International friendly's take center stage in the soccer world, with big names like Italy, France, Spain and Argentina all taking the pitch this week, but where is the betting value? Whether you’re a seasoned soccer bettor or taking your first kick at the footy odds, our in-depth previews and betting predictions will help you turn a profit on the pitch.
A GREAT UNKNOWN
It's anyone's guess what Italy's starting XI will look like as they host Ukraine on Wednesday in the first of back-to-back friendlies between the teams. Head coach Roberto Mancini is dealing with a rash of absences for Wednesday's tilt, including Simone Zaza, Alessio Romagnoli and Patrick Cutrone. Yet, despite the uncertainty surrounding the lineup for this mid-week showdown, the Italians are resolute -125 favorites against Ukraine (+450), who are coming off consecutive victories to open their UEFA Nations League schedule. These teams last met in 2011, with Italy prevailing 2-0.
ANOTHER CLEAN SHEET?
Argentina have been a completely different team since bowing out of the World Cup – and they're well-positioned to keep things rolling Thursday as they host Iraq in an international friendly. The Argentines were bounced in the Round of 16 after a wild 4-3 loss to eventual World Cup-champion France, but they've tightened up at the back end en route to consecutive clean sheets against Guatemala (3-0 win) and Colombia (0-0 draw). Argentina are whopping -1,200 favorites to prevail Thursday against visiting Iraq (+1,800), with the clean sheet prop paying at -225.
NEW TO SOCCER ODDS AND DON'T KNOW WHERE TO START? HERE ARE THE BETTING BASICS
CAN’T BALE THEM OUT
Wales might be without its top player for Thursday's international friendly with Spain – and that could spell major problems for the home side. Bale has been sidelined throughout training with a groin injury and is considered doubtful for Wales' tune-up match ahead of next week's resumption of the UEFA Nations League. The Spaniards are the oddsmakers' choice in this one at -275 after edging England 2-1 and crushing World Cup runners-up Croatia 6-0 in their first two Nations League matches. Wales (+800) defeated Ireland 4-1 but fell 2-0 to Denmark in its Nations League openers.
Two of the top stories from this year's World Cup were France's inspiring victory and Iceland's incredible showing as a major underdog – but these teams are miles apart as they prepare to face off Thursday in a friendly. The French earned four points through their first two Nations League matches and are coming off a 2-1 triumph over the Netherlands. They come in as hefty -500 home favorites despite planning to rest several of their first team starters. But that shouldn't be a problem against an Iceland squad that hasn't won since January and dropped its two Nations League games by a combined score of 9-0.
* Jordan has been one of the stronger international under plays in recent months, having gone below the 2.5-goal total in three of their previous four games while seeing just one total goal scored in their last two contests. The under for Wednesday's friendly showdown between Jordan and host Albania is sitting at -125.
* The Italians have met their match so far in 2018, pulling out just one victory in six matches while losing a pair and drawing three times – including twice in their previous three matches. While the Italians are heavily favored against visiting Ukraine, bettors might want to consider the draw here (+250) given Italy's struggles.
* Turkey comes into Thursday's international friendly with Bosnia and Herzegovina having been one of the stronger over options of late, exceeding the total in five of their previous six matches; three of those games produced four or more goals. The standard over for Thursday's tilt is listed at +107, or bettors can roll with the over-3.5 at +275.
* Scoring hasn't been a problem for Spain in recent games; they come into Thursday's head-to-head encounter with Wales having scored two or more goals in four of their previous six matches, highlighted by that six-goal surge last time out against Croatia. The visitors are -175 to strike twice or more vs. Wales and are +175 to convert three or more goals.
* The United States have been one of the stingier home teams in international friendlies so far in 2018, holding the opposition without a goal in four of the five games they've hosted. The U.S. will entertain Colombia in a friendly Thursday and are listed at +300 to extend that trend against their favored South American opponent.
* Two trends have dominated the Mexico-Costa Rica head-to-head series this decade as the Central American rivals prepare to face off Thursday. Host Mexico has five wins and three draws in nine meetings since 2011, with the under cashing in six of those nine games. Taking Mexico and the under-2.5-goal play is worth a tempting +250.
* Former Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney is calling on current members of the team to defend embattled head coach Jose Mourinho, whose job remains in jeopardy despite last weekend's 3-2 win over Newcastle. Man United sit eighth in the EPL table as the league enters its international break and are +225 to secure a top-four spot at season's end.
* The man who led Italy to a spot on the sidelines for this year's World Cup will take over the only Serie A team with negative points so far this season. Gian Piero Ventura, who oversaw this year's national team collapse, is expected to take over the reins at Chievo, who are winless in eight matches and have -1 points due to a three-point penalty for false accounting.
* Real Madrid go into the international break with a whopping seven players on the short list for the 2018 Ballon d'Or. The 30-man list, which was announced Monday, includes Madrid stars Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale, Thibault Courtois, Isco and Luka Modric, who is the current odds-on favorite to capture soccer's top individual award at -188.