But prior to that came two highly competitive matches, both of which ended in 1-0 victories for Spain, as they saw-off the challenges of first Russia, and then Germany.

So Spain have still to concede a goal in the competition. What chance then that Norway will be the first to score against them? Well, they did manage to net in all three of their group games. Their first two opponents though, Israel and England, probably rank among the weakest teams in the Finals, while their last match, against Italy, ended 1-1. And remember what I just said about this being an a typical Italian team, that's actually quite open in its play.

The Spain challenge promises to be by far Norway's toughest test yet, and one I firmly believe they'll fail. Expect the Spanish to dominate possession in one of their trademark strangling performances, most likely resulting in a 1-0 or 2-0 victory.

Recommended Bet: Back Under 2.5 Goals @ 2.3


Sunday

Spain v Uruguay

On Sunday it's the turn of the grown-ups to take the field, with Spain's senior team up against one of the few sides in the world who might have a better defence than them, in the form of Uruguay.

If we look at Uruguay's last six competitive games, only two of those have been high scoring. These both came away from home, in World Cup qualifying games in Argentina, fair enough, and in the high altitude of Bolivia, again explainable.

Meanwhile in last year's Copa America, Uruguay played six times, with five of those producing low-scoring results. So the evidence all points to the fact that Uruguay have lost little, or none, of their trademark defensive steel.

Spain of course need no introduction, except to point out that while they continue to beat all-comers, they still don't dish out many heavy defeats. Of their last five competitive matches, only one was high scoring, with even minnows Georgia only going down by the now all too familiar 1-0 scoreline.

Their most recent game ended in a 2-0 friendly win over the Republic of Ireland, who in all fairness don't hold a candle, defensively speaking, to the likes of the South Americans.

Recommended Bet: Back Under 2.5 Goals @ 1.89


Ethiopia v South Africa

My final selection comes from Africa's World Cup qualifying Group A where surprise table-toppers Ethiopia will be taking on the second placed, and much more fancied for success, South Africa.

Both teams remain unbeaten through four qualifying games, but it's the Ethiopians who've really impressed, with three victories and just the one draw. They scored at least twice in three of those four matches, suggesting it's their forward line that's been the key to their new found success.

South Africa though are likely to feel slightly irked at seeing themselves trailing in the wake of a side they'll consider inferior to them on the international stage. With two draws and two wins, the Bafana Bafana haven't done too much wrong. But they're sure to be going to Ethiopia in attacking mood as they look for the victory that would move them above their opponents and a point clear at the top of the group.

Seven goals scored in their last three matches suggests the South Africans also have plenty of firepower at their disposal, and I expect that to show in the final scoreline.

Recommended Bet: Back Over 2.5 Goals @ best price available

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Keywords: Two and a Half Goals Column, Uruguay, Italy U-21, Netherlands U-21

Source: Betfair

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