The Grambler's weekend international bet did not go too well. In fact, it is fair to say that it was utter pish... Only two of the five predictions were correct as a bet which looked reasonable on paper was a disaster in reality. On top of that, we may have set a new record for losing an accumulator at the earliest possible time, with Portugal's failure to win meaning that the bet was void by about 2.30 on Friday afternoon.
We had slightly better luck with the domestic bet. One game was off due to the weather which is slowly throwing the entire country into meltdown, meaning that we only had to get four right to win a (reduced) total of £25. And who managed to blow it? The one team on the coupon that everyone would have expected to win, The Rangers Franchise FC! Not even the dangling carrot of winning the Third Division title was enough to help them and their overpaid 'stars' to overcome Stirling Albion at Ibrox. And yet Charles Green still thinks they belong in the Premiership... They are now on my list of enemies.
Anyway, since there is a decent number of competitive international games taking place tonight, it would only be right to get some Grambling on the go. Sticking with a five game accumulator picked at random for this one, and here are the results...
Game 1: Holland vs Romania
Prediction: Home win
Holland are the only team in Europe to have a 100% record in this round of qualifiers, having played five and won five. They do tend to have a habit of playing well in the qualifying rounds but then failing to perform when the actual tournaments come around though. With the Netherlands expected to win Group D, the play-off place is pretty open with Romania and Hungary joint on 10 points and Turkey not far behind. Romania have won three of their qualifiers to date, including a 1-0 win away to Turkey. A 2-2 draw at Hungary on Friday was made all the more impressive by the fact that old, old man and former coke addict Adrian Mutu scored. As the only striker in the squad to have scored more than 3 goals in their international career, the Romanians may be relying on him for a while longer if they are to qualify for the World Cup. The teams met at Bucharest back in October and the Oranje left with a deserved 4-1 victory.
Odds on this result: 1/3
Game 2: Turkey vs Hungary
Prediction: Home win
Sticking with Group D, Turkey take on Hungary knowing that they must win to stay in contention for second place. Victory this evening could take them to within a point of a the play-off spot but defeat will leave them seven points from opponents Hungary. A 2-0 win at Andorra on Friday was a good warm-up for the Turks. Hungary, twice runners-up in the World Cup, have not qualified since 1986 but will be looking to rectify this following a good start to this campaign. They have already defeated Turkey 3-1 back in October on home soil and a win tonight will leave them vying with Romania for the play-offs (or for first place if they feel particularly ambitious). Veteran Gabor Kiraly suggested that their team team spirit and mentality are second to none; "Our team spirit and mentality are second to none", he said.
Odds on this result: 7/10
Game 3: Serbia vs Scotland
Oh dear... Having watched playing on Friday night, it is fair to say that anything bar 'Scotland to lose' is a bad bet. Gordon Strachan insists that he wants his players to raise their game after the defeat to Wales, which really shouldn't be too hard after that performance. Hopefully, Strachan will be the Scotland manager to finally realise that Kenny Miller upfront alone is no longer an option. The current qualifying campaign is essentially a write-off with the new challenge being 'don't finish bottom and find a settled, young team with good spirit in time for the Euro 2016 qualifiers. Christ, supporting Scotland is depressing! Serbia have as little chance of qualifying for the World Cup as Scotland but have at least won a game, a 6-1 thrashing of Wales meaning that they have double the points tally of the Scots. The teams played out a goalless draw back in September at Hampden and both will be looking to restore some pride after a string of defeats.
Odds on this result: 3/1
Game 4: Northern Ireland vs Israel
Prediction: Home win
Surprisingly, Northern Ireland have only lost one game in this campaign. They have drawn three and had one game called off, but still to make it to round 6 of games and only lost once is quite an achievement. The cancelled game against Russia on Friday will not have been ideal preparation for Michael O'Neill's side as they look to keep the gap between themselves and the three potentially qualifying teams respectable. A 1-1 draw way to Portugal in September will have given N'ireland belief that they can hold their own against anyone in the group. Israel can also claim a draw with the Portuguese amongst their good results following their 3-3 match on Friday. Two victories over bottom placed Luxembourg have left the Israelites second, ahead of Portugal on goal difference. It is still unlikely, but it would be ridiculously entertaining to see how FIFA would handle the inevitable political shit-storm if Israel were to qualify for the World Cup.
Odds on this result: 9/4
Game 5: Uzbekistan vs Lebanon
Prediction: Home win
Probably the highlight of this week's selection and I think we will all agree that Lebanon don't a chance. Mon the Uzbekistan! It would appear that, since I put this bet on this morning and am only now getting round to writing this now, Uzbekistan have already won this match 1-0! Hooray! So that's one down and four to go, I can already smell victory!
Odds on this result: 3/10
Which gives us odds of 38/1 for this midweek international bonanza! Just think of what you could buy with all of that money! Three official Grambler t-shirts... Two official Grambler t-shirts and a couple of nice Easter eggs... One official Grambler t-shirt and four nice Easter eggs... That's about it really.
Anyway, fingers crossed for a better performance than the weekend's. Back to business at the weekend with the return of league football.
In the meantime, if you would like information about our new Grambler's Anonymous helpline, please click here.