When I was first assigned the task of writing this goalscorers piece on England v San Marino, I was under the impression that punters would have to stake a large amount on Joe Hart to notch a couple just to get a decent return.
But given the nature of the opposition, there’s surprisingly plenty of value on which of the Three Lions will find the net at Wembley tonight, mainly thanks to the very kind bwin bookmakers (more on that later).
After all, San Marino are officially the joint worst side in international football according to the dubious FIFA rankings, sharing that unfortunate honour with Bhutan and the Turks and Caicos Islands.
The tiny principality with a population the size of Tamworth have only ever won one of their 112 international fixtures and over that time have conceded, on average, more than four goals per game.
|World Cup Qualifiers - European Zone - Group H|
Giampaolo Mazza’s side are veering towards 50 consecutive defeats and in the vain hope of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup began their Group H campaign with a 6-0 home reverse to Montenegro.
Over the past couple of years, Holland, Poland and Germany have all registered double figures and indeed you have to go back to 2003 to find the last time La Serenissima let in less than three away from home – a 2-2 draw in Liechtenstein.
Bwin have England odds on at 3/5 to still win with a 5-0 handicap and in all reality, it will be seen as a massive failure if you can count the goals that Roy Hodgson’s boys score on one hand.
This will be a landslide and apart from the hosts picking up the obligatory three points, in a tight group in which only one side automatically qualify, goal difference could be crucial.
San Marino are so bad that making decent money on who will score the goals is arguably a more difficult task than England face in trying to beat them – in theory at least.
As alluded to earlier, that’s where bwin come to punters’ rescue with some impressive enhanced prices on anytime goalscorers which cannot be matched by any other bookmaker.
For example, new skipper Wayne Rooney is a superb 2/5 to score at least once, with the next best price in the industry currently at 3/10. Hell, one of our competitors even has him at 1/14!
The same is true of Danny Welbeck, who will start alongside his Manchester United team-mate up front and is serious lumping material at an incredible 3/5, compared to a best of 1/2 elsewhere.
Our special prices don’t stop there, either: Arsenal duo Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott, who will line up on either flank for the hosts, are available at evens and 4/5 respectively (you can see these markets right here).
In truth, any outfield England player could get himself on the scoresheet across a 90-minute turkey shoot and the likes of Gary Cahill at 8/5, Leighton Baines on free-kicks at 6/5 and Kyle Walker playing as an auxiliary winger at 9/4 are all worth a shout just to score.
Personally, I wouldn’t go near the first to score market as quite frankly, that’s just guess work, as reflected in the fairly lengthy odds, with Rooney again leading the way at 7/4.
However, there’s some money to be made if, like most, you fancy England to rattle in a few and certain personnel to do most of the damage. After announcing earlier this week that he’s expecting a second child, Rooney has clearly been finding the target and he’s 19/20 to score two or more and 7/2 to get a hat-trick or better.
Walcott, meanwhile, has scored four in his last seven for the Gunners and you can double your money at 2/1 that he bags a brace or better here, with either Baines at 6/1 and Cahill 9/1 good outside shots to do likewise.
For the sake of impartiality – if not to drag this article out a bit longer – then the visitors are 9/2 to score a goal, with Manuel Marani heading their list of potential goalscorers at 25/1 anytime and 1,000/1 to score two or more.
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