Wales look to go back into the coveted top two in Group E on Friday evening, as they travel to face Czech Republic in a World Cup qualifier at Sinobo Stadium, Prague (7.45pm; TV: Live on Sky Sports). Will the visitors be able to do the double over their hosts? Read on for our betting tips and full match preview.
Since their spirited showing at the Euros in the summer, the Czech Republic boys have been a bit hit and miss. They returned to the cut and thrust of World Cup qualification with a relatively simply 1-0 win over Belarus, though they were predictably outclassed by the Belgians after that, losing by three goals to nil. In friendly action last time out, Friday’s hosts drew 1-1 with Ukraine at this venue, despite dominating the action in terms of possession, shots and shots on target.
For the Welsh, things have gone slightly better since the Euros, well, in terms of results at least. In friendly action, Rob Page’s men played some decent football when drawing 0-0 away against fellow Euro 2020 participants Finland back in early September, while they enhanced their chances of World Cup qualification when talisman Gareth Bale struck three times to claim all three points in Belarus shortly after. Disappointingly, the Dragons failed to use that win as a platform for further success, drawing 0-0 with Estonia at home last time out.
Tough to beat at home
For all they don’t exactly come here in scintillating form, the Czechs aren’t easy to beat at home, or at least they haven’t been in recent times. They have lost just one of their last five matches in their own backyard, and even that was a single-goal defeat. Their draw against Belgium back in March is particularly eye-catching, especially since they comminated the fixture in terms of both shots and shots on target. However, they enjoyed playing on the break on that occasion, and they may not be afforded such a luxury against a pragmatic Wales side that is likely to sit in and make life difficult for the hosts.
A lack of goals all round
What really stands out when looking at this pair is their lack of goals. Czech Republic have scored eight times in five WCQ’s, which is far from terrible, but six of those came in one fixture against the Estonians, meaning that they have failed to score in two of their other four, scoring just once against both Belarus and Belgium.
Such stats won’t exactly strike fear into the hearts of the visitors. Likewise, the goals haven’t exactly flown for the Welshmen, who have scored five in four in qualifying. Again, such a total doesn’t seem appalling, but if we consider the fact that three of those goals came in one game, then it is easy to see that Friday’s visitors aren’t exactly offering a serious attacking threat on a regular basis.
It was a tight game when the pair met back in March, with Wales claiming victory late on, thanks to a Daniel James goal in the 82nd minute. On that occasion, it was the Welsh that looked to dig in and keep things tight, while the visitors aimed to force the issue. In a game lacking in final-third quality, few clear-cut chances were created, meaning that it was little surprise that just a single goal was scored.
How to bet this one?
In the betting, the Czech’s are heavily fancied on their own patch, which isn’t surprising given that the visitors have a general lack of away wins. Then again, have the hosts really done enough to warrant an odds-on quote of 7/10? Probably not, particularly given what happened between the pair six months ago.
If we add in their recent failure to beat Ukraine on home soil, coupled with the fact that they scored only a single goal on route to beating Belarus at home last month, it’s easy to feel that there’s some juice in the price of the away team. After all, the Welsh have already proved that they can dig in and frustrate the Czechs. Moreover, if we forget their away defeats against top sides such as Belgium, France, and England, then they’re unbeaten in three on the road, winning two and drawing one, conceding zero goals in the process.
All in all, a tight game is expected, one where a glut of goals seems unlikely, and with the current odds very much in mind, a bet on the visitors to avoid defeat makes plenty of appeal.
More joy for James?
Daniel James hasn’t exactly set the world alight since joining Leeds, but this fixture appears to be a good opportunity for the winger/forward to bring himself back into the spotlight somewhat. The 23-year-old was heavily involved in the attacking play against Belarus last time out, and while he didn’t on the scoresheet, he offered a significant threat, especially on the break, which Wales should be able to utilise as the Czechs look to make the running on Friday night. He scored against the Czechs in the reverse fixture and at chunky odds of 6/1, a small play on the pace merchant to repeat the feat is merited.
So these are our Czech Republic vs Wales betting tips for this preview:
- Wales +1 on the handicap @ best odds of 6/5 with Paddy Power and Betfair.
- Daniel James to score at anytime @ a biggest price of 13/2 with BetVictor.
Bradley Gibbs is an experienced football writer. He is an expert analyst on Premier League, and all global football leagues & tournaments, for Just Bookies. Bradley has been published by many respected outlets, including USA Betting and the Racing & Football Outlook. He has also written betting strategy guides.